Well hello there, welcome to a brand new feature piece here at Gaming Respawn, The Top 5. Now, it is not hard to work out what we will be discussing over the coming weeks. Each week I will be bringing you a top 5 list of what I think are the best games in the chosen genre/subject. This week I will be talking about a genre that has captivated my imagination since my early teens, and not just in video games either but in all of entertainment. So, without further ado let’s dive straight into The Top 5…Horror Games.
Eternal Darkness was released back in 2002 by the now defunct Silicon Knights on the fabulous little console which was the Nintendo GameCube. It was the first game released by Silicon Knights since the 1996 Blood Omen: Legacy of Kane. The story revolves around Alexandra Roivas who is investigating the mysterious death of her grandfather, Edward. You investigate his mansion in Rhode Island where you stumble across a secret room, in which you find a delightful book covered in human skin called The Tome of Eternal Darkness. This is when the game becomes really interesting and quite innovative for its time. When Alex reads the first chapter of the book, we then take control of a new character, Pious Augustus in the year 26 BC. Every chapter Alex finds in the mansion lets us play as another character in another point in history. This is where the combat in the game takes place; Alex only fights right at the end of the game. However, what made this game brilliant and worthy of this list was a feature that we see have seen a lot more in modern horror games but not so much back then…a sanity meter. If your character was spotted by an enemy, then the meter would drain. If the meter is left to drain, then the game changes the environment. This could be from simple camera or lighting effects inside the game and additional sound effects such as children screaming and doors slamming. However, an absolutely terrifying (well, to 14-year-old me anyway) consequence would also happen, the game would ‘break the 4th wall’ and mess around with your console and TV. The game would display fake error messages on the GameCube saying that the system had crashed or the controller wasn’t plugged in correctly, or the TV picture would just go black mimicking that it had turned itself off. Now, this by today’s standards seem fairly tame as this also happens in other games, but I vividly remember being absolutely terrified when this happened. Eternal Darkness was an incredible game that I would recommend to anyone to play now in 2016. A slight problem though is, unless you have or intend on buying a GameCube, it hasn’t released on any other platform. They are quite cheap now though, so……
Anyone familiar with Deadly Premonition will understand when I say…what the hell was going on?! In its basic form, Deadly Premonition is a fairly typical survival horror game. You play FBI agent Francis York Morgan who has been sent to the rural town of Greenvale to investigate and catch the notorious Raincoat Killer. Fairly standard plot, and in case you were wondering why the killer is called the Raincoat Killer, it’s because he wears a raincoat while carrying out his brutal killings. Released initially on the Xbox 360 in 2010, a director’s cut was also released in 2013 on the PlayStation 3 which did fix a lot of the original’s flaws, and this is an important point. Deadly Premonition was a game with a lot of flaws. The controls were awful (think tank Resident Evil controls but worse) and the camera was dreadful, but what Deadly Premonition did amazingly well was create a terrifying atmosphere and introduce us to some extremely bizarre yet memorable characters. That is Deadly Premonition in its basic form, but it is far, far more than that. Special Agent York isn’t what you would call a stable character, he often interrupts the numerous NPCs’ conversations by talking to his imaginary friend Zach. It was also the first real open world survival horror game, where like many open world games you are free to do what you want. The game also takes place in a world where good and evil are symbolically represented by the forest (good) and the red tree (evil). Special Agent York often visits two rooms (a white and red room) throughout the game and during his investigation. Deadly Premonition’s combat sequences are tense, mainly because what you are fighting is absolutely bonkers! Deadly Premonition is a game that either you will absolutely adore or hate more than anything. It’s obscure, tense, weird, frightening, and ludicrous all in one go.
This terrifying, simple FPS game was released back in 2012 for the grand sum of nothing. Slender: The Eight Pages was and still is totally free. Due to its generous price tag, the game itself doesn’t take long to complete at all, but what it does do in the short space of time you are playing is scare you, again and again and again. Those not familiar with the Slender Man, he was created in the Something Awful forums in a Photoshop contest. Users had to edit normal photos and make them appear paranormal. Out of this contest came Slender Man, a tall figure with a white face. For those who want to know a bit more about the background of Slender Man, I implore you to read through the Wikipedia page about the character. Now to the game, you are in a forest at night. All you have with you is a flashlight. Your very simple job is to explore this forest and collect 8 scraps of paper. Easy, you say? You are wrong..dead wrong! With each piece of paper you collect, Slender Man pushes further in his pursuit of you. Now, what this game does superbly well is what all classic horror films have done with a limited budget, they scare you with atmosphere and your own imagination. Once you start collecting more and more pages, you see Slender Man everywhere, you hear him all around you. When he does catch you, it will turn your hair white! To get the best out of this limited experience, you need to play it in the dark with your headphones on. Believe me when I say that the first time Slender Man catches you, you will be screaming, just like I did.
Ah, Silent Hill, the creepy, weird cousin of Resident Evil. Released a long, long time ago back in 2001, Silent Hill 2 scared a new generation of survival horror fans. After many had claimed that the Resident Evil series had grown stagnant, Konami brought us an absolute classic. I was 14 when I first played Silent Hill 2, and I foolishly thought that I would just breeze through it. ‘I’ve played loads of horror games’, I thought in my young, foolish mind. How wrong I was. The first time I encountered Pyramid Head, each and every time I heard him dragging his huge sword through the fog, I would pause the game for minutes at a time to compose myself. Silent Hill 2 took the formula that the first game laid out and just went all out crazy. The combat was horrible, but that just added to the sheer terror you felt while trying to defend yourself against the horrors you encountered. In a way, it was quite realistic in the sense that James Sunderland, the character you control, doesn’t have any previous experience in hand-to-hand combat or handling weapons. This horribly slow and awkward combat makes every encounter in Silent Hill 2 absolutely terrifying and as tense as a boss fight. Silent Hill is a series that could never really live up to the sheer brilliance of this game. The third and fourth instalments are good but noting in comparison to this survival horror masterpiece.
Outlast is hands down the most petrifying game I have ever had the pleasure of playing, hence being number 1. The plot to Outlast is simple, you are a journalist and you get your hands on some information that the recently re-opened Mount Massive Asylum has been mistreating its inmates. So, armed with your trusty video camera and a notebook, you head on into the asylum. One question..? WHY!!!!!!!!! The minute you enter this literal hellhole, you are met with absolute horror. There is god knows what roaming around the halls and then, of course, everyone takes an interest in you. Now, there is no combat at all in Outlast. If you are seen, you run, and if you can’t hide, you die…horribly. Oh, and the best part is that most of the game takes place in absolute darkness, so you have to use your camera’s night vision, but you can’t just use it all the time as the batteries will run out. So, there are many points in the game where you have to walk around in complete darkness. Now, this wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but the horror you witness when there is light keeps you in a constant state of fear and panic. So, you’re stumbling around an asylum in the dark with monsters and deranged patients running amok. Even writing about it is sending a shiver down my spine. To all the horror fans out there, Outlast is a must! No game has ever scared me as much nor kept me scared all the way through. Once I just hid under a bed for five minutes (in the game, of course, not my actual bed) just because I knew nothing could get me under there. Outlast dares you to explore Mount Massive Asylum and find all the documents to complete your investigation. The chase sequences will leave you reaching for your favourite childhood teddy bear to make you feel safe. It’s a game that quite frankly has scared me more than any horror film I have seen. So, if you don’t fancy sleeping for a few weeks, pick up Outlast. You will/won’t regret it.