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The Scariest Video Games of All Time

Updated 14 Aug 2020 87.0k votes 9.5k voters 157.7k views106 items

List RulesNot best overall games, but the video games that are the most terrifying. (Games only.)

List of the most frightening video games ever, ranked by hardcore survival horror fans and casual gamers alike. Unlike the Ultimate List of the Best Survival Horror Games of all time, which attempts to rank the horror genre's overall BEST games, this list is about defining the most terrifying or unsettling gaming experiences. So even if a game perhaps wasn't your favorite in terms of the characters or the controls, if it made you jump out of your seat in shock, perhaps it might still qualify.

In the early days of gaming, "scary" games tended to refer to platformers and action games inspired by horror literature or films. The games themselves, however, were rarely scary, and mainly just used a 'horror' setting for personality or flavor. (Consider the early "Castlevania" adventures, which essentially replicated a "Mario"-type experience but in a world full of classic movie monsters.) There were exceptions to this rule - 1982's "Haunted House" included many elements recognizable from later horror games - but it was really not until the late '80s and early '90s that truly frightening games were starting to get released.

So what are athe scariest video games of all time?

Over time, particularly with the release of influential horror titles like "Resident Evil" and "Silent Hill," the genre became more defined, and currently nearly all games inspired by horror movies that intend to make the player jump are classified as "survival horror." These games include elements usually identified with action games - including combat, puzzle-solving, navigating mazes and so on - but manipulate these elements to make gameplay more intense and increase the player's vulnerability. This can include limiting the player's ammunition or ability to fight, manipulating game physics to make actions less predictable, obscuring enemies and makign the environment darker and, of course, using loud noises and unexpected turnabouts to provide 'scares.'

The games listed here are the most effective at creating a chilling environment to manipulate the players emotions, and elicit fear. Vote up the games that you won't play in a dark room alone, and if one of your favorites isn't listed, re-rank the list yourself and add whatever you like.

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