This October we’re celebrating “Horror Month” on the Full Sail Blog. Stay tuned over the coming weeks for a series of features and interviews celebrating the best in horror entertainment.
Video game designers have been using horror themes to engage players since early Atari classics like Haunted House, which while built on primitive graphics and gameplay, still tapped into the essential elements of what scares us – the unknown.
Technology has given developers greater possibilities in immersing us in the macabre, and we recently spoke with horror fan and instructor Keyvan Acosta for his selections of the Top 5 Horror Video Games. Keyvan teaches the foundations of story and design as the course director for our Game Design I class, and has a deep appreciation for video games as a unique vehicle for horror.
Turn the lights off, crank the volume up, and try your hand at one of these classics of interactive terror.
1. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Frictional Games, 2010)
It asks you to ask more questions than it reveals, and that is unsettling. The thing about it is the unseen – with this game, it’s not obvious what’s haunting you or scaring you. It’s really about that thing that you thought you saw. It’s like the designers treat you like an adult, that is really interesting to me, and is what drives the spookiness.
2. Silent Hill 2 (Konami, 2001)
A genius game from start to finish because of the pacing and the atmosphere. Everything that happens in that game, the atmosphere of it is set up perfectly. You’re tense and you’re exploring something bizarre. Little by little they reveal what’s going on, but they also keep things from you, so it’s perfectly paced. The gravitas that they’re trying to get just works.
3. Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996)
The first Resident Evil game deals with tropes in a good way. It’s kind of tacky and corny, but at the turn of the corner you’re going to be attacked by zombies, or killed by dogs that jump out of a window. There’s a startling thing with Resident Evil. That’s something that game has that other games do poorly. You didn’t know what to expect, so getting startled by it became horror. It’s such a memorable experience.
4. The Room (Fireproof Games, 2012)
It has got an incredible ambiance that feels like Clive Barker or H.P. Lovecraft. It’s a 3D puzzle game and it feels like you’re playing with the box from the movie Hellraiser. There’s mysticism and the mythical aspect to it. It’s a game where you’re afraid to make choices, and that feeling is really powerful. You have to slowly piece it together, and it’s all told through story snippets. The style of it is so well done.
5. Deadly Premonition (Access Games, 2010)
Deadly Premonition is the type of horror game where your character is dealing with all of these fantastical elements, but it’s basically X-Files done scarier and sillier. It is similar to Alan Wake, which got a lot of attention, but this is a bit different because of the mix of humor and horror. It’s something I hope a lot more people take the time to play.
Also of note:Alan Wake (Remedy Entertainment, 2010), Limbo (Playdead, 2010), Metro 2033 (4A Games, 2010), The Stanley Parable (Davey Wredon, 2011), The Walking Dead (Telltale Games, 2012)