17 Obscure Horror Games We Recommend

We receive fairly regularly the question of what horror games are worth checking out. While we have the established franchises like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, Dead Space, etc, to pass on we really are just scratching the surface of what the horror gaming genre has to offer. Horror games have existed for a long time, and while they have gained a lot of steam and popularity within the last decade and a half, it still is a very niche genre. Tons of horror games on every platform imaginable release every year without a bang or a boom and unfortunately go by unnoticed by it’s potential audiences. Some of these are really unique, fantastic titles as well. For those horror game junkies, we want to present 17 gems out there that are rather obscure or ended up being that game you heard about but never played, but are completely worth checking out. Some of these are more common to hear but unfortunately have not been played by many or never really get a chance to shine, but we want to get into the details of what makes these games great, what audiences may enjoy them, and why you should check them out.

Defining an obscure game in the horror genre is a challenging task. Fatal Frame, while popular, doesn’t have the same presence as Silent Hill, which in turn, does not have the same presence as Resident Evil. This has nothing to do with the quality of the game in particular but simply relays how well known and recognized the title is by the general populace. Maybe you have heard of Condemned: Criminal Origins or The Suffering, maybe you haven’t. But Condemned and Suffering are a bit more main stream than what we’re looking at; there are some fantastic games that sit comfortably in the middle ground of the known and unknown. We also are making a cut-off date at April 2010 as a years time is usually a good period to determine how a title is doing, so this means some fantastic examples such as, “999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors” (which came out in the US last November) will be excluded for now. We could also make predictions of games that will likely become obscure (looking at you Night of the Sacrifice, Asylum, and Lucius) but for now we’ll stick to our cut-off date. We could sit here and list hundreds of fantastic horror games, public and freelance, mods and games with darker twists you may or may not have heard of, but for the sake of clarity we are only going to cover games that are rooted into their horror stems, and a game that would be considered one of the following:

-Generally accepted as low-selling
-Generally accepted as being unheard of
-Game’s that’s audiences consist mainly of a small cult following
-Deserve more attention than they got

Game’s will be listed by full English titles, the game’s first release (and in what region), a couple screens, a link to a Youtube video (gameplay or trailer) of said game, a small description of the game, why it’s fantastic, and who might enjoy it. Games will be listed chronologically in order of it’s release date, with older games coming first and the newest game coming last.

 

Sweet Home

Release Date: December 15, 1989 (Japan)

Video: Sweet Home Gameplay

Description:

Sweet Home was one of the first horror games to exist as well as the direct inspiration for Resident Evil (Biohazard). Released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (Nes/Famicon), it was based off a crappy Japanese horror movie of the same name. The game was developed by Capcom who managed to make this tie-in game of better quality than the movie. While the game is the foundation of modern horror games (Resident Evil 1 started development as a remake of Sweet Home) it actually stands on its own as a fairly unique horror title. The game at it’s core is an RPG with horrific imagery for it’s time. You play as five people making a documentary on a deserted mansion and it’s legends. They get trapped inside as evil forces from the mansion attack them (from zombies and dogs to possessed dolls and spirits), leading to them having to survive and get out. Since you control all five characters, switching between them at will, you have to help all five escape. If a character dies in the game, they are dead for good and there is no way to revive them. Each character has special abilities like vacuuming and unlocking doors (though other characters can learn these abilities later into the game), their own inventory, health, stats, and levels that can be upgraded by gaining experience in battles. Enemies are encountered at random by walking through the mansion, with turn-based battles. Battles are one on one unless you call a fellow teammate and get them to the occurring battle before the one calling for help takes to many hits (slight damage is added for every second the second character takes to enter the battle). Also present are reaction events, events where something comes at you and you quickly have to make a choice in a few seconds at the risk of death or heavy injury. You collect items and solve puzzles, use your abilities and try to find a way out of this mansion.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

Not only is it one of the first horror games to ever exist as well as the direct inspiration for Resident Evil, it also stands as a fun and unique classic-style RPG title with heavy horror inspirations. Turn-Based battles meet item collecting and survival. This game can be frustrating and unfair at times, but it adds to the challenge and risks you must take as death is permanent. The game strays from some RPG tropes, though many still exist such as some required grinding, though not nearly as much in many other RPGs; combat actually takes a backseat in this title comparatively. Not only is it worth checking out for those who want to get to know the history of the genre, but also as a quality retro horror & RPG NES game. However, since it was released only in Japan (it was deemed to violent for American audiences at the time) a fan translation patch is available for the game.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those who like Resident Evil, this game has several similarities as well as it was the direct inspiration for it. Those who like classic RPGs or retro games. Also for those who think a horror game mixed with a classic RPG could make an interesting title. It is a game that has an important history to the genre, even in it’s obscurity.

 

Clock Tower (The First Fear)

Release Date: September 14, 1995 (Japan)

Video: Clock Tower Scissorman Chase Gameplay

Description:

Clock Tower is a Super Nintendo (Snes) survival-horror game released in Japan and later ported to the Playstation (with extra content, titled “Fatal Frame: The First Fear”), PC and WonderSwan. You play as Jennifer Simpson, an orphaned child from the Granite Orphanage in Norway who is adopted in September 1995 along with three of her friends, Laura, Ann and Lotte. They get taken in by a rich man named Mr. Barrows who resides in a manor known as the “Clock Tower”. The woman who brought them here, Mary, goes to get Mr. Barrows but doesn’t seem to return after some time, which leads to Jennifer investigating. Not long after though she hears a scream from where her friends were and discovers them missing. Before long, she finds one of them murdered and begins to be stalked through the house by a deformed child with a giant pair of scissors. Gameplay involves directing the character by pointing and clicking on things to interact with them. She must flee when her stalker, known as Bobby, starts to chase after her. If directly in contact with him she will need to start mashing the panic button to escape, though her results can be changed by her “calm” level, which is reflected in her character icon in the lower-left corner. If the background is blue that signals that she is calm, yellow when she is startled, orange when she is alarmed, and red when she is panicked. The more panicked she is, the more likely Bobby can kill her in a direct confrontation, with scares and fights with him raising the alarm level.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

