Video games take emotionality to whole new levels because of their interactive nature. All players have felt the grief of losing a team member in an adventure game, or the hesitation in trying to say the right thing in RPGs. The video game player is in control of a character and therefore further invested in that character’s safety. So when things take a turn for the dark, it’s especially chilling. The following five games best exploit the player-character relationship to leave our hair standing on end:
From the original 32-bit version, to the sleek action-based Resident Evil 5, this series combines elements of surprise, gore, and the thrill of survival to create an intense and heart-pounding game. The game’s environment and design make for an eerie, creepy dystopia. Because the games masterfully destroy illusions of safety with surprise attacks and enemy viciousness, players learn that they are never, ever truly safe. That type of moment-to-moment suspense makes the contorted and gruesome zombies even more stomach-churning
Silent Hill 2
The psychological terror of Silent Hill 2 lies in its plot, in which your protagonist James Sunderland reads a letter from his wife, who begs him to come live with her in the town of Silent Hill. Once it’s revealed that his wife is years-dead and Silent Hill is frightening, empty town of lost dreams, the game takes on a nauseatingly dread-filled tone. The soundtrack for Silent Hill is one the most beautiful, dark, and mood-enhancing music score in video games.
Similar to Resident Evil in the survival horror sense, Bioshock takes cringe-worthy, grisly enemies to the next level with the mutant monsters that plague protagonist Jack’s every step. The plot adds a sense of realism to the design – the only survivor of a plane crash, Jack finds a utopia gone wrong. The game makes a very subtle and very disturbing hint at human nature, and it’s hard not to wonder if the horror and darkness of Rapture is really that far away from the world that we live in.
Dead Space exploits the fact that we want to save the ones loyal to us, including the person we love, and make the right decisions to get everyone out alive. The protagonist, Isaac, must use modified mining tools to fight off aliens, but the real scare lies in frantic attempts at figuring it all out in time.
Amnesia: the Dark Descent
This independent game, created by Swedish developer Frictional Games, is an adventure game that makes the player solve puzzles while hiding from enemies, in order to help the protagonist escape the castle he has awoken in. The horror here comes from the fear we all have of insanity, not remembering, and being asked to make it in a world we are not equipped to handle. Amnesia is terrifying because it feels what would happen if we were truly in a bad spot – no weapons, no superhuman strength and dexterity, just hiding in shadows trying to stay sane.
Jennie is a video game enthusiast hailing from Indianapolis. She recommends Game Truck Indianapolis for kids who’d like to celebrate their birthday parties waging video game warfare on their friends and family.
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