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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top 10 Horror Games

It's the Halloween season which is a time of year all of us here at Avane are particularly fond of. Unfortunately fondness doesn't translate into time or writing ideas so instead bringing you something new and spooky we're rehashing an old top 10 list from several Halloweens past. Don't let the age fool you though it's still just as relevant now as it was then. After all, when was the last time a company made a really horrifying game anyway? So if you're looking for a way to get into the spooky spirit any of the games on this list will certainly help you along.

10: Friday the Thirteenth on the NES. Most people think of this title as the awful epitome of LJN's game making career. However there's actually some genuine 8-bit terror going on here. The music is excellent, with the cabin theme taking the cake for some of the eeriest video game music of the 8bit era. The music when you encounter Jason is the perfect NES adaptation of classic theatrical killer themes. The real terror though, comes when you make your way to one of the surprisingly labyrinthine cabins never knowing where exactly Jason going to pop up until BAM! he's on your screen. If you want to know even more about the sordid tale of 8 bit Jason, we did a full in depth review on this game, because as group we really love it. Two of us even got the limited edition comic con action figure to terrorize out other action figures with his hairbrush axe.

See the rest after the break

9: Halloween on the Atari 2600. Widely considered to be a terrible game and a total failure, it's got some surprisingly upsetting parts. Michael pops up from a random location at random times. This naturally causes some distress because if he touches you, he kills you. You at least get the benefit of knowing he's approaching by the sudden  loud chip tune strains of  his tell-tale theme song. But once you get into the harder difficulties, even that clear warning sign of approaching danger won't help you as Michael Myers gets very fast, mean and unpredictable. Most people think an Atari age game can't scare you, and maybe it's not as frighting as some of the others on this list but it can certainly quicken your heartbeat and leave you anxious. We also did a full scale game review on this title if you want to know even more: Halloween 

8: Rule of Rose on the PS2. This game isn't so much scary as it is unsettling.  The premise is a bunch of kids running a secret club where they exclude others. Sure it's the sort of thing that's upsetting and life shattering when you're an adolescent but once you've grown out of it, it's unpleasant but fairly normal. But these kids are not normal and neither are their little trials and tests. All your most horrible adolescent nightmares about acceptance or lack thereof fully rendered in 3d with a few sick twists even the darkest and most sociopathic pre-teen wouldn't have thought up. This is easily one of those games that will have your skin crawling and leave you paranoid wondering who is watching. In spite of very little gore and only a few "violent" themes, this game was banned in Europe for it's pure creepy unsettling factor. There are few games, books, films or anything else for that matter the present such upsetting situations.

7: Haunted House on the Atari 2600. One of the first survival horror games to ever grace a home console. Not so bad on normal/easy difficulty levels, but on hard when you find yourself running from the extremely speedy ghost of Mr.graves into unseen walls and locked doors it's one hell of a shot of adrenaline. You might thing comical eyeballs and a pixel ghost are laughable, but it does a surprisingly good job of executing chase mechanics in a claustrophobic maze like mansion, not to different from the first Resident Evil game. This is another game we reviewed, so if you're wanting to know more about mean Mr. Graves and his house of horrors, check it out: Haunted House.

6: Clock Tower, the series. None among us have actually managed to complete a Clock Tower game for a large variety of reasons. But we've played it enough to know something horrifying when we encounter it. Chase games are bound to be a little bit scary, but normally it's just a cheap gimmick and the scare doesn't stick with you once you've moved on. Clock Tower however never truly let the chase end, you're always moments away from running for your life, never truly anywhere safe. To make matters worse your natural fear response just make the running harder leaving you with a very real sense of out of control terror. The Clock Tower series blends a good mix of terrifying enemies, interesting stories and some of the best/worse chase scenes you'll ever encounter in a game.Clock Tower 3 is a fully rendered 3rd person experience and is the one we're using the screenshot of, but 1 and 2 are point and clicks. If you thought point and click games were just for casual gaming, Clock Tower will certainly change your perspective and leave with a shaky mouse hand.