Clock Tower was one of the founders of the gaming trope of being stalked by a villain through a game, and it pulls it off wonderfully. It has great suspense and is a classic horror game that unfortunately never got to see it outside of the shores of Japan. It is a cult classic, and a fantastic early attempt at the horror genre that brought some unique elements as well to the point and click genre. It has multiple endings, a simplified point and click control scheme for the Super Nintendo, and some interesting ideas and puzzles that makes the player more involved with their character. A type of horror game we don’t see very often which might be best described as an simulation of slasher films from th eyes of the defenseless hero/heroine.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those who like point-and-click adventure games, or those who like the idea of exploring a mansion while being stalked by a murderer. Retro gamers might also enjoy it and it’s sprite-based behavior, or those who want to see another older horror game that existed before the genre was popularized by Resident Evil. Those who want a quality stalker point-and-click game, this is the place to look. While this was only released in Japan, a fan translation exists and it’s many available platforms and fan communities have made it available to many more. You might also want to try out the game in anticipation for the fantastic looking fan remake of Clock Tower: The First Fear in development known as Remothered. If interested in that, check out a couple of screens and a video of the project:

Video: Gameplay of Remothered (Clock Tower: The First Fear Fan Remake)

 

Hellnight / Dark Messiah

Release Date: June 11, 1998 (Japan)

Video: Hellnight/Dark Messiah Gameplay

Description:

Hellnight (Dark Messiah in Japan) is a Playstation horror game that came out in Japan and Europe. It takes place in Tokyo near the end of the millennium in Gigapolis, a city sporting a spiraling huge subway and sewer system. Our unnamed protagonist is being chased by some strange cult who are trying to kidnap him for unknown reasons, with him barely escaping their grasps onto a subway train. At the same time a strange lifeform breaks free from a research lab, kills a researcher, and evolves into a zombie-like creature as it escapes. The monster gets in the way of the train and crashes it, and then commences to kill off any survivors left alive from the crash. Our hero makes a run for it, an ability he is quite good at, with another survivor, a school girl named Naomi Sugiura, as the two of them escape together. However, the strange creature evolves again into an exoskeleton-like body that is faster and follows them into the sewers known as, “The Mesh.” Here people who have left public society live a peaceful life away from the ruckus and troubles of the mainstream living. A lifestyle that is about to get much more dangerous, we might add. Players play from a first-perspective role though they have no means to fight or defend himself. There is only one monster in the game, the mutating life form, and any contact with the monster will result in death. You can collect team mates to come with you, with Naomi being your first team mate, but contact will kill off your team mate until you yourself are killed. Death in the game is permanent. You may have one friend with you at a time, each with a different ability and dialogue, and some can help defend you from the oncoming monster (Naomi can tell you it’s location on the map, as an example). All you can do is run, very fast, though after prolonged running the screen flashes red and you need to slow down for periods of time to restore your energy. There are moments you can collect items or do some RPG-style talking. Though some people are friendly and will give you good help and directions, others may try to set you astray or lead you into trouble. Players must use clues and find a way to get back to the surface, pay attention to their surroundings, and avoid the constantly-evolving monster that’s after them.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

The whole premise is simple, but this is an obscure gem that is both terrifying, interesting, and engaging. The game is like a chase, unlike the type of stalker-styled gameplay found in games like Clock Tower or Haunting Ground, which is much more akin to puzzle solving and hide-and-seek tactics, this is like a frantic but exhilarating chase akin to moments in horror games where you have no ammo, no health, a lot at stake and you have to get from one point to another. You have to be strategic, fast on your feet, and prepare for the unexpected. The story changes significantly based on who you have with you and which of your companions die and live. This all can change what objectives you have, spoken dialogue, the story branch you take, as well as locations you visit. You have to open some doors to close others, find your way past obstacles, and more. This game defines a great and terrifying chase, you’re always being hunted, and is a game that is still as unique as it is simple and engrossing.

Who Might Enjoy It:

People who don’t mind simplicity that can produce novelty, and generally those people who get a thrill out of those moments in other games where you’re out of ammo and healing items and you have to run for it and survive. It’s like that, expanded into it’s own full game.

 

System Shock 2

Release Date: August 11, 1999 (North America)

Video: System Shock II Co-Op Gameplay

Description:

System Shock 2 is a First-Person Action RPG with strong horror and sci-fi elements present for the PC. You create your own character, either alone or with up to three other players through a network (or online through a network simulator) as you join the United National Nominate in the year 2114, and are assigned to ride in the Rickenbacker military spacecraft. Rickenbacker is escorting the Von Braun, an experimental faster-than-light starship, on its maiden voyage. As the Rickenbacker does not have a light-speed system of its own, the two ships are attached together for the trip. The Soldiers, who you play as, are awakened when things are going wrong on the ships. As you awaken to panic, a lady on board named Dr. Janice Polito guides you out of your stasis capsules to a safe location and tells you to meet up with her and where. The crew seem to be infected with something and there are other forces of work here… The game allows the player to make multiple choices to define and grow their character and approach the game how they like. There is much ground to explore, an interesting story (that later would be inspirations for Bioshock and Portal), as well as some great customization and a broad range of abilities. You fight, fetch items, grow, hack, heal, and more as you race your way through the twisted ship to meet up with Dr. Janice.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

It provides a fun and deeper First-Person Action RPG experience, whenever you play by yourself or with a few friends, that was really ahead of it’s time and received fantastically (though it unfortunately sold terribly). It also was an inspiration for two of this generations best original franchises, Bioshock and Portal. The game features an interesting branching system and the allowance to approach situations in multiple ways, a lot of nooks and crannies to explore (so much so it can be like a winding maze sometimes), as well as an unexpected but enthralling narrative, and a great combination of first-person shooters, RPGs, and horror sci-fi staples that were popular at the time. Inspirational as it is solid, it’s gameplay still holds up rather well today and is a blast, especially when playing with some friends.

