Approximately one year ago, Silent Hills was officially canceled. In the same breath, approximately 1 year ago one of the best (in my humble opinion) survival horror experiences, PT, was ripped from the Playstation store like the metaphorical fetus-in-the-sink it was, leaving us only with a few copies saved on the occasional system and numerous remakes and homages to what could have been.
If you can’t tell already I’m pretty butthurt about this still, but on the bright side there has been rumors floating around that Hideo Kojima is working on new games with his Silent Hills comrade, Norman Reedus, and that those new products would utilize things we would have seen in the illustrious Silent Hill,s and I will tell you whole-heartedly right now that I believe that entirely, whether it be because the hard facts are there or simply to save my own dreams, there has to be some truth to it, right? Well, while we may not get an answer to that question for the next few months (or heaven forbid years) we can still fill our time with the classics, the very games that inspired such complete mastering of the survival horror genre.
So, in short, in order to have something to do while we wait for whatever Kojima is doing (whether it be the Silent Hills we all wanted under a different name or a completely separate masterpiece entirely) in no particular order, here is a list of ten games to play while you wait for some form of Silent Hills to be released because that’s totally 100% happening, right?
1. IMSCARED by Ivan Zanotti’s MyMadness Works, PC
This game, originally released by Ivan Zanotti on GameJolt in 2012 under the name Imscared-A Pixelated nightmare, is a creepy game that is well known for its pixel art style, its loud distorted noise, and its “virus software” that downloads text files onto your computer as you play along. This game was mainly known in its baby stages for being played by various let’s players such as Markipler and PewDiePie, though rather recently it got a Steam extension and re-release and boy oh boy let me tell you Ivan did not tone down the spooky vibes, eerie atmospheres, or the ear shattering sounds (and trust me, that’s a good thing). Now, I won’t delve too far into the specifics on this one because it truly is a game I believe everyone who loves the genre should experience, I will say this- you do in fact need a heart to open it, and it is well worth the journey to find that heart just to see what is on the other side of it.
2 Clocktower: The First Fear by Human Entertainment PC, PS1
Published in 1995 Clocktower: The First Fear paved the way for numerous survival horror titles, expanding upon the mechanics in Afraid of the Dark through having a demented scissor-man stalk you through a nightmarish estate. This, is classic horror at it’s finest.
3. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem by Silicon Knights Game Cube
Released on the Nintendo Gamecube in 2002, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a 3rd person psychological horror. The story revolves around Alexandra Roivas, who is investigating the murder of her grandfather. Going through 4 different locations, the player is thrown into a world where sanity is on the line, that point emphasized further through the ground breaking use of a sanity meter. I won’t spill the beans on exactly what the effects are or what certain spooky easter eggs can be found simply by leaving your controller on your desk for even slightly too long (hint hint), but trust me when I tell you that it is completely ground breaking. The best way I can describe how the sanity meter works for this game is to compare it (very loosely) to the sanity meter found in Frictional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent in the way that as you go ignoring certain necessary aspects the game will create both auditory and visual hallucinations, creating a blur between what is real and what is in the characters mind.
4. Haunting Ground by Capcom PS2
Haunting Ground is a weird game. There, I said it. Released in 2005 as part of the Clocktower series, Haunting Ground serves as a passport into a weird and demented castle filled with eerie monsters, insane women, giant troll things, and even a friendly dog to help you named Hewie. Home to what I consider the creepiest, most under the skin death scenes and audio cues Haunting Ground is not a game for the light hearted. A huge mechanic of this game is the ability to hide from enemies in any way possible and adapting to the intelligence of whatever beast is stalking you; whether it be a an insane antagonist or a dimwitted ogre the player will always need to find a smart place to recuperate. Though the deaths and events are cliche, there is no doubting the overwhelming sense of dread and dismay that meets the protagonist, Fiona Belli, around every corner and behind each door. I can say for certain the I will never be able to look at beds, Closets, or even foreboding archways the same way ever again.
