Though a divisive entry in the Silent Hill series, The Room is a fascinating game that explores some truly interesting and unique horror concepts.
By being set primarily inside of the main character’s apartment, The Room takes what most of us consider to be a safe sanctuary, and turns it into a living nightmare. Pulling inspiration from Jacob’s Ladder, Twin Peaks, and the novel House of Leaves, The Room remains a strange departure for the Silent Hill series, but one that created a handful of unforgettable horror moments. -- Marty Sliva
Condemned blends classical survival-horror themes of vulnerability and tension with an action-oriented combat system. Enemies act with animal cunning, retreat from disadvantageous situations, hide, and wait in ambush. Weapons are deadly enough that a single foe can be a real threat, making almost every encounter legitimately challenging. The CSI sections add a touch of credulity to the bizarre, uneven story.When it works, Condemned is engaging and scary, and when it doesn't, the failings are ludicrous enough you can write them off to video game logic and keep playing, confident that something terrifying waits just around the corner. -- Jared Petty
Isaac Clarke's first foray onto the USG Ishimura defined a generation of survival horror. Combining action and exploration elements from Resident Evil 4 with the classic tension and dread of Alien, Dead Space felt like something new. Its refreshing spin on sci-fi horror gave players control over combat in a way survival horror typically doesn't, but it restrained itself enough to limit what Clarke had access to.Like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, it forced players to feel confined and almost incapable of dealing with the frantic horrors before them. Dead Space felt lonely, and that, more than its monsters, made it scary. The helplessness and stress of isolation in an unwelcoming place, with limited ammunition and no army behind you, put a stamp on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 generation that, indeed, survival horror had a lot of life left in it after all. -- Mitch Dyer
The original Resident Evil was one of the games that helped usher in the survival horror genre, and really helped inform what the core pillars of an interactive horror experience should be. The 2002 GameCube remake of Shinji Mikami’s classic remains the definitive edition thanks to a gorgeous and terrifying visual upgrade, a trimming of a lot of the original’s cheese-ball moments, and the surprise inclusion of Crimson Heads (think zombie-versions of zombies).
A remastered version is coming to most platforms in 2015, meaning that most of us will be able to once-again experience one of the definitive moments in survival horror. -- Marty Sliva
Resident Evil 2 is archetypal survival horror, with a gothic setting, delightfully nonsensical puzzles, good sound design, and terrible tank controls. Staggeringly ambitious for its time, the story followed Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield's two overlapping journeys through the Raccoon City Police Department and into the labyrinthine hell-scape below.
The unapologetically corny story ripped off the best elements of drive-in science fiction and horror. Despite the dated 3D models and terrible voice acting, Resident Evil 2 still provides ample heart-palpitating tension and numerous jump-scares. -- Jared Petty
True to its namesake, Amnesia had us wishing we could forget the horrifying things we saw.
The sense of dread is ever-present as you delve into the depths of Brennenburg Castle. There are no weapons to be found, no saving grace besides the dim lantern that can be used sparingly to keep the darkness at bay. Amnesia’s story of a memory best left forgotten is punctuated by the terrors that roam the game, where just a glimpse of those that hunt you can drive your character insane, changing the very fabric of the reality.
Amnesia perfectly encapsulates the helpless feeling of being alone, defenseless, hunted, and yet goads you deeper with the promise of revealing its terrible secrets. Without a doubt, Amnesia breathed new life into the survival horror genre with a big emphasis on survival. -- Brendan Graeber
Eternal Darkness combines traditional survival horror gameplay with a fantastic Lovecraftian universe, but its real strengths lie in what is achieves on its own.
Sanity Effects sound like a cheap gimmick, but having to maintain your characters' wits throughout each of Eternal Darkness' distinct short stories creates another layer of tension on an already tense and stressful survival game. Combat isn't elegant, but it's empowering enough to make you feel capable -- but only in small bursts, and only until something goes wrong.When your heroes start losing their minds, and fail to cope with the horrors around them, Eternal Darkness becomes a survival game unlike any other -- one with memorable moments, an unforgettable story told across generations, and gameplay that betrays preconceived expectations. It's an unpredictable experience that has remained one of the absolute best in its field. -- Mitch Dyer
System Shock 2 might give you more to work with than most survival games, but make no mistake, the horror is quite present in a very unique style. What set System Shock 2 apart from other FPS/RPG hybrids like Deus Ex and Thief was its unflinching look at sci-fi situation gone horribly wrong. The player finds themselves aboard spaceship crawling with mutant alien-human hybrids, with their moans of joining “the many” filling your ears as they search for you, and often screaming for you to kill them or run away.System Shock 2 might tease you into believing you are playing a traditional rpg or action game, up until ammo starts to becomes scarce, and your weapons jam or break down. All the while, there is an unshakeable dread that a sinister A.I. is watching you, calculating your moves as it exerts control over your environment. The game’s many mechanics would eventually become key parts of its spiritual successor, Bioshock, but the setting, mood, and themes that System Shock 2 carried made it stand apart even to this day as a prominent survival horror game. -- Brendan Graeber
The Fatal Frame series has managed to build its lineage of terror on the smart conceit of danger and horror appearing when you decide to pull up your cursed Camera Obscura. The games, especially Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, smartly use the device simultaneously as a method of delivering power, as well as stripping the player of any and all control.
Crimson Butterfly managed to capture a fantastic atmosphere by setting the game around the Japanese countryside and its creepy abandoned villages, and having the main character be a young, and ostensibly powerless child makes the fear that much more effective. -- Marty Sliva
Silent Hill 2 embodies everything that can go right with survival horror. It bears an overwhelming sense of dread from its bleak beginning to its bittersweet end. Its marriage of gameplay and story -- quite literally a widowed husband escaping and fighting his own darkness come to life -- creates uneasy themes, challenging subject matter, and terrifying encounters with mysterious, monstrous enemies.
Silent Hill 2, like its predecessor, establishes a convincing sense of place that's discomforting, underscored by an unbeatable, somber soundtrack. -- Mitch Dyer
Can't get enough horror? Check out IGN's 13 Horror Games Not to Turn Your Back on in 2014, read our Wiki Guide for Silent Hills' P.T., and watch Alien Isolation scare the life out of IGN Editors.
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