If you’ve read any of my articles, it’s painfully obvious Horror is a favourite genre of mine, and, considering the season, this seemed like the proper time to tell the world my view on the ten best horror games around.
When I say best, that isn’t the same as scariest. Horror is more than just jump scares and surprises. A truly great horror game does more than that; it brings us dark fascination, deep introspection, and pure, wicked creativity. Not that fear and scares are not part of horror – and that is one of the things I consider – but it’s not the primary criterion for this list.
Also, these are my opinions based on the games I have played. I haven’t played every horror game around – it’s not possible – and what I consider great Horror might be very different from your definition. So no whining.
10. Slender: The Arrival
Yes, I am putting this game on this list. Yes, this game is primarily jump scares. Yes, it has very poor replayability. Yes, it is overexposed.
However, I would be remiss not to talk about this game. For what felt like forever, this game was all anyone would talk about, everyone loved it and was making their own rip-offs of the original. Was it worth that level of fascination from the public? Well, kind of.
The story of Slender: The Arrival is fairly engaging. Lauren heads into the woods to meet her friend Kate, who is moving out of her house after the sudden death of her mother. After crashing her car (cars in horror games being some kind of Eastern European brand which crash every five miles), she walks the rest of the way to Kate’s house, to find the door ajar and mad writings scribbled all over the walls. She hears a scream from deeper into the woods and goes in to investigate herself, as the phone lines are (unsurprisingly) dead. She doesn’t yet know she is being watched.
Personally, I find that a rather intriguing concept for a game. The story is fairly believable and gives us a reason to care what happens. And really, that’s all it needs to be.
The mechanics are absurdly simple. There’s no puzzles here besides collecting items, and the enemies cannot be killed. Yes, plural. For those of you who haven’t played this game, there are more creatures haunting you than just the series spawning Slenderman. And frankly, their segments of the game are far more frightening than tall, dark, and faceless himself.
Now, that on its own should not put this game here. At least not above plenty of others. But its sheer impact and the power it held over the public cannot be ignored, even if not enough to put it above last place in this competition.
9. Five Nights at Freddy’s 4
Whether you like Five Nights At Freddy’s and think it’s a masterpiece of horror or think it’s a pile of dull jumpscares, you cannot deny the impact and popularity of the series – many times greater than even Slender’s fifteen minutes of fame. It gave us a whole new category of monsters to be scared of, as well as some very simple yet very creative mechanics. Out of all of them, I consider the fourth and (according to the creator) final title to be the best, for several reasons.
In the entire series, only FNaF 3 and 4 have a story that is advanced from night to night, in comparison to the original and 2 which only had story-related events on the first and final nights. However, between the two, 4 has the superior story. You play as an unnamed boy alone in his room, trying to defend himself from the tangible nightmares that stalk the hallways. Whether or not this is reality or a recurring bad dream of the boy is up to interpretation, although certain items that can be seen on some nights lend themselves to the latter theory. Whether or not this is in the child’s head, we see scenes of his abuse at the hands of his brother and father rendered in pseudo-8-bit graphics, giving us some excellent glimpses into the boy’s psyche. And as for what happens at the end of the fifth night – well, it may just answer a lot of questions that have been floating around since the original game.
FNaF 4 also marks a return to the simpler mechanics of the original. There’s no power to watch for, no ventilation systems to monitor. Just two doors, a closet, and your bed, each of which has their own Nightmare (except for a couple nights where things get mixed up a little). It’s still challenging, far more so than 3, but equally easier (and in my opinion, fairer) compared to 2.
All in all, this is a fine horror game that deserves to be here, though far more frightening and intriguing creations await.