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Scary games! Talk about your favorite spook-em-ups!

Horror games for me tend to fall into two categories: atmospheric spook-em-ups and more action-y games that embrace the carnage inherent to the horror genre.

I love a good zombie killin' as much as anyone, but nothing really gets my heart racing as much as games in the former category. Here are some of my favorites:

Clock Tower (SNES, later Playstation)

This game is pretty neat, it's my understanding that outside of a few outliers (Sweet Home, ports of ICOM games) that the 8 and 16 bit games really didn't see too many survival horror or scary adventures so much.

Clock Tower casts you as a vulnerable character without any means of attacking, so when you get menaced by a creepy child with a gigantic pair of scissors your only means of surviving are to run and hide as best as you can. Gameplay consists of wandering around a spooky mansion while trying to not get murdered!
This one never got released outside of Japan, but fan translations exist!

Gone Home (PC, Consoles)
I like this one a lot, without getting too deep into spoiler territory you're a college student returning to your family's new home, only they're not there! It's up to you to find out what happened to them, and along the way learn from looking through their possessions what they've been going through.

This isn't explicitly a horror game, but it manages to create a feeling of deep anxiety throughout. If you were ever scared of dark basements as a kid, I think this game does a good job of recreating that feeling.

Death Mark (Vita, Playstation)

This is the game that prompted me to create this thread, actually. It's a visual novel adventure game based around investigating haunted areas and encoutering ghosts, and trying not to get killed! And there's lots of shockingly gross fates that befall a bunch of people, too!

I think portable systems are probably the best for this kind of horror game, the idea being that you can curl up in bed with the lights out and headphones on and properly immerse yourself in the spooky environs really enhances the experience.

What are YOUR favorite scary games?


Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
ANATOMY by Kitty Horrorshow is a short walking sim spook'em up about exploring a scary old house and it's easily my favourite horror game, and can be purchased for a song on itch.io.

ETA: Also, if Gone Home qualifies, I would think Verde Station similarly qualifies. It's another short walking sim about living on an empty space station. It's like a dollar on Steam these days.


does the Underpants Dance
Are we talking stuff that's designed to be scary first and foremost, or would games with horror elements but not necessarily scary qualify?


Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
It's a well-known game, of course. One where looking at the enemies in lamplight causes your character's sanity to drop, whereas not lighting your lamp in dark areas most certainly also does. Lamp oil is limited. This alone is inspired.
Your character's sanity feeds back into your own perception because "inanimate" objects in the game world, which "shouldn't" change, will change in accordance. So will the controls. Fear death by water.

Uplink is not "spooky", but I've rarely played a game that's better at switching you between collected clinicality and pure stress -- which I think comes out the same as playing horror games. It shares a pinpoint use of distinctive sounds with them, too. What's more, it allows you to miss the action for a good while, depending on where exactly you poke around.
(Whereas Hacknet works its magic on a different axis entirely: it has this pervasive "melancholia" that I adore -- a "gritty fragility" -- and, while it does have the requisite grandiose plot where the entire Internet is at stake, it quietly presents questions such as whether to hack your main contact's private mail, or the "equalizer" trojan horse (the author's on your side) briefly displaying GO GO GO with its bars in the final mission... yeah, I love Hacknet.)


Lapsed Threadcromancer
Gabriel Knight 1 and 2 and Quest for Glory IV are the ones that spring to mind right away!


The Starship Damrey is probably my favourite of the Guild games, a series of small-scale but otherwise unrelated Japanese-developed indie games on the 3DS. It's a two-hour first-person Adventure game where you play as someone locked in a stasis pod on a spaceship and gradually open up more and more means to remotely explore the ship and figure out what happened to its crew. There are no tutorials whatsoever and part of the experience is just figuring out different bespoke sci-fi user interfaces. It has a real The Outer Limits feel to it that I just adore, but perfectly translated to a whole different medium.


Exposition Owl

Tiny trash thief
SOMA is a science-fiction game from the makers of Amnesia, set in a futuristic facility on the ocean floor where things ... aren’t working right. You should play it, and you should avoid learning any more about it than that before you do.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is the most underrated survival horror game. Mostly because it was confined solely to Gamecube. It did introdue me to H.P. Lovecraft, though, so there's that.

Limbo and Inside are modern examples of how to do unsettling horror correctly. They made Playdead my favorite Dev of the 2010s.
Are we talking stuff that's designed to be scary first and foremost, or would games with horror elements but not necessarily scary qualify?

