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Staff Picks | All-Time Favorite Horror Games

Curious to know what horror games have left a lasting impression on the AQUA staff? We delved into their favorite and most formative experiences playing horror video games. Check out their responses and get ready to uncover some hidden gems in the genre. Whether you're a seasoned horror gamer or new to the spine-chilling world of frights, this list will surely have something to pique your interest!

Alan: Resident Evil

“My first horror game I can remember playing was Resident Evil…must have been maybe 9 or 10 years old. It was definitely one of those where you keep the lights on while playing.”

Resident Evil is scary because it effectively combines dark atmospheric settings, iconic monsters, and psychological horror to create a truly immersive and nerve-wracking experience for players. It preys on our innate fears of the unknown, the feeling of helplessness, and the grotesque, creating a memorable and spine-chilling gaming experience. The tension, the suspense, and the feeling of survival against all odds make Resident Evil a standout series in the horror video game genre.

Sebastian: Doom 3

“Doom 3 used to give me nightmares back in the day.”

Doom is a first-person shooter video game known for its fast-paced, demon-slaying action in a nightmarish, futuristic setting on Mars and in hellish dimensions. While Doom is not traditionally considered a "scary" game in the way survival horror titles are, it can be frightening due to its relentless onslaught of grotesque and terrifying monsters, the feeling of isolation in a hostile environment, and the heart-pounding intensity of battles. The game's eerie atmosphere, unsettling audio, and jump scares contribute to the overall sense of dread, making it a thrilling and pulse-pounding experience for players.

Dragos: Aliens vs. Predator

"Totally agree, Doom 3, very scary! But the first one that really scared me was Aliens vs Predator, playing it with the Marine, damn!"

Alien vs. Predator is a first-person shooter video game series that allows players to take on the roles of iconic extraterrestrial species: humans, Predators, and Xenomorphs from the Alien film franchise. The game is scary due to its dark, claustrophobic environments, where players are constantly hunted by terrifying Xenomorphs or stalked by powerful Predators. It relies on a sense of vulnerability as players face these formidable foes, creating an atmosphere of intense dread. The series leverages jump scares, gruesome alien encounters, and a constant feeling of impending doom to deliver a truly unsettling and fear-inducing gaming experience.

Jake: Minecraft Horror Mods

"The game itself isn't scary, but Minecraft horror mods can be terrifying. I remember getting jump scared at like 4am playing with my friends one summer and waking up my entire house, lol."

Minecraft Horror Mods are modifications (mods) for the popular sandbox game Minecraft, designed to introduce horror elements and eerie experiences to the otherwise cheerful and open-world gameplay. These mods incorporate new textures, custom sounds, and gameplay mechanics to create an atmosphere of fear and suspense within the blocky, pixelated world of Minecraft. Players may encounter haunted locations, terrifying creatures, jump scares, and unique challenges that aim to deliver a spooky and unsettling gaming experience, making it a popular choice for those looking to combine the creativity of Minecraft with the thrills of horror gaming.

Ty: Zork

"I’m definitely going to be showing my age here, but as a kid the first creature in a game that I was afraid of was encountering a Grue in Zork, which was always a possibility any time you entered a dark area that doesn’t have a light source:

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue. Legitimately my first gaming nemesis was Grues. It was a very common way (for me anyway) to fail the game and have to start over."

Zork is a classic text-based adventure game, renowned for its pioneering role in the interactive fiction genre. While it's not typically considered a "scary" game, Zork can be unnerving due to its emphasis on storytelling, puzzle-solving, and the player's vivid imagination. The game's text descriptions and the player's interactions with an unseen, mysterious environment can create an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. Players must use their wits to navigate a surreal world filled with cryptic puzzles and the unknown, often relying on their imagination to fill in the frightening details, making it a unique form of psychological horror through text-based storytelling.

Matt: Super Mario Bros

"Probably Super Mario Bros whenever I reached a dungeon level "

Super Mario Bros. dungeons, commonly referred to as "castles" or "fortresses" in the game, can be considered scary in the context of the game's lighthearted and colorful world because they introduce a significant shift in gameplay and atmosphere. As players progress through the vibrant and cheerful platformer levels, dungeons offer a stark contrast with their dark, foreboding architecture, challenging traps, and powerful adversaries like Bowser. The eerie music, the labyrinthine design, and the knowledge that a climactic showdown with the game's primary antagonist awaits at the end can create a sense of tension and fear, albeit within the overall playful and whimsical Mario universe.

Razvan: Call of Duty Halloween / Zombies Mode

"Call of Duty current halloween edition / zombies mode is pretty fun and scary "

Call of Duty's Zombie Mode is a popular game mode within the franchise that pits players against waves of undead enemies in various settings. It's scary due to its relentless onslaught of zombies, eerie environments, and the constant threat of being overwhelmed by the undead horde. The game mode leverages tension, jump scares, and limited resources to create a sense of vulnerability and dread. The dark, atmospheric maps, along with the chilling background music, contribute to the overall scariness of the experience, making it a thrilling and intense cooperative survival horror game mode within the Call of Duty series.

Jesús: Mortal Kombat

"Mortal Kombat as a kid sometimes was scary, haha."

Mortal Kombat is primarily known for its intense, gory combat and iconic characters, but it can be considered scary due to the brutal fatalities and the visceral, over-the-top violence that the franchise is famous for. The fatalities are graphic finishing moves that showcase extreme dismemberment and violence, which can be unsettling and horrifying to some players. The series also features dark and often sinister character designs, unsettling supernatural elements, and eerie, otherworldly realms, adding an undercurrent of horror to the otherwise martial arts-focused gameplay. These aspects contribute to the game's reputation for pushing boundaries in the fighting game genre and introducing elements that can be genuinely frightening.

Jakub: Amnesia

"Not first by any means, but my favorite horror game series is Amnesia."

Amnesia is a survival horror video game that immerses players in a terrifying and psychologically intense experience. Set in dark, eerie environments, the game emphasizes helplessness and vulnerability, with players having no means to combat the horrific creatures that haunt them. The game's atmosphere is enhanced by disorienting sound design, dim lighting, and the constant feeling of being pursued by unseen forces. The player's fragile sanity, represented in-game, further amplifies the psychological horror, making Amnesia truly frightening by tapping into the fear of the unknown, the supernatural, and the fragility of the human mind, creating an experience that can be deeply unsettling and fear-inducing.

Will: Blood Omen 2

"My first and favorite horror game is Blood Omen 2. You play as a vampire collecting power through harvesting blood. I remember it being pretty gruesome."

Blood Omen 2 is an action-adventure video game set in a dark and gothic fantasy world. While not primarily a horror game, it contains elements that can be considered scary. The game's story follows Kain, a vampire anti-hero, as he navigates a dystopian world filled with grotesque creatures, oppressive architecture, and a sense of decay. The eerie setting, the grim narrative, and the brutal violence contribute to a dark and unsettling atmosphere. While not a traditional horror game, Blood Omen 2's macabre aesthetic and themes can evoke a sense of dread and unease, adding a frightening aspect to the game's overall experience.