by: Anurag Ghosh
; edited by: M.S. Smith
; updated: 4/17/2012
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While watching scary movies is the best way to enjoy popcorn, playing horror games creates an entirely different experience. Not only do they give the best scares but also makes you relive the tensed moments experienced in horror movies.
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Ten Best Horror PC Games
Zombies, hideous aliens and haunted houses are perfect ingredients of a horror game. However, only scary monsters don’t make a game frightening. An engaging plot full of twists and turns, great sound effects and realistic graphics determines its scariness. While there are hundreds of horror PC games available, few have the ability to scare you to your bones. Here is a compilation of the best horror PC games with a perfect blend of creativity, unique story and, of course, hideous monsters.
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10. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Call of Cthulhu is horror adventure game filled with monsters, serial killers and hideous extraterrestrials. With a scary atmosphere and gothic setting, Dark Corners of the Earth is heavily influenced by Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu. You play the role of a private detective with psychic abilities who tries to unearth deep secrets of a quaint town of Innsmouth. In an attempt to solve a missing person case, the detective deals with several types of monsters including deep sea creatures, alien entities and psychos. Unlike other horror games, Dark Corners of the Earth has different classes of monsters in the most bizarre situations.
While the story is classic lovecraftian that guarantees some terrifying moments, the graphics are quite disappointing because of numerous glitches and bugs. To make things worse, developers did not provide any patches for Windows Vista. However, there are mods for Windows XP that make you get past those bugs.
Dark Corners of the Earth mainly consists of investigation, puzzle-solving elements and unarmed escapes, though there are certain situations where you have to wield weapons to kill those hideous creatures. With a blend of different monsters and great movie-like atmosphere, the game guarantees some of the best terrifying moments ever seen in horror games.
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9. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Talk about survival horror games and the Resident Evil franchise will certainly make your blood curl. Popularly known as Biohazard throughout Japan, Resident Evil 3 can give those serious panic attacks and fear if played at night. The RE franchise, with 3 superb movie adaptations and an upcoming fifth installment, is known for producing some of the most horrifying zombies and monsters ever seen in any horror movie, let alone a videogame.
The game revolves around Nemesis, a hideous prototype programmed to hunt and kill STARS members. Your random encounters with Nemesis in the city and in boss fights make the game very different from other RE games. Of course, there are those occasional zombie monsters that always come between you and your objectives. In addition to those scary monsters, the environmental puzzles make RE3 even more difficult to play. Players control Jill Valentine, who, incidentally, is voted as the sexiest female video game character by news.com.au. Well, there’s more than one reason to play this game!
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8. Doom 3
Doom 3 is one of the best horror-themed FPS games after the original Doom. Set in 2145 AD in Mars, the game blends sci-fi and horror pretty well. A failed teleportation experiment in Mars has opened the gateway to Hell, inviting demons with the most hideous features ever encountered. You play the role of an enigmatic space marine with the objective to stop and prevent the influx of demons from hell.
Doom 3 differs from Doom in story and gameplay. You will not only confront zombies and demons from hell, but also interact with friendly NPCs to provide hints and maps. It is a button-mashing game with a linear plot, but the monsters are very diverse and have different tactics that can make your heart freeze with panic and fear. If you are a Doom fan, then this game is surely for you.
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7. Penumbra Black Plague
The Penumbra series is a horror-themed adventure game that contains more puzzles than action.Black Plague is the second PC game of the series. It continues with the story of a young physicist’s attempt to find the truth of his dead father’s mysterious letter. Trapped in an abandoned mine, the physicist has to find a way out by solving puzzles and exploring the mine to get some clues.
Unlike the first game, Black Plague allows users to use stealth, avoid enemy confrontations and focuses more on physics-based puzzles. In fact, the aim is to explore, interact and examine objects and employ them to solve different brainteasers. The physics-based puzzles and combat is reminiscent of Half Life 2, which makes the game difficult, yet engaging. With a puzzle-based approach and baffling story, Penumbra: Black Plague is revered as one of the best horror PC games.
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6. Alone in the Dark
This classic 1992 survival horror DOS game inspired many modern horror games including Silent Hill and Resident Evil. The gothic settings of the haunted house and the storyline are heavily influenced by the works of popular horror fiction writer HP Lovecraft. The game revolves around a creepy mansion whose owner, Jeremy Hartwood, committed suicide. You will have to investigate the house to find the truth behind his death.In your quest to solve the mystery you will have to fight several monsters and solve many puzzles. Arcane books will provide the clues to solve the mystery and find a way out.
In addition to its story, Alone in the Dark is known for its good graphics. It was one of few DOS games of the early 90s to boast three dimensional characters on static background, creating a unique look and feel. In-game cut-scenes resembling classic horror movies create a perfect atmosphere and may scare the living daylights out of you. In all, Alone in the Dark is one of the best horror PC games of the 90s and is still played by many, but only few dare to complete it.
