No other genre of gaming can give you the same feeling as survival horror games. Much like their horror movie inspirations, survival horror games can excite, frighten, and get the player’s adrenaline rushing like no other form of video game.
However, one caveat that should be emphasized is the ‘can’ part. Because while games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and just recently, the phenomenal Dying Light (I love it) find the perfect formula for scares, other games in the survival horror bracket fail to deliver the goods–sometimes in laughably bad ways.
Whether it be because of poorly implemented mechanics, infuriating camera angles, nonsensical storylines, or just lacking in scares–there have been a plethora of survival horror titles through the years that have just dropped the ball when it matters most.
The 15 games on this list aren’t scary, just scarily bad–titles that shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as some of the genre’s crowing achievements. With that said, here are 15 absolutely terrible survival horror games–some of which are so terrible, you’ll be waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat… and not in a good way.
15 A Horrible Return To A Much-Loved Series
Capcom's most recent misfire was with Resident Evil 6–a game which is just bereft of imagination from start to finish.
Once known for their ability to send shivers up players’ spines, Capcom looked pedestrian with this release. Besides the gorgeous graphics, there’s really not much else to praise. The scares aren’t there in the slightest, with the game feeling more like a poor rip-off of Uncharted than a worthy title in the illustrious horror franchise.
The gameplay is stale, the co-op element is flimsy, the script is cringeworthy, and the scares are non-existent. There’s a reason why the latest Resident Evil switched styles–opting instead for the creepy atmosphere of the earlier games in the series–and much of that reason stems from the bore fest that is Resident Evil 6.
14 A (Bad) Twist On The Zombie Genre
With an interesting plot revolved around an autistic child who needs protection from a zombie outbreak, 2012’s Amy could’ve been one of the most intriguing survival horror games of recent years. However, forget that, what we got in its place was one of the worst games ever created under the genre’s umbrella.
The game doesn’t really tick any boxes in the end, thanks to a seriously jumbled up idea of what it wants to be. Is it an adventure game? Is it a stealth game? Is it an action game? Judging by the finished product, the developers weren’t really sure themselves. What it undeniably is, though, is drab, lifeless, frustrating, counter-intuitive, and pretty much any other negative descriptions you can think of.
What really drains the life from Amy, however, is its complete lack of anything even remotely terrifying. Amy is about as scary as most modern day horror movies–and that’s a really bad thing for us all…
13 Based On A True Story
Based on true events, 2015’s adventure-horror title Kholat certainly looked promising from the outset. Gorgeous visuals, mysterious storyline, and a haunting atmosphere seemed to tick all the boxes for what horror aficionados would want in a 21st century video game.
Sadly, these initially tantalizing prospects weren’t fully realized. No, what we got instead was a six-hour trek through the snow, with some godawful dialogue, convoluted plot strands, and offensively dull gameplay thrown in for good measure. Sure it captures the isolating feeling of being alone on top of a snowy mountain peak, but that alone isn’t enough to warrant your time.
There’s an intriguing plot buried in here somewhere, but Kholat’s slow (to the point of boring) and methodical approach ensures that real scares are hard to come by.
12 Jason Seems Less Scary When He's Blue
The Friday the 13th movie was a seriously creepy picture, complete with an unforgettable score, some brutal death sequences, and an eerie presence. The game adaptation on the other hand, is the complete antithesis of all these things.
Commonly referred to as one of the worst video games of all time, Friday the 13th for the Nintendo was a failed attempt at giving fans of the movie series what they wanted the most–a stroll through Camp Crystal Lake. What they got instead however was a completely botched title that lacked any scares, any redemptive gameplay quality, and ultimately, any incentive to play.
Need something to give you the creeps? Watch the movie instead. Hell, watch the terrible fifth movie in the slasher franchise before playing this dreadful video game.
11 Leave The Space Horror To Alien
Serving as the third in the series, 2004’s Echo Night: Beyond sees players board a space station after a failed honeymoon expedition to the moon goes awry. Awful premise aside, Echo Night: Beyond fails in many other areas too.
Despite the admittedly eerie atmosphere that the station provides, there’s so much aimless wandering that it’s less tense, and more boring than anything else. Combine this with its ridiculously hard puzzles, annoying item collecting, and the complete omission of any gunplay, and you’ve got a title that’s best left in outer space.
We’re all for challenging horror games, but when they’re as unfairly against you as Echo Night: Beyond is, it just becomes more hair-pullingly frustrating than nail-bitingly scary.
10 We Promise This Franchise Used To Be Good
Attempting to merge their usual survival horror template with light gun shooters, Capcom’s 2000 failed experiment Resident Evil Survivor failed to satisfy fans of either one of those genres. Why? For a whole host of reasons.
First of all, the graphics are downright ugly, with pixelation that is more of an eyesore than anything else. Then there’s the ultra-slow gameplay, which sees the player wrestle to move the cross-hair for much of the game. However, the ultimate sin lies in its American release. Despite being created with the intention of using a compatible light gun, Capcom omitted the feature due to tensions regarding the Columbine High School massacre.
If you like the idea of a survival horror/light gun shooter hybrid, you’d do much better to buy something like House of the Dead. Because by the end of playing through this turgid mess, there really are no survivors.
