With Halloween just around the corner, TheKoalition.com has decided to list some horror games which petrified us the most.
Please note that this list is in no particular order. Each selection has been made by individual writers who found their respective choice their most terrifying experience in gaming.
Stephanie Burdo – Editor
Fatal Frame – PlayStation 2 & Xbox – 2002
I can still remember the first time I decided to dive into the horror of Fatal Frame. I was working at GameStop and asked a fellow coworker for a PlayStation 2 horror game recommendation. She told me about a Japanese supernatural survival horror game and referred to it as ‘one of the scariest games of all time’. After enduring some of the most frightening video game experiences of my life, I knew that she was right.
Fatal Frame follows a young girl named Miku, who enters an abandoned mansion to find her brother Mafuyu, who went missing two weeks earlier. Soon after discovering the labyrinth of rooms, eerie collectibles and totems, Miku soon finds that the spirits of the abandoned mansion are angry and are coming for her.
Miku soon realizes that she is able to capture the souls of the haunting spirits through her trusty camera. As I made my way through the mansion, I soon found myself quivering in fear as I raised my lens, anticipating a ghoul or demon to rush towards me from the darkness. As I found torture devices in random rooms, I felt a sense of unease and I knew that the ghouls coming for Miku were full of rage and had a thirst for revenge.
Through my experience with Fatal Frame, there was one pinnacle moment that I will never forget. Horror games will come and go but this haunting memory will always remain. I was walking around the grounds of the estate and suddenly a pale, thin woman dropped from the tree above. When I looked up, she was hanging from a noose, moaning towards me. Quickly grabbing my camera, I aimed up and her disturbing face was an inch from the lense. It gives me goosebumps thinking about it!
If you like supernatural Japanese horror such as The Grudge, make sure to check out Fatal Frame. You can find it on PlayStation Now and PlayStation 3 network for purchase.
Jaydon Goss – BaTB Podcast Co-host
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 & PC – 2009
For those that don’t already know, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is a horror genre, first person shooter – and a scary one at that. Players dive into this sequel as Michael Beckett, a Delta Force operator who is trying to infiltrate a compound looking for Genevieve Aristide. When things begin to go awry, a much deeper plot is revealed and a demonic ghost enters the scene.
Project Origin begins thirty minutes before the climactic ending of the first F.E.A.R., throwing the player directly into firefights with black ops soldiers. The story really begins to unravel when a ghostly little girl named Alma appears and begins to terrorize Beckett. One of F.E.A.R. 2’s greatest strengths is making the player feel powerless and helpless to Alma’s haunting presence. Try as hard you may by tearing through enemies and blowing foes to pieces, you are still ultimately helpless to Alma’s supernatural abilities.
F.E.A.R. 2 is also successful at making players feel sympathetic for Beckett as he slowly slips into insanity, plagued with visions of Alma. Along with the psychological attribute to gameplay, an uneasy feeling throughout the game is evoked through the use of blood trails, heads in washing machines and enemies being thrown and pulled into god knows what.
The action in F.E.A.R. 2 is extremely relentless. For example, at certain points during the game you will encounter convulsing, jumping, crawling enemies who are not only terrifying, but are nearly impossible to catch without listening to the pitter-patter of their feet. The player has no other choice but to fight the terror, remain calm, focus on an attack point and fire.
We all know that a good horror soundtrack is imperative to the success of a horror game. Thankfully in the case of F.E.A.R. 2, the sickening audio tension remains consistently horrific throughout the game’s different environments. All in all, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is an achievement for both the survival horror and FPS genre and should definitely be revisited this Halloween season.
James Kennedy – Senior Editor
Silent Hills P.T. (Playable Teaser) – PlayStation 4 – 2014
Last year, at around the time of Gamescom 2014, I continued to hear about this thing called P.T. I didn’t know what it was, nor did I particularly care. My fellow colleagues at The Koalition continued to bring it up in our daily discussions and talk about how scary it was. A day or so later, I paid a bit more attention whenever P.T. was mentioned, I noticed that there was something different going on. The fact that it was also hidden away in the PlayStation Store was peculiar enough to finally spark my interest.
After seeking it out and downloading P.T., I knew that I was in for an experience. I just didn’t know how it was going to transpire. I purposefully waited until it was late before I played it. I plugged my headphones into my DualShock 4 controller and immersed myself into the experience. I was wandering into the unknown and that was part of the magic of this “game”.
The “game” starts off in an empty room. You get up off of the floor and you walk through a door. After walking through this door there was literally no going back. You come to find that you are stuck in a hallway in a house and you are desperately trying to get out. The first time you walk through the garage door and reappear in the hallway again, you begin to realize that you are stuck in a horrific loop. Doors that never opened before are now ajar. Noises you didn’t hear before are now looming over you. All you could do in terms of interactivity was walk and also zoom in a little with the use of R3. You can’t fight, you can’t jump, you can’t run (apart from one section where all you do by default is run).
