The horror genre in gaming is ripe with an assortment of the best and worst scares to come out of interactive entertainment. Ever since 1996’s Resident Evil threw horror gaming into the mainstream spotlight, we’ve seen plenty of unique, memorable, and downright terrifying games hit the market over the decades. But what remains the all-time best and worst that the genre has to offer?
The best horror game:
Throughout my life, I’ve been addicted to horror games. Since playing the first Silent Hill on PlayStation, I realized the potential of a great horror game and what it can accomplish above movies. In the case of Silent Hill (and later Silent Hill 2), the genre opened itself up to me and I became attracted to the sheer creativity developers poured into making a horror game not only work, but stand out in a sea of competitors waiting to jump on the next milestone in horror gaming.
I fondly remember getting my hands on Condemned: Criminal Origins and being sucked into the atmospheric, off-putting world of horror. There was a certain appealing magic to the darkened hallways, immaculate lighting, and hair-raising scares that made me beg for more. Innovation was a kind friend to the genre above all others, which lead me to discovering gems such as the mysterious Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, the action-packed terror of F.E.A.R., and the off-kilter psychological torment of Alan Wake.
While horror gaming had a recent resurgence in popularity thanks to the likes of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Outlast II, there was one game that stuck out like a sore thumb all throughout these years. Capcom and Konami would be forever destined to bounce their most widely recognized horror franchises at each other in a fiery war that divided many horror gaming fans. I’m of course talking about the Silent Hill and Resident Evi series’. However, while I appreciated everything that Silent Hill brought to the table in terms of pioneering a new form of relentless, visceral horror (and what could've been with Silent Hills), it was one game in the Resident Evil series that solidified my opinion as the absolute best horror experience you can find.
Resident Evil 4 took a bold leap for the series by switching up several gameplay mechanics, including its bizarre shift to an over-the-shoulder view as opposed to the fixed camera angles from afar that the previous entries had been known for. This leap paid off big time as the fourth installment broke new ground with a decidedly haunting atmosphere, brilliant combat, and a wide variety of enemies that both honoured the campy nature of the Resident Evil series while being their own brand of nightmares entirely.
Resident Evil 4 succeeds thanks to the strengths of its main character, the charismatic Leon S. Kennedy, and a story that sidelined zombies for a parasitic contagion that proved the series’ flexibility. Above all, the game sprinkled a healthy dose of new-found bravura action into its pot of scares, which balanced out perfectly for an unforgettable experience. Needless to say, Resident Evil 4 became an instant classic, winning tons of Game of the Year awards. It’s still widely considered to be the best horror game of all time, and for a very good reason.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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