Home Editorial What’s the scariest game you’ve ever played?

Happy Halloween! While you may be too old to wear a costume or trick strangers into giving you diabetes, you’re never too mature to get the shit scared outta ya.

I don’t have a particular taste or distaste for horror games myself, though I take them in moderation. Some titles, like Dead Space, are ultimately too action-y to actually frighten me for a long period of time. By contrast, other games, like the Silent Hill series, early iterations of Resident Evil, and Alien vs Predator (the original, not the crappy recent remake) were atmospheric enough to give me the heebie-jeebies.*

Silent Hill and Resident Evil did a great job of making you, the player, feel helpless… at least initially. Playing the game in any reckless manner wouldn’t end well for your character, and watching his/her gory death on screen (alone in a darkly lit room, presumably) was enough to unsettle players like me.

Similarly, the original Alien vs Predator for PC did a great job at masking information, leaving most of the scares to your hallucination. With only a scant few flares, a battery-limited flashlight, and a motion detector that detects creaky doors and hostile life forms in the same way, it was easy to get unhinged. There were plenty of times where I stood shaking at a door, refusing to enter because my radar was lit up like a Christmas tree. When I finally got the guts to enter, there was just some loose wiring swinging around. Relieved, I would let down my guard and turned around, usually to find a xenomorph devouring my face. My panicked, girlish screams are the talk of everyone at the family dinner table.

As for games specifically designed to make the player change his/her pants (I’m looking at you, Amnesia and Slender), count me out. My bloated ego doesn’t leave a lot of room for iron-clad psyche in my personality, and I don’t think my fragile fear barrier would hold up long against such persistent threats.

Of course, not everyone’s a wimp. What about you? What’s the scariest game you’ve ever played? Have there been any titles too terrifying to finish?


* Is there actually a correct way to spell this?

20 replies to this post
  1. People keep saying “Amnesia”, “Amnesia” … And it was certainly quite scary. Definatly one of the scariest, but for me the game got a lot less scary once you figured out a scary dude would pop out in the next room once you picked up a plot item of some description :\ Took out a lot of the tension for me.

    For me the scariest game I’ve played is Penumbra Black Plague, suffers from the same issue, sometimes. Though you’ve got some randomly appearing monsters to keep you on your toes, and ones that patrol. In one area near the game is particularly dark, and you can see faint lights through the hallways of patrolling bad guys… You can’t turn on yours, if you do, you hear loud grunts of nearby monsters and footsteps racing toward you, always creeps me out.

    Also, Fatal Frame 1, don’t know why, but that game gets me every time I play it. Fatal frame 2… Not so much, I feel like FF1 builds up a much scarier atmosphere and ghosts.

  2. As odd as this is gonna sound, Doom 3. It was pretty much the first real FPS/horror game I played (the only things I’d played before were Sim City/Civilization type city builders set in the ancient world). I must’ve been 11 or 12. Would shit my pants (no, not literally) at pretty much every monster/corner/hallway/everything. Had to give up around a third of the way through cause I couldn’t take it. ‘Bout a year later I realized that it wasn’t scary at all if every time you got jumped you turned around and mowed him/her/it right the fuck down.
    Have not encountered a scary enough game since.

  3. Do you know that little HTML based labyrinth game where after you completed Level 3 the screen just flashes a witch face and screams on the top of the Windows Sound Mixer?

    That one! :D

  4. slender was the worst for me, played it for the first time on a livesstream and ended up filling it with shrieks, tears, and mumbling

    amnesia is not as bad

  5. Minecraft was the only game that ever made me react openly with fear. Actually, I screamed out pretty loudly like a complete wuss. But hey, cut me some slack. You know how you read about those mysterious slime creatures, but never see them, until one day, there are strange noises while you walk into your mine, and when you drop down the final bit, something green enough to pass as a Creeper jumps directly into your face from a blind angle? Holy cow, that was a shock moment.

    You know, back when Creepers actually were scary.

  6. +1 with a Creeper with there sneak on.

    But first on computer, would probably be Alone in the Dark around 1992.

  7. I get that it’s cliche now, but Amnesia scares the shit out of me. I picked it up on the Humble Indy Bundle over the summer and I’m only like halfway through. Again, I know everyone says it, but the infamous Water Part gave me goosebumps for the entire time. It doesn’t help when your wife sneaks in behind you and grabs you while screaming at an intense part.

    There have been others that have scared me at times, but not like Amnesia. Bioshock was pretty scary at times. (The Dentist dude, in particular, freaked me out.) The whole atmosphere was creepy, and the splicers would do really weird shit that was pretty scary.

    Left 4 Dead scared me the first time I played it. “Oh, what’s up with this woman on the ground crying……OH! OH NO! SHIT!” Left 4 Dead is actually the last modern game my wife played with me. “Where’d you go? Oh, is that you in the corner? AAAHHHH!” She then threw her controller and said she was done.

    Myst gave me the creeps too. Just silence most of the time, walking around seeing remnants of people before you. It wasn’t “scary” I guess, but it definitely gave me an uneasy feeling.

    • Having not finished Amnesia, I can’t say one way or the other how the whole package scares me. But the scene in Bioshock when you’re in the forest section and the teleporting splicer just sort of appears behind you laughing scared me witless.

  8. Slender never got to me. I giggled my way through it while talking to Slenderman in a sexy tone. I guess it’s because I was totally engrossed with Slenderman for three solid years before the game came out and had already gone through my scares on Something Awful and, consequently, /x/.

    And I may get made fun of for this next one, but Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. While they aren’t made to be scary, they have this crushingly lonely atmosphere and sometimes, you really do realize you are alone. Sometimes you’ll get help. Other times though, it’s you and your wits fighting insanity. Top if off with some decently creepy level design here and there and I’m pretty creeped out.

    SCP: Containment Breach though. Easily the most terrifying thing I have every played.

  9. Eternal Darkness fucks with you that only a game based on Lovecraftian horror can. Yes Silent Hill 1&2 had me scared but when Eternal Darkness said it was deleting my save data right at the end of the game…. That’s just cold.

  10. The scariest game for me, at least as far as memory goes, was the original Clock Tower. I was watching a friend play it and when the scissor dude corner you in a hallway with no obvious way out, just clicking the shears at you…..That was the first time I had nightmares that woke me up in a sweat. I don’t know about the sequels, but the first one got me good.

  11. Surprised no one mentioned:

    Condemned 2: Bloodshot


    Clive Barker’s Jericho

    Both were pretty damn good. Sure not as flashy as the new ones, but had their hair raising moments.

  12. The scariest game I’ve ever played was the Bioshock series. The first time I played them was when I was eleven and it was like 10:30 at night. Scared the shit out of mewith all the splicers doing the wierd and crazy stuff everywhere. That said I honestly haven’t played many scary games because I have always chosen not to.

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