Games elicit all kinds of emotions from players, and these vary depending on the genres they fit in to. Yet none seem to conjure up the response that horror games do. It’s often not only the horror of seeing something on the screen or being made to jump that players feel but also the terror and anxiety leading up to that moment. It’s for good reason then, that the genre is – and has been for some time – one of the best-selling.
With Outlast 2 recently making headlines in Australia and sequels of classic franchises proving that horror is well and truly alive, we’re taking a look at the scariest games ever released on the PlayStation 4. Pull your bed sheets from over your head and take a look.
12. Resident Evil VII
After over a decade of changing the formula from survival to action horror, Capcom decided to go back to the series’ roots with Resident Evil VII. The results more than justified the decision and proved that what was previously thought of as a dead sub-genre was more than alive and kicking. Rather than sending players back to the mansion, however, they arrived at a derelict plantation as Ethan, a man searching for his missing wife Mia.
Resident Evil VII is the first in the series to be played in the first-person, giving players a more personal view of the game. The lack of weapons, ammunition, and tools is reminiscent of the original games and makes you use just whatever you can find to survive. The owners of the property, the Bakers, are after you, and there is very little you can do once caught by them. Stealth, therefore, takes priority over everything else, as a means of avoiding your enemies and saving your armoury. The lack of inventory space and saving tools also make a return, building up the tension and anxiety to unbearable proportions. It’s more of an homage to itself than anything else, but Resident Evil VII shows players what made the series so great in the first place: its ability to terrify.
11. Alien: Isolation
One of the greatest horror movies ever has had a difficult history transferring over to video games, with some attempts being relatively good and others being laughable. Alien: Isolation was never going to be in the latter category, but neither did people foresee how brilliant and genuinely terrifying it would be. Taking the lead of Amanda Ripley, Ellen’s daughter, players are again pitted against one of the most iconic creatures in movie history, but this time it’s best to avoid it at all costs.
As you’d expect, the game is played out on a broken down spaceship, where the lack of power usually means lights out. You pick up weapons along the way, but aside from a quick burst from a flamethrower, not much will deter your main enemy. Even with your ultimate weapon equipped, there’s nothing you can do once it’s inside the air vents, except just hide. Some of the most terrifying moments are when you do just that; the alien can smell you, and it’s up to you to control your breathing and head movements. When not in sight, you can see the alien’s location on your motion tracker. It almost resembles you heartbeat: as the creature moves closer the beeping increases. Alien: Isolation is a pulsating thrill ride set in outer space. No one can hear you scream there, but your neighbours certainly can.
10. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Before Frictional Games released Soma, they developed Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a game generally recognised as the scarier of the two. Waking up in an abandoned castle, protagonist Daniel has no idea about who he is, and how he wound up there. With monsters lurking down its empty halls and puzzles which need to be solved, the castle holds clues not just about itself, but Daniel also.
Amnesia takes stealth to another level, by giving players complete control over almost everything around them. If you think you can hear something in another room, instead of opening a door fully you have the ability to pushing it slightly, peeking in. This makes things helpful throughout, but at the same time builds the tension even more so. It promotes slow, creepy gameplay, controlled only by the player’s fear of what they might see. With no weapons to use and a sanity meter to keep as low as possible, Amnesia gives its players a lot to think about, but not a lot of time to react to whatever comes after you.
9. The Evil Within
The fact that The Evil Within was directed by Shinji Mikami, the mind behind Resident Evil, says it all. Although the game features different mechanics and is a completely new IP, it’s every bit as terrifying as his previous titles. Players take the role of detective Sebastian Castellanos as he makes his way through a horrifying world, filled with deformed humans and monstrous bosses. At several points you can return to a safe point, a mental asylum, further questioning your character’s place in the game.
With limited ammunition for your weaponry, The Evil Within forces you to use your surroundings to either distract or kill enemies. If you can’t find anything to assist you and have no bullets left in your pistol, then it’s up to you to avoid them at all costs. This is easier for some enemies than others, as chainsaw-wielding beasts can kill you with one swipe. A detailed narrative told through flashbacks and collectables gradually explain how and why Sebastian is where he is, making you question what’s nightmare and what’s reality.