Who Might Enjoy It:

If you like Bioshock or GLaDOS from Portal, this game already has some appeals for you as both those took heavy inspiration from this title. However, it also will likely appeal to those who like the blend of RPG and FPS brought together with horror elements. It will also work great for those who would like a co-op role playing experience (if you can get some friends with the game together you can establish a game online using a network tool like Hamachi) or those who want a horror game a bit similar to Doom, but more intelligent and psychological.

 

Shadow of Destiny / Memories

Release Date: February 22, 2001 (Multiple)

Video: Shadow of Destiny/Memories Trailer

Description:

Shadow of Destiny (also known as Shadow of Memories) is a Playstation 2, Xbox, PC, and PSP adventure game with horror themes, which at it’s core is a murder mystery title. However, it’s not you trying to solve a murder as opposed to you travelling through time to prevent your own murder from happening. You play as Eike Kusch in the German town of Lebensbaum, and through a series of chapters and Adventure game mechanics (picking up items, solving puzzles, etc) you must travel through different time eras to stop your own death, collecting time travelling energy units to make these jumps through time. You do not have health, but have to abide by two clocks, one which passes in present time and one that presents the time of the period you currently are in. Spending time in other time periods also passes time in the present, and what you do in the past affects the future. The game is lost if you do not return to the present period for your time of death, or if you are not able to solve what you must do before all of your revivals are up (or at least you will get the worst ending). The game features an ingenious plot and some rather interesting twists on the Adventure genre, multiple endings, and while a bit slow to get going, it evolves into a very interesting and clever set-up doubled with satisfying gameplay. The game was remade in 2009 for the PSP with improved voice acting.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

This game is regarded as having one of the best game plots in existence out of the few that have played it, with some great twists on the Adventure genre. While the game may lack action, it leads with a heavy and deep plot and interesting time travel and item collecting puzzles.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Fans of Adventure games. The game isn’t full of action, but fans of the genre should already know this. What is does provide is a fantastic plot backed up by interesting characters, clever puzzles, and an interesting twist on Adventure gameplay involving time travel. However, the show stealer is definitely the plot that has been acclaimed by about everyone who has actually played it. While the graphics were alright at the time and have aged worse (though the remake on the PSP does solve some of those problems), everything else of the game makes a fantastic Adventure game with dark themes and twists to engage you. While not scary, it is suspenseful.

 

Extermination

Release Date: March 8, 2001 (Japan)

Video: Extermination Gameplay

Description:

Extermination is a Playstation 2 survival-horror game that was one of the first for the console. The game takes place on December 24, 2005 at Fort Stewart, a secret military Antarctica base. You play as a U.S. Marines Special Forces Recon Sergeant, named Dennis Riley, who is part of “Team Red Light.” Upon arrival, their plane experiences some malfunctions and they get separated in a crash, only to get themselves involved with some sort of infection… The game plays like a mixture between classic Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid, but also features an “Infection Rate,” a meter that fills when exposed to contaminating substances or hit by attacks that cause contamination. When the bar reaches 100%, health is dropped to 60% at maximum and drops constantly. Things that previously didn’t hurt you or caused infection now hurt you, and if you die while contaminated you turn into a monster and lose. The only way to cure infection is to find rare items that treat it. You also wield an “SPR-4″ assault rifle, which can be customized to also form other weapons like a shotgun and flamethrower on the go.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

It’s a Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid clone, sure. But it’s a good Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid clone. Worth checking out if Resident Evil meets Metal Gear Solid meet The Thing sounds like an interesting concept to you, as well if you want a classic survival-horror styled game. You can find it for really cheap these days.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those who like Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid, those who liked the movie, “The Thing.” Those who want a classic horror title that’s like Resident Evil in several ways but not Resident Evil, equipped with more sci-fi themes and stealth gameplay.

 

White Day: A Labyrinth Named School

Release Date: September 25, 2001 (Korea)

Video: WhiteDay Gameplay

 

Description:

WhiteDay is a PC Korean Horror game which follows a teenage high schooler lusting over a local beauty, leading him to sneak into their High School late at night to plant chocolates into her desk on White Day. In Korea and Japan, Valentine’s Day is the day that girls gives guys they like chocolate with White Day being the flip of this as boys give girls they like chocolate; White Day is set exactly a month after Valentine’s Day (March 14th). However, things get weird and scary fast as other students are found in the facility that night sharing ghost stories, and the familiarity of an environment like school gets twisted by the night. Not helped, a janitor seems to have gone crazy as he cackles a creepy laugh and beats to death (with a baseball bat) anyone he spots in the halls and will give a relentless chase. Worse yet, paranormal forces seem to be awakening in the school and it’s shady past… Without any means to defend yourself, escape this twisted labyrinth named school by solving puzzles and outmaneuvering the things that want to murder you in the night before they get you.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

