It’s October, the scariest month of the year, and we’re celebrating by highlighting some of the scariest games to appear on Sega consoles or be published by Sega. It was no easy feat either as many of us are still shaking in our boots from our research this week in finding scary games. Josh Newey thinks there’s a velociraptor in his closet, Tom Kyzivat has been sharing a bed with Francis P. Tassium each night to feel safe and Stevie Grant had his British accent scared right out of him!
Hit this jump to read our list of 10 scariest games!
Scott Morrison: People say that the best soundtracks in movies are those that you don’t notice, and I agree. The same can be said for video games, especially Alien Trilogy. Baring in mind that the Aliens movie aren’t exactly known for their soundtracks, they are however known for their atmosphere. I feel that Alien Trilogy still captures the series’ atmosphere better than any game based on the franchise to date. The biggest portion of this atmosphere is the “music” they choice for the game: barely any. However, it’s the creepy silence that best portrays an empty abandoned colony wasting away on a now-dead planet. The music in Alien Trilogy consists of nothing more than faint beeps and synthesized panning. These distant noises coupled with your motion radar makes for frightening atmosphere. Sometimes the unknown can be the scariest thing, and Alien Trilogy takes advantage of that. The dimly lit corridors are anything but welcoming even when you are playing in a well-lit room at home. For games of this era, “pop-up” backgrounds still plagued the scene, but Alien Trilogy actually benefited from this as your vision was limited to the point where you would slowly walk the desolate hallways in hopes of finding nothing more than ammo and first aid kits. Before each mission, you are debriefed and told exactly what to expect, but this does nothing in terms of telling you how to expect it. The most frightening debriefings are the few that inform you that you have found the Alien Queen’s nest, because you know exactly what you are going up against. Upon finding the queen, who is guarded by Xenomorph soldiers and face huggers, you feel like you have it pretty easy seeing as she is attached to her ovipositor while you fill her with bullets. Unbeknown to me, during the first queen fight when you are nearly the victor, the queen detaches herself and runs at you with nothing but your death in mind. This was one of the scarier moments for me in the game, but the game itself is frightening as a whole as I have never played a game so slowly while walking those dark corridors with a death grip on my controller the entire time. Do yourself a favor and pick this game up if you don’t enjoy sleep.
Stevie Grant: Aliens Infestation is a great little game that never really got the attention it deserved. It seems that as a budget title this great gem managed to slip by many gamers minds, which is a shame because it’s probably one of the most scary 2D games I’ve ever had the pleasure of indulging in. With a limited (and permanent) life system this game can lead to great moments of tension that you normally wouldn’t expect from any standard Metroidvania. Since each one of your lives represents an actual character it’s very easy to get attached to them, which gives the game a unique tension when you’re miles away from the next health station and the hallways are littered with xenomorphs.
With a unique pace the game also builds itself up from the very beginning with some legitimately creepy scares. And considering this is a pixel art game, that is a very impressive feat. If you were one of the people who managed to miss this game then I really recommend it as it totally deserves it’s spot on this terrifying list.
Alex Riggen: Condemned is one of a dying breed of games this generation. Where many horror games and franchises have gone the action route, the Condemned series (especially the first game) is pure survival horror and tension at its finest. The first person perspective does wonders for the genre and it’s always made me question why other horror game developers don’t try the perspective themselves. Seeing your enemies up close and staring straight at you combined with the fact that you can’t ever see what’s going on from all sides at once make this game much scarier than if it was played from the third person perspective. Then there’s the facts that you are required to use melee weapons 90% of the time, the environments are all realistic and disturbing, the game is dark causing you to often see things with your flashlight that may or not be there, the sound design is amazing, and the list goes on and on. It may be an early 360 game but it’s still one of the best games Sega’s released since going third-party and one of the best horror games this generation.