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To be precise, Bioshock cannot be categorized as a survival horror game because of its sci-fi and political undertones. But the scary sound effects, unimaginable mutated monsters and stunning underwater graphics is enough to give you goosebumps. The game puts you into the shoes of Jack who accidentally encounters an underwater city of Rapture and tries to solve its deadliest secrets. Bioshock boasts different types of monsters called “Splicers", and a Frankenstein-type genetically enhanced human being called Big Daddy who is one of the most challenging characters in the game. It is nearly impossible to kill him with primary weapons and careful planning is required to trap him.
The game received rave reviews and was declared as one of the best FPS games with a survival-horror twist.A sequel to Bioshock is slated for release in Jan 2010. Developers 2k games promise it to be scarier than the original one.
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Cryostasis is a perfect supernatural thriller set in arctic locales. The chilling atmosphere and icy roaring winds alone can make you shiver with fear. Set in 1961, Cryostasis puts you into the shoes of a Russian meteorologist Alexander Nesterov who finds himself aboard a nuclear icebreaker called the North Wind. The objective is to investigate the shipwreck of the icebreaker. But to his surprise, the dead crewmen at the ship have undergone a hideous transmutation. To find out the true cause of death and the bizarre transmutation, the protagonist has to go into the memories of dead crewmen through the Mental Echo system.
This supernatural twist makes the game pretty interesting as you have to enter the memories of a dead captain or crewman and go back in time to learn their mistakes and resolve them. In your path to solve the mystery, you will encounter many mutated monsters wandering in and around the ghost ship. You will have a limited assortment of weapons, so every shot fired from your weapon counts. With the axe as your close combat weapon, you can feel its heaviness when you try to squash a monsters head with it. So, a close encounter with a monster is inevitable.
Cryostasis is known for the uniqueness in its plot and gameplay. The awesome environmental sound effects with sudden monster appearances can certainly make your bones chill. This PC-exclusive thriller is a must for your best horror PC games collection.
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Japanese horror movies may have scared your bones away, but reliving the same tensed moments in a game is scarier than you begged for. F.E.A.R does that to you exactly what you have seen in movies like the Ring or Dark Water. The game revolves around supernatural incidents, which Special Forces team called First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R) is called to deal and control the situation. Incidentally, the supernatural phenomenon is not caused by some huge Resident Evil-type monster, but a creepy little girl called Alma, whose origins come from faceless female ghosts (sounds scary, very scary!)
The game is a typical FPS with a horror-theme. You play the role of a Point Man of the Special Forces team. With extraordinary reflexes and a range of modern firearms, you have to solve different objectives to uncover the truth behind Alma‘s motives. However, there’s that psychological edge which plays with your emotions when you confront with Alma. The music and sound effects adds to the tension and perfectly blends with the circumstances. With a Japanese horror theme and outstanding sound effects, F.E.A.R’s gripping atmosphere is intense and well-crafted.
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2. Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead is an excellent zombie movie-inspired PC game with many play modes including an online 8 player versus mode, online survival mode and a single player campaign mode. The setting will remind you of classic zombie movies like Night of the Living Dead.
Left 4 Dead tells the story of four survivors who are left stranded in a town full of zombies infested by a pandemic. The player has to choose one of the survivors and the remaining survivors are controlled by bots. The four survivors have to fight against different AI controlled zombies and make sure that his or her friend does not fall prey to the living dead. The graphics, sound effects and creepy environment makes the game one of the scariest horror games. A sequel to Left 4 Dead is slated for release in November 2009.
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1. Dead Space
A third-person survival horror game, Dead Space shares some similarity with the Hollywood movie Alien as well as some elements of classic zombie movies. It puts you into the shoes of an engineer who is sent to investigate a mining ship stranded on planet Aegis VII. The spacecraft is infested with a strange alien organism which, upon infecting a corpse, can transform it into a grotesque monster. Your objective is to eliminate these monsters and escape the ship.
Dead Space does not have a typical Head-up display shown in most PC games. Instead, the ammo count, health meter, objectives and map are displayed on the weapons and suit. You will have to check the ammo count by looking at a small display embedded on the weapon or project a holographic image of the map in a vacant area to check locations. This makes the game more realistic and unique.
Battling alien virus-infested zombies inside a spooky abandoned spaceship can certainly scare your bones. The alien monsters don’t die by those puny military rifle bullets, but evolve into a more dangerous entity, multiplying and altering their bodies. You will have to modify your weapons and use a bit of strategy to eliminate these “Necromorphs". The unique interface, good plot and grotesque monsters make Dead Space one of the best horror PC games to date.