Although series such as
Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil helped to reignite interest in the genre, horror games have been around in one form or another since video gaming first began.
With upcoming titles like Outlast,
Daylight and The Evil Within in the pipeline, it's clear that our appetite for scares hasn't been diminished over the years either, so with that in mind we've compiled our list of the 12 scariest games ever made.
Did any of these frightfests send you scurrying for safety behind the sofa? Or was there another video nasty that gave you sleepless nights?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...
CLOCK TOWER (1998) Survival horror is not a genre you often associate with point-and-click adventure games, but Clock Tower combined the two with the inclusion of a relentless stalker known as Scissorman. The stooped tormentor could appear at any point throughout the story, wielding a huge pair of shears that he threateningly clanged together with every step, and the only way of escaping was to either run away and find a hiding place or grab a weapon to temporarily subdue him. This was made even more terrifying by the clunky interface, as you frantically clicked the screen to avoid instant death from the killer's blades.
SILENT HILL 2 (2001) After James Sunderland received a letter from his dead wife Mary saying she was waiting for him in Silent Hill, a town that changed its appearance based on the thoughts of its visitors, Silent Hill 2 was clearly big on psychological horror. As well as fighting off various humanoid monsters and the infamous Pyramid Head, players also had to deal with Maria, a companion who looked identical to Mary and was most likely a manifestation created by James. Eventually James discovered the shocking truth about his past and that his visions were punishing him for his sins, before facing his demons to reach one of several unpleasant endings.
RESIDENT EVIL (REMAKE, 2002) Although this was a reboot of the 1996 survivor horror original, the enhanced graphics and sound of the GameCube made for a much more immersive experience. The game itself was tweaked to change most of the puzzles, and new areas were added including a graveyard and a creepy path leading through Raccoon Forest. The most frightening change, however, was that felled zombies now had to be decapitated or burned to prevent them regenerating later in the game as Crimson Heads, which were fast moving and much more aggressive than their shambling counterparts.
ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITY'S REQUIEM (2002) Eternal Darkness used Nintendo's patented 'sanity system' to mess with players' heads, as they jumped back and forth in time to experience the stories of 12 separate characters. An on-screen sanity meter gradually depleted, causing the camera angle to skew and unsettling sounds such as door slams, screams and footsteps to get louder and more frequent. There were also fourth wall breaking effects such as simulating the TV changing volume or channel, fake memory card corruptions and even a blue screen of death, until players could no longer tell what was real.
PROJECT ZERO II: CRIMSON BUTTERFLY (2003) When twin sisters Mio and Mayu got lost during a walk in the forest, they stumbled upon a mysterious village and found themselves trapped there along with the spirits of the former inhabitants. When the story wasn't playing out through grainy black and white films that revealed the area's dark history, players had to fight off ghosts using nothing but an antique camera. To make matters worse, the camera inflicted greater damage the nearer you got to your spectral foes, meaning you had to get up close and personal with some pretty nasty apparitions if you wanted to survive these haunting encounters.
FORBIDDEN SIREN (2004) After an earthquake interrupted a strange ritual in the Japanese village of Hanuda, the site of a previous mass murder, it became cut off from the rest of the world by a sea of red water that turned most of the inhabitants into aggressive zombie-like beings called Shibito. Using stealth to avoid these enemies was the key to survival, but this was tough as they quickly reacted to light from your torch or any sounds that you made and gave chase. Players could use an innovative 'Sight Jack' feature to see through the eyes of nearby Shibito, which allowed you to determine their location and plan an escape route, though using this power also left you unable to move and vulnerable to attack.
THIEF: DEADLY SHADOWS (2004) The penultimate level of this stealth adventure, set in the abandoned ruins of orphanage-cum-insane asylum Shalebridge Cradle, is considered one of the scariest levels ever created in gaming. After encountering the ghost of a murdered young girl, you had to sneak around destroying her remaining personal effects to free her, whilst avoiding the undead inmates that prowled what remained of the facility. This also involved travelling back in time and possessing one of the inmates to remove the remaining items from the past, but this left players themselves trapped in the Cradle, with a harrowing suicide jump from one of the towers the only means of escape.
DOOM 3 (2004) Set in 2145, strange events are happening at a Mars military research facility, where teleportation experiments have accidentally opened up a gateway to Hell. Whoops! Subsequently invaded by demons, players had to fight off legions of hellspawn as well as humans-turned-to-zombies-by-demonic-possession. The main horror element was created by the darkness, as many areas were poorly lit and players had to choose between holding a flashlight and wielding a weapon, often leaving you unarmed or unprepared when the next wave of terrors swooped in to attack.
F.E.A.R. (2005) Assuming the role of "Point Man" in the First Encounter Assault Recon special forces team, players were sent to take down an army of telepathically controlled supersoldier clones but soon became embroiled in a psychological battle with a little girl in a red dress named Alma. While it was all kicking off at the end of your shoot-gun, with slow-mo limb-popping an in-game speciality, Alma's appearances were a counter-point: unsettling, they were often just glimpses through the corner of your eye, before she disappeared into the shadows again. Sometimes her bloody footprints would appear in front of you, and at others you'd hear her laughter or indistinct words being whispered in your ears. After trying and failing to kill the Point Man later in the game she would randomly appear to watch the player without attacking, which was arguably even more disturbing.
CONDEMNED (2005) Condemned saw crime scene investigation agent Ethan Thomas searching for the serial killer who framed him for murder, while battling the inhabitants of Metro City who were driven crazy by some strange and mysterious force. Although played out in first-person perspective, guns were rare and the focus of the brutal combat was on using improvised melee weapons such as pipes and planks of wood that could be torn from the environments. Fights were a frightening prospect as enemies had a high level of intelligence, and would often hide in concealed places before bursting out to launch surprise attacks. What it will always be remembered for most, though, was the mannequin section, which saw shop dummies creep up on you every time you turned your back.
AMNESIA: THE DARK DESCENT (2010) As the title suggested, the player's character Daniel had lost his memory and it was up to you to explore the dark castle setting and work out why you were there. It soon transpired that the citadel was full of roaming monsters who would give chase and attack if you were spotted, forcing you to run off and find a hiding place until they lost interest. Staying in shadows was the key... except being in the darkness too long also reduced Daniel's sanity, causing hallucinations that caught the monster's attention. Lighting candles helped restore sanity but this too attracted monsters, meaning nowhere was truly safe.
SLENDER: THE ARRIVAL (2013) In this second game based around the tall featureless stalker originally created as an Internet meme, players again found themselves searching abandoned areas for clues while being chased by the titular Slender Man. Initially only seen as a glimpse, as you progressed his pursuit became more aggressive and he had a nasty habit of sneaking up behind you or suddenly appearing from around a corner. Armed with just a torch, your only defence during these encounters with the suited monster was to turn and flee, increasing the feeling of vulnerability. Building on the original Slender game, this sequel also included sections where players were pursued by a masked figure through dark mine tunnels and had to avoid falling trees while running through a burning forest, before escaping to reach the chilling conclusion to the tale.