This game is one of the scariest games to ever exist, so much so the developers had to release patches for the game to make it less scary because people couldn’t bring themselves to finish the game due to pure terror. Though it’s graphics don’t stand the test of time 10 years later it’s fantastic atmosphere and gameplay mechanics hold surprisingly well. This game simulates real-life actions better than most current games do and uses lot’s of real world logic to it’s advantage. However, with the simulation of real-life functions comes the highlighting of the more twisted paranormal going-ons in the school. The scares in this game are fantastic and broad in their scope. You will have to turn out lights and hide in the dark from the security guard who can chase you throughout the whole entire school and wanders the halls at random… But the dark is not much better, as that’s where the spirits haunt you. The game’s concepts were way ahead of it’s time, strangely reflecting some of the content found in what is considered some of today’s “Scariest” games even though it came out years before. It delves into a unique setting that is not abandoned, not isolated, but a public place twisted by the night. Something that is familiar yet foreign and works on the fears that we have while alone in the night. Want to play this bitch? Well there is one problem… You need to simulate a Korean PC to play the game as it was only released there.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those who loved Amnesia: The Dark Descent or Half-Life definitely as the game has similarities to both titles in several ways. This game is for the gamers who can take outdated graphics for a fantastic atmosphere and can handle puzzle-solving, running, and hiding for your life against forces you can’t beat. Also for those who want to be scared shitless by their horror games; this title MUST be played while in the dark while alone with the volume up. The problem is the conditions to play this game are really hard to come by; this game didn’t sell well and is incredibly hard to track down for purchase. The game was also only released in Korea, and sometimes can have errors running on other regional or newer machines. Luckily with technology advancing, you can get your computer into Korea-simulation mode simply by changing the unicode language and region options on the control panel on the PC and restarting the computer. A fan translation patch to put the game into English does exist luckily, though it can be hard to apply. However, if you can ever find a way to play it you will surely enjoy it while you aren’t wetting yourself. For extra fun, don’t apply the patches involved with lowering the scare factor of the game (look at the update patch information on the game’s website).

 

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Release Date: June 23, 2002 (North America)

Video: Eternal Darkness Opening

Description:

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a Nintendo-published survival-horror game for the Gamecube that is likely best known for it’s sanity effects. While it sold poorly, it has managed to be regarded as one of the best horror games of all time and became a cult classic. Eternal Darkness tells the story of several characters across different time periods, though it all centers around the main heroine, Alexandra Roivas. After the mysterious murder of her grandfather, Edward Roivas, she goes to his mansion on Rhode Island and discovers a secret room that includes many artifacts an old tome bound by human skin and bone. When she reads the book, “The Tome of Eternal Darkness,” she experiences a scene from the life of someone in the past and his unfortunate fate. The game then switches between the present and past as something bigger than humankind comes into play that, something otherworldly that is seeping into this world. The game followed the similar camera mechanics of Resident Evil with angled and cinematic shots that move with the player, but defined itself with it’s engaging and deep Lovecraftian-styled tale, the twisted and outrageous sanity effects that mess both with the characters in-game and us ourselves as the player, and design that featured players using magic and avoiding booby traps while solving puzzles.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

Eternal Darkness received universal acclaim on it’s release, including several nominations for game of the year and won the award for, “Outstanding Achievement in Character or Story Development,” as well as nominated in other categories including console game of the year and best art direction, at the 6th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards (a recognized game award event that happens annually). Eternal Darkness is a very intelligent and engrossing tale that transcends ages and perspectives to talk about something greater than all of us, very much in a Lovecraft style, and con it with some ingenious innovations for a survival-horror game. The Sanity Effects are the stand-out innovation, randomized and intense effects that do a great job at making the unexpected happen around every corner while still retaining good design and clever puzzles. The game is a bit slow-paced, but when it picks up you can’t put it down like a good book. Probably one of the most underrated games of last generation, and one that we hopefully will see again someday soon.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Anyone who wants a quality horror game and doesn’t mind a slower pace with great payoffs for those who stick with it. Those who want an intelligent, Lovecraftian story brought forth by several interesting but flawed characters. In general a very smart, dark, and compelling title that takes the player on a trip deeper into madness the further in they go, much like our heroes and heroines have to experience. Not for those who want to blow shit up or want a faster-paced title.

 

Saya’s Song / Saya No Uta

Release Date: December 26, 2003 (Japan)

Video: Saya No Uta Trailer

Description:

Saya’s Song (Saya No Uta in Japan) is a visual novel with horror elements, starring Fuminori Sakisaka, a medical student who awakens to a pitch black sky, flesh and organs covering buildings and cartilage littering the streets, and hideous monsters with a terrible stench roaming the streets. Contemplating suicide for understandable reasons, he suddenly has a change of heart when he meets a beautiful girl in this nightmare world named Saya who is looking for her father. From there it is a Lovecraftian story of how far one might go for the one he or she loves. Or rather…

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

A fantastic but tad short horror visual novel. It has a truly fantastic and emotionaly charged story as well as very disturbing, downright terrifying, and twisted subject matter all throughout. Seriously, this is not for the squeamish and features eroge scenes as well, which means erotic scenes. You have been warned. But if none of that bothers you, this truly is an outstanding title for anyone who likes both horror and visual novels.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those looking for an emotionally charged horror story with very grotesque imagery, some erotica, and some twistedness about the beauty of the world. If you like Visual Novels and can take the mature content, this is definitely something you will enjoy through it’s story. A very unique, touching, and disturbing concept met with quality artwork, voice acting, music, and story.

