With Resident Evil 7’s release only a couple of weeks away, fans of horror games have plenty to be excited for.
So far, RE 7 looks set to be the breakthrough the series so badly needs, with a new playing style, less OTT action, and more emphasis on slow-burning scares over shooting hordes of monsters.
Still, the Resident Evil games are about as mainstream as it gets, and there are plenty of other horror titles out there that deserve more attention. If you’re looking to add more horror games to your collection but have already ploughed through recent mainstream releases, why not look back for those ones you might have missed?
We’ve picked out eight less well-known or underrated horror games worth tracking down …
Clive Barker’s Undying
Clive Barker’s a true horror icon. As well as creating the Hellraiser franchise, he’s written such strange fare as Coldheart Canyon and Cabal (to name just two), not to mention plenty of short stories.
Overt the years, he’s also been involved with games, and Clive Barker’s Undying is something of a classic.
Set in the 1920s, this follows paranormal specialist Patrick Galloway on a quest to stop a force of great evil entering the world. It’s dark, it’s creepy, and it features a nice blend of weapon- and magic-based combat.
The authentically-gothic setting and inventive storyline make this an FPS adventure with real horror credentials. Definitely worth playing if you’ve never tried it before!
If the title doesn’t grab you, the premise will.
You play as a climber on the hunt for his missing brother, who’s forced to make his way up the titular mountain to find him. The Nintendo Wii had a few horror games, but Cursed Mountain still stood out from most of the console’s other titles.
The concept of a horror game set on a mountain, rather than in a creepy old house or deserted town, is pretty impressive. The addition of Buddhist elements is also a nice touch you don’t see too often.
Like Cursed Mountain, Cold Fear has an original setting at its heart: a mysterious freighter out in the ocean.
You’re faced with exploring the ship in the middle of a terrifying storm, while fending off the weird zombie-like enemies (that may have once been the ship’s crew). The game came soon after Resident Evil 4, and while it might not be as good, it’s still a suspenseful, atmospheric experience.
The Thing serves as a sequel to the classic John Carpenter film of the same name, and it’s a terrific continuation.
The game introduces many more things to shoot, of course, but that does nothing to detract from the sense of authenticity or the spooky atmosphere. For a start, the feeling of being out in the Arctic is creepy as hell, as is the growing paranoia.
Just as with the film, you’re never quite sure which members of your team are actually aliens in disguise, and the game’s ‘trust’ system is brilliant. Your behaviour affects the way your team perceives you, so you have to be careful if you want to keep them on-side.
Obscure takes the well-worn but welcome concept of high-school kids trapped in a scary situation, with the usual stereotypes you’d expect.
The story follows five students as they’re locked in their school overnight, and have to survive despite the various creatures out to get them. If a teammate dies, they’re done for the entire adventure, and you’re forced to play as someone else.
It may not be the greatest horror game ever made, but Obscure’s still a lot of fun. You can also play this with a friend, thanks to the nifty co-operative mode.
Haunting Ground attracted some real praise for its novel storytelling and themes when it was first released back in 2005.
The game casts you as Fiona, an 18 year-old girl who, along with a canine pal, have to escape a bizarre castle. Fiona has only limited attacks with which to defend herself, but her dog companion can be ordered to attack enemies instead.
The sexual themes at the game’s core are a bold change from many horror titles, and the lack of shooting also marks it out. Haunting Ground is well worth trying, and has some real tense moments.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu is one of the most iconic creatures from the horror genre, a bizarre beast that’s taken on a whole life of its own outside of the writer’s work.
Dark Corners of the Earth is an incredibly ambitious and innovative game in some ways. For starters, there’s no HUD, and so players have to judge their hero’s condition from sound effects, loss of in-game colour, and other cues. Specific injuries also affect your abilities: break a leg, and you’ll limp; break your arm, and aiming’s not so easy.
One of the most powerful aspects of the game is the implementation of your character’s sanity. If he sees too many disturbing things without taking a break, he’ll start to lose his mind – and eventually go insane or commit suicide.
Needless to say, this leads to a big, fat ‘game over’.
The game also makes brilliant use of the Cthulhu mythology and creates a genuinely creepy atmosphere. For fans of Lovecraft and people who’ve never heard of him alike, Dark Corners of the Earth is a horror game with bite.
This may well be the most obscure game on this list.
Nightmare Creatures is set in 19th century London, as a traditional roster of monsters start to attack the city. The plot involves an evil scientist, zombies, and the titular nightmare creatures, all topped with an unsettling atmosphere.
You play as one of two characters: a staff-wielding priest named Ignatius, or a lady, Nadia, with mad combat skills. The game’s still pretty nice to look at today, considering its age, and the game’s range of enemy creatures is impressive.
Slicing zombies in two is nice and icky, and decent environmental touches (falling leaves, fog) help reinforce the feel of being in old London.
Have you played any of these horror games? Let us know!