1. Resident Evil 7
It could have been a disaster – a clunky, forced update to a revered series, that left fans clamoring for the bombastic nonsense of Resident Evil 6. But Resi 7(opens in new tab) is a triumph, smartly feeding off the best horror movies of the last 20 years, effortlessly easing all that edgy new into a recognizable, modern reinvention of the series. The central story is fantastic, the mysteries artfully concealed and your tormentors, the Bakers, are brilliantly subversive.
2. Layers of Fear
Most games can make you jump, they can make scream, but few can make you doubt yourself in real life. Layers of Fear(opens in new tab) initially appears very familiar as you explore a spooky, creepy, and cavernously empty house. The Gothic story unravels slowly as you play an unnamed artist returning home. It soon becomes clear though that madness has overtaken the painter and it expresses itself in the unreliable narration of the physical world. Doors disappear and corridors warp out of shape just in the corner of you; the game rearranges itself in such a way to recreate the main character’s madness that only a few hours in and you’ll find yourself questioning everything. Was that desk on that side of the room last time you looked? Are you sure? Add to that the nature of the protagonist’s illness – an obsessional painting made from… less than savory materials, and you have one of the greatest horror games of all time.
If you brought together the world’s most idiosyncratic game auteur and one of its greatest film monster creators and they didn’t make one of the oddest, most horrible games yet released, you’d be pretty upset. Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro’s “playable teaser” for the now-canned Silent Hills, places you in a single, infinitely looping hallway, and proceeds to find a thousand ways to terrify you. This is no idle boast: one member of the GamesRadar+ team was unable to play this game with the lights off and was forced to turn the sound down to make it tolerable.
There are moments where you face peril, but they’re few and far between. The real terror comes from the unknown. What could be around the next bend? A fresh nightmare or nothing at all? Your imagination fills in the blanks, creating more terror than any simple jump scare or creepy noise could.
If Resident Evil is the king of survival action-horror, then Dead Space(opens in new tab) aimed to be the pretender to the throne, bringing together Capcom’s early dread and latter-day over-the-shoulder shooting into one gory package. Borrowing from Alien and other sci-fi classics, the 2008 release put players in the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer trapped on a derelict spacecraft. Soon Isaac finds out the ship isn’t as empty as it seems, as a strange alien artifact has transformed everyone on board into hideous, flesh-eating creatures, each more horrific than the last.
Dead Space crafts a horrifying experience by limiting the player. Isaac is short on ammo, he rarely knows what’s going on in the continually shifting story, and he’s most in danger of what he cant see.
5.Resident Evil 4
This is the series that invented modern survival horror, but that wasn’t good enough for director Shinji Mikami. So in Resident Evil 4(opens in new tab), he invented the modern third-person shooting, just for fun. Leon Kennedy’s adventures in gunplay are rightly famous, the feedback-heavy combat making every situation a shaky joy. But, I hear you cry, how does that make it qualify as a top 10 horror game? Surely it’s just an action experience in Resi clothing?
Tell that to anyone coming to the Ganado-infested village for the first time. The sheer stress of being rushed by the parasite-infested local population, headed up by sack-masked, chainsaw-wielding maniac ranks up there with gaming’s most frightening moments.