The Top Ten Scariest Games of All Time

By James Hawkins in Lists!
Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 10:41 am
FEAR (570 x 428).jpg
Top Ten Scariest Games

From Aliens to Zombies, video game developers have covered a massive array of horror concepts. Here at Joystick Division, we have compiled a list of the most horrifying, disturbing, and innovative horror titles of all time. Spanning the old and the new, the best-selling titles and the sleeper hits, we look to bring you the best of the scariest. So grab your adult diapers, because we've got the games that will make you have to leave the lights on. Enjoy!
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Uh...plannin' to chop some wood with that there hatchet...Mister?

10. Siren: Blood Curse (2008)
PlayStation 3
In 2003, a Japanese survival horror title called Siren hit the PlayStation 2. The story centers around a number of protagonists scattered about an isolated little village in the mountains of Japan (automatically scary, right?). One night the town got disturbed and, in turn, a cult got pissed off and produced a bunch of fast, smart zombies. Siren: Blood Curse is a loose remake/update of that original title. Brought to the PlayStation 3 with improved graphics and an updated overall gameplay, this survival horror game blends tension, compelling storytelling and gruesome monster design. Oh, and this is also partly a stealth game -- your arsenal is limited, so don't expect to blow away all of your problems. And you will have a lot of problems.
Scariest Aspect: Sightjack. Hands down. It may not produce the most jumps, but nothing is creepier than watching a zombie annihilate you through its own eyes.

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Best friend/Arch-nemesis

9. System Shock 2 (1999)
This is a game of subtle fear. System Shock 2 was released over a decade ago, but its influence remains a definite constant in the video game industry. In the then-unique, sci-fi RPG/FPS hybrid, you take the role of a soldier, code-named G65434-2, who is commissioned to escort a light-speed vessel on its test run.  During the mission, the crew receives a distress beacon from a nearby planet and goes to investigate. This is where things start to go haywire. On the planet, the rescue team finds a bunch of strange eggs. So, like so many brilliant space explorers, they decide to take some samples back to the ship. Then people start acting very weird. A few months later, soldier G65434-2 wakes up from a cryogenic sleep, remembering nothing.  From there, you discover a vibrant setting where you battle your way through alien-infested enemies -- all crew members of your ship. And, as it turns out, you are being led by your former arch-nemesis (from System Shock), who is called SHODAN. Not only are you a lonely soldier battling mutated foes, you have to rely on someone who has screwed you around a bunch in the past.
Scariest Aspect: Discovery. When you wake from your cryo-chamber, you don't know what the hell is going on, and you certainly don't have the weapons to deal with those that oppose.

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Good doggie. That's right. Nice doggie...ah, AHHHH

8. Doom 3 (2004)
PC, Xbox, Mac OS X
Sometimes, a reboot to an old franchise is awesome. In 2004, Activision released the much-anticipated, non-sequential sequel to 1994s Doom II. This new version was a total make-over to the seminal Doom franchise. Set in the future, a prototype teleport machine goes haywire and brings Hell to the small space-going community on the cold red dirt of Mars. As a nameless space marine, you have to battle demons in their quest to reach and destroy Earth. Simple enough, except that the demons are hideous, frightening, aggressive creatures that want only one thing: to jack you up as quick as possible. Brought to the latest-generation consoles, Doom 3 impressed not only in its ability to scare, but also its ability to make the gamer feel like a complete badass throughout the whole game.
Scariest Aspect: Seemingly desolate hallways with demons ready to leap. Sure, this type of scare gets very obvious and predictable about halfway through the game, I'll give you that. But you can't tell me you didn't lose it the first dozen or so times you encountered this brilliant tactic.

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Hush, Little Baby, Don't Say a Word

7. F.E.A.R (2005)
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
, or First Encounter Assault Recon, is an example of psychological horror at its finest. Rarely in this game do you encounter persistent, tangible terror. You take on the role of a point-man for a spec-ops reconnaissance team that is sent into abandoned technology plant. While looking for the catalyst for the destruction of the labs, the anonymous hero encounters mind-controlled soldiers tasked with defending the derelict work environment. It becomes obvious that no one wants you to uncover the secrets behind the destruction. On top of that a little girl, who bears a resemblance to The Ring's Samara, is constantly wreaking incredible havoc on your psyche. You become mentally unstable. You see her crawling along hallways, dashing between the shadows -- she is screwing with your mind. And you definitely want to get the hell out.
Scariest Aspect: Slogging through blood-filled hallways, cringing at amorphous creatures in the florescent backlight.

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How handsome.

6. Condemned: Criminal Origins (2005)
Xbox 360, PC
What makes Condemned: Criminal Origins so damn scary isn't the plot or the atmosphere. It's the gritty, visceral, brawler-style combat that forces you to get up-close-and-personal with your enemy. Set in an unnamed urban sprawl, you follow Ethan Thomas, an SCU (Serial Crimes Unit) officer, as he tracks down a violent killer called Match Maker. This killer has a distinct calling card -- he stages dramatic scenes of marital disputes with his victims -- and you are on the trail. The plot is complicated by a bit of mistaken identity and some inconvenient red herrings, but the protagonist follows his case through all the hurdles. But like I said, this isn't what makes the game terrifying... it's the weighty, physical, hand-to-hand combat that Ethan is forced to use while he investigates the murders and tries to keep a step ahead of the law. His enemies? Mostly the homeless, or the drug-addicted, the violent products of street corners and the peculiar aura that seems to inundate the city that Ethan has made his home. Watch for the dimming lights in their eyes as you shatter their skulls with a thick pipe or shovel.
Scariest Aspect: Definitely when you go from beating up regular bums to defending yourself from the rapid, vast infestation of zombie-like creatures in the subway system.

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