 

Yume Nikki

Release Date: 2005 (Japan)

Video: Yume Nikki 5-Armed Man Gameplay

 

Description:

Yume Nikki is a freeware indie game for the PC that stars an open-world dreamscape. Developed in the easy-to-use Game Maker (2003 edition), this is a quality title that has a cult following and takes gaming in a different direction. There is no spoken line of dialogue through the entire game, and more so there is no action in the game. The game involves a beautifully designed dream world to explore as you search for 24 “Effects”, things that change and transform our young heroine. You may collect these effects in any order and approach the world however you like. Many secrets, bizarreness, and mystifyingly creepy locations and creatures litter the world to discover. Atmospheric, exploration-based, and chilling at points, it captures the essence of dreams and nightmares beautifully.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

Well for one, it’s free and was released as a free title. This game was made simple to access and thanks to it’s creation tools, was simpler to create. However, there lies some deep genius inside the game and it’s surreal world. This game is strange, but in such a way it is engaging and fun. It is mysterious and eerie, you truly never know what is going to be around the next corner. Exploration is the name of this game, you have to figure out the logic of each location in the world, almost like solving a puzzle, and maneuver it’s surreal dream-like landscapes to find the effects and the abilities they give you. The story is not spoken but suggested, there is a ton of intelligent symbolism and mythology references stuffed into the title. There is much meaning into lots of the weirdness of the game if you have a deeper understanding and knowledge bank of weird things that have happened throughout history and mythology, but it is not needed to enjoy this title. It is simply a beautifully creative and bizarre game with a lot of depth of both world and meaning. And again, it’s free~

Who Might Enjoy It:

For games it is similar to, it is most similar to the Earthbound (Mother) series both in style and gameplay-wise. However, it lacks the RPG battles and dialogue and makes it’s own merits away from the established ways of the series. It also makes a few references to other games (mainly RPGs) in strange ways. It really is for those who enjoy exploring worlds, who like cryptic and symbolic plots, surreal landscapes and trippy moments, and deeply atmospheric titles. Also for those without the biggest budget, as the title is free.

 

Haunting Ground

Release Date: April 21, 2005 (Japan)

Video: Haunting Ground Trailer

Description:

Haunting Ground (Demento in Japan) is a survival-horror game for the Playstation 2 that is known for being similar to Resident Evil as well as being made by Capcom. While like Resident Evil, the main differences are that instead of being faced with many monsters you can shoot you are instead faced by a series of stalkers that are out to rape and kill you, you are accompanied by a dog which is a helpful ally and friend throughout the adventure, and you are practically defenseless besides using a few environmental objects to hurt or defend against your stalkers. The game features disturbing themes of both violent and sexual nature, one of the strongest being the darknesses of rape and sexualization in today’s societies. However, it also deals with many occult themes and myths as well as some Resident Evil-styled puzzles.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

Haunting Ground features a twist on the classic Resident Evil formula in a gorgeously designed castle with some fantastic art direction. The gameplay is similar to Clock Tower, in which ways it is a spiritual sequel to, and features the suspense of being chased through a lonesome castle as well as several disturbing themes told throughout the story. Exploration and puzzle solving is what you’ll mostly be doing in this game when not using Hewie (your dog) to help you or collect items and hide, though all of this can be interrupted from the eerie calm at any time by one of you several stalkers.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those who like classic Resident Evil gameplay and think a twist of be a defenseless character who must rely on her surroundings to defend herself sounds appealing. Also to those that enjoy the Clock Tower games or the general suspense of exploring aesthetically beautiful locations while being chased by downright creepy characters who want you for demented reasons. Also if you enjoy Rule of Rose, there is a distinct possibility you will enjoy this game as both share similarities and some of the same themes, though there are some distinct differences.

 

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Release Date: October 24, 2005 (Multiple)

Video: Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth Trailer

Description:

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a First-Person Shooter horror action-adventure game for the PC and Xbox. You play as Jack Walters, a former Police detective in Boston who was committed to a mental intuition after a disturbing case where he went insane and developed a split personality. Years later, he is let free as his secondary personality seemed to have disappeared but is suffering from amnesia and schizophrenia. He becomes a private detective as he also tries to trace his past actions when he was crazy that he can’t seem to remember. Walters gets a case in a seaside town called Innsmouth, where a banker named Brian Burnham has gone missing. He quickly finds the town to be unwelcoming and hostile to him, though as he cracks the case something begins to unravel itself. Walters will have to hold onto his sanity as things get more disturbing and insane than he could of ever imagined… The game lacks any hud and things like ammo and health are checked by audio and visual ques. Seeing disturbing things sets Walters to slowly lose sanity and have various affects happen to him when under the influence of the crazies. When you lose all your sanity you will receive a game over by either become permanently insane or committing suicide. The game switches between parts where you have shoot-outs, exploration parts, chase sequences, or parts where you have to hide and sneak in the dark. When you get hurt, specific parts of your body are damaged and you must tend to them with specific healing items (like if you are limping, using a splint will fix the broken leg). Players must aim weapons by using the weapons iron sights and sustained aiming tries Walters and lowers his accuracy. The game has some trial-and-error gameplay moments and large labyrinths to explore, though an overall more linear experience.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

This game is an example of an enjoyable flawed experience. The gameplay can be a lot of fun sometimes, the atmosphere is fantastic, the voice acting and story are good, and the game pulls you along as you wonder what happens next. However, the game also has moments that are needlessly frustrating and completely based on trial-and-failure gameplay. Something that should work doesn’t unless it’s the developers intention that you were supposed to do it this way. Luckily these moments can be far between but can make the experience more frustrating than it has to be (and a god send from the fans again as a patch fixing some glitches and making some of the most frustrating bits easier does exist). However, while it can drive you quite possibly insane at times it’s easy to forgive once you get past it as the game whirls you along with it’s twists, turns, and change of paces. The game seems to combine several genres of horror and games together, and tells works them all together rather well (besides the occasional frustrating bit). It is worth checking out for it’s intriguing premise and story, it’s unexpected changes of both environment and the strange, and for the things the game does right and melds into a very atmospheric and eerie endeavor. However, you might want to keep a guide on hand just in case you get stuck or lost.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those who love Lovecraft, for this is quite possibly the best direct Lovecraft-based video game out there. It is for those who want something that is intriguing, strange, and unexpected and can deal in one way or another with some trial-and-error gameplay and frustrating bits. Also those who want a great atmospheric title with some added realism to the mechanics. It also works great for those who want a story that mixes Lovecraft, detective mystery, psychological thrillers, and spy films all together into one interesting brew.

