With several new horror video game titles scheduled to release in 2022, it’s becoming increasingly clear that one particular element has always been central to the genre: stories. A good lore can compel players who know simpler, story-heavy games to give horror a try, whether it’s the newer title or one of the classics.
Nevertheless, even within the genre there is a range of intensity. Some games feature open worlds and higher stakes, while others guide their players every step of the way. Either way, each caters to a different set of preferences for those looking to start somewhere.
Among the sleep (sweet)
Created by Krillbite Studio, Among the sleep follows a toddler as he explores his surroundings through an innocent and fantastical lens. Game mechanics are quite simple and players have a plush toy that guides them through it. The main draw of the game is the dissonance between the beautiful and magical visuals and its dark themes which, as the story progresses, turns into a shocking video game ending.
The survival horror elements may not be as intense as some of the big titles, but keep in mind that the only playable character is a toddler who can crawl or rock as monsters roam the night. hunting and seeking.
While nothing can go wrong if the player’s movements are restricted by a fixed narrative, the developers at Red Candle Games have managed to find other ways to stress players out. The film and TV adaptation of the game has its own merits, but none can replicate the characters’ hyper-surreal aesthetic and creepy puppet-like movements.
Besides the eerie atmosphere, the fear of being trapped in an abandoned school building, and the spooky subjects, players can also be chased or stealthily play with ghosts in the dark hallways, which is nothing but anxiety inducing.
Little Nightmares 1 & 2 (Moderate)
Some gamers might argue that this franchise should be ranked next to Among the sleep. After all, both titles involve child protagonists hiding or fleeing from gigantic monsters, or in the case of the little nightmares series, naughty adults.
But Tarsier Studio’s titles feature puzzle-platforming mechanics, which can be tricky for players who are more familiar with first-person or 2D games. The pace is fast and tense, sometimes offering little or no time to breathe. In addition to this, “monsters” are a special brand of twisted. It will take god-level Zen energy to not break into a cold sweat throughout this match.
We Happy Few (severe)
When Compulsion Games released a survival horror action video game in 2016, it turned out to be one of the most unsettling and bizarre titles, spanning multiple genres. Its dystopian premise puts a satirical spin on social order in a world where being happy is a civic obligation and its stunning, upbeat psychedelic visual music adds to the charm.
All of these things paint a nightmarish landscape when things take a terrible turn. Players have to be almost constantly on the move and keep an eye on their health while being attacked and chased by strangers and police.
Pathological 1 & 2 (severe)
The story of Pathological begins as players find themselves in a small town that has fallen prey to a strange plague. Their goal is to complete their quests and stay alive within 12 in-game days, while the odds are stacked against them. Even in this virtual world, no one is safe from what can kill.
The first installment of the franchise, developed by Ice-Pick Lodge, was released more than a decade before the second. Reviews of both games are mixed, mainly because they are extremely difficult. Its grim realism has critics and fans alike wondering if video games are meant to cause misery, but it’s also one of the strengths of this tense, unnerving masterpiece.
walk of the year
Its developer, Simogo was inspired by an ancient Swedish ritual of the same name. First released as a mobile game, then reworked and released via Steam, the game features two woven-together timelines, folklore, and interesting puzzles. Despite the creepy nuance and occasional jumps, it’s still a relaxing game that’s pleasing to the senses.
A thing in which walk of the year excels is its element of cosmic horror. Gently and kindly, it takes players on a beautiful journey through the snowy woods and leaves them in the cold, haunted by what they’ve learned.
Placing Killmonday’s first and most popular horror title in the “relatively cool” category might seem like a mistake. But compared to survival horror or other point-and-click games in the genre, Fran Arc has a whiff of childlike wonder, and the main character is an absolute delight.
The aesthetic is an odd combination of wondrous naivety and macabre, with lots of gore. However, all these elements fit together perfectly. The game follows a strict narrative structure. Players move through chapters, and minigames in between can be skipped, as failing them has little or no consequence.
The disappearance of Ethan Carter
Red leaves whisper in the wind and a dark secret lies at the bottom of a picturesque valley. Created and published by The Astronauts, this first-person game takes place in an open world.
Players must roam the seemingly idyllic setting, collect clues, and find out what happened to the Carter family. If they can see past the confusion and lack of direction, the game is enjoyable. While there are puzzles that leave no room for failure, they more than make up for it with the soothing atmosphere and slow pace.
Sarah has disappeared
In 2016, Kaigan Games released its first horror game, launching its simulacrum franchise. It fits comfortably into the lost phone genre, where players are expected to interact with a missing girl’s phone and her AI assistant in order to find her. It’s perfect for those who want to try a found footage-style horror game but don’t have much time to spare.
The phone’s interface is realistic, as are the characters’ videos, photos, and messages, giving the experience a voyeuristic sense of guilt. There are a few little jump scares and details that add to the creepiness. However, the game should come with warnings as the flashing and flickering screen is a potential health hazard for some.
All gamers who have tried the latest version of Bloober would agree that this is an intriguing game that focuses on telling a story more than anything else. One of its unique features is its split screen which features both the spirit world and the mortal realm as the protagonist, a spirit medium, uncovers the truth behind a massacre.
Despite the disturbing visuals and heartbreaking lore, they likely won’t cause nightmares or traumatize players to the point that they refuse to go to the bathroom at night. The stealth sections are pretty easy and its cut scenes are a cinematic treat. But before anyone gets there, they need to be warned about the sensitive topic being discussed in the game.
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