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Over the years the horror genre has seen a resurgence in creativity and originality. While there have been a lot of copycat clones in the indie space, there have also been some really cool and really notable titles to come out from unlikely studios and AAA outfits alike.
This article will highlight the best scary games to come out in recent years for various platforms and from various studios all across the spectrum. Strap in and get ready as we take a look at The 11 Best Scary Games Of The Last 5 Years.
11) The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series
There's no way a list about the best games released within the last five years could be made without including the game that nearly single-handedly brought the point-and-click horror genre into mainstream. I'm talking about none other than Telltale's The Walking Dead. The game was a gripping, thrilling, no-punches-pulled horror affair starring a cast of sympathetic and desperate characters in a tension-ridden tale that spanned five heart-pounding episodes which left you with a tight knot in your throat after the finale. The scary part about the first season was that you had no idea who was going to live or die based on your decisions, and nearly every decision seemed to hinge on life and death choices.
10) Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut
This may easily be the most ridiculous game on the list given it's B-movie flair and over-the-top acting, but Deadly Premonition managed to find a warm place in the hearts of many gamers due to being so bad that they consider it to be good. The convoluted plot unfolds like many other mystery-horror tales, including some moments where the main character, FBI agent York, will have to face off against some otherworldly entities. The mix of absurd storytelling, supernatural horrors and an unpredictable plot allowed Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut to just slip onto the list, especially given that the latest iteration of the game popped onto the scene back in 2013, three years after it originally released on the Xbox 360.
9) Outlast 1 & 2
Red Barrels took the gaming industry by storm, twice. They first released Outlast back in 2013 on PC, mixing in narrative-driven gameplay with fail-state possibilities centered around jump-scares and gory gameplay. Red Barrels upped the ante in 2017 with Outlast 2 for home consoles and PC, and it was enough to keep gamers on their toes the entire way through. While both titles lack the ability to let you defend yourself or fight back, the horrifying situations and dark thematic elements gained widespread praise for being horror done right. Both games were also made even more terrifying by the fact that they delved into some real life conspiracy theories based on the MK Ultra projects, as outlined on the Wikia page.
8) Slender: The Arrival
Slender was one of the rare, crazy games that spawned from a viral web game, which in turn was spawned from an internet-made conspiracy myth. This multi-layered meta game eventually became a real game in the form of Slender: The Arrival from the original production crew who made the Slender Man game mythos viral, Parsec Productions. This was the kickoff for the whole walking sim horror sub-genre, which was like many other walking sims out there but filled with jump scares. The foreboding atmosphere, unique design and AI behavior of the Slender Man, and the fact that you couldn't look at him or you would die, helped turn this series into a cult success.
7) P.T. Demo
Hands down, this is one of the absolute scariest games never to be completed. P.T. Demo is the stuff that legends are made of. A collaboration between Hideo Kojima and horror director Guillermo Del Toro, this was a playable teaser for Silent Hills, what would have been the ninth installment of the Silent Hill franchise. The game was running on the highly optimized Fox Engine, using photogrammetry for photorealistic rendering at high frame-rates. This forced gamers to experience a near real-to-life horror experience that was unlike anything else before it. Sadly, the full version of Silent Hills will never see the light of day, and Konami even took the extra step of completely deleting the P.T. Demo from the PlayStation Store.
6) Five Nights at Freddy's
Scott Cawthon managed to become a recognized name in the world of game development when the original Five Nights at Freddy's released back in 2014. The original game is still one of the scariest horror games in the series thanks to its grungy atmosphere, lo-fi design and the fact that the Freddy Fazbear and his animatronic friends look absolutely frightening. The popularity of this series skyrocketed on YouTube and eventually landed Cawthon a licensing deal for a movie based on the series. The popularity has waned recently after the last outing, but the crazy deep lore and original animatronic designs helped make Five Nights at Freddy's both an original and terrifying game.
5) Alien: Isolation
Coming off the tarnish on the Alien franchise left by Gearbox Software's Alien: Colonial Marines, Creative Assembly had their work really cut out for them with the 2014 release of Alien: Isolation. However, to their credit, they managed to carve out a nice little space in the horror sub-genre with their first-person exploration scarefest that focused on Ripley's daughter having to survive on an almost-abandoned space station that's been ravaged by a single xenomorph. It's up to Ripley to navigate through the ship using a flamethrower to stave off death at the hands of the ultimate killing machine. The game manages to capture the tension from the original Alien while expanding the lore (and the scares) with an all new adventure.
4) Dying Light
Techland really took gamers by surprise with Dying Light in 2015. The zombie survival genre was being worn out by this point, with dozens of copycat clones based on Dean "Rocket" Hall's DayZ. However, Techland took a different route -- instead of just having gamers gather supplies and survive against other players and zombies, they focused the game around parkour and built a fictional city that seemed to mirror the likes of a North African town. The real kicker was the game's day and night cycle, where at night traveling and scavenging became a fright-filled shock-fest, as dangerous creatures came out and stalkers lurked from blackened shadows. Dying Light managed to be action-packed and scary all at the same time, making it a rare treat for horror fans.
Frictional Games have managed to make a career out of disturbing and off-kilter horror titles. It would have been an absolute sham of a list not to include their latest offering, Soma. This underwater tale has few kin in a sub-genre that expertly mixed puzzle-solving, psychological horror and exploration all into one game. Frictional was at the top of their game with Soma, where they didn't rely on typical jump scares, but created a feeling of absolute dread as frightening underwater creatures stalked the halls looking to get their hands on you. A philosophically rich story helped put things in place as questions about a multi-life existence took center stage amid the horrors of the deep sea science station.
2) Layers of Fear
The funnily named Bloober Team may have a laugh-out-loud worthy studio appellation, but the reality is that the talented folks at the indie studio developed an amazingly deep and psychologically thrilling horror title in the form of the 2016 release of Layers of Fear. The game originally spent many months in Early Access, going through refinement and having the story fleshed out, but when it eventually did release, it was hailed as one of the best horror games released in years. The morphing environments were a nice nod to Silent Hills, and the disturbing story kept gamers hooked all the way to the end.
1) Resident Evil 7
Well, obviously the top of the list would go to the one game that seemed to revive mainstream, AAA horror. Capcom had a lot riding on the moderately budgeted Resident Evil 7, and it all paid off. The series was revitalized thanks to the more stripped-down approach the first half of the game took with the survival-horror elements, which had players scared out of their wits because they had no idea what was going on and were ill-equipped for what they had to face. Excellent pacing and a slow build toward an action-packed, and explosive finale helped balance Resident Evil 7 as both an exciting entry in the horror genre and a tense and scary journey into the destruction of the Baker family estate.
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