Within the lifespan of the current generation systems, the horror genre has seen a steep decline in output. Instead of harping on this point, I’m going to celebrate horror in games in the hope it will inspire someone out there to step up, and give me something fresh to play.
Maybe more so than anything else, horror as a genre exists as a spectrum. In other words, horror is not one single thing. As you’ll see from the games I’m about to list, horror casts a wide shadow.
First, let’s give credit where credit’s due. There’s a few series out there still keeping the dream alive. Namely, F.E.A.R., Left 4 Dead, and Dead Space. These are all great titles, and it goes without saying that if you’re a horror fan, you should be playing them. Also, if you’re looking for scares on the go, it’d be rude to leave the Dementium series out of this list. Part 2 came out this past March, and it’s a game that will be ranking on my top 10 of the year. For DS owners, it’s a must-play.
I know by now a lot of you out there are yelling at your screens about two horror series in particular: Resident Evil, and Silent Hill. Look, I’m a fan. They may be two of my favorite series of all time. The truth is, though, that both series are deep in the middle of (much needed) makeovers. It’s going to be at least another year before we even start hearing anything about future releases, so I don’t think they fit the description of “current franchises.”
So, now on to the love fest. Off the top of my head, here are a few classics you may have overlooked.
Eternal Darkness: An old Gamecube released whose influence can still be felt today. I’m sure all you Wii owners out there could find it for dirt cheap.
Deadly Premonition: The unexpected hit of the year. Another title that will be on my top 10 list. Deadly Premonition takes you on a trip through time to the days of campy, b-grade horror releases during the late 90’s. And you come out on the other side better for the experience.
Phantasmagoria: While overtly campy in nature, thanks largely to the FMV format, there are genuine uncomfortable, creepy moments in this title that still hold up all these years later. You can pick it up over at good old games on the cheap.
The Thing: It may be hard to track down a copy of this PS2 classic, but if you’re lucky enough to find one, don’t think twice before picking it up. While large chunks of it don’t hold up to today’s standards, there’s a lot of innovation and fresh concepts in this one- many of which have been refined over the years, and are now standard features in modern titles.
As a final point- I’m tossing two freebies out there. Konami, it’s far past time that you made a truly scary update to Castlevania. If any series lends itself to pure horror, it’s this one. And Bioware- PLEASE be the first studio to release a horror RPG. That thing would print money, and if anyone could do it, it’d be you guys.