9. Doom 3
When Doom 3 was released, there was a lot of controversy over what the game was and what the game wasn’t. At that time, quite a few people expecting the next great Doom shooter were stunned to learn that Doom 3 was actually a slightly more methodical horror title that emphasized atmosphere and scares over pure action. Of course, those same qualities happen to make Doom 3 one of the best games in this genre.
Even if you play a version of this game that allows you to keep your flashlight up at all times (a welcome quality-of-life addition), there are moments in Doom 3 that will get under your skin. Yes, Doom 3 largely relies on a “jump scare” brand of horror, but so many of those jump scares are expertly set up by the game’s use of dark corners, ominous sounds, and other environmental tricks. This is just an incredible example of what atmosphere can contribute to a horror game.
Blooper Team catches a lot of (often uncalled for) flak for their supposedly formulaic horror game designs. Yet, a deeper look at their development history reveals a series of titles that prove that this studio just gets what makes modern games scary. While Observer is certainly an example of the studio’s knowledge of the genre, I’d also argue that it’s Blooper’s most ambitious horror game to date.
This cyberpunk horror game places you in the role of a detective that has to jump into people’s brain implants in order to solve crimes. If that doesn’t sound scary to you…well, you’ve obviously never delved that deep into your own mind, let alone some demanded stranger’s mind. This psychedelic, and often psychologically unnerving, horror game forces you to pay a lot of attention to things that arguably never should have left someone’s subconscious.
7. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
I’ve always been terrified of those Cold War-era nuclear panic movies like Threads and The Day After. Their often unrestrained visions of the end of everything really go to show that only the end of the world is the end of the world. Well, Shadow of Chernobyl basically offers a way to play through one of those terrifying visions (if you dare to do so).
Set in an alternate future in which mercenaries venture into the contaminated area around Chornobyl in search of strange treasures, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is one of those survival horror games that really emphasizes the survival part of the equation. While this game features its fair share of mutated monsters, your biggest challenges will be suffering through radiation and dealing with a constant lack of resources. Though obviously loosely based on a real event, this game offers a terrifying glimpse of life in a nuclear wasteland that we all most hope continues to be a fictional vision of what could happen.