A survival-horror list in July? You bet your ass it is.
Survival horror games can be fun, cheesy, thrilling, and captivating experiences if done right. There are always a ton of plot holes, but those can be forgiven if the game in question delivers an immersive and terrifying experience. Here are my top 5 in no particular order.
Dead Space 2
This won’t be the only sequel on this list but dammit if it isn’t the best. This follow-up to the critically acclaimed Dead Space puts players back in the boots of series protagonist Isaac Clarke as he finds himself psychologically traumatized from the events of the first game. There are a ton of memorable moments, ranging from escaping your restraints at the beginning of the game all the way to trying to carefully remove the hallucinations by way of diagnostic prodding. Stick a needle in your eye was never meant to be taken literally. It featured some of the most grotesque creatures in gaming in the form of the necromorphs, this game was one that stuck with you long after the credits rolled. That is…if you could survive the nightmare . Oh, beware the babies and children and forget that the third title happened, it’s just better this way.
The Evil Within
An underrated series of games from the mind of the creator of the Resident Evil series. While the sequel is a fairly frightening experience, it wasn’t as shocking or scary as its predecessor. The Evil Within is a seriously twisted experience, grotesque creatures, nightmarish setting, and some serious mind-fuckery was in store for anyone who played this game. There was no casual mode, it’s base difficulty was challenging and literally tested your ability to manage your resources. Enemies were relentless and it created some of the most memorable boss battles in recent memory. This was a game that required you to carefully pick your battles because when a boss fight came, you needed all the ammo possible to survive. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is one you have to pick up and play.
This is how you do an Alien adaptation right. Set just after the events of the first film, you play Amanda Ripley, the daughter of film protagonist Ellen Ripley, who like her mom is a badass engineer who also just happens to be unlucky enough to be caught up in a Xenomorph outbreak on a space station on lockdown. This game requires patience, the Xenomorph can’t be killed and will stalk you throughout the game. The fucked up part? The Alien adapts to your strategy, learning from each encounter and this can scale the difficulty exponentially. Tactics will always have to be switched up because if it catches you, its game over man. Also, the androids on the station aren’t friendly and are nightmare fuel. They are relentless as well and are hard to kill. Androids might be scarier than Xenomorphs, but then again there’s the facehugger. It’s a toss-up.
Silent Hill 2
Of all the games I will name on this list, none of them have a more twisted narrative than Silent Hill 2. Set in Silent Hill, a lovely town if I can be honest, you are James Sunderland who travels to Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his dead wife. You read that right, shes been dead for three years and James decides to travel to Silent Hill in search of her or at the very least discover who sent the letter. What follows is a trip down the well of despair as Silent Hill 2 is an incredibly grim and depressing experience. The further you dive into the mystery, the quicker you realize that nothing is what it seems and no one is who they say they are. Silent Hill 2 features some of the best enemy designs in gaming and will make you question the sanity of your protagonist. This is a series that deserves an HD revival in the same way that Resident Evil 2 will receive one. It’s just unfortunate that the series belongs to Konami.
Resident Evil 7
While it looked like I was gonna go with Resident Evil 2 here, until that remake arrives in 2019, Resident Evil 7 is going to occupy this spot and for good reason. It’s a fucking scary game that returned the series to its survival horror roots and reminded me heavily of The Evil Dead. A movie series and television series I’m very fond of. This is easily the scariest in the series that required the player to look behind them after every turn. The Baker family were excellent antagonists and their depravity helped create a terrifying experience. Horror in a first-person POV is an excellent way for the player to immerse themselves in the terror. The Baker house feels alive and this is a game that can really make you paranoid. Play this on Madhouse mode for the best experience. All about that resource management, you’ll need it to take down the toughest enemies.
These are just some of my favorites. One that I’ll mention that needs a remaster or remake is Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. The unfortunate part is that this title could only be found on the Gamecube. Nintendo recently renewed its trademark for the Gamecube so who knows, you might just get to experience Eternal Darkness on a Gamecube classic and I recommend you do. It’s a great game and has been mostly forgotten. A spiritual successor was announced in the form of Shadow of the Eternals in 2013 but there has been no information regarding the status of it since 2014.
I can’t wait for what comes next.