Best survival horror games to play When the Lights are Out

Ever since the advent of the VCR, it’s been a tradition for kids to pop in some horror flicks when Halloween night rolls around. But a new generation is here, one that grew up playing console video games, and one that saw the rise of the “survival horror” genre. So it makes you wonder what horror game character would make the best movie? As you can see, we've thought about that already

It only makes sense, then, that Halloween tradition accommodate video games as much as movies. Who knows, with the rise of what is the scariest horror game technologies like VR, maybe gaming will become so immersive that one day soon it will render scary movies obsolete. In the meantime, here are some scary games perfect for Halloween night.

First-person shooters, platformers, side-scrollers, shoot-em-ups—these are just a few of the many video game genres out there. Add all those sub-genres into the mix, and you have near limitless options for gaming. 

Still, there are some genres that have risen above the rest, having long endured and captured the imaginations of casual fans and hardcore gamers alike. Classic survival horror games are one such genre, which have made some of the scariest video game characters ever made. Make sure to check out our favorite horror character list.

The classic games in mention below have been selected for optimum creep factor, as opposed to slick graphics or other tech specs.

Resident Evil

Survival horror can be measured in two parts: before “Resident Evil” and after “Resident Evil.” Many game historians even go so far as to say it created the genre as we know it today. While the design of Capcom’s “Resident Evil” took some cues from the 1992 computer game “Alone in the Dark,” the finished product was something else entirely. 

What made Resident Evil unique was the mysterious story, great game mechanics and good gory fun count for more in the long run. It had clever puzzles, a unique inventory system, zombie dogs and the licker.  Not to mention two unforgettable game characters in Jill Valentine & Chris Redfield. ‘Nuff said.

Admittedly, the nostalgia factor helps with the re-playability, but even objective gamers should agree that this title always offer up solid, Halloween-worthy frights. It is worth mentioning that the voice acting in the original “Resident Evil,” has a high cheese factor. Those who are looking for more plentiful jump scares might do well to play the sequel, “Resident Evil 2,” instead.

Silent Hill

When Konami decided to try their hand at the survival-horror genre in the ‘90s, they were smart enough not to rip off “Resident Evil.” Where in that game you often had ample weaponry to dispatch the undead, in “Silent Hill” you had just two bullets with which to work your magic. It was more of a tease than anything, and it did nothing to steel your resolve for those inevitable encounters with ghouls and flying monsters.

Where “Silent Hill” really excelled, though, was in the premise and the atmosphere. By putting the player in the shoes of an everyman, the game ratcheted up the tension, as did the fog-shrouded city streets and dark hallways. “Silent Hill 2” is considered an all-time-great game, and “Silent Hill 4: The Room” is also guaranteed to scare gamers silly. 


Whether in “The Ring” or “The Shining” one incontrovertible truth remains: little girls are freaky. And in “F.E.A.R.”, the little girl in question is Alma. With that black hair and red dress, she’s all but guaranteed to put the requisite scares in your Halloween survival horror experience. What also makes this action-horror entry unnerving is the fact that even the hero is prone to nervous fits, as evidenced in his quick breathing and shaky grip before and after combat.

Slender: the Arrival

what is the most popular horror gameKeeping in mind some recent backstory makes playing this already unsettling game an even terrifying experience. What started as a simple meme in 2009 took the Internet by storm. By all accounts, the “Slender Man,” a faceless figure in a suit that torments children, became a grassroot hit. It even led to the adaption of the character into this survival horror title.

But in 2014, two Wisconsin 12-year-olds, girls, led a friend into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. The victim barely survived, and her attackers are being charged as adults for attempted murder. Their reason for the attack: they said they were trying to appease Slender Man. Now that you’ve got that tidbit bouncing around in your head, how about you dim the lights and start the game. Feel free to search around in Kate’s abandoned house. And let’s see how well you hold it together when you first spot Slender Man outside that window.


The inclusion of “BioShock” in a list of survival horror games is sure to elicit some strong opinions. While it’s true that most regard this 2K title as a typical first-person shooter, it is anything but average. With its premise that sees a castaway protagonist exploring an underwater utopia-turned-dystopia, it combines elements of role-playing and, yes, survival horror. If this were merely a list of the best survival horror games of all time, it probably wouldn’t make the cut. But since this list is focusing on the most iconic titles out there, “BioShock” definitely deserves a spot on our list.


Another game classified as a straight FPS by many gamers, it nonetheless features the two elements necessary to qualify as survival horror—namely lots of survival and lost of horror. What it lacked in complex plot (you play as an unnamed space marine shooting up demons on one of horror games characters Mars’ moons), it more than made up for in gore and raw, unadulterated firepower. “Doom” was such a violent cultural touchstone, in fact, that it was blamed for everything from school shootings to the decline of western civilization.  

Left 4 Dead

“Resident Evil” had the zombie/mutant genre cornered for so long that it seemed unlikely anyone else would add anything substantive to the conversation. But in 2008 “Left 4 Dead” came along. The genius of this game wasn’t that it tried to reinvent the wheel; it merely amped-up the gameplay by making subtle changes.

What little story there was centered on a group of stranded survivors in the immediate aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Stock up on weapons and ammo, get from safe house to safe house, and don’t get dead—that was the goal. And by upping the zombies’ RPMs, the game ratcheted up the tension and created a white-knuckle experience for the ages. On that note, “Left 4 Dead” makes a solid argument that fast-moving, high-octane zombies belong on the console instead of in the cinemas.  


In recent times, there seems to be an abundance of games that are high on shock value while offering little substance. (“Hatred” comes immediately to mind.) But no matter what anyone says, there is an art to gaming violence, even more so when you want to immerse players in a compelling world. To this end, “Manhunt” did everything right.

Its premise was as creative as its gratuity was unapologetic. In the game, you play as a death row convict abducted and forced to murder for the enjoyment of the TV masses. It was “Running Man” meets Wes Craven’s “Shocker,” and by focusing on stealth, the game rose above the typical gore-fest. In the hands of a less devious publisher, “Manhunt” might have been found wanting. But with Rock Star at the helm, the end result was sublime.  You know when a game gets banned in several countries is it should make this list.

Condemned: Criminal Origins

Where “Manhunt” focused on stealth, “Condemned” opted for melee. It also put a premium on the aforementioned mood and unsettling atmosphere. The premise of an FBI agent trying to escape a city filled to the brim with serial killers was a good one, and it ensured a high body count. While some gamers might scoff at the lack of projectile weapons, there’s something to be said for the bone-crunching pleasure that comes with bludgeoning someone with a pipe.

What do you think? Did we leave any survival horror classics off this list? Are there any that simply can’t be overlooked? If you are into 80s & 90s survival horror games, we've got a nice list here.

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Sunday, 19 May 2024