#10: Fatal Frame (PS2)
The only reason this is in the ten spot is because I admittedly never had the time to complete this game. But the roughly 60-70% of the game I did finish left a lasting impression on me. In Fatal Frame you are armed with a camera... and that's it. Staving off ghosts requires you to snap pictures of them , and the closer you can get to them before firing off a snapshot, the better. It's a mechanic that goads the player into essentially scaring themselves. It's an inherently evil design mechanic and I really have to tip my proverbial hat to the design team for incorporating it into a genuinely frightening game.
What do you get when you combine the gameplay of a Shinji Mikami game with the almost surreal storytelling of a Suda 51 game? Well, here you go, Shadows of the Damned. I think a lot of people passed this one over, but if you haven't played it, you can probably find it on the cheap now. The game's not necessarily scary by any means, but it's got some great enemy designs, a bat**** crazy story, and some really overt sexual "innuendos". It's like the Evil Dead 2 of video games. It's got the trappings of a horror game but with so much camp that a chainsaw arm might seem tame in comparison.
Yeah, yeah, I know this game has been featured on too many "overlooked gems" or "underappreciated games" lists, but it is a great game to go back to on Halloween. I admit that I never really got into this game as much as some people did, but it certainly does some things well. The infamous sanity meter and how it affects the game is what keeps this game relevant in my opinion. Up until this game came out, there weren't too many games that purposely screwed with the player the way Eternal Darkness did. The actual enemies and combat design left something to be desired but the way the story is told through various characters in different time periods was a novel idea. The game is definitely original and I'm sure an HD remake would go over quite well even though it'll probably never happen. :(
Ok, I'm sure everyone's played this game at some point, on any one of the myriad of systems it was ported to. You've got your original Gamecube version, a PS2 and Wii version and of course the HD remakes that found their way onto the PS3 and Xbox 360. There really isn't much to say about this game as every minute detail of RE4 has been picked over like a plate of brownies at a BBW meeting. It's a game that redefined what RE and survival horror in general was all about. Those damned Iron Maiden enemies still haunt me.
I went into this game not really knowing what to expect. I had heard things like "it's a love or hate type of game" and "it's really effing weird". Well I like weird, and I'm always open to works of art that try to buck convention or try something a little off the beaten path. Deadly Premonition certainly has the weird factor going for it but what it also has is a ton of is charm. Yes, charm. It's a weird hybrid of survival horror, open world/sandbox stuff, and a quirky whodunnit murder mystery that had me guessing until the end. The characters are so charming and memorable that you'll have a hard time putting this game down (at least I did). Sure, the game has its flaws: Some questionable control issues, occasional frame rate hitches, some rather ugly graphics. But what it lacks in polish, it more than makes up for with some truly eccentric characters and some memorable quotes. "FK in my coffee!" Oh, and did I mention the music? Well, it's amazing. And yeah, the premise is basically ripped from Twin Peaks but who cares, it's great.
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (woof, that's a mouthful) isn't necessarily a "horror" game but more of a... depressing game. There's an air of loneliness and isolation that hang over this game that makes the player feel well... rather despondent. I know that might not sound like a good time, but it's something you need to experience for yourself to understand just how effective and captivating this game can be. The narrative is engrossing and the environments you explore are eerie and desolate. Again, like Deadly Premonition, it's got some rough edges; but this weird little rpg/horror/exploration amalgamation is well worth a try.
Now we're getting to the heavy hitters. The Silent Hill series has always been my favorite horror series even when they started passing off the games to different developers. It's entertaining to see how different studios interpret the Silent Hill universe even if it doesn't always pan out (I'm looking at you Homecoming). But Silent Hill 3 is a classic. It has arguably some the creepiest/disturbing locations in a game. The story is solid and the sound design... omg the sound design! Akira Yamaoka is a mad genius and I think he really hit his stride with the early Silent Hill games. If you're looking for a genuinely frightening game, this one fits the bill.
This is a downloadable, episodic game that came out awhile ago on the PS3. I think it may have been passed over by many gamer's which is a shame. If you even remotely enjoy survival horror games, get this. SIREN comes to you from some of the minds behind the original Silent Hills and man is it creepy. You play an assortment of characters that all get sucked into an occult ceremony gone awry. The story is completely bonkers but in a good way. There's also a really innovative "sight jack" mechanic that adds another layer to the gameplay. Honestly, this is one of the scariest games I've played in awhile and it comes highly recommended.
Yup, here it is. I'm sure you figured Silent Hill 2 would be here somewhere and what better place than the number two spot!? Right? In my mind, this is one of the best, if not the best, survival horror games ever created. The story is rich with symbolism and metaphor, the sound design is incredibly disturbing, and the air of dread and depression that hover over this game is thick. As much as I love this game I have a hard time actually playing it. I don't know if I would actually classify this game as being "fun" either. A good horror game is like that though. You want to play it but at the same time... you kinda don't. The first time I played this I went with the tried and truth method of playing in a pitch black room with headphones on. Doing this effectively made the game seem almost impossible to complete at certain points. Just because it was so freakin' scary! I'm not one to scare easily, but this game will do it. If you haven't gotten around to it yet, play this classic now! And yes the HD collection works pretty well on the ps3 now, just don't bother with the 360 version, it's still broken.
Ok, this is the quintessential Halloween game. Costume Quest comes to us from the brilliant minds over at Double Fine and it's adorable. Maybe "adorable" isn't the right word, but it effectively captures the mood/spirit of Halloween and delivers it in game form. The gameplay consists of a straight turn-based rpg battle system with levels and stats and sidequests. You go door to door trick-or-treating. Sometimes you'll get candy (this game's currency) and sometimes you'll have to fight the game's enemies, Grubbin's (who have kidnapped your brother or sister depending on who you choose at the beginning). The suburb this game starts in is so well realized that I couldn't help but feel like I was six again, running from house to house asking strangers for candy. Oh, and you get to wear tons of different costumes, each with their own unique effect in battle. Costume Quest is a game you can play every Halloween to get in the Halloween spirit. And hey, it's cheap too!