The 4th Wall: Oh the HORROR! Best Survival Horror Games

Survival horror as a genre was made famous by the Resident Evil series.  Resident Evil 6 is releasing this week.  While the series has become more action-oriented, the survival horror genre it used to spearhead brought forth a number of great games to scare the crap out of players.  The following is a list of my top 6 survival horror games (ones that I have actually played myself, and not in any particular order).  Check out my list and let us know what other games keep you up at night in the comments below.

1.)    Resident Evil — Let’s get the formalities out of the way.  Resident Evil is the grand-daddy of survival horror.  While Resident Evil 2 is widely regarded as the better game, the original Resident Evil gave gamers their first pants-wetting experience.  There was very limited ammo, limited saves, and so many ways to die.  From the iconic dogs breaking through the windows to the final battle with the Tyrant, Resident Evil provided hours of chills and nervous laughter.


2.)    Dino Crisis — The popularity of Resident Evil spawned many clones.  Dino Crisis was more or less a reskinned Resident Evil with dinosaurs, which wasn’t a bad thing by any means.  While zombies shamble and groan, dinosaurs hunt and chase and bite much harder.  They even open doors!  Dino Crisis brought more of the thrills survival horror fans clamored for while they waited for the next Resident Evil to be released.

3.)    Silent Hill 2 — Silent Hill took the survival horror genre and twisted it into something nightmarish.  Silent Hill 2 twisted it even further.  The story was one of love and loss, set within the sick, depraved town of Silent Hill.  Swirling fog, demented imagery, and chilling music struck a chord on the nerves.  The enemies were disturbing enough to give zombies nightmares.  Oh, and did I mention Pyramid Head?  Yeah, Silent Hill 2 is where he makes his grand appearance.  There’s talk that Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear fame may be involved in a future Silent Hill game.  Let’s hope the master can bring the series back to its fear-inducing roots.


4.)    Dead Space — Survival horror as a genre has changed over the years into something more action-oriented.  When gamers experienced Dead Space for the first time, they experienced what survival horror was in its glory days: pants-wetting, terrifying, and best played in the dark.  Dead Space took place in, well, space, onboard the Ishimura: a ship crawling with terrifying aliens called necromorphs.  What set Dead Space apart was not just the atmosphere, but the way in which enemies were killed.  A well-placed head shot wasn’t enough anymore.  Enemies required precise dismemberment.  This made getting attacked a very stressful occurrence.  Let’s just hope Dead Space 3 can keep the scares that made its predecessors such great, scary, games.


5.)    Clocktower — Before players were chased around Raccoon City by Nemesis, they were running (or clicking as the case may be) for their lives from Scissorman.  Clocktower for the PSone was a point-and-click puzzle game.  At random times during the game, the murderous Scissorman would appear and stalk the player.  This made for some very tense gaming moments.  The player needed to hide from Scissorman or risk certain death.  Clocktower would have made a great 80s slasher flick.  It also makes me wonder why no one has released a GOOD Friday the 13th game.


6.)    Friday the 13th –Just kidding.  This wasn’t a survival horror game.  It was just a horrible game


7.)     Fatal Frame –-Your only weapon is a camera.  Yes, a camera.  You’re stuck in a mansion and surrounded by malevolent spirits.  If you’ve seen Japanese horror films, you know that Fatal Frame isn’t joking around.  The scares are genuine.  This is very much survival horror.  The Fatal Frame series was never really as big in the West as the Silent Hills and Resident Evils, but with technology making games more realistic, who knows what the future holds?

-The 4th Wall is an imaginary barrier that separates a particular medium from its audience.  It is also a weekly column on born from the Just In Bailey column, written by Joey Alesia.  Each week, Joey looks at video games and the industry as a whole and works to break the 4th Wall armed with over 25 years of gaming knowledge.  Be sure to follow Joey on Twitter (@wrkngclsswrtr) or email him at




  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
Author: Joey Alesia View all posts by
Joey's adventure into the realm of video games began at 3 when Nintendo first hit the West. He grew up a Nintendo fan and ended up branching out to Playstation when FF7 hit and XBox when Oblivion hit the 360. He's not huge on first person shooters or sports games but definitely enjoys a good RPG or survival horror game. His all-time favorite series is definitely The Legend of Zelda, followed extremely closely by Metal Gear. Joey has a firm belief that games should be treated with respect when they are made and that the classics should never be overlooked.
  • I have to say, I’m sad to see you passed over Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Quite possibly the scariest game I’ve ever played.

  • Chris Scott

    Totally agree. Amnesia was fantastic.

    I’d probably also add in Siren and Eternal Darkness into the mix.

  • I only listed games I’ve played and scared me. Sad to say, I haven’t played Amnesia. I own it, just haven’t played it yet. I wasn’t scared by Eternal Darkness and never played Siren.