This month sees the release of Slender: The Arrival, which should have horror game fans shrieking in fear as they try to escape the inescapable Slender Man. In honour of this, we look back over our ten scariest video games of all time.
AMNESIA: THE DARK DESCENT
You have amnesia and have a letter from yourself, telling you you've wiped your own memory and you must kill the Baron in the castle you're currently stuck in. Thing is, you're being constantly hunted by an unstoppable monster, and all you can do is run and hide. But the longer you hide in the dark, the faster you'll descend entirely into madness. This game is exactly as unrelenting and terrifying as it sounds.
Not given enough credit for being the scary game it totally is, you play Jack, a survivor of a plane-crash in the middle of the ocean. You discover a secret entry point to the underwater city of Rapture, a society that was set-up with perfection in mind but which soon descended into madness, murder and much, much worse. The high pressure setting is the least of your worries, and the place is filled with maniacs that seem to come from your worst nightmares.
CONDEMNED: CRIMINAL ORIGINS
You play SCU agent Ethan Thomas, who is on the hunt for serial killer The Match Maker. Starting off in an abandoned building filled with mannequins and a strangled woman, while surrounded by loose psychopaths, things only go from bad to worse for our hero. Tracking down evidence to find the murderer, even as he closes in you yourself, makes for a terrifying experience.
Set in the distant future, you play engineer Isaac Clarke, who gets called to by his girlfriend who is having trouble on her spaceship surrounding a distant planet. But once you get on there, there is no sign of her, and the ship is filled with Necromorphs; once dead humans who have been mutated into savage killing machines. Super violent and reminiscent of the likes of Alien and Event Horizon, this is one for the big fans of sci-fi based horror.
You're not given a lot of information when starting off in F.E.A.R., all you know is that you play the Point Man in a SWAT team sent in to deal with a potential paranormal threat. As more of the story is revealed, the more you realise just how tied up in it you actually are. Plus, the big bad villain is a young, pale girl with long black hair hiding her face. And as anyone who's seen The Ring or The Grudge will tell you, that's a bad thing.
You play Philip, a 30 year old physicist who has just received a letter from his father that leaves a series of clues that leads you to a location in Greenland. There's two things wrong with this set-up: One, your father has been dead for quite some time, and two, you willingly go to investigate an abandoned mine in a hostile part of the world. Alone. Despite this, Overture is still completely terrifying, as all you can do is run and hide from the terrors waiting for you in the deep and the dark.
Showing its age a bit now, everyone can probably still remember the first time they entered that room with the wet, cracking sounds, only to discover a headless body being devoured by a blood-drenched zombie. Or the first time the dogs jumped through the windows. Or, well, any one of countless boo-jump scares. An oldie, but a goodie.
SILENT HILL 2
Without a doubt, one of the most psychologically scarring games in history. You play James, who receives a letter from his dead wife to come to Silent Hill to find her, and driven by a guilt we don't understand yet, he goes there and finds his worst fears realised. Overtly tied into an odd sense of sexual repression, Silent Hill 2 goes from the brain AND the jugular, making sure you're absolutely horrified, but having no good reason as to why.
SIREN: BLOOD CURSE
Having received a mysterious email to come investigate some odd goings-on, you play American high school student Howard Wright, who arrives in a small village in Japan just as some very scary things have started to happen. It gets a bit ridiculous once the plot is revealed – a God has decided to bring the dead back to life – but the way in which the scares are implemented are fantastic. You'll be constantly screaming "RUN! WILL YOU RUN FASTER?!" at the TV.
There isn't much to this game, and you can download it for free right now. You play a nameless character who is lost in the woods and given one direction; find eight pages of a book. But for every page you find, the mysterious Slender Man gets closer and closer to you, and if he manages to touch you, you die immediately. We know, it doesn't sound terribly scary, but trust us; this is bowel-loosening stuff. Sometimes the simpler the idea, the scarier it is.