5 Horror Games That Will Mess With Your Head

I recently watched Oculus and enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. It’s a trip, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you get on that. Also, if you haven’t yet, don’t fret, I won’t be spoiling anything here. The reason I bring the film up is because it inspired this list. Thanks to some clever storytelling and editing, I spent a large majority of the film not really know what I was seeing. Or rather, I knew what I was seeing, but I never truly believed it.

That’s smart. And it’s particularly effective for a horror film, because it kept me engaged the whole time, and that’s crucial for gauging the efficacy of a horror film (or even a game, book, TV show, etc.) If you enjoy that sort of thing and would like to experience it elsewhere, I’ve compiled a list of horror games that use similar toolsets to get in the player’s mind. Enjoy.

1.

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Ah yes, the classic. When it comes to video games that use sanity as a tool for gameplay, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is likely to be one of the first that comes to mind. Released in 2002, this game was one of the first to break the fourth wall. If bleeding walls, voices, and the myriad other horrifying hallucinations didn’t break you, then it would take things to the next level with simulated errors with your television or GameCube.

That game features a number of scares, but the fake “Blue Screen of Death” was by far the most effective.

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Many of the horrors you’ll encounter in the Dead Space series stem from the Marker, an alien artifact that has the remarkable ability of being able to slowly drive people insane. Spend too much time around it and you’ll suddenly find yourself battling the urge to embrace your inner Necromorph and brutally maim everyone around you. This is really only teased in the original game, as you see the aftermath of what happens when a group of people stick around a Marker for too long. It’s not until the sequel that we get the chance to witness the transformation firsthand.

In Dead Space 2, Isaac begins to fall under the Marker’s influence. This results in horrific visual and auditory hallucinations, many of which that feature his dead girlfriend, Nicole. But the reason Dead Space 3 makes this list over its predecessor is the way this sanity system is woven into the game’s co-op. Both Isaac and his new “friend” Sgt. John Carver are being affected by the Marker, and this results in separate hallucinations for each player. So what you see on your screen might not necessarily be the same thing your partner is looking at.

3.

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By now, I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times already, but just to reiterate: Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a moderately terrifying game. One of the mechanics that makes the horror in this game so effective is the sanity system, which borrows liberally from Eternal Darkness’ book, sans the fourth wall-breaking scares. Unfortunately, the character you control in Amnesia is a bit of a fragile butterfly. A delicate flower, if you will.

This means he can’t look at the horrors on-screen — he can’t even sit in the dark — for too long, lest he go insane. This makes the game’s abundance of hiding places, as well as the few precious sources of light, your only friends.

4.

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I’m not sure if it’s Ethan’s liberal consumption of alcohol or the horrors he’s seen during his years as a detective in a startlingly corrupt and dangerous city, but either way, this guy’s head is messed up. Hallucinations make up the majority of the unreal scares — the real ones being gaggles of angry, pipe-wielding bums — and while they were present in the first game, they’re kicked up a notch in Condemned 2: Bloodshot.

This is one of an unusual number of horror games that uses mannequins in creepy ways, so there’s that, too.

5.

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That’s right, I’ve included the entire Silent Hill series on this list.

I was going to go with Shattered Memories, because it observes your actions in-game, quantifies them, and adapts accordingly to get inside your head, but if any series deserves a mention here, it’s this one.

This franchise embodies the very definition of psychological horror. The games might not be as brave as they used to be in their tackling of taboo topics, but even when they aren’t great, they’re still more twisted than most other horror games out there. If you want a series that’s consistently unpredictable, bizarre, and deeply unsettling, this has all that and more in spades.

5 Horror Games That Will Mess With Your Head – Eldurion

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