By Lewis Empson and Marcus Yeatman-Crouch
The generation of the PS4 and Xbox One has yielded some great horror games that use the groundbreaking technology to enhance the graphics, atmospheres, and scares that players experience. There have been new IPs, continuations to beloved franchises, and blockbuster movie tie-ins that have ensured this generation will live long in the memory of horror gaming fans. We’ve selected just a few of our favourites to suggest to you here, if you’re ever in need of some terrifying titles to play on an October night.
Until Dawn was an instant hit on its PS4 release, an excellent-looking game that used face scans of real actors (Rami Malek of Mr Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody fame?) to increase the realism of the reactions as you frantically tried to keep your gang of young adults alive through the night, pursued by a killer and… something else. The game used a ‘butterfly effect’ mechanic, giving you 50/50 decisions that had consequences further down the line and could result in one of your characters facing a tougher situation that could lead to your death. Making it out without anyone dying was a hard ask, and the mix of jumpscares and classic slasher atmosphere-building and story made the game an instant classic for streaming and party playthroughs.
Alien: Isolation didn’t just have to fulfil the expectations of a horror game – it had to do a classic horror franchise proud. And it did just that, creating possibly the most immersive and terrifying sci-fi horror experience in video games, pushing graphics at the time to the very limit. It also introduced the xenomorph itself, using excellent AI that learns players movements and patterns, making the hunter deadlier as the game wears on. A true homage to the Alien franchise that makes the titular creature the star and you a slightly more terrified Ripley, desperately trying to survive and resist the desire to quit the game out of fear.
It’s a bit unconventional, but that’s what made Dying Light so fun. Parkour, makeshift weapons, zombies that become even more terrifying at night? Using a really unique concept, Dying Light breathed some life (ironically) into the zombie survival-horror genre that somehow made escaping from hordes of the undead fun and cool-looking. The open world was interesting and expansive, and as your parkour skills increased so too did your familiarity with the areas and what routes would let you avoid the zombies the best. Best of all – there’s a sequel on the way, and while it might have encountered delays it’s clear by reactions to its announcement that people can’t wait to jump back into the world and start freerunning their way through the zombie apocalypse again.
The Evil Within 2
The Evil Within 2 (alongside the first game in the series which is also worth a mention) stepped up to fill the Silent Hill shaped hole in our hearts since the series went radio silent after the spectacularly infamous P.T. It invokes the OG Silent Hill with its atmospheric third-person survival horror gameplay and eerie semi-open world environments that encourage tense and suspenseful exploration… if you’re brave enough that is. The plot is even Silent Hill-esque featuring existential metaphors set within a nightmarish town inhabited by freakish monsters. The monster designs are what really sells this game as a solid horror experience; the designs range from ghostly to gruesome with some truly disturbing creatures that will unnerve even the most fearless gamers. It stands out as one of the more unique horror titles of this generation as not many opted for third person action gameplay so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Little Nightmares is a truly unique horror experience. It combines 2D puzzle-platforming gameplay with a grim yet fascinating aesthetic to achieve an engaging, frightening and suspenseful gameplay. You play as a defenceless young girl called Six navigating a twisted world desperate to survive the harsh conditions and avoid starvation. The monstrous inhabitants of this world are imposing and your only option is to run and hide and then sneak past in order to survive. This tense gameplay provides scares in the way of panic-inducing chase sequences and dark themes of survival and desperation. Although it’s an indie title, Little Nightmares, should absolutely not slip under any horror fans radar.
FromSoftware, the masochistic minds behind Dark Souls, conjured up a delightfully gothic experience for the PS4 in 2015 with Bloodborne. It fuses Dark Souls’ frustratingly gratifying gameplay with nightmarish gothic horrors, deep lore and a twisted and intricate world in the form of Yharnam. As a Hunter you’re tasked with surviving and uncovering the horrors of “The Hunt”; a night where the town goes mad and all natures of horrors are released whilst the residents hide in their homes. Bloodborne captures gothic horror at its best with grisly creatures to slay and dingy, rat infested streets to explore – just be prepared to die… a lot.
Resident Evil 7
Resi 7 had a gargantuan task when it was released in 2017. It had to reinvent and revive the franchise after whatever Resi 6 was supposed to be (we don’t talk about it) all whilst delivering a frightening and inventive take at the horror survival franchise – and Capcom absolutely delivered. A brand new first person perspective, a spine chilling story and some of the most imposing and unsettling villains in horror game history in the form of the Baker family. The iconic dinner scene is still horrifying to watch no matter if you’ve never seen it or have played the game over and over again. The house that the majority of the game takes part in opens up as you play to uncover hidden horrors and new pathways to explore; no matter where you are in the house you never feel safe and you should absolutely never get too comfortable. Resident Evil as a series really bounced back with this generation of gaming as I can’t neglect the excellent Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 remakes were stellar follow ups to this and truly returned the franchise to its iconic place within the horror genre – fingers crossed that the upcoming Resident Evil 8 Village can continue this new age of Resi excellence.