Remove the endless rounds of ammunition and arsenal of traps and towering gizmos and what are you left with? Well, plunk yourself in the midst of a horror scenario and you might just say nothing at all. But you know what? Sometimes, as strange as it may seem — that’s the exact sort of adrenaline rush we need every once in a while. And, as far as survival horror goes — nothing could be more terrifying than being abandoned with nothing but your own two feet to guide you.
Of course, whilst we do enjoy the odd bullet storm and wave of zombies in a video game, there does come a point where we start itching for something a little more daring. And, instead of being handed a bullet sponge veteran with far too many redeeming qualities, we do occasionally prefer to sink into the shoes of someone a little more, well — expendable. And that’s perfectly natural. Because in the world of horror (and you may disagree with me on this) — you don’t need bullets to rattle bones. Just take these five, for example. These are perfect instances that ultimately prove that with zero power…comes a ludicrous amount of responsibility.
5. SCP: Containment Breach
In 2008, swarms of writers and visual storytellers bridged the gaps to the world we know today as SCP Foundation. Through a variety of chilling articles and terrifying creatures, the evolving community took the horror scene by storm and went on to craft a flagship for the genre, breathing life into the narrative one chapter at a time. Fast-forward four years, the SCP Foundation had enough material to compile an anthology, and as a result — SCP: Containment Breach was born.
Putting you in the shoes of an expendable human test subject, your only goal is to escape a containment site, where a series of sinister entities wallow in the halls and stalk your every footstep. Unfortunately, you’re left without any kind of defence against the dark forces that patrol the site, meaning your only hope for survival rests with dumb luck and a whole lot of strategic blinking.
4. Slender: The Eight Pages
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Horror, even without the fleshy premise and bells and whistles that gel with it, can still be a powerful method of engaging with a player. Sure, it’s simple and without any form of a structure — but it still works. At least ninety percent of the time, anyway. And Slender: The Eight Pages, believe it or not, is a perfect example of that.
The idea is simple: navigate a forbidden forest and collect eight pages, each showing a rather ominous scribble painted in black ink. Besides that, all you need to do is stay on your toes and refrain from looking over your shoulder. Do that, and you might just cross eyes with the motionless entity that stalks the darkest crevices of the cloaked woodlands. The problem is, even with the pound of the faraway drum signalling his presence — you’ll never really know if he’s stalking you from afar, or breathing down your very neck in anticipation of your next peek.
Take the roots of Rapture and reduce the population down to zero — and that’s SOMA, in a nutshell. Only, rather than having you submerge into a fractured underwater city in search of a root back to the surface, SOMA has you wading through a spool of research facilities on a desperate hunt for something far more ominous. And, with the iconic Frictional Games (Amnesia) back at the helm for another swing at the survival horror band, let’s just say things aren’t as merry and melodic as one might hope for. But we’ll let you uncover that one for yourself.
As the fish-out-of-water protagonist, Simon, you find yourself isolated and without any memory of your ocean blue surroundings. With an abundance of tampered mechanics and twisted facilities left behind, you must work with whatever resources you can scrounge from the wreckage and string your world back together, hoping to cement a future in the process. The only problem is, the sunken PATHOS-II isn’t as isolated as one might think. But we’ll leave that thought with you.
2. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Of all the survival horror games in the world, Amnesia: The Dark Descent still stands as one of the best to ever grace the community. Even a decade on, Steam and Twitch stars still gravitate to the original chapter in the Frictional Games flagship series to rustle a few feathers and extract a few nightmares. And as far as powerless protagonists go — Daniel carries the torch effortlessly without any means to stoke the fire.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent puts you on course to recovering your memories as the cowardly hero, Daniel. Buried deep within the darkest crevices of Brennenburg, the only aim is to navigate the nooks and crannies of the abandoned castle and shed light on the obstacles that burden your past. However, with many of the rooms still housing a population of deformed residents, shuffling through the cobblestone isn’t as easy as taking a self-guided tour through a historical landmark.
Outlast has come a long way since Mount Massive Asylum, and yet for some reason, we keep punching our tickets to return to the towering capital of evil. Call it what you like, but something appeals to us as horror fanatics when it comes to Outlast, and Red Barrells truly did hit the nail on the head when building their focal point for the first chapter and following Whistleblower DLC.
Armed with a camera and a satchel of batteries, your goal is to venture deep into the wards of the fractured asylum in an attempt to crack the mystery behind the questionable medical practice. However, with the patients running amock and some of them slightly more narrow-minded than others, your time within the grounds of Mount Massive becomes one enormous game of cat and mouse… only the cat has a pair of sheers..and you, the mouse, have a battery-powered camcorder. Go figure.