In this game, your choices can directly – or indirectly – affect whether a character lives or dies. You know how horror fans sometimes shout at the movie screen to warn characters to run or turn around or not to go in there? Well, now you get to see how far your advice will really get those characters.
Of course, the novelty of that mechanic sometimes results in people forgetting just how scary this game is. Granted, most of the horror revolves around jump scares, but the way that Until Dawn is able to consistently make us jump out of our seats through an escalating series of terrifying moments showcases not only the developers’ love for the slasher genre but its understanding that a jump scare is only as good as the feeling of dread right before it.
Until Dawn is the ’80s slasher film that gamers spent decades asking for, but it’s also more than that. It’s a game that manages to turn quick scares into lasting nightmares that are as fun to share with friends as the most memorable horror hits of the ’80s.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
2005 | Monolith Productions
Quietly released as part of the Xbox 360’s launch lineup, there’s a good chance that many gamers of that era overlooked Condemned in favor of titles like Perfect Dark: Zero, Project Gotham Racing 3, and Kameo: Elements of Power. That said, those who took a chance on this obscure horror title know it easily ranks among the scariest game ever made.
The story of a federal investigator who is tasked with tracking down a series of serial killers, Condemned covers thematic ground that we surprisingly don’t see that often in gaming. It’s closer to a movie like Seven than the supernatural fare we typically get in horror games. However, it proves to be the perfect setup.
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