Gaming thoughts... 10/31/11 - Halloween edition

I like scary movies, and I love scary games. In honor of Halloween I thought I would do a quick rundown on some of my favorite spooky games from over the years.

My favorite scary game: Fatal Frame 2

The entire Fatal Frame series on the PlayStation 2 was amazing. My wife and I bought part 2 from a friend online with a couple of other games, and had no idea what we were getting. He needed money, I just wanted some cheap games. Turned out to be the creepiest game we had ever played, and we loved it. Went out and got the first Fatal Frame right afterward and played that, then when part 3 came out, we immediately bought and beat that one. We were disappointed when the Wii Fatal Frame was released in Japan, but not ported over here.

Image 2
Good series:

- Silent Hill and Resident Evil

My entry into those games came on parts 2 for both. I've played a few over the years since, but never quite got into them the same way. Somewhere along the way, they became more action and less fright-oriented. Still good games, but the series definitely lost some fright-factor.

That said, I did pick up Silent Hill game for the Wii, which got solid reviews. I need to get around to playing and reviewing that one.

- Phantasmagoria:

What a mouthful, huh? Right about the time I met my wife, she and a friend of hers wanted to introduce me to this PC game. The graphics for the time were solid, and the gameplay was that of point-and-click adventure stuff. The storyline was decent, and it definitely had a creepy feel to it. Just don't bother with the second game in the series, where it goes from haunted house to aliens, if I recall correctly.

- Amnesia: The Dark Descent:

I talked about this title back when I reviewed the Potato Sack by Steam. As a game, it is a little clumsy in places. As an experience, this is probably one of the most atmospheric games I have played in awhile. The game is very creepy, and while the graphics engine is not the best, they make excellent use of what they have. Great independent title.

- Limbo:

Not really a horror game, but like Amnesia, this title sets up the atmosphere beautifully, and there are some genuinely creepy moments in the world of living shadows. Amazing title in my opinion.

Honorable mention:

- Dead Space

I still haven't played #2, which is odd since I absolutely loved #1. Sure, it's more "Aliens" scary that "Nightmare on Elm Street" with its sci-fi theme, but it's a good blend of action and tension.

Honorable mention - runner-up:

- Condemned series

These games were more akin to action titles, and I was not a huge fan of the storyline, but the titles themselves had me jumping here and there. The first person view and excellent use of light and sound had me on my toes throughout both titles. Condemned may have been the first suspense/horror title I played this console generation.

Dishonorable mention:

- Friday the Thirteenth on the NES

This may have been my first 'horror' game ever. I had never even seen any of the movies before playing this game, but Jason was an iconic figure by that time, and I knew I was supposed to be scared of him. Thing is, instead of 'horror' the game was simply 'horrible'. It was boring, repetitive and did not scare me in the least - it was quite a let down. Luckily the titles above it in this list have more than made up for this game's sins against me.

So, what about you? Any fans of horror games out there? If so, what are some favorites (or least favorites) and why?


  1. My favorite horror games are Resident Evil (GCN), Resident Evil 4, and Dead Space.

    I don't really have any least favorites.

  2. Great article - love it :-)

    I agree that Fatal Frame 2 is the pinacle of horror games. That game creeped the living hell out of me, but I couldn't stop playing. Fingers crossed the off-shoot game to the 3DS does the same.

    Some other games you might want to check out that you didn't mention up there:

    Clock Tower 3/ Haunting Ground: These "run from the psychotic monsters" games are very different horror games, since you've got no real way to defend yourself, you just have to run and hide.

    Gregory Horror Show: Not a horror game, as such, but it's all kinds of wonderful weird, and sometimes twisted imagery.

    Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth: This is an Xbox horror game, and it's the best Lovecrafian horror games you'll see in videogames. It's actually based on the pen and paper RPG.

  3. @Super - Never played the first RE, RE 2 was my first of that game generation. Can't argue with RE 4 or Dead Space :)

    @Games - yeah, my wife was curled up at my side, fixated to the entire FF 2 process (interestingly, we played that one before FF 1 - and then went back to get the original, which was fun, but not as good imo).

    Clock Tower 3 was cool - I played that and Eternal Darkness at about the same time.

    Gregory Horror Show - never heard of that one - will have to take a peek

    Call of Cthulhu - is that that the same one I've seen on Steam before? I *nearly* grabbed it with breath of death for $2 the other day and got distracted and missed the sale when I got home from work.

  4. Great timely article there! :) I'd like to get back into more horror titles and your list along with the comments so far sound like a great start.

    Never played FF, Silent Hill or any RE so far. FF for 3DS, now that could be a possibility.

