Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Best horror video game ever

Silent Hill 2 – meaningful scares (pic: Konami)

GameCentral readers discuss their favourite horror-themed video games, from Bloodborne to The Suffering.

Since it’s Halloween this week the topic for this weekend’s Inbox asked you to name your favourite ever horror game and what you’re looking forward to most from the next generation.

There were a lot of old favourites mentioned, especially various Resident Evil and Silent Hill entries, but also a lot of optimism for the upcoming Resident Evil Village, The Medium, and more.

Silent memories
It will always be Silent Hill 2 for me. There’s a lot of good stuff in the first and third games but the second for me is a perfect game. The atmosphere in that game is literally unreal. It’s not jus scary it gets under your skin, makes you feel all uncomfortable. It’s brilliant.

As much as I love Resident Evil as well it’s just shlock horror and there’s no real meaning behind it. Silent Hill 2 also doesn’t seem to have much of a story if you play it through in a rush but explore a bit more and piece together the bits of lore and you begin to understand not only what’s going on but what the monsters mean and why they act and look the way they do.

By the end you realise what Silent Hill is and why it’s happening to you. It’s not just random scares there’s purpose and meaning behind it and I’m still in awe of how such a great game was made on such a small budget so long ago.

Better and worse
For me nothing has been better/worse than the bear in Condemned. It’s funny that given all the weird monsters and aliens that games can throw at you it’s an angry bear that’s the scariest thing but no matter how often I reply the game it gets me every time.

Condemned is a weird game though, like many horror games it’s quite flawed and highly repetitive but once you get the atmosphere nailed I’m not sure all that really matters. The gameplay and combat is nothing great but it’s a game I come back to time and time again despite it’s age and there’s really nothing else from that era that I would treat in the same way.

I guess my favourite modern survival horror, if you can call it that, would be the Resident Evil 2 remake. They really did nail the balance there between new and old. Very impressive and genuinely scary at times, and you only have to look at Resident Evil 3 to see how easily it could have gone wrong.

Cosmic horror
It’s a different kind of horror for sure but for me the downright creepiest game is Bloodborne. The way it starts off as relatively normal gothic horror and then slowly transforms into a Lovecraftian nightmare is just amazing. It really is my favourite game ever and I couldn’t say how many times I’ve replayed it now.

The sense of fear is a big part of that, not just the basic fear of see something nasty, like if you were watching a film, but of being killed and losing a large chunk of your progress. That and the sense of immersion is something you can only get from a video game and I love it for it.

Amygdala is bad enough, once you can see it, but the winter lanterns get my vote for the most terrifying enemies ever in a game. Literally terrifying in the context of the game because of how they turn you mad just by being near you. God I love that game.

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Island nightmare
My first thought for this Hot Topic was Resident Evil 4 but although it’s my favourite game of all time, I found it to be more tense than actually scary!
So instead I’ll go with The Suffering that I played on PlayStation 2.

Stuck on a prison island when all hell breaks loose, it was high on action like Resident Evil 4 (you could even turn into a monster to attack your enemies!) but it had a far creepier, unsettling vibe.

The worst monster for me was the mainliners (based on the lethal injection execution) that had toxic syringes in their eyes and on their backs and would leap on you and drug you!

I don’t play as many horror games now. Personally, I find the improvement in graphics has increased the gore factor too much for me!

Look away
I’m another one that is disappointed to find that GC’s review of Amnesia: Rebirth was accurate (no offence GC!). It was a big disappointment for me and really not scary at all, or at least not compared to The Dark Descent which is easily my scariest video game of all time.

It’s really old and the graphics were never great but the sense of dread you get from playing it is just overpowering. There’s a whole thing where you’re not supposed to look at the monsters or you’ll go mad. It’s just a gameplay thing but I swear I felt it was a genuine danger and I would literally look away from the screen.

If it wasn’t for SOMA, which is great but more sci-fi, I would say that The Dark Descent will never be topped but hopefully if there’s another sequel it can have another go.

Old classics
Favourite horror game is a toss-up between Resident Evil (PlayStation 1) or Manhunt (PlayStation 2)

I have very fond memories of doing all-nighters with a friend playing these games many moons ago, with not a care in the world. Was well underage for playing these games also but hay-ho, remember watching Commando or anything with Arnold Schwarzenegger in it when I was about 10.

Anyway back to these games! Thinks it’s the atmosphere and the music that I remember the most, they just don’t make anything like they used to.

Think I’m getting old!

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Everyday imagery
A favourite series of mine for a seriously scary video gaming franchise is the first three Project Zero games. The best action-orientated third person series of mine, is Resident Evil’s first few games and some of the most recent ones. The Bioshock trilogy is my favourite first person perspective for a horror series.

SOMA, Call Of Cthulhu, The Sinking City, and the first Amnesia are another bunch of solid horrors, dealing with quite deep and adult style of visual sand depictions of occultism. I still think that Project Zero will always be the overall scariest of the lot, but the others deliver a solid dose of fear. The original Resi games were an eye opener for horror in particular.

The problem now though is that gamers are very much desensitised to horror in general, whether in film, TV or games. Games may be trying, but with too many cheap jump scares and a bit too many monsters and demons to fend yourself from it can easily make what was once scary just everyday imagery.

To invoke atmosphere and tension around every corner is very hard and needs a lot of thought to make it happen for nearly an entire game. Possibly the trick is experimenting in an art style which really trips you out and sounds and effects which are very unearthly.

The story helps, plus characters that are well acted, so that you can emphasis with or fear them. Like in Resident Evil 7, where the characters you first interact with in a civil type of way start turning very cold and hateful towards you and begin hunting you down. I can’t complain about Resi 7 and I’m hoping Village invokes an even greater amount of tension.

I remember my first playthrough of Resident Evil 4 and the opening scene with the sense of panic and the chiming of the bells saving me from doom. The labs with the regenerators and the castle level. If Resident Evil 8 can do a village, which could be something like out of Bloodborne or Dark Souls 3, it could emphasise the horror aspects even more! Then horror games may still have a place as a top-rated genre in the gaming world. I have every confidence that the next generation of consoles will find that strange mystical alchemy, to develop an amazing future for the horror faithful.

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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