Growing up, a lot of us had our video game systems connected to the TV in the basement. This was usually a fantastic setup, as we could turn our volume loud and yell at each other even louder. Mom would just shut the door, and she wouldn’t have to hear us scream about blue shells and final bosses.
However, there were a few select games where playing in the basement became slightly unsettling. You wouldn’t want to play them at night, nor with the lights out. You might ask one of your siblings to watch, or at least read a book in the same room.
Let’s be honest—there’s just something about 1990s graphics that even the highest resolution, newest games cannot replicate the eeriness of.
Ahh, those spooky memories. We’ve all grown up, and learned that the scariest things in life aren’t in books, movies, or video games. They’re in the form of taxes, insurance deductibles, and global warming.
But it’s that time of year where it’s especially fun to get scared again, so fire up your old gaming systems, turn off the lights and get creeped out.
As you’re going through the list, you might find a title or two missing. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I chickened out of playing several of them…
Silent Hill (1999)
I mean, where do we even begin here? The cover itself is absolutely terrifying. The foggy, unclear background. The neutral colors, broken up by the blood spatters. Even if there were no monsters, just walking through the town itself would be extraordinarily creepy.
The plot line of the game has it all: A desperate father searching for his daughter, a terrifying cult, monsters, questionable blood splatters, possession, and death.
The sound of the footsteps hitting the sidewalk against the silent night is creepy. But then, it gets worse with the sound of the air raid.
There’s so much to unpack in this game, from the carousel to the first cult meeting, and of course… the final boss.
Resident Evil (1996)
Right off the bat, I’ll say this: at least in Resident Evil, you’re battling with a trained fighter. But, compared to Silent Hill, you’re trapped in one place. This place happens to be a haunted mansion, so the setting is pretty ghastly.
There are illegal experiments, human zombies, dog zombies, viruses, spiders, and monsters.
I was personally most petrified of the unknown in this game, walking down the hallways and around corners in the mansion. If we ever played at night, I would always thrust the controller into my brother’s hand and beg him to walk around.
The door-opening sequence was sometimes a nice break from the horror, but it didn’t last long. I remember wishing so badly I could just thrust a giant lantern into the hand of my character… and maybe a bomb.
Alone in the Dark (1992)
Another haunted mansion video game, of course. This one was somehow a little worse, as it was on PC. Maybe because your face was much closer to the screen, therefore there was less distance from the horror.
And horror, there was. Monsters, ghosts, possessions, underground caverns, and an eery suicide. Like Resident Evil, I always predicted something to jump out of every corner and suddenly appear at the end of hallways.
The camera angles really induced a lot of anxiety too. Though the graphics were from ‘92, it somehow made the game creepier.
Nobody forgets the first time they saw the zombie…
“I haven’t seen any adults in this town. Where are your parents? Where are all the adults?”
Possibly a nightmare we’ve all thought about is waking up incredibly confused, stuck in a hospital or sanitarium. Well, that’s one of the first reasons why this game isn’t full of sunshine and warm vibes, as you can gather from the title.
In this game, you have no idea what is real and isn’t real. Like, the village boy with two mouths, or the visions, dark magic, every terrifying character, and the sounds of voices. Sanitarium is possibly the scariest game on this list, because what starts as a seemingly plausible scenario quickly descends into absolute madness and chaos.
A haunted mansion is one thing, but being locked in a sanitarium where you cannot remember your own name is far, far worse.
The Dark Eye (1995)
It’s a game set in the 1800s, based upon the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. Combine this with 1990s graphics.
Need I even continue?
About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.