    Though one I did play, and still have, is Phantasmagoria. I think this was around circa 1997 and boy it was good, and gruesome at times. I also have the 7th Guest and 11th hour though those were earlier titles and were more like a horror/mystery theme on top of logic puzzles.

    I also have Amnesia on Steam, but haven't put much or any time in. I really liked the Limbo demo and would like to get both Dead Space games at some point.

  5. Like Robert, I have never played the FF series or Silent Hill series, though I have played a few of the RE games.
    One game I was surprised didn't make your list, but I see you commented about it, was Eternal Darkness. I got very, very, very, very far into that game, but never completed it. I enjoyed it, and was hoping it would continue but it hasn't. :(
    As for Silent Hill, I have been tempted to try the Wii version, especially now that it can be found for cheap.

    Also, when you said, "We were disappointed when the Wii Fatal Frame was released in Japan, but not ported over here."
    Yea, that seems to have happened with a lot of Wii games, yet NOW Nintendo is saying they have learned their lesson about having a constant flow of software??? Can you imagine the horror of being an executive right now and sitting on the investors meeting...horror video game in the making!

    In short, horror games I have enjoyed:
    Resident Evil Code: Veronica (Dreamcast)
    Resident Evil (GameCube remake)
    Eternal Darkness

  6. Chalgyr: I don't know if Cthulhu Dark Corners of the Earth is on Steam, actually. Should check that out.

    Make sure it's the right game. There are a lot of games with "Cthulhu" in the title, and not a lot of good horror games.

    Lovecraft is notoriously difficult to turn into good, scary movies or games.

  7. Chalgyr,

    This is definitely an interesting topic of conversation, and I (being the sometimes inflammatory, always interesting guy that I am), would like to tell you one of my favorite "scary" games.

    I REALLY enjoyed Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Wii. I thought that it was interesting, risky, and panic-inducing in equal measure, and you can tell that the team who developed it really loved their work. Of course, the game isn't perfect; It's no where near as unsettling the second time through when you already know when the "OH CRAP" moments are about to occur, and there are those who took issue with the non-violent approach in a Silent Hill game. In loving this game, I realize that I am in the minority here, but I just don't care.

    The whole premise was risky, and sadly for those of us who loved its focus on narrative and doubt, it was a risk that didn't get a reasonable rate of return.

    Nonetheless, I really feel strongly about what it means to gaming as an industry.

    Just my $0.02. :) Thought-provoking post, my friend!


    P.S. Resident Evil 5 is NOT SCARY IN THE SLIGHTEST. I refuse to acknowledge any title into the survival-horror Hall of Fame where I'm swimming in ammunition in broad daylight. So there.

  8. Awesome replies gang - I appreciate the comments. Glad I picked this particular topic to break up my PS Move articles!

    @Robert - Fatal Frame was one of those titles that completely took me by surprise. I had not heard of it, had no idea what it was, but for whatever reason, it resonated with me really well - and I was excited to see that there is a 3DS version being made.

    Phantasmagoria was really creepy at the time. I actually picked it up real cheap from Good Old Games awhile back, and unfortunately its pixelated glory doesn't hold up quite as well now, but it was a good game and the first game my wife and I actually ever played together when we started to date. :)

    @Coffee - I beat it twice. Right after beating the game, I went through with a new 'color' of magic and beat it again, which went very quickly already having known the puzzles, etc. I had read (and later seen on Youtube) that there was a slightly different ending for those who played through it all 3 times, but I just never got around to that 3rd play through.

    I've been hit and miss on the RE games I've played, like the Silent Hill games too.

    @Games - I was thinking of Cthulhu saves the world - which was clearly not the game you mentioned - but I did find Cthulhu Dark Corners on Steam for $10 - I'll have to keep that one in mind. :)

    @8-bit - I have that Silent Hill for the Wii, but I only played it one night. The next day, my Wii died. Not sure if I should consider that to be some sort of a creepy coincidence or not. ;) But, I lost my save data when they replaced my Wii, and I just haven't tried it since. Keep meaning to, I just haven't.

    As for RE 5, yeah... things that go bump in the night are my idea of scary. I found some of the titles offered up by Steam and Gamersgate to be questionable 'scary'. Many of the titles were spot on, but Steam had Trains vs Zombies from the Trains XXL series and Gamersgate had Bioshock in there I believe? Occasionally creepy atmosphere? Sure. A horror game like Silent Hill or Dead Space? Nahhh

    Thanks for all the comments!

  9. @Chalgyr:

    From reading a few articles on FF for 3DS (Spirit Photo), it certainly sounds like something to keep in mind. I like the idea of various AR-based games, but honestly I'm usually too lazy or tired to make the effort to play them properly. :-)


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