In response to the upcoming Resident Evil and Silent Hill game releases, as well as the upcoming RE film, I couldn’t help but think back at some of my favorite survival horror video games. The games range in dates and systems and some of the quality of said games are questionable. However, no matter how good or bad the games were reviewed, I had fun playing them either way.
10.) Dino Crisis (Playstation)
This 1999 Capcom release is essentially “Resident Evil” with dinosaurs. In this game, the player controls Regina, a special ops member who is dropped down into a military facility to investigate strange occurrences. Once Regina is there, she is cut off from the main world and she soon realizes that she is stuck on an island with a bunch of hungry dinosaurs. As Regina makes her way throughout the facility, she realizes that the prehistoric creatures are there due to a top-secret experiment gone awry. Regina struggles to uncover the truth behind what happened as she fights to survive and make her way off of the isolated island.
I loved this game, mostly because it was similar to Resident Evil, and because it happened to be the first Playstation game that I ever completed on my own. I played and replayed this game numerous times and the moment when Regina first encounters a dinosaur inside of the building scared the crap out of me–EVERY time.
9.) Friday the 13th (NES)
This 1989 release, which is obviously named after the 80s slasher hit, is argued to be one of the worst video games of all time. The gamer plays as 1 of 6 camp counselors, each of whom has their own different levels of ability. The counselor must navigate through Camp Crystal Lake, searching for their missing friends, while simultaneously avoiding zombies, crows and wolves–all of which have absolutely nothing to do with the film franchise. Along their journey, the gamer must face Jason and defeat him 3 times as he unknowingly appears at certain moments within the game. Ugh, let me just tell you this; whenever I heard the scary music that references Jason’s appearance, I would flip my shit! And, as many players of the game know, killing Jason was almost impossible to do; the guy’s life span was redonkulously high and all he needed to do was hit you twice and–BAM–you’re dead! The gameplay was extremely repetitive however, I still loved this game! Even though one would do the same thing over and over, often forgetting whether or not you’ve already investigated certain areas, I found it to be extremely addictive. How can horror fans not love this game?!
8.) Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (Gamecube)
This psychological horror, which was originally intended for Nintendo64, was released for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2002. The game takes place in a Rhode Island mansion, where the grandfather of Alexandra Roivas lives. Upon her arrival, our protagonist realizes that her beloved grandfather is in fact missing and she finds herself investigating his creepy home. While searching for her granddaddy, Alexandra discovers a hidden room containing a book, The Tome of Eternal Darkness, which has the effect to transport her into the mind of three different people of different time periods. As Alexandra continues, she experiences hallucinations, making for a creepy and confusing feel for the gamer; there were moments of gameplay in which the player is unsure whether or not what was happening was real or if it was just a figment of Alexandra’s imagination. This game is extremely creative and very different than a lot of other survival horror games on the market. It was fun to play and at times, super creepy.
7.) Clocktower (Playstation, PC)
Loosely based on Dario Argento’s Phenomena, this point-and-click game follows a young girl as she does her best to remain from harms way. What differentiates this game from other survival horror games is the fact that our protagonist isn’t given any weapons to defend herself; instead, the young girl must hide to keep away from the bad guy. The game is also controlled by pointing and clicking things, rather than allowing the player to have full control over the character’s movements.
The story follows a young orphan, Jennifer, as she and a few other orphaned girls are taken to a mansion known as the “Clock Tower”, where their new guardian awaits them. Once there, things seem odd and after Jennifer goes off to investigate, she soon finds herself alone and in deep trouble. Throughout the game, Jennifer is stalked by Bobby, aka “Scissorman”, as she tries to make her way safely through the mysterious home.
This game is completely terrifying to me because as I played, I often found myself helpless, unable to shoot up the insanely creepy Scissorman who wouldn’t leave me the hell alone! If the character goes into “panic mode”, it is up to you as the player to remain calm yourself and figure out how to escape. Overall, the elements of the game make is stand out among other games, due to it’s unique controls and different open endings.
6.) Dead Space (Playstation 3, Xbox360)
What makes space even scarier? Zombies. This 3rd person shooter game follows the story of an engineer, Isaac, who must fight to survive on a ship infested with monstrous zombie-like creatures called Necromorphs. The game takes place in the year 2552 and Concordance Extraction Corporation receives a distress signal from a nearby ship. When the CEC attempts to help out, they crash land on the ship instead and are forced to investigate the apparent abandoned ship. In doing so, the crew comes into contact with the terrifying reanimated corpses who have taken over the ship.