5: Resident Evil 1, Gamecube remake. We have some reservations about not citing the original version of Resident Evil here and it's a good game, but it could be a lot more scary. The Resident Evil series has traditionally always relied on cheap tricks to scare you. Sure dogs or zombies breaking through the windows is jarring the first time it happens, but it doesn't stick with you and you're prepared for it the next time you play. However, while the remake version still uses these tricks, it takes things to whole new level. Hallways have been darkened, "jump clues" have been massively scaled back, and then there are the super zombies. It's essentially a cleaned and polished version of RE1 and of course for these purposes by cleaned and polished we mean made dirtier and grittier. We've played just about every Resident Evil game there is and this one is by far the scariest.

4: Silent Hill 2. There's not a lot we need to explain here. If you haven't played this game, you've probably watched someone else play it or you've at least heard a lot about it. The short version is, it's a Silent Hill game and it's got the first appearance of fan favorite, Pyramid Head. If that's not enough for you it's also got the world's most horrifying  prison, an even more horrifying labyrinth under that prison and Pyramid Head randomly making appearances in that Labyrinth. That should be enough for you to know this is no walk in the park. There's a lot more going on here too, like mysterious game shows, crazed NPCs and a lot of mindf*cking going on. It's an experience that's best fully appreciated and discovered on your own time, preferably late at night in a darkened room.

3: Fatal Frame 1 and 2. We decided to just focus on 1 and 2 rather than just one game because the mechanics and environments are very similar. These games contain the one element that scares every game player, terrifying monsters and a lack of weapon. Oh sure, you have the Camera Obscura, but it is much harder to deal with your enemies when you can't just beat them back and into oblivion. Of course not being able to beat them into submission is bad enough when you're feeling terrified but, Fatal Frame takes things a step further. Not only can you not beat on them, you have to patiently wait for them to come at you as close as possible, horrifying faces in full view, before you can snap your shot. Should you miss the shot naturally they start killing you and you're powerless to stop it until you run far enough away to set up another shot. But the game isn't all snapping ghost pictures in the most haunted village in Japan,  there's also all the fun of wandering through dark dilapidated buildings with eerie sounds, random frightening "pop-ups" and of course demonic whispering voices that seem to be coming from everywhere all at once. Fatal Frame will have you scared to look into the shadows, or into a camera for years to come.

2: Silent Hill 3 on PS2. Silent Hill 3 is another title that's hard to describe. The story of Alessa and the dark town of her origin comes roaring back in this horrifying continuation of the original, chilling game. The classic atmosphere of Silent Hill now enjoys the benefits of four years of technological advances in game development. This progress allows for a merciless assault on your mentality with amazing new effects such as glass rooms will blood running down its walls and on-screen transitions to the devouring darkness of the Otherworld. All of this and more makes Silent Hill 3 one of the most successful video game sequels and most frightening titles available. The level of horror really needs to be played to believed. This game is an absolute masterpiece of horror. Horrifying environments, madness inducing soundtrack, and a seriously disturbed storyline all married to excellent gameplay mechanics.

1: Silent Hill, the original on PS1. It deserves it places at the top of this list if for no other reason than it's got admittedly crappy by today's standards first gen PS1 graphics and it still leaves you sleeping with the light on. The environments are some of the dirtiest, grittiest, and most unsettling you're ever going to see in any media. The music is the audio manifestation of abject horror, you could set it to a sunny field of flowers and butterflies and it would still leave you foul taste in your mouth and a healthy sense of paranoia. This game is all about atmosphere, the monsters don't scare you, the story doesn't scare you, not even the rusted out nightmare landscape scares, you scare you. The eerie music, creepy environments, and unsettling sounds provide just enough background to allow you to wrap yourself in your own personal hell every time you play with horrifying results. Like we mentioned with the other Silent Hill entries on this list, Silent Hill isn't a game that can be described. It's barely a game that can be played it's a game that most be experienced to fully understand what makes it so horrible. This video for the intro (the playable intro) of the Silent Hill (and bear in mind it's only the intro, the first thing you see, the thing that eases you into this hell on earth scenario) sums up the game a lot better than anything we could ever say about it.

So if you're looking for the perfect way to celebrate Halloween, why not pick up one of these for a perfectly horrifying and fantastic experience.

~Stephanie, Jen and Richard

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