Imbued with permeating sense of unease, survival horror games are designed to test players’ survival instincts. Trapped in an atmosphere where the odds seem impossible to overcome, the challenges faced forces players to the end of their wits. From mastering stealth takedowns to conserving precious resources, we take a look some of the best survival horror games that make you pull your hair out.
Siren Blood Curse (2008)
What’s the story? Siren Blood Curse is a reimagined take by American developers on the series. This installment is an episodic series a la Walking Dead that centres on how a television crew survives the night of the living dead in a remote Japanese village. You play as different member of the survivors as your journey intersects with the others in the game.
How do you play it? The game excels in diversifying gameplay experience. There is more than one way to takedown the undead. Equipped with weapons of varying degree of damage output, you will never run out of things to swing your way to escape. With that said, you will not run out of enemies to hide from either. Incapacitated enemies will be revived as no one can truly die in the cursed village, including you.
What’s great about it? Different story arcs offer multitude intensity of gameplay. Whether you are sniping from afar to save a NPC or escaping from Point A to B undetected, Siren Blood Curse is a good balance between combat and stealth. Played with Sight jacking mechanism to monitor your enemies’ movement, it offers you plenty of hair-raising moments.
Available on: PS3
Dead Space 2 (2011)
What’s the story? The silent protagonist of Dead Space, Isaac Clarke escaped his ill-fated ship and wakes up in a space station. The nightmare begins anew when the sudden Necromorph outbreak takes place. The sequel introduces more areas to explore, bigger and meaner Necromorphs plus greater depth into Clarke’s character.
How do you play it? Similar to the prequel, aiming for the Necromophs’ limbs is essential. The addition of new enemies spices up the gameplay. Players must strategize their attacks to target the weak spots of Necromorph. This calls for intelligent use of weaponry to eliminate the swarms effectively.
What’s great about it? The abandoned facility with hordes of bloodthirsty Necromorphs is like The Hunger Games in space. Dead Space 2 raises the bar set by the prequel to deliver a thrilling gameplay in a polished sequel. Heightened by the big scale boss fights, Dead Space 2 answered the prayers for a definite version of Isaac’s comeback with a bang.
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
What’s the story? A reporter named Miles Upshur entered an insane asylum to investigate illegal human experimentation and finds himself trapped with lunatics known as Variants determined to kill him.
How do you play it? Devoid of combat, players are only equipped with a notebook and a camcorder. Navigating through the dark hallways using your camcorder, players are confronted with cannibal Variants, dying battery, and pitch black surroundings. Incapable of fighting assailants, players evade and run to survive.
What’s great about it? Outlast is not for the faint-hearted. Chase sequences to escape Variants create heart-pounding suspense that goes against health warning on cardiac arrest. Removing combat from the gameplay, Outlast pushes the envelope of survival horror games.
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly (2003)
What’s the story? A pair of twins sisters Mio and Mayu ventured into a forbidding Minakami village haunted by spirits of those who died in a sacrificial ritual gone wrong. Mayu was separated from Mio later on, and players will play as Mio to find her missing sister.
How do you play it? Armed with Camera Obscura, you defeat ghosts by ‘exorcising’ their spirits through the camera lens. The camera is also used to solve puzzles and reveal things not seen by naked eyes.
Players explore the sinister village searching for Mayu and clues to escape the spirit realm while being hunted by demonic spirits. Friends are few, but foes are plenty waiting to sacrifice the twins to complete the failed ritual.
What’s great about it? Fatal Frame 2 echoes Japanese horror seen on the silver screen. More than just monster-in-the-closet jump scares, the game is a survival horror classic that shows off impeccable marksmanship in creating atmospheric visual to draw players into the hellish nights of Minakami village.
Available on: PS3 via PSN
Resident Evil 4 (2005)
What’s the story? Leon S. Kennedy, protagonist of Resident Evil 2 is assigned to rescue the daughter of U.S President from a mysterious cult in Europe. Infected with parasitic disease, Leon must protect the hostage and attempt to save himself before he turns into a mindless Los Granados. In his quest for escape, he is also aided by his former ally, Ada Wong.
How do you play it? Players take control of Leon for the main storyline. The scarcity of resources calls for smart inventory management to conserve ammunition. Thankfully, an improved combat system in RE4 allows players to perform impressive fighting moves when needed. On a side note, players also get to play as the alluring Ada Wong in a secondary storyline. Witness the events unfold from a different perspective with her side missions.
What’s so great about it? RE4 is the masterpiece of Resident Evil series. This installment is a departure from its pure survival horror form for a combat-heavy gameplay. Empowering players to do more with design overhaul, there is also less room for mistakes when every level warrants new obstacles to overwhelm players.
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii
Silent Hill 2 (2001)
What’s the story? Haunted by memories of his deceased wife, James Sunderland revisit Silent Hill to investigate the origin of a letter he received. He soon finds that the peaceful town is no longer what it used to be. Overrun by monsters, James confronts his inner demons.
How do you play it? Fight or flight, have it your way. Players are not forced to fight unless they have to. Combat do not occupy a significant portion of the game because gameplay will mostly centre on collating information on James’s deceased wife.
Choices and consequences however play a big role in determining the endings players receive. None of the Silent Hill installment created a depressing tone so well that outdone Silent Hill 2.
What’s great about it? Playing Silent Hill 2 is akin to unwrapping a present. The closer you get to the core, the greater tension it builds. James’s attempts in piecing the story together become the key plot device which strengthens the game’s strong narrative.
Crossing paths with other equally tormented souls summoned to Silent Hill further develops his backstory as he mends his broken mind. Capitalising on emotional instability of the characters, Silent Hill 2 is an unrivaled psychological horror game.
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360 (as Silent Hill HD Collection), PC
The Last Of Us (2013)
What’s the story? Set in a post-apocalyptic future, Cordyceps fungus outbreak ravaged cities across United States turning people into zombie-like creatures. Joel copes with the tragic death of his daughter and found solace in Ellie, a girl he is assigned to smuggle to the resistance group. Journeying across the country, Joel and Ellie take on bandits and the infected for a chance to save mankind.
How do you play it? Joel and Ellie are both playable characters in different segments of the game although Joel is at the helm more prominently. Faithful to the apocalyptic theme, players must scavenge for materials to craft and upgrade weaponry. Higher difficulty levels come with reduced abundance of resources and more damage resistant enemies that turn the players into sitting ducks.
What’s great about it? Everything. Strong narrative? Check. Outstanding level design? Double check. Captivating visuals? Triple check. The Last Of Us can do no wrong and it is pretty much flawless. Never before a survival horror has game positioned itself as a compelling storyteller, but The Last Of Us takes the crown.
Detailing how Joel and Ellie bonded over the eventful months, players witness how they deal with loss of fallen allies, outsmarting enemies, and making difficult choices. Throw in a long list of in-game collectibles, The Last Of Us has a high replay value for players to explore what missed collectibles on their first playthroughs.
Available on: PS3, PS4