Or so you thought.
After painstakingly investigating every corner and trying everything that came to mind and still not progressing, I did what 99% of people who played P.T. did and went to the internet for help. It turns out that we had to plug in the PlayStation microphone and talk to the ghost called Lisa. This blew my mind. Not only did I call for Lisa, she decided to show up right after I said her name. This was the second time that this game had made me scream like a little bitch. (Some of you will have an idea what the first time was).
From the graphical detail of the Fox Engine, to the absolutely excellent sound design and the psychological games that P.T. plays with you, this demo is absolutely dripping with atmosphere.
After finally completing this “game”, I felt so relieved. I was happy it was over, but in a good way! It turned out to be a “Playable Teaser” for an upcoming Silent Hills game, which due to their own insanity, Konami has since shitcanned. Not only that, they also removed P.T. from the PlayStation Store too! If you had never gotten to experience the horrific P.T. then I highly recommend that you watch some Let’s Plays on YouTube as a substitute.
David Jagneaux – Senior Editor
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem – Nintendo GameCube – 2002
Never have I ever felt so uncomfortable playing a game as I did when I first played Silicon Knight’s devilishly deceptive and maddening Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. It combines one of the most cleverly written stories I’ve ever seen in a game with truly spine-tingling moments to create one of the most unforgettable gaming experiences of my life.
At its core, Eternal Darkness feels a lot like many other games. You play as a few different characters exploring environments trying to uncover secrets and slowly reveal details about the world. Supernatural things happen. You die. There’s blood. Jump scares. Pretty standard stuff, for the most part.
But then eventually the game takes a bit of a…let’s just say “different” turn…by going a step further and messing with you, the player, directly. You could walk into rooms and suddenly appear on the ceiling. Your character can go insane and kill him or herself suddenly. There was one moment I remember where the game disc itself seemed to have frozen and was stuck on a screen – but it was all just part of the game. The designers had not only broken the fourth wall, but they did so in such an elegant way, I was completely duped.
I’ve played a lot of the other games on this list and they’re all surely scary and frightening in their own ways, but nothing will ever come close to the self-questioning uncertainty and simple sense of being uncomfortable that came from Eternal Darkness.
Tatjana Vejnovic – Contributing Editor
Resident Evil: REmake – Nintendo GameCube – 2002
The first Resident Evil was one of a kind. We scared ourselves as we explored it’s pixelated halls on the original Playstation in 1996, and were filled with part fear and part laughter during the amazingly cheesy, yet effective cutscenes. The story was one of the greatest stories to date, and we were itching for more. From there on, we got some of the greatest horror games in history, and arguably, one of the best franchises, too. When I got my GameCube for my 12th birthday, I decided to convince my mom to pick up a copy of the Resident Evil: REMake. Man, sometimes I wish I hadn’t.
With graphics incredibly impressive for its time, camera angles from the seventh circle of Hell, and a list of amazing unlockables (epic costumes, the flamethrower, invisible mode), I am still scared of this stupid game at the age of twenty-four. Along with up-scaling the graphics by the tenfold, Capcom also added new enemies and puzzles. The thought of the Crimson Heads still sends chills down my spine thirteen years later.
Do me a favor. Imagine your good ol’ twelve-year-old self playing some Resident Evil. You lift the shotgun off the wall in the room with the lock and matching key and you’re ready to explore a whole other part of the good ol’ mansion. But twelve-year-old you wasn’t very smart, now were you? Twelve-year-old you didn’t realize that had you not burned every dead zombie on the floor prior to lifting the shotgun off the wall. Twelve-year-old you didn’t know that all of them would come back with fast, strong, Crimson Heads with claws the size of Jill’s legs. So, remembering this slightly too late, you decide to start burning the bodies as you pass them. And as you bend down to torch one..
..it releases it’s giant claw, and knocks your head off. I didn’t play the game for months after that.
Oh, and Lisa! WHO COULD FORGET BEAUTIFUL LISA? I wonder if Lisa ever found her mommy. Sad face ensues.
Yeah, if that game doesn’t still make you pee a little bit, I don’t know what does.
Tony Polanco – Executive Editor
Alien: Isolation – PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One – 2014
There have been a few horror games that have you being chased by a crazed maniac or terrifying monster. Alien: Isolation doesn’t do anything different in that regard. However, when the thing that is out to kill you is an intelligent creature that adapts to your behavior, that brings the terror to a whole new level.