5.) Fatal Frame (Playstation 2)
This Japanese horror follows a young girl, Miku, as she explores a mysterious mansion, in search of her older brother who has been missing for two weeks. The game is supposedly based on true events that happened around the Himuro Mansion in Japan, which makes the game even more terrifying. The protagonist navigates through the dark mansion and finds herself being attacked by ghosts sporadically. Her only defense–the Camera Obscura. The camera is an antique, given by her mother, which has the ability to hurt and capture the vengeful spirits. During the game, Miku must collect and solve puzzles while simultaneously gathering more film for her camera. The game terrified me because of its dark atmosphere and the camera element. Rather than a gun, the player must rely on film, making sure to have enough in order to fight off the attackers.
4.) Altered Beast (Sega)
Rise to your grave! This 1988 side scrolling platform follows a Roman warrior who is resurrected by Zeus to save his kidnapped daughter, Athena. Upon his resurrection, the warrior must absorb spirit balls to help transform him into an Altered Beast; part animal, part human. The game is set in a Greece-like area which is surrounded by zombies and other monsters that the protagonist must face. Once the warrior absorbs three spirit balls and transforms into the beast, he is able to fight the end-level boss and upon completion, the demon God who has Athena strips him of his powers, forcing him to start over again.
I remember playing this game when I was younger and being completely terrified due to the sounds alone. The voice of the Neff boss cackling and shouting, “WELCOME TO YOUR DOOM” was probably the scariest thing I have ever heard. The game was fun and simple and totally addictive.
3.) Silent Hill (Playstation)
Where do I even begin? This game has to be one of the creepiest survival horror games ever made. The gamer follows Harry who is in search of his missing daughter in an eery town called, Silent Hill. In the beginning of the game, Harry and his daughter are driving to their vacation destination. Along the way, Harry swerves to avoid hitting a young girl, crashes, and loses consciousness. When he awakes, he finds that his daughter is missing and he goes looking for her in the creepy town nearby. He meets a policewoman who aids him in his search and he receives a radio which notifies him when creatures are nearby. As Harry investigates the town he discovers the monstrous creatures living there and realizes that there’s a deeper mystery buried beneath its soil.
I remember playing this game and being terrified to continue past the first scenes. When you start to play, Harry must go into an ally where he is attacked by dogs. I could never get past the scenario alive and I often found myself too afraid to play. However, once I let myself play further, I realized that the beginning of the game was a trick; the character dies no matter what because Harry is in fact dreaming. That is just one of the elements of the game that makes it stand out and makes it totally awesome. Not to mention, it had some scary friggin monsters.
2.) Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube)
Zombies. I can’t live without them. The fourth installment in the series completely redefined the Resident Evil series as a whole due to its revamped and improved gameplay. This entry in the series takes a turn from the usual zombies which were featured in the first three games and instead focuses on a new breed of infected people. This time around, the player controls Leon S. Kennedy, a familiar face in the S.T.A.R.S. family, as he navigates through Europe in search of the President’s daughter who has been kidnapped by a cult. While there, Leon realizes that something is wrong with the villagers; they are infected with a parasite called Las Plagas. The third person shooter improved on the series’ controls and added fun and new elements which weren’t in previous games. The game was visually stunning and overall creative and entertaining. It was actually the first game in the series that I was able to complete because I played it for two days straight (addiction).
1.) Resident Evil (Playstation)
Oh em gee. Favorite. Game. Of. All. Time. I remember being in awe as I watched my older brother play this game; I had never seen anything like it before! At the time, the game looked so real and it reminded me of a horror movie. At first, I was too afraid to play the game myself, and I was content in just watching my brother fight off the undead.
The game, which is referred to as the first “survival horror” game, begins with a cutscene showcasing the Raccoon City Police Department’s Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) as they investigate a weird occurrence outside of the city. The team, which includes Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Barry Burton, and Albert Wesker, is forced to run for their lives as they are chased by blood-thirsty dogs. The team seeks refuge in a nearby mansion and they soon realize that they are in even more danger on the inside.
As the team investigates the mysterious mansion, they uncover puzzles and secrets surrounding the Umbrella corporation while simultaneously fending off zombies.
I am just in love with this game and cannot say enough good things about it. Sure, the controls were awful but for the time, the game itself was amaaazeballs. The basic scenario–a group of people taking refuge in a house as they fought off the undead–is similar to the George A. Romero classic, Night of the Living Dead. The series eventually expanded into something much bigger and completely different than this first installment, but it was Resident Evil that started it all for me. This zombie classic was later remade for the Gamecube with improved graphics.