Top 25 Best Horror Games of All Time

Best Horror games: A good horror story may keep most of us awake at night, but a scary video game will ensure that we won't sleep for weeks. Gameranx stepped into the wayback machine to create this tidy list of the top 25 horror games of all time.

by on 1st Oct, 2013

Updated [October 1st, 2013]: We've updated this list to include the likes of thechineseroom's Upton Sinclair-inspired video game, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, which finds its way almost at the top of the list. Read on to find out what we thought of the game.

Horror occupies a strange place in a person’s heart. We turn down the lights, don our headphones and want the game to make us jump out of their seats. We want to cry out, whimper and scream at what we are putting ourselves through. 

Many games have scary elements in them, but then there are the games whose sole purpose is send paralyzing shivers down your spine. The games that stick with you long after you’ve turned your console or computer off and when you do coat you with an inescapable dread. 

From jump scares to the psychological, from monsters to murderers, here is what I believe to be the top 25 best horror games of all time.

#6 Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs [Tie at #6 Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth]

One can see the inspiration from Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel The Jungle in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. It's not a literal adaptation of the book, which was famous for its portrayal of the atrocities committed in Chicago's slaughterhouses.

Players take on the role of one Oswald Mandus, a Victorian-era mogul whose been afflicted with a loss of memory, who at some point in his past built a gigantic device known only as "The Machine", but you have no idea what it does or why it's important.

With your whole family gone missing, it's up to you to find out what happened to them and delve deep into The Machine and discover the truth of your identity.

Read our review here.

25. SCP-870

scp-870

SCP-870 is one of the many stories SCP holds within its archives. For those not in the know, SCP stands for "Secure Contain Protect", a foundation that's not unlike the something you might see in the X-Files, Fringe, or Warehouse 13. The organization works to secure and contain anomalous objects, codenamed, "Safe", "Euclid" and "Keter", depending on the threat they pose or their behavior.

SCP-870 in particular is a still object—a man-sized doll that needs constant monitoring by a live human. Any failure to observe it—even for a split second—will cause the doll to move towards you and kill you. That makes up the core of the game.

The object has managed to escape from its containment facility, and it's on the loose. As a survivor, you have to manage your eye-blinks and keep it always in sight or it'll kill you.

 

24. Sanitarium

sanitarium

No, it's not based off the Metallica song. Sanitarium is a horror adventure game where you play as an amnesiac patient who arrived at a mental asylum after his car crashed and is now trying to figure out what is going on. The mystery doesn’t lie in the titular facility, but in the worlds trapped inside your head. 

Part allegory, part symbolism, all disturbing—Sanitarium is a story that sends you through your own warped and unknown psyche filled with deformed children (some missing their eyes), ancient gods, and ghosts from your past. The settings pay homage to the classic Universal horror films of the 1930s that lends the perfect aesthetic to match the pace of the game.

 

23. Scratches

scratches

Scratches is an adventure horror game from Argentinean developer Agustin Cordes, released in 2006. It places you in the first person perspective of Michael Arthate, a mystery author seeking seclusion to work on his next book. But after he’s moved in he discovers that the house contains a secret past, and he can literally hear scratches all around the house. 

A puzzle game at heart, the atmosphere and tension are pitch perfect as the moments are timed to ratchet up the player’s terror using next to nothing. You’ll be scared of sounds and the cinematic tricks of the trade as you end up committing all the things you yell at characters in movies not to do.

 

22. Dead Space

dead space

What can be said about Dead Space that hasn’t already been said? It was the game to turn certain monster fighting conventions on their head. Players trained to aim for the head soon found themselves out of their depth, as the only way to kill the Necromorphs were to cut their limbs off, the same limbs being slashed in your face ready to cut it off at a moment’s notice. 

The USG Ishimura was terrifying setting with half of the ship in disrepair and the other half filled with slavering monsters. So not only was Dead Space the master of the jump scare, it gave you the uneasy feeling the whole time you were in it that the ship would fall apart right under your feet. 

And then there was the shoggoth in the tumble dryer...

 

21. Silent Hill

silent hill

Back in 1999, the processing power of the PlayStation wasn’t up to snuff—as Konami discovered—to get their entry into the survival horror genre. Thank goodness for that. The draw distance was so short that they had to add Silent Hill’s trademark fog that obscured everything and made you rely on the sounds around you. 

The game had a clever way of keeping you on edge. It forced you out into the street with only two bullets in your gun—the sound of flying monsters growing louder or fading away as you ambled across the deserted thoroughfare. You were always outmatched in any fight. Seeing the monsters only made things worse.

Despite the doofus brigade of the death cult, the series—like the town itself—was just getting into the swing of things, but still had the terror ratcheted up.


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