If dogs jumping through a window in Resident Evil was the last time you were scared by a video game, check these out.
Mainstream “horror” franchises like Dead Space, Resident Evil, and Silent Hill started out creepy, but quickly began focusing more on action as audiences for Survival Horror grew bigger (though Silent Hill has remained slightly more committed to its scarifying roots). The new entries in each series certainly aren’t bad (usually), but they lack that certain oh-look-I-peed-in-my-pants-again-feeling. Thankfully, a slew of indie developers are starting to fill the gap with unique approaches to a relatively new genre.
If you’ve ever seen a horror movie, you know that there are varying schools of scary. You got your “jump scares,” like when someone walks to a fridge, opens it up, takes out a jar of pickles, closes the door, and, BAM, monster where there was no monster previously! Then you’ve got your slow-burn creepiness, where maybe the music and all sound just cut out for five minutes, and you’re all like, “Oh hey I’m just going to get popcorn and maybe go to the bathroom for a minute and oh crap, monster.” Think of the works of Sam Raimi and more Japanese-style horror, respectively.
Whatever your preference, there’s an indie horror game that fits the bill. And because these are games, there are added layers of horror that movies can’t reach. Some of these titles mess with your perception by doing janky things to your screen or computer – adding files, causing glitches…real Ghost in the Machine-style stuff. With that said, take a look at some of these standouts, and check out the Let’s Play videos from jackscepticeye. He bravely risks the pants-wetting so you don’t have to!
The Witch’s House
About as indie as indie gets, The Witch’s House was created using RPG Maker, relatively easy to use software that’s available to purchase on Steam. You would think a game created using a set of premade art, rules, and a distinct old-school JRPG feel would be less scary and more “so at what point does Sailor Moon drop in?” But that goes out the window once you’re crushed to death by trap walls and chased by a huge evil teddy bear in the first 10 minutes.
Imscared – A Pixelated Nightmare
Further proof that an innocuous art style, cheap production values, or even graphics that look slightly better than the original Wolfenstein have nothing to do with how scary a game can be, A Pixelated Nightmare features one of the creepiest monsters in any media – White Face.