Lock your doors.  Turn out the lights.  Just the gentle glow of the PC monitor is all you will need.  Halloween is near.  Take a look at what the TPG staff have been brewing in their PC gaming cauldron.  Take a look at the 15 games listed below and ask yourself one question – are you afraid of the dark?

 

System Shock 2

System Shock 2 – Looking Glass Studios – August 11, 1999

An all-time classic, System Shock 2 is revered by almost all PC gamers for its fanatic atmosphere among other aspects.  System Shock 2 makes this list due to the fear factor in the Engineering section alone.

 

Clive Barker's Undying

Clive Barker’s Undying – DreamWorks Interactive – February 7, 2001

This horror-themed first person shooter casts you as a paranormal investigator who is trying to solve the mystery of a cursed manor.  It was a brilliant mix of elements from survival horror, role-playing, and first-person action games that still holds up today.  With a variety of different weapons and magic abilities, you have to navigate your way through this manor solving puzzles and engaging in some interesting and varied combat against a zany menagerie of nightmare creatures.  It was an amazing experience in which the gameplay was every bit as interesting as the setting and atmosphere, which is a rare pleasure in horror games.

 

Nosferatu The Wrath of Malachi

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi – Idol FX – October 21, 2003

It plays out like an old silent movie with its full screen display of text and film grain, but the bigger factor is the randomized level layout in addition to the randomized rather creepy soundtrack. Definitely a precursor to games like Penumbra with its fragile player who can fight back, but combat is always very risky. Nosferatu also had the tension of permadeath, add to that the randomized layout and it became a game of virginal scares.

 

doom 3

Doom 3 – id Software – August 3, 2004

Best known for its jump scares, tight corridors and overall dark theme, Doom 3 made many gamers cower behind their desks.  After a midnight session with Doom 3, you will need to check each room of your house before heading to bed.

 

Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines

Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines – Troika Games – November 16, 2004

Although not a horror title by any means, there is still a level of creepiness to entire game.  The level which makes Bloodlines stand out years later is The Oceanside Hotel.  This particular area has some of the best atmosphere and jump scares this side of Los Angeles.

 

F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. – Monolith Productions – October 17, 2005

F.E.A.R. was a title which helped the physiological horror genre get back into the mainstream.  Almost as scary as the game itself is the unbelievable AI.

 

Indigo Prophecy

Indigo Prophecy – Quantic Dream – September 20, 2005

This game is an incredibly depressing, cinematic experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat wondering what happens next.  It lacks the engaging game play of some of the other titles on this list, but it makes up for this with a fascinating plot and amazingly realized sense of palpable tension at every turn.  Even though the journey ultimately stumbles into some goofy plot twists, it’s a one-of-a-kind journey well worth experiencing for anyone that loves a good mystery thriller.

 

Scratches

Scratches – Nucleosys – March 8, 2006

Yeah, it’s more creeps than scares, but we dare you, dare you, to stay in the basement for any longer than you needed for the first time.

 

Penumbra

Penumbra – Frictional Games – March 30, 2007

Three years before Frictional Games unleashed Amnesia unto the PC gaming world, they did a bit of foreshadowing with Penumrba.   The overall ambient atmosphere is filled unnerving moments which can make even the most hardened gamer run crying to mommy.

 

BioShock

BioShock – 2K Boston – August 21, 2007

Another title on this list which is not out and out horror.  BioShock led gamers on a trip through the remains of Rapture, which was not scary itself, until you listen to some of the tapes former citizens left behind.  In addition, the stories of Dr. Steinman and Sander Cohen are easily the most unsettling.

 

Cryostasis

Cryostasis – Action Forms – April 24, 2009

A unique approach to horror games, Cryostasis was an immersive first person game in which the terror stemmed from the fact that you were always just a few second away from freezing to death.  Scrambling between sources of heat as you try to make your way through the creepy frozen environments, this game captured a sense of desperation in a way that few others could.

 

Metro 2033 – 4A Games – March 16, 2010

The aftermath of a nuclear war.  Deep unknown tunnels.  Horrible mutants.  Dark Ones.  You better believe Metro 2033 will send chills up your spine.

 

Amnesia The Dark Descent

Amnesia: The Dark Descent  – Frictional Games – September 8, 2010

Considered by some to be the scariest game released in the last few decades, Amnesia goes against the grain in removing most offensive weapons from the player.  Couple this with an overall sense of dread and helplessness, Amnesia deserves a spot on any video game horror best of list.

 

Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2 – Visceral Games – January 25, 2011

An action-packed horror masterpiece, Dead Space 2 delivers in almost ever facet of making the player believe they are, in fact, Isaac Clarke.  Dead Space 2 also corrected some terrible control issues on the PC which is why the original missed the cut.

 

Home

Home – Benjamin Rivers – June 1st, 2012

Home is instantly a classic horror story because, like most great horror stories, all the creeps and scares take place in your head as you try to put together the pieces of what’s going on. There are no cheap jumps or faux-freaky monster designs, just subtle psychological horror that’s perfectly themed (and the perfect length) for a dark and stormy night.

 

Did we miss one of your favorites?  Get the conversation started in the comments section below.

 

468 ad
  • http://twitter.com/flibitijibibo Ethan Lee

    Time to plug a game I worked on: Eversion!

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/33680/

    Slightly different than the titles mentioned above, hm?

    • Adam Ames

      Frightening. Truly frightening

      Oh…. you! :)

      • http://twitter.com/flibitijibibo Ethan Lee

        Did you read the manual? It’s there on the Steam page… :3

        • Adam Ames

          Too afraid to find out exactly what that means.

    • Steven S

      ” Extra entertainment value when played alone at night”

      I’m afraid to ask what exactly that means and how the game knows I’m alone.

  • thiao

    How could you miss Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth?

    • Adam Ames

      We got together as a team and Call of Cthulhu was on the initial list. It was a matter of not having 20 or 30 games listed, which we easily could have done. The same goes for Silent Hill 2 and Lone Survivor.

      • Philski

        As one of the people who had initially submitted that game for consideration…

        DAMMIT AMES, YOU’RE ON THIN ICE HERE!

        • Adam Ames

          Rub salt on the wound. Go right ahead, Phil.

          • Philski

            You know me, I’d never pass up on an opportunity like this!