Ideally stuff that gives you the jibblies! Gabriel Knight is a great example, that screen with the zombie scared the hell out of me when I played it in my youth.

Eternal Darkness is another great example, while there's at least one really effective jump scare, the rest of the game manages to be super creepy, with the busts that turn and follow you and the noises of loud pounding footsteps around you while you explore the creepy mansion.

Dr. Nerd

Paratopic can be completed in an hour or two, and is worth your time. I like the new indie game trend of having horror games emulate the old PSX aesthetic.

Alien: Isolation is also great. Turns out the REAL monster was private equity all along (oh, and the alien).


Smol Monster
(She/her, they/them)
The Fatal Frame series is of course the nearest and dearest to my heart. Each game is a ghost story in which the heroine becomes trapped in a location where some evil catastrophe happened, killing every soul for miles. And in order to prevent sharing the same fate, you must figure out what happened and how to appease the lingering spirits. Your only weapons are a miniskirt, impractical shoes, and a psychic camera.


does the Underpants Dance
It kind of goes without saying, but Resident Evil 2 and its remake is the first game that pops in my head when I think of "scary game." I'm sure a large part of that is due to the original being my first survival horror game ever, but with my experience playing the remake last year, it's still got it!
I'm currently playing Plague Tale: Innocence and I suggest you all do too. Def best game about the plague set during the 100 years war that I know about. Also RATS


Find Your Reason
The Fatal Frame series is of course the nearest and dearest to my heart. Each game is a ghost story in which the heroine becomes trapped in a location where some evil catastrophe happened, killing every soul for miles. And in order to prevent sharing the same fate, you must figure out what happened and how to appease the lingering spirits. Your only weapons are a miniskirt, impractical shoes, and a psychic camera.

I have all three PS2 games (I'd so dearly love to have HD remasters) and a BC PS3 to play them on, so I'm definitely marathonning them as much as possible on Halloween/Day of the Dead weekend. I owe it to them--the first Fatal Frame was so legitimately frightening that, on Night 3, I simply could not bear to continue after my first encounter with a Wandering Monk (an extremely powerful ghost type that CHASES YOU across the estate, where most ghosts just stay put in their rooms or the immediate vicinity.) And I'm really hyped to play 2 and 3 afterwards.

Also seconding the mentions of LIMBO and INSIDE. The former got a bit more frustrating than scary in the factory endgame, but INSIDE, Jesus Christ. I don't think anything could have prepared me for that climax.


Lapsed Threadcromancer
What's the game where every object could be an alien that wants to kill you? That game is hella scary!

Johnny Unusual

The Return of the Obra Dinn is a good one. I won't give you too many specifics if its your first time.but if you are looking for a maritime mystery game, this is it.
I'm playing the 2002 REmake and it's super atmospheric and creepy. Having to use a walkthrough though because some elements are a bit archaic in 2020.


I started playing Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh last night, and that game is wonderfully dumb. Bad script, hammy acting, video clip segues that don't transition well. The puzzles are stupid as well, like the first one, where your wallet is stuck under the couch, and you can't get to work. Instead of moving the couch, or getting a broom, you have to pick up your pet rat and place him under the couch. Unfortunately, he won't come back out, so you have to go get a candy bar from your bedside table drawer (which conspicuously has a condom in view, because MATURE) and coax the rat back out, who somehow pushes your wallet out along with him.

There's no real scares so far, just bad horror movie tropes, but if you're in the mood for that it's a good time.
Youth Scary Games
NES Zelda always scared me as a kid. That creepy dungeon music and the hand that would grab you in the dungeon. I never owned that game as a kid, but Zelda definitely scared me.

I think Wolfenstein 3D and Doom are probably the most scary games I've played. I would play them late at night on a DOS PC when I was in middle school. I think those old ID games have great spooky atmosphere. There is something unsettling about the noise coming off screen, the demon designs, and the noise the enemies make off screen.

Resident Evil Remake for Gamecube has some effective jump scares and some great atmosphere.

Adult Scary Games
I don't think anything I've played as an adult compare to the games that scared me as a youth. I definitely enjoy the atmosphere and scares of Dead Space, Resident Evil Remakes 2-3, and Silent Hill 3 (I haven't played any other SH games). But those games do not scare me the same way the games of my youth scared me.

I'm playing Man of Medan right now with a friend. Its a blast but its more an amusement park haunted house than genuinely scary.