Mike Kyzivat: This is one of the most messed up and scariest games I have ever played. It also was one of the most cinematic as well (for it’s time), which is a plus because the game is played very much like MYST. It is a point and click adventure, basically a list of prerendered cut scenes linked by button presses, so since there is not much interaction the camera must make up for it by being very interesting. You play as Laura Harris, who has just been contacted by Los Angeles police; it seems her father has gone off the deep end and has murdered everyone he can get his hands on and has now barricaded himself in the building. So the Police’s bright idea is to have Laura (without so much as a bullet proof vest) go into the hospital and try and talk some sense into her father. This opening cut scene of Laura first walking into the hospital is one of many examples of the excellent camera angles and cinematic quality that is in the game. After Laura has been shocked by and stepped over several dead bodies, a portal opens up and swallows her. When she looks up again she is in a medieval castle and sees an apparition of her father warning her not to come to him as he is slowly becoming a monster that will eventually kill her. There is also some pretty gruesome stuff in the game like dead bodies on spikes and weird flash backs of Laura’s mother being attacked by an unknown assailant. The game has a pretty cool twist at the end as well and a good or bad ending depending on your choice at the end. But the scariest thing about this game is that it’s about two hours long and there is no saving or pausing the game. So, you have to play it start to finish in one sitting. Now, that’s scary.
Michael Westgarth: You scream, lashing out at the sweat soaked bedsheets clinging to your body. Every night the same dream, the visions of demonic beings standing in strict formation against the futile barrage of spherical steel. You need only to close your eyes to go back. High above an ancient cult circles a pentagram adorned death clock in an act of sickening worship to a false, skeletal god. Your attention is held by an enticing ‘come hither’ look across the face of a beautiful woman. You move closer only to see her for what she truly is, a scaly beast whom casts you down into the fiery depths of hell.
You hear a skeleton laugh and utter through rotten teeth:
“Hell hath no fury like a Dragon’s Fury.”
Yet every evening you find yourself inexplicably drawn to the source of the many nights spent in a world of torturous nightmare. You plug in a controller, you insert the cartridge and you hit the switch. This is more than just pinball, more than the simple flick of the flippers against balls of steel, and more than the accumulation of an arbitrary score. Dragon’s Fury can be beaten, completed, laid to rest, but only the mightiest of warriors with the sharpest of minds will be able to do so. His number is six hundred and sixty-six, and six is the number of his abominable bonus stages than must be beaten before the final battle against Satan himself. But be warned, to play this game is to play with the integrity of your very mind.
Before Tengen things create were none, save things
pinball, and pinball Tengen endure.
All hope abandon ye who enter Dragon’s Fury.
House of the Dead 2
Mike Kyzivat: “Suffer like G did”, “there was nothing we could do”, “thanks for saving me”; and the list goes on and on. House of the Dead 2 is a lot of things, but Shakespeare it is not. But that’s part of the charm to this light gun game about killing zombies and giant bosses that have improper inflection when speaking. This game is not in the least scary, especially when you consider the acting, but bad acting has been a staple of horror since almost the beginning. So, in that respect it is spot on. And one could argue that tension builds as a zombie pops up out of nowhere and starts shambling towards you and you shoot him twice but to no avail, he keeps coming, until you unload an entire clip into him or you finally wise up and aim for the head. Also, just like the horror genre there is almost no semblance of plot, in fact I can’t even remember why “we’re meeting G over there” but it doesn’t matter, just like in the horror genre. All that matters is blasting some zombies, aerating a giant snake or two, and hitting that boss in that 4 pixel space before he crushes you with a giant ax. And don’t forget to buy two guns and “john-woo-it-up” with arms crossed. That’s the only way to play.
Tom Kyzivat: I know that Illbleed is well known for its zaniness, but underlying the humor and camp is a genuinely creepy game. Sure, a game based on horror stories ought to be creepy, but Illbleed pulls it off in a very unconventional way. Probably as a result of it being a Japanese game spoofing American horror standards. Each level is presented as a unique horror story, in its own theater, usually in the form of an urban legend, and the (usually gruesome) back-stories they provide give some bizarre insight into the level before playing it. One of the most memorable was the “Woodpuppets”, in which an evil tree spirit turns the employees of a saw mill into living wooden dolls. That’s pretty creepy, even if done in a campy sort of way. There’s a also a Toy Story spoof level that, while funny, is so disturbing it leaves you feeling a tad bit dirty. And there’s also dancing slabs of meat, toys that come to life, a huge worm, a giant pair of butt cheeks sticking out of a door for no reason, and an evil Sonic the Hedgehog. That all probably sounds pretty silly, but the context is just so damn strange is crosses over into genuine creepiness. You also play the game based on senses, and if your fright meter goes too high, you die of a heart attack. Soo… what have we learned? Freddy? Jason? Saw guy? Pussies, all. Illbleed, baby.
