Before I get started, a couple of caveats. First, I only included games that are both recent and that I regularly play. Second, this article assumes that you're interested but not super into gaming. For you diehards out there, all of these titles will be painfully familiar.
Okay, so I'm a big fan of horror video games and I think it's one of the best ways to experience horror. Video games require more focus than TV or movies and you become the focus the subject of the fear. You're navigating the character through the haunted place, rather than watching an actor stumble through the dark. I love these games and I wanted to share my most recent favorites with you.
So grab your controller, put on your comfiest kigurumi, and turn off all the lights.
Welcome to the world of survival horror!
The Evil Within series is the brainchild of Shinji Mikami, the game creator who directed the genre classic Resident Evil. I grew up playing the RE series, so I couldn't pick up the first Evil Within game fast enough. It was far from perfect but I had enough of a good time to pick up the sequel, which is a vast improvement on the original.
The Evil Within series takes place inside a collective dream shared by different people who have been strapped into a mind-bending science experiment. You control grizzled detective Sebastian Castellanos as he attempts to save his comrades and free his daughter from the insidious machine. Meanwhile, sinister forces both inside and outside the experiment struggle to stop him.
I tend to be drawn to games with strong narratives and, frankly, TEW2 doesn't make a lot of sense. Because you're essentially trapped in a dream, you get a sense that anything can happen and so nothing really means anything. But the gameplay itself is fascinating. Most horror games are about tightly controlled environments but Castellanos is free to explore the strange reality he's trapped in, which gives you a lot of leeway to play the game as you see fit. Finally, the monster designs are really strong. The design team really understands the aesthetic of the horror genre and it shows in their terrifying creations.
Friday the 13th is probably the one game I've devoted the most time to in years. I was a backer of the game on Kickstarter and I've been playing it obsessively since its release day.
Known in gaming jargon as an asymmetrical multiplayer - meaning that a team of underpowered players struggle to take down a single powerful player - Friday the 13th continues the chilling tale of Jason Voorhees, the undead little boy who rises from the grave to butcher anyone who sets foot at the summer camp both he and his mother died in. While there is a single player mode, the game is meant to be played online with other people as a handful of teenagers struggle to escape the camp while Jason attempts to send them all on inventive and gory deaths.
Nothing I've ever played has captured the tension of being stalked by an unstoppable monster. You have to play smart and think things through in order to escape. Those near-misses, ambushes, and jump scares bring you right back to the 1980s. I can't recommend this highly enough. Check it out.
One of the biggest success stories in recent video game history is the rebirth of the Resident Evil series through the seminal Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. It resurrected a franchise that had gotten top-heavy on its own mythology and drifted away from its horror roots. RE7 turned the game into a first person creepiest and infused the game's biochemical abominations with images from both backwoods horror and torture porn films.
I really love this game and I played it together with my roommates - we call ourselves Team Coward and play by exchanging the controller every 30 minutes - for one of the most memorable horror experiences in recent memory. It's a great example of gaming in horror that satisfies both action and horror fans, and there are even guides for people who want to play the game but are too scared.
Before the new Friday the 13th game came out, another game tackled the tropes of the slasher movie game, where a cast of beleaguered survivors attempt to escape indomitable supernatural killers after them. That game was called Dead by Daylight.
The premise of DbD is that an all-powerful dark entity has captured both victims and killers into a maze and turned them loose. The victims attempt to escape and the killers attempt to catch the victims and leave them on grisly traps for the dark gods to collect. The gameplay is a brutal cat and mouse chase. as both sides struggle to win.
Aside from being one of the most entertaining horror games to watch, there's a lot of variety to be had in DbD's selection of killers. Along with several original monsters, you can also play as Halloween's Michael Myers, A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger, and Saw's Jigsaw killer.
Did we miss any favorites? Let us know in the comments.