 

Rule of Rose

Release Date: January 19, 2006 (Japan)

Video: Rule of Rose English Opening

Description:

Rule of Rose is a Playstation 2 horror game that is set in England in the 1930s. You take on the role of Jennifer, a 19-year old young woman who, while following a mysterious boy, gets pushed and trapped in a coffin by some strange girls wearing paper bags over their heads. She awakens on an air ship she can’t escape from that is ruled by an order known as the Red Crayon Aristocrats. She must make a monthly offering at the threat of death while trying to figure out the mysteries and memories locked away in this place. She is accompanied by a dog she saves and throughout the game she must solve puzzles and face some strange monsters while figuring out the underlaying themes of this place. This game received controversy over the violence, lesbianism, and cannibalism themes of young girls found in the title. Combat is mostly kept to melee though the preferred action is to flee rather than to fight, with the exception of a few boss battles in the game. Strange doll-like imps make the main enemy force, though finding items and solving puzzles is more of the game’s lead than the combat.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

Rule of Rose has a fantastic story that deals with many controversial themes in a very intelligent and creepy manner. The graphics (for the time) and music are fantastic, and the sometimes downright disturbing plot is definitely the highlight, like a grimdark fairy tail. Unfortunately the gameplay is less interesting and combat can be rather clunky and slow. The presentation and story are going to be the reasons you are here, an enriching yet dark tale that is both engrossing and interesting.

Who Might enjoy It:

Definitely those that can enjoy a title for an interesting and engrossing story with superb presentation and music despite some slow and shoddy gameplay. Also those that can deal with mature themes being laid on young girls, even though the characters are much more terrifying than they are sexualized. This is a game for the gamer that wants presentation and an engrossing concept and story over fast-paced or quality gameplay. Also, if you played Haunting Ground you may very much enjoy this game as both came out in about the same time frame and feature very similar themes though many differences exist.

 

Scratches (Director’s Cut)

Release Date: March 8, 2006 (North America)

Video: Scratches: Director’s Cut Beginning Gameplay

Description:

Scratches is a PC horror-adventure game telling a story of the Blackwood estate in 1976, England. The Blackwood estate was owned by James T. Blackwood, though an incident occurs when his wife is murdered and he is accused. A couple of days later though, Mr. Blackwood dies of a sudden heart attack though rumors are spread of suicide. The house is passed to Christopher Miltonr, though shortly after arriving there he vanishes without a trace… You play Michael Arthate, the next in line to acquire the house, and a author seeking seclusion to work on his next book. He moves to the estate only to find that the past still haunts this place, scratching noises echo the halls and signs of what has happened litter the place. He quickly becomes more interested in what has happened here as opposed to his new book, and opens the doorway to something sinister and scratching… The Director’s Cut only adds a few extra things, but is worth it if you have not played the original. While players only use a mouse to play, the game features an interesting plot and terrifying atmosphere with some surprises in store.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

This game is one of the scariest point and click games to exist. It also is backed-up by a very interesting tale. The story and scares get a lot more intense towards the end of the game, and the whole thing is lead by a fantastic audio experience, both in the music and sound effects. The game also is more streamlined to exploration and survival as not that many puzzles are involved. It’s in many ways like playing your own horror movie and takes a nice cinematic approach to this as well.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those who like Adventure games, preferably ones that aren’t full of to many puzzles. Also those who would like to see how they would survive in their very own cinematic slasher film, as lots of the game is up to exploration of the player and less on solving stuff. It also is for those who want a scary point-and-click game, this would qualify as one of the scariest out there, especially towards the end of the game.

 

Siren: Blood Curse

Release Date: July 13, 2008 (Japan)

Video: Siren: Blood Curse E3 2008 Trailer

Description:

Siren: Blood Curse (Forbidden Siren: New Translation) is the third installment in the horror-stealth Forbidden Siren series (the other two are for the Playstation 2) and is available for the Playstation 3 (it is sold on disk in some regions, but in America it is only available on the PSN for download). The title is a reimagining of the franchise about an American television crew that arrives to a rural Japan town on August 3, 2007 to research the Legend of Hanuda, a village that is said to have vanished and human sacrifices took place thirty years prior. Players play through 12 chapters starring different characters during the events often parallel to one another. Players will be able to have the ability to see through the eyes of the enemies on a split screen while being able to continue playing and hiding from enemies eyesight. There are randomly placed objects, some to hinder and others to help, as well as players being able to refine doors to prevent being attacked by the enemy force, the Shibito. Many these days cite it as one of the only true survival-horror games to come out on this generation of consoles.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

The game understands that people’s first instinct in a time of crisis is survival. Instead of a gun trotting hero like you find in most current horror games, you will have to resort to fending for yourself, hiding, fleeting, and are at an underpowered advantage though force may sometimes become necessary for survival. The game also manages to be rather spooky and more available than past titles of the series (which had complaints that the difficulty was too much and that it was difficult to manage all the gameplay mechanics at once). The game brings together all of the elements of a good horror game rather nicely onto the current generation of consoles and even years later remains as one of the very few games that could be considered a traditional survival-horror game on them. It still keeps some innovations unique to the Siren series and advances to make them more usable by the consumer, though at a sacrifice for a bit more of a linear experience. It is still a quality current-gen horror game with legit scares and atmosphere.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Fans of Silent Hill are likely to enjoy this one, as the Siren series is made by some of the members of the former Team Silent and definitely has some influence from it. However, this is a game for those who want a current-gen horror game, as in what would be defined as ‘true survival-horror’ as opposed to ‘action-horror’ or ‘survival-action’. It also will likely appeal to those that like some Japanese flair with their horror games or like stealth-based games and think that the stealth genre could mesh well with the horror genre. If you don’t might some slightly outdated gameplay mechanics and sometimes frustrating difficulty, also check out Siren 1 & 2 for the Playstation 2 (though they are less obscure than this one is).

