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[dropcap letter="F"]irst, a disclaimer. This list is obviously mostly a matter of opinion, so if you feel the need to tell me I missed including the Thief series here, then by all means, use the Comments Section below to list down what makes the game scary! I’m sure gamers out there would want to have as many options for scary games as possible. Obviously, I listed only games I’ve actually played, so that’s another limitation as well.
Secondly, if you’re touchy about spoilers involving mostly old games, then you can afford to skip this list. This is also a guiding principle as to why I picked the games I picked: so I can freely speak about them without worrying about spoiling anything significant for anyone.
Lastly, I’m actually relatively easy to scare, if the video game is immersive enough. I actually got goosebumps while playing Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain, even if that was decidedly not a horror game. Shaq-Fu was also scary to play, but for an entirely different reason.
Having said that, here are a few games you should try out if you want to get a few goose bumps this Halloween…
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Platform: Playstation 3
While not exactly a horror game, the immersive nature of "Heavy Rain" makes for very terrifying situations precisely because of how you feel for the characters you see onscreen. Every twist and turn involving the characters aids in heightening the scare factor, although if one were to play the game without any emotional investment, then it’s easy to understand why it wouldn’t be considered remotely scary. Still, having children slowly drown to death during a storm as a serial killer’s M.O. is pretty damned disturbing.
Scariest Moments: Madison Paige’s nightmare is one. There’s also the sequence leading up to the reveal of exactly who the Origami Killer (Spoilers if you click, obviously.) is. It was foreshadowed pretty well, except for some obvious in-game cop-outs that threw you off the trail.
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I’m sure most gamers would say "Resident Evil 4" was scarier, but the forced limitations of the classic PS1 consoles made for a scarier game. Limited saves, cumbersome controls, and a host of other technological limitations at the time made the first "Resident Evil" a truly terrifying game, and defined the Survival Horror genre in its generation. Nowadays, the "Resident Evil" franchise does Action Horror, which does limit its genuine scares somewhat.
Scariest Moments: Probably the stuff involving Wesker betraying you and then promptly dying shortly afterwards. Everyone knows he will play a role in future installments, but his first appearance still lent just the right hint of insidiousness to the game. You’d also probably get a shock the first few times you run into a zombie as well.
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Unlike most other games in its genre, the "Clock Tower" series minimizes combat, and mostly focuses on you hiding from evil beings out to kill you. This gameplay choice makes it terrifying to play through the game, knowing that not finding a hiding place in time, or making a wrong choice in the heat of the moment results in a game over screen. "Clock Tower 2" is exceptional in its use of lead character Alyssa, who has a second personality within her named Bates: a psychopath, to put it mildly.
Scariest Moments: Aside from the many times you have to run and hide, I think the scariest point of the game would be when you find Ashley’s severed head. It’s also the first time Bates manifests himself within Alyssa, making it a one-two punch of creepiness.
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Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, iOS
With a fairly strong element of survival, Dead Space brought Surival Horror back into the thick of things with its refreshing take on the genre—by putting it (wait for it…) in space! The game also had a strong inclination for grisly deaths, and even made dismembering enemies an integral part of gameplay.
Scariest Moments: Probably anything involving the Twitchers. You shoot them, and then they show up in front of you? Why are they doing that?!?
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Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, iOS, PS Vita
One of my favorite games of all time, The Walking Dead is a tour de force in amazing storytelling. The story between Lee and Clementine continues to haunt me, and I’m not ashamed to say I got misty-eyed when I finished the game. And no, I have not seen a single episode of the TV series or read a single comic.
Scariest Moments: Probably in Episode 2, when you discover exactly what that nice ol’ family is about to feed you for dinner. I’ll keep it at that, because I don’t want to spoil this one.
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Platform: PC, Mac
A simple game, but terrifying when played with the lights down and headphones. All you really have to do is find eight pages strewn throughout a claustrophobic forest. Each time you find the note, a creepy thin man who is following you all throughout the game gets more and more aggressive at trying to catch you. Every single time Slenderman turns up, the screen gets all static-y and you hear something like white noise. I’m guessing Freddie Aguilar has the same effect on most of us lately.
Scariest Moments: The moment just when you know Slenderman is about to catch you, and he’s just in the periphery of your vision, then you turn around, run away, and he magically teleports right in front of you, and the game over screen comes. And that treats you to a closeup of Slenderman’s face. Sweet dreams!
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Platforms: Playstation 2, Xbox, PC
Often hailed as the best of the series, "Silent Hill 2" wasn’t even a direct sequel to the original game, but a story running parallel to the lore of the entire franchise. James Sunderland is a very, very disturbed man, and all the monsters he has to face off with are merely reflections of his scarred psyche. The ever-present fog in the creepy town never seems to lift, and every turn you take could be a turn into a horrifying death.
Scariest Moments: Two words, really—Pyramid Head. Anytime this guy shows up onscreen, or even just hints of him, my hair stands on end. Definitely one of the scariest games I’ve ever played, to say the least.
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Platforms: Playstation 2, Xbox
The words “based on a true story” tend to put this game over the top for me. Whether or not the game was really based on the Himuro mansion hauntings, just thinking about that while playing sends a chill down my spine, as I try to catch ghosts on film, for all the good that will do me.
Scariest Moments: Every time you have to catch a ghost in a non-combat setting. Without consulting a walkthrough, you never know when an eerie ghost would just show up onscreen.
Or behind you.
What other awesome games do you think are great for Halloween? List them down in the Comments Section below.