Horror has been a staple genre in my life with movies and video games. Many of the games I grew up on as a child were survival-horror titles. With Resident Evil: Village being a runaway success, I figured there’s no better time to look back than now. Many people miss out on staples of the survival-horror genre for all sorts of reasons. But just because you weren’t able to play them on release doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your attention now.
Survival horror games are infinitely replayable, and they tend to age a lot better than other AAA releases that follow trends or high-fidelity graphics. Several survival-horror titles contain much charm despite their poor graphics or dated control schemes. Like a fine wine, these games seem to age the best. Here are my top 5 titles you need to play.
Dead By Daylight
This one may seem unconventional at first, but trust me when I say the experience is full-on survival horror. Dead by Daylight has a certain “Je ne sais quois”; it’s not perfect, but there’s something oddly charming about the asymmetrical multiplayer horror title. Behaviour Interactive, a company out of Montreal, Canada, found its niche in a genre that seemed long dead. There was a time when asymmetrical multiplayer games seemed to be popping up everywhere. Dead by Daylight has stood the test of time. Where many of the others failed, Dead by Daylight succeeded.
Launching in 2015, Dead by Daylight sets players up as either killers or survivors. The killer players play a solo game from a first-person perspective while the survivors play as a team of four from a third-person point of view. The goal is simple: either kill all the survivors, or, if you’re the survivors, escape. The simple premise is perfect for multiplayer, and its great mix of original and licensed characters keeps the game fresh and dynamic.
The Evil Within 1 & 2
Helmed by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, The Evil Within is a survival-horror game in the same vein as Resident Evil 4. The series is heavy on action but still manages to be horrifying with its nightmarishly created monsters. Even if you haven’t played The Evil Within, you’ll likely recognize the massive hulking abomination with a safe on its head.
The Evil Within series is just as rooted in psychologic horror as the action-based horror of Resident Evil. Similar to titles like Silent Hill, there’s a heavy focus on psychological trauma. Fans of survival horror adore The Evil Within, and it’s a title worth picking up.
Darkwood may seem like a strange title to add to this list because it’s not what you’d typically expect from a survival-horror title. However, Darkwood is a top-down survival horror game with a heavy emphasis on survival.
Players are required to scavenge for supplies and explore during the day but must set up camp and stay inside at night. Darkwood is an entirely free-roam, top-down perspective horror title, a perspective that is far more terrifying than it may seem.
Deadly Premonition will be the most divisive game on this list, and for good reason. Deadly Premonition garnered reviews from critics ranging from 10/10 (a masterpiece) to 1/10 (absolute unplayable garbage). Horror movie fans are no strangers to b-movie horror, but the video game industry is less receptive to such titles, and that is no more apparent than with Deadly Premonition.
The David Lynch-inspired title drops players into the middle of a murder mystery. A man named the “Raincoat Killer” is murdering people in a small mountain town, and players must find out who he is and stop him before anyone else is hurt. The game is equal parts charming, terrifying and full-blown “I don’t know if this is broken or not” disaster. A lot of the charm comes from the b-movie style thrown into the game. The graphics are dated, the music is catchy, though it doesn’t fit the narrative moments and the acting is top-notch cheesy. However, if you know what you’re getting into, this game is thrilling and a true survival-horror masterpiece.
Silent Hill 2
I toyed with the idea of not including my favourite survival-horror game on this list, if only because it was an obvious choice. However, Silent Hill 2 is still the pinnacle of the survival-horror genre. Games are chasing what Silent Hill 2 created, and even to this day, its franchise can’t meet the same highs.
Regret, suffering, despair and violence all surround the story of Silent Hill 2. It’s a thought-provoking and terrifying journey through James Sunderland’s journey into Silent Hill, looking for his long-dead wife. With dated graphics, many people may pass up this 20-year-old title; however, if you’ve never played Silent Hill 2, stop what you’re doing right now and give it a go. Silent Hill 2 is a true gaming masterpiece and deserves to be played by everyone who loves the survival-horror genre.
- Fatal Frame 2
- Clock tower 2
- Outlast 1 & 2
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent
- Alan Wake