Watching the original Alien movie was frightening enough as you see the crew of the Nostromo being killed one by one by an intelligent predator. However, when it is you that’s being chased by this monster, it becomes something else entirely. There is no stopping this thing, and all you can really do is hide and hope it doesn’t find you. Even hiding doesn’t guarantee safety though since the alien will eventually figure out what your favorite hiding spots are and wait for you there. You can use tools to distract the beast, but again, it will eventually figure out what you’re doing and change its strategy accordingly.
The abandoned station of Sevastopol also contributes to the horror of the game. Seeing a once teaming space station in shambles and lifeless was a constant reminder that you are in danger of becoming the next body lying on the floor with your insides hanging out. Even finding other humans didn’t give you a reprieve since they were quick to shoot anyone they didn’t recognize. Though you might be tempted to explore the space station, you also want to escape its dark, blood drenched hallways with every fiber of your being.
What Alien: Isolation does so well is give you a persistent sense of fear. You never feel (and never are) safe, and that tension makes it more frightening than any game I’ve ever played. While the game isn’t perfect (it does run on for too long), the terror that it conjured up in me is one that is truly unique.
Stephanie Burdo – Editor
Slender: The Arrival – PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U – 2013
There are many attributes to what makes Slender Man: The Arrival very frightening. Aside from the appearance of the notorious, internet-born horror villain himself; both the ambiance and surrounding events of the series are as equally disturbing.
One evening on May 31st, 2014, the Slender Man phenomena reached entirely new heights when two 12-year-old girls reportedly lured another young girl into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. Now facing up to 65 years in prison, the two girls claim that they carried out the murder in hopes that they would transform into mythological creatures themselves.
This 12-year-old victim was meant to serve as a sacrifice to the creature known as “Slender Man.”
This event and other myths serve as the foundation of fright that Slender Man: The Arrival evokes through its players. During my first play-through, I nearly lost my breath when I saw Slender Man standing outside the window of Kate’s abandoned house for the first time. And in that quick second, he had already disappeared. As I progressed through the valley, I could see his eerie, tall figure, watching me from a distance. Much later, I felt sick with fear, never knowing if the blank-faced, lanky figure would be waiting around the corner. If he was, I knew that I would be rendered completely defenseless.
You could say that Slender Man is vicious, but that is not entirely true. Slender Man is the true ‘video game predator’ incarnate. He is not only cruel, but insidious in nature. Slender Man doesn’t simply stalk his prey. He takes his time, passively watching as his victims slowly lose grip of their sanity.
No matter what you do, when the time comes that Slender Man decides it’s your time to die, there is no escape.
Dana Anacrombie – Content Writer
The Evil Within – PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One – 2014
Let’s be honest, the formula for creating a scary game is rather simple on the surface, but full of complications when you get down to the essence of execution. There is more to being scary than carefully placed jump scares and eerie music (take that, Resident Evil).
To be truly scary is to feel its horror from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Your screams should shake, your heart should beat faster, and there should be a touch of you possibly facing death by heart attack, or calling for Jesus.
While The Evil Within takes blood, guts and glory to a Saw-like level, it does something more. It puts you into the driver’s seat of insanity with truly horrific death traps that will make you question the mental stability of the creators. And yes, The Evil Within may have its flaws, but at its core you cannot deny the fear that is brought on by these psychologically trying factors to gameplay.
However, the beauty of The Evil Within is that it takes its scare jumps to the next level. The game itself is truly disturbing, not because of the bloody and creepy spider-like creatures, but because it pits you against the most complicated enemy you will ever face – your mind. Are you truly insane, or are insane things happening to you? The game thrives on the concept of questioning the unknown and there is nothing more unstable and foreign than someone who is wrecked with insanity.
The irrational nature of the psyche and that which is present in The Evil Within, is enough to have you pulling out your prayer beads.
Richard Bailey – Editor-In-Chief
Alan Wake – Xbox 360, PC – 2010
When Alan Wake was announced back in 2005, I found myself intrigued by what this game could potentially bring to the survival horror genre. Remedy Entertainment has always excelled at making immersive video games but had never really tackled anything along these lines before.
Once the game finally launched on the Xbox 360 in May of 2010, I was immediately floored by just how fantastic this new IP turned out. This was not only one of the best Xbox 360 exclusives at the time, but it is also one franchise that fans are still awaiting a sequel for to this day.
Alan Wake could be best described as a psychological survival horror game about an award-winning novelist that searches for his missing wife, and experiences horrific events from his books in real time. The game took a clever approach to the power of light and darkness by identifying fear of the unknown as one of the scariest aspects of life.
By choosing to explore things further, we open ourselves up to the reality of every situation whether that be a good thing or bad thing. At the heart of it all, this really was the core message of Alan Wake, and it is my sole reason why this is one survival horror game that is definitely worth playing.