I’ll tell you the truth, you get a dog in this game too (except his name is Brown this time). I suppose dogs just add that certain je ne sais quois that 3rd person psychological horror benefits from. Rule of Rose was released in 2006 and has continued to disturb players for years after. In Rule in of Rose the player controls Jennifer, a plucky young woman who winds up in an abandoned orphanage and runs into a rag tag team of orphans (and by rag tag team i mean an absolutely demented bunch of kids who have it out for Jennifer and her dog). I’ll try not to spoil the entire plot line here but I feel that it’s very important to note that Jennifer is threatened with death if she doesn’t appease to the children by bringing them a gift each month and trying to climb up the hierarchy. Unsettling and twisted, Rule of Rose forces you into dark corners and putrid hallways, forcing you to delve into lofty basements and deep rooftops to collect objects such as dolls and keys just to keep you and your trusty sidekick Brown alive.
6. Afraid of Monsters by ruMple PC
Afraid of Monsters is a survival horror Half-Life mod released in 2005 and goodness gracious let me tell you, this mod is freaky. In this game you embody David Leatherhoff. He is extremely addicted to pain killers he gets in the mail every week and has also been suffering from extreme night terrors (talk about a double whammy). The character checks himself into rehab and against his better judgments continues to pop the painkillers. This leads to insane hallucinations that present themselves in the form of twisted monsters and terrifying creatures that stalk David down and threaten his very life. Afraid of Monsters is the kind of game that hangs out in the back of your head and makes you see things in the shadows that you know aren’t really there. The pure air of uncertainty this game creates and its complete disregard for your sanity and that makes Afraid of Monsters truly terrifying.
Released in 2001 and is still considered one of the highest ranking survival horror experiences that has ever been on the market. ’nuff said.
Siren was released late 2003 early 2004 and is divided into segments taking place in 10 areas around the village Hanuda and basically everybody has it out for you. Good news though, the stages are basically just mazes and games of hide and seek with Shiboto (bonus points, you can also go in gung ho and shoot everything). This game uses a couple of very interesting mechanics to enhance the experience that the player has through use of butterfly effects between stages as well as a switching of perspectives so that a player can jump into the body of the enemy in order to see whats in that enemies’ line of sight. Using uncomfortable undertones to set depressing and hopeless moods Siren creates a complete atmosphere of dread. If you find yourself enjoying this masterpiece get ready for a lot of tactical gameplay with a healthy mix of terror, ultimately crafting a truly disturbing experience.
9. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly by Tecmo PS2, PS3, Xbox
Hitting the shelves in 2003 Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly is a true treat for the senses. Overflowing with detail, the story of twins Mio and Mayu Amakura is unsettling and foreboding stuffed with ghosts and every kind of ghoul you can think of. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly dances in the realm of pieces of media such as the Grudge and The Ring, and I do not say that lightly; this game uses very similar overbearing and dark tones in order to convey the twisted themes of sacrifice and herd mentality as well as leaving the player wielding only the Camera Obscura to defend themselves against the onslaught of ghosts. An instant classic, Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly is a game for the hardened gamer, and one must prepare themselves for the unsettling and down right upsetting village that this game resides in.
10. Fran Bow by Kill Monday PC, IOS, Android
An indie game originally released in 2015 as well as getting a release on mobile, Fran Bow is a point and click survival horror adventure experience (quite a mouthful, but it is the best way to describe it). In the game you control a small girl named Fran Bow who is struggling with mental disorders as well as a trifling destiny. Her losing her parents gruesomely, she runs to the forest and recovers in a mental institution and knows that she needs to get out. Struggling through the game with with delusions and multiple realities, the player must solve puzzles and problems through Fran Bow and navigate through the gory and disturbing world of her mind in order to escape and reunite with Fran’s cat. A newer release with the convenience of fitting in your pocket, Fran Bow is a must play for any fan of unique art styles and original story.
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