 

Cursed Mountain

Release Date: August 21, 2009 (Europe)

Video: Cursed Mountain Trailer

Description

Cursed Mountain is a unique survival-horror game for the Nintendo Wii that takes place on the mountain Chomolonzo in the Himalayas. The game stars Eric Simmons, who in the late 1980s is searching for his lost brother, Frank, who disappeared while searching for an artifact named a terma. Now it is up to Eric to climb the mountain and find his brother and what happened here. The game is littered with Buddhism and Tibetan folklore nods, and it brings it all together in a believable and unique way. The game features dangers and horrors that aren’t just monsters that say boo in the night, making use of harsh landscapes and real world events to create a unique and chilling threat that can come close to home. Players must use their handy pick axe while scaling and over time also uncover new abilities, both spiritual and real-world, to equip with it. Players also will have to talk to forces on radio through the Wii Speakers and other uses through functions of the Wii Remote. While some of the level design and controls are a bit outdated, this game manages to not feel like a copy of any other horror game and stands well on it’s own two feet… On top of a snowy mountain, perhaps, isolated and alone…

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

This game is definitely unique, not just in it’s themes but in the gameplay and enemy forces as well. Dangers come from spirits in limbo as well as natural dangers found in the real world. Some moments of the game are breathtaking, and the game has some truly unique ideas behind it. However, sometimes this can make some of the things the game does, such as it’s clunky controls when performing spells, or it’s use of keys and doors in stages, to feel out of place and boring. This is a slow-paced game as well, like climbing a mountain you won’t be speeding through this baby but making your way up slowly ascending. It’s got a great audio department, with some really memorable set pieces that range from mazes to camp sites, and a believability that can be lost on many horror games to go with it’s unique premise and keep things interesting. It is worth it for a new take on survival-horror that can sustain elements not found in any other game out there, and as one of the only horror games on Wii it is definitely a gem hidden in the rough on the console.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those who want something new from horror gaming, want a horror game to go on their Wii, and does not mind a slower-paced adventure with some outdated controls (particularly when it comes to casting spells) and level design (doors and keys and sometimes invisible walls can break immersion). It brings up a believable and unique front to horror games and a unique atmosphere with it mixing it with slower-paced atmosphere and some intense action segments to make something that is both literally and figuratively chilling. Sometimes tedious, but more than enough originality bring life into the title.

 

Deadly Premonition

Release Date: February 23, 2010 (North America)

Video: Deadly Premonition Cutscene- Sinner’s Sandwich

Description:

Deadly Premonition (Red Seed Profile) is an Xbox 360 (Playstation 3 in some regions) horror-comedy game that is as terrible as it is brilliant. It stars Agent York, an FBI agent with an alternate persona he speaks to in passing named Zach, on his way to a pacific northwest town named Greenvale to investigate the murder of a local town beauty, Anna Graham. The game features a quirky story with quirky characters heavily inspired by the television series, Twin Peaks. Through the game you will perform investigations and find clues to ‘profile’ and come to a conclusion on the current investigation. The game is split into episodes, where current investigations and story points are open during specific episodes as well as certain locations only open up once you reach a particular episode. Gameplay involves an open-world where you drive and pick up side quest and get to your next location, where you enter a ‘nightmare’ which takes place in a Resident Evil 4-style combat system against weird zombie-like creatures. The gameplay is clunky, the graphics outdated, the combat is terrible, but for everything this game does wrong it does another thing amazingly right. You have a real-time growing beard you can shave or not shave out of choice (along with other strange but fun additions), the characters and story are impacting and original, the game has a ton of quirks, and ultimately it becomes an experience more than a game for those who play it through.

Why It’s Worth Checking Out:

Deadly Premonition was launched as a budget game after years of being in development hell (back when it was under the name of Rainy Woods) and now stands as one of the best budget games out there. The game does some thing brilliantly right and other things terribly wrong, yet it somehow manages to be a game that is like no other (even if it takes inspirations from other established things). If you can’t overlook a game’s flaws to have an enjoyable experience, then this is not for you because the game is terribly flawed. However, the game is a fun ride with an excellent yet quirky story to tell. It does some things games simply don’t want to do, and is like a reminder of older games that came out in an era where companies were willing to try unique yet risky things that were unexpected and out of the norm. It is worth checking out because of what it does do brilliantly right, and for an experience that lasts a good length at a budget price, and one that will likely stick with you for some time. The last moments of the game are just told in such a steller way as well.

Who Might Enjoy It:

Those who like Twin Peaks off the bat as it has a lot of inspirations from it. However, this would be a game for those who want a good yet quirky story and can enjoy a flawed experience. If you can’t get past the flaws a game might have or get enjoyment out of a game with some clunky gameplay, then this is not for you. This is for you if you really liked games that came out in the late 90s and early 2000s that took risks and told over-the-top stories and experiences that were out of the ballpark. The game is cheesy, but in a good way. It’s not so bad that it’s good, rather than it is as brilliant as it is terrible and those that can look past some terrible gameplay parts (combat just should of not existed at all) will find something truly brilliant. Also if you can watch the above video of the game and get enjoyment out of it rather than cringing, you’re on the right track.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

 

Illbleed

Release Date: March 29, 2001 (Japan)
Video: Illbleed Gameplay
Illbleed is an early examples of a horror-comedy game. With many inspirations from several horror films, featuring sub-episodes with different plots of silly nonsense, these chuckle-worthy scenarios are accompanied by gameplay that features you not facing terror directly (well, that often), but rather you seeking out what is going to hurt or scare you and taking a photo of it so it doesn’t happen. Involves lots of wacky tactics, parodies, and WTF moments, but not really that scary. The gameplay unfortunately can’t live up to the concept, which makes this game more interesting than it is enjoyable, but not anything you need to experience.