Josh Newey: Sure, sure Jurassic Park is definitely not the first game you’ll think of when you consider horror games on any console, but take a step back and consider the presentation, music, and visuals of this game and you’ll see where I’m coming from. Unlike the film, the Genesis interpretation is crushingly dark and gloomy, with a color palate of deep blacks, greens, purples and reds, and a heavy, subtle, and percussion-heavy soundtrack. Aiding this sense of dread and weakness is the incredibly difficult (and admittedly sloppy) gameplay. Playing as Alan Grant is especially intimidating, as your little character, armed with nothing but tranquilizer darts and a stun gun, really can’t harm the hulking dinosaurs surrounding him. The shoddy platforming makes plummeting to your death is incredibly easy, with your fall punctuated by a blood-curdling scream and the chilling finality of the Game Over music. It may not be sold as a horror game, but Jurassic Park achieves a surprisingly gloomy atmosphere that few other Genesis games have equaled.
Resident Evil: CODE Veronica
Josh Newey: Now that we finally have the polarizing, action-obsessed, and ultimately uninspired Resident Evil 6 in our hands, there’s never been a better time to revisit an era when Capcom wasn’t afraid of ambiance, weirdness, and quiet suspense. Code: Veronica, like all of the original RE games, can certainly be a bit of a chore to get used to, but once you settle into the infamous tank controls of yore, you’ll find one of the most atmospheric games to ever grace a Sega console. Dropping the antiquated pre-rendered visuals of previous entries, the environments, lighting effects, and character designs make this game incredibly and unerringly creepy, from the pitch-black annals of a decrepit prison cell, to the eerie vacancy of the Ashford Mansion, to the palpably chilling atmosphere of an Antarctic lab. Add to that the twisted and unique creature designs like the Bandersnatch (a massive yellow creature with one arm that stretches the length of the entire room), or Nosferatu (a father-turned-test-subject who’s been bound, gagged, and blindfolded for years), and you have the scariest game on the Dreamcast.
All of that said, the most unsettling part of Code Veronica is its unabashedly insane story of the Ashford family, and their descent into madness, mutation, and creepy sibling obsessions. Modern Resident Evil, with its easy conventions and Hollywood-style aspirations, has lost sight of the outright weirdness that made the original game genuinely disturbing. Take a look back at the creativity and slow, brooding pace of Code Veronica, and you’ll remember why this franchise was once the proverbial yard stick of horror games.
Scott Morrison: At first glance, Splatterhouse 3 is pretty cheesy and delightfully so. You play as Rick, who is a ripped dude in blue jeans dawning a possessed hockey mask. Rick must save his wife and son from his mansion that is now inhabited by demons and “The Evil One.” Just another day in the life, right? The monsters in this game are hideous and actually decay and mutate as you beat the “living” snot out of them. Splatterhouse 3 is unnecessarily gruesome in the right ways in my opinion, and very disturbingly dark in plot. Your wife is captured in the first level, and you basically watch the seconds tick down until she is killed by “The Evil One,” which is a bit frightening to see the cut scenes as she is continually chased or attempting to hide. In later levels, you have to rescue your son who has retreated to his bedroom to hug his favorite teddy bear. This teddy bear is the reason I am writing this paragraph. At first it’s just a cute brown ball of fluff of which you punch relentlessly, and then you punch the head off and it grows grotesquely muscle-exposed arms with giant claws, and a fang-filled mouth on its torso. As an 8-year-old playing this game when it released, I am not ashamed to say that this possessed teddy bear gave me nightmares. The thing charged at you in the game with it’s fangs and creepily invited you to attack by waving one claw in the air in a coaxing motion. The boss level itself made the fight even more frightening seeing as it took place in a little boy’s bedroom. To be honest, I don’t know if I ever beat this boss because I don’t remember much past this portion of the game. The game itself is enjoyable as a beat-em-up, and its twisted storyline is a good Halloween celebration. But if I ever see anyone dressed up as this teddy bear, you can bet your goalie mask that I’ll grab the nearest 2×4 and knock them into the wall. Rick would want it that way.