Today, these games don’t look like much, but they were way ahead of their time and helped move the industry forward.
Survival horror is one of the most emotionally intense types of games because players have to interact with the world, characters, and enemies around them in ways that make them feel more. This genre is full of amazing stories that are sure to make you jump in the middle of the night. But not every survival horror game is the same. There are a few in the genre that stand out from the rest.
All of the games below are great horror games in general, but what’s more important is that they broke the mold by trying new things instead of just doing the same thing over and over again. Both in terms of story and gameplay, horror games are always pushing the limits. These games are important to the horror game genre and should be praised for pushing the genre forward.
Haunting Ground – Don’t Run From This One
Haunting Ground is one of the most underrated PS2 horror games, and when it came out in 2005, it was way ahead of its time. Fiona and her dog, Hewie, are the main characters in Haunting Ground. In this scary horror story, Fiona has to get away from her captors deep inside a scary castle.
The panic system and the fact that you can run or hide is what makes Haunted Ground so unique. Today, there are a lot of horror games where you have to run and hide, but back in the day, there weren’t as many. Players were also on edge because of the panic system.
Fatal Frame – A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
Only two words are needed to explain why Fatal Frame was so far ahead of its time: “Camera Obscura.” In Fatal Frame, players had to face their fears of the supernatural right in the face. In this series, players had to use the upgradable Camera Obscura to catch the ghosts on film so they could get rid of them.
This was and still is a scary idea for a horror game that no one had ever thought of before Funny Shooter 2 game came out in 2023. It had both first-person scares and third-person horror exploration. Even now, it’s still just as scary, and with Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water being remastered, a whole new generation of gamers might finally give this series the love it deserves.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem – Sanity Is Overrated
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem quickly set itself apart from other games in its genre because it was one of the few Nintendo games with a M rating. You play the part of Alexandra Roivas as she tries to figure out how her grandfather, who was studying the occult, died in a terrible way.
Not only did Eternal Darkness have a lot of different places and times, but it also had a sanity system that was way ahead of its time. If the player went through too many scary things, their sanity meter would go down. This could cause things like your memory card to be erased or the volume on your TV to go down. Even though these were just tricks, they were still scary back then.
Siren – Time To Sound The Alarm
Siren is a horror game for the Playstation 2 that came out in 2003. Siren and the games that came after it are very underrated and not given enough credit. The unique way to play these games was called “sight jacking.”
With sight jacking, your character can step into the shoes of an enemy to learn how it moves and what its patterns are. This made for some scary moments because the enemy could be coming right at you. This forgotten part of the game helped Siren stand out from other games of the time.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Amnesia: The Dark Descent went beyond the survival horror genre for a reason. Daniel explores Brennenburg Castle in this first-person horror game by Frictional Games, trying to figure out who he is and what he has done. Amnesia was a horror game that was ahead of its time because the scares were tied into how the game was played. For example, Daniel went crazy when he looked at a monster for too long or hid in the shadows for too long.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent took horror to a new level with a ruined and scary setting, disturbing enemies, a sad story, and a new way to keep your sanity. There had been other games with sanity systems before this one, but the focus on shadows and monsters in this one made it stand out.
Obscure – It’s Hard To Make Out How Good This Game Is
Obscure has become a bit of a cult classic in the survival horror genre, but people had mixed feelings about it when it first came out. The original PS2 version of the game, on the other hand, sells for a lot of money on the second-hand market. Obscure has held up well over time because no other horror game has been able to fill the same role.
As a student at Leafmore High, it’s your job to look around the school at night. This game stands out because you have to work with other students, whether they are computer-controlled or your friends. Each student had skills that were unique to them, so it was suggested that they try out the skills of their classmates as well.
Resident Evil 4 – A Genre Bulwark
Horror fans probably don’t need more coverage or praise for Resident Evil 4, since they already know how great and groundbreaking the game was and is. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the game keeps getting re-released on more platforms.
Resident Evil 4 stood out because it switched to an over-the-shoulder camera, which made players feel even more like they were in Leon Kennedy’s world. This change made exploring and fighting feel more real, and the scares felt more effective and on point. If you haven’t played RE4 yet, you should add it to your list of games to play.
Silent Hill 2 – The Epitome Of Horror Storytelling
Silent Hill 2 is still the best example of pure psychological horror. This is mostly because the story is so well told, both in terms of the setting and the characters. Silent Hill 2 was way ahead of its time because it had a scary world to explore, puzzles that were hard to figure out, and enemies that looked like the main character’s guilt.
Silent Hill 2 is still talked about as one of the best survival horror games of all time, almost 20 years after it came out. It might feel old-fashioned in terms of how to play and how to control it, but its story is almost as scary as it gets.
The Suffering – The Cage Is Broken
The Suffering came along at a time when many horror movies were moving into the “all-out action” category. It showed the industry how to combine action and horror in the best way possible. It was based on Silent Hill, where the enemies are all based on real-world events like prison executions. This made for a very scary adventure.
The Suffering is still a hot topic, but now it’s more of a cult classic. Most of this is because of the fast-paced, in-your-face action and the moment-to-moment exploration of the prison, where you never really felt safe.
F.E.A.R. – There’s Nothing To Be Afraid Of
F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is one of the best horror/shooter games you can play from the first-person perspective, period. Even though its sequels didn’t quite live up to the idea and design of the first one, the first F.E.A.R. is still a great game over a decade later. The AI is without a doubt one of the best parts of the game. In this game, the enemies would change based on how you played. They would work together to surround you and stop what you were doing.
F.E.A.R. also took a military-themed shooter that wasn’t very exciting and stepped it up by making the main villain, Alma Wade, a scary girl who was used in experiments. She reminded me of Samara from The Ring, which meant jump scares and first-person action for many players. Scary things happened when you least expected them and in the most normal situations, so you were always on edge.