 

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi

Release Date: October 21, 2003 (Multiple)
Video: Noferatu: The Wrath of Malachi Gameplay
Choose a location, the game randomly generates a map for you, and you have to kill the vampires before they awaken or else fight for your life. Great atmosphere, some legit scares, and the action is decent. The game is way to short though, the visuals outdated, and the randomly generated maps often are boring and rather plain. However, there is fun to be had here for a few hours of entertainment.

 

Kuon

Release Date: April 1, 2004
Video: Kuon Trailer
A very Japanese-styled Playstation 2 survival-horror game. You choose one of two characters, Utsuki or Sakuya, and then commence into a game that is legitly scary, creative, and full of gore. However, the game is just way to easy and way to slow (even by survival-horror standards) for it’s own good. For those who want some nice Japanese-styled scares, even if the gameplay is a sluggish pushover.

 

Pathologic

Release Date: June 9, 2005 (Russia)
Video: Pathologic First Day Gameplay
Pathologic is a Russian action-adventure game with horror elements for the PC. While the game has fantastic atmosphere, a fantastic story, and a great concept, the gameplay is not very fun at times, the graphics are outdated, and the game is rather slow. This feels more like an experience than a game, so much so the developers don’t even refer to it as a game. Go for it if you want an experience, not if you want a game. Which is flawed because you will also have to play the game to get that experience.

 

Theresia: Dear Emile

Release Date: September 11, 2008 (Japan)
Video: Theresia: Dear Emile Trailer
Beautiful artwork and an engaging story bring this game together on the Nintendo DS, but it unfortunately is bogged down by to many convoluted puzzles towards the end that you may not want to finish the title. For those with a love for puzzle games with a gripping & dark story and fantastic artwork.

If this ends up being useful we can point you in more directions to other fantastic horror games sometime in the future.

  • Patrick

    Wow. Excellent list. Eternal Darkness is still one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had. Haunting Ground is one I’ve been wanting to play for a while. I may have to pick it up sooner than later.

  • FUTUREKUBIK

    What about the old PC game Sanitarium?!?! That was creepy!

  • http://www.blackxino.blogspot.com xino

    a pity that d00m 3 did not make it:)

  • http://mw3hacksfree.com/ Modern Warfare 3 hacks

    Excellent list, my only regret is Bioshock is not on the list – but I guess System Shock is there so..

  • BlimeyGames

    Bioshock and Doom 3 aren’t really that obscure though, haha.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cory-M-Goldberg/530810818 Cory M. Goldberg

    Amnesia? HELLO??????

    • Drepy

      Not obscure enough.

  • Guest

    Great article, but you really need to proofread this. So many apostrophes that should not be…

    • Will_Z_Macht

      And “legitly”? Does the author know that there’s already a real word that means the same thing? The word is LEGITIMATELY. It’s the non-castrated, butchered, and mutilated version of the non-word he used.

  • Robbob3000

    ill bleed isnt very scary

  • Robbob3000

    and good job for putting one of the games that are very i like the list because of how much i love siren blood curse

  • http://www.facebook.com/GinaMaria18 Gina Maria
  • Zach

    you should have put Slender on here! That game is really scary and its free!!

    • S.Juliet

      I’m pretty sure that game came out after this was posted.

    • Torcher 13

      It’s also not obscure, a lot of sites had ads for slender

  • SantaKiller12

    what is the name of the game where your in an old mansion trying to escape but there are monsters acting like guards and to get away from them you hide in the shadows but if you hide too long you start to hallucinate?

    • BelZeph

      Amnesia: The Dark Descent is the closest thing that I know of that is close to what you are describing.

      • Stonehart

        You’re forgetting about the Penumbra series, my friend.

        • MeowMix76

          Buuuut, you don’t hallucinate when you are in darkness. Your eyes just adjust to the darkness. In Amnesia, you see “poofers” and your vision is blurry and crackly

  • Jack Mort

    Sanitarium, Sanitarium, Sanitarium.
    Good List, though.

    • drachehexe

      Yeah, Sanitarium has some really great segments that are positively disturbing and scary!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jarbas.porto.9 Jarbas Porto

    Excelent post. I just dont agreed much with Kuon beeing easy and slow for SH standards, but may be just a matter of taste. Looking foward for new recomendations!

  • http://www.mengsbizarreadventure.com Mengplex

    surprised to see no mention of ‘the nameless game’ (nanashi no game) for NDS

  • imbarkus

    Proud to say I have most of these, though admittedly I haven’t beaten most of them…

  • EsOne

    “Legitly” is not a word -__-

  • pissmaster

    nightmare house 2 check it.

  • jake

    awesome list. got me some good looking games to check out

  • Kawwah

    So uhm. Where is Fatal Frame?

    • Will_Z_Macht

      Read the beginning of the article…

  • drachehexe

    Dark Corners of the Earth is one of my fav horror games.

    But what about “The Suffering” games? Those are great action/horror games that are quite unknown in the mainstream.

  • http://www.facebook.com/guilvulcano Guilherme Vulcano

    Talking about the Wii, the game Calling is much scarier than Cursed Mountain.

  • Yung-K

    rule of rose ?
    fatal frame ?

    • Kisa

      Rule of Rose is in this list, and Fatal Frame is discussed in the front of the article…. so clearly you didn’t read.