9 This Game Should Have Died With The Dinosaurs
After releasing the game-changing first two titles in the Resident Evil series, Capcom’s survival horror instincts were at an all-time high. Not content with just creating one stellar franchise in the genre, they set their sights on creating another: the dinosaur-infested Dino Crisis.
Sadly, by the time they got to the third in the series, the developers had completely lost what made the first title so unique, replaced instead with mechanical dinosaurs in space. Yes, there’s just something about robotic beasts that doesn’t exactly have us quaking in our boots.
Past the terrible setting and premise, there’s also severe camera angle problems, glaring lack of enemy variations, and a repetitive soundtrack that makes you want to stab your ears with a pencil. This is Dino Crisis by name, but not by nature.
8 The Sequel We Didn't Want
Although the first Galerians title for the PS1 was a solid enough little foray into the survival horror sphere, gamers weren’t exactly clambering for a sequel. However, developers Polygon Magic produced one anyway in the form of Galerians: Ash.
It sees you take control of the psychic protagonist of the previous game, Rion, who must overcome a nefarious group of super beings primed to wipe out mankind. So not the stuff of Shakespeare, but how’s the gameplay? Surely it makes up for the eye-roll inducing plot, right? Wrong!
This game is just so frustrating, that anything it does right, the several fundamental negatives cancel it out. Nonsensical control scheme, bland level design, and illogical pacing is enough to condemn this one to bargain bin territory.
7 The Graphics Make This That Much Worse
Only released in Japan and Europe, the second installment in the OverBlood series fails to deliver in multiple areas of its troubled design. It bravely shoots for the stars by switching to a more action-orientated style, but ultimately plummets back to earth thanks to its own broken center.
The original had huge, glaring problems, but it did do some things right. Sadly, the sequel features the same issues, plus a plethora more for good measure. The horrible animation, the ridiculous plot, the poorly implemented gameplay–this title just doesn’t do much to keep gamers’ attention for the long haul. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of OverBlood 2 is the completely game-shattering bug after one of the boss fights which infuriatingly prevents players from progressing.
Why not improve the core survival horror experience of the first game, instead of stripping it bare from the suspense and tension that the underrated original featured? Sadly, this is nothing more than a lame action game knockoff.
6 A Vampire Game With No Bite
A more modern entry here, but just as bad regardless is the survival horror/stealth mashup Vampire Rain. Released in 2008 for the PS3 and Xbox 360, Vampire Rain lacks any sort of bite.
This genre hybrid can’t commit to either style, ultimately ending up in purgatory with its convoluted efforts. It shares similarities to games like Splinter Cell, however, without the smooth gameplay, enthralling story, and ingenious level design. It also fails at delivering any scares–something which is pretty important for a game of its ilk.
We just wish the developers would’ve drove a stake into the heart of this turgid mess before it had a chance to be released. It’s certainly horrific but for all the wrong reasons.
5 Scarily Bad
I’m just going to come out and say it–Shellshock 2: Blood Trails sucks. Why? Well, where do we begin? The sub-par graphics, the terrible controls, the laughable plot or the disgracefully short length? Take your pick because there’s a laundry list of problems here that we could sit and discuss all day.
By placing the game in a Vietnam setting, whilst also introducing elements of horror along the way, developers Rebellion thought they were on to something. Sadly, they weren’t. The gunplay–which should be pristine for a game like this–is so terrible, that any interest in seeing the game out becomes a laborious slog through its levels.
It’s only a shellshock to the poor players who were naive enough to pick this one up. Do yourself a favor–buy Wolfenstein, Shadow Warrior or basically any other first-person/horror game.
4 This Game Was A Struggle
The split personalities of Alyssa Hale were certainly an interesting concept in the first Clock Tower game, so surely a more fleshed out backstory would help its sequel, right? Well that’s what you’d think, but somehow, the developers managed to blow it.
Yes, the only truly interesting facet of the game is relegated, with more attention given to the painstakingly dull gameplay. Walk around aimlessly, collect random items, avoid bad guys, and repeat. That’s about as good as it gets, which means it really isn’t good at all. It’s got 13 endings but you’ll be doing well if you even see one.
If you want to bore yourself to sleep, there might be something to be said for Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within. For everybody else, this dreary video game should be avoided at all costs–and that’s both of our personalities speaking.
3 A Glorified Walking Simulator
Released just over three years ago for the Wii U, horror-adventure game The Letter was met with some scathing criticism from both players and critics alike. And it has to be said, they were all correct.
Players assume the role of a boy who is searching for his father, with the only clue being a mysterious letter. However, once things get rolling, all sorts of blemishes begin to emerge from this game’s uninspired design. It’s a walking simulation that can’t even do that right due to one of the most godawful camera angles in gaming.
As for the scares, you best look elsewhere. The only thing scary here is the fact that the developers thought it was good enough to be released. Newsflash: it’s not.
2 Resident Evil It Ain't
From the outset, BlackSoul looks like a great throwback to the survival horror games of the ‘90s. Resident Evil: Check. Silent Hill: Check. Its devotion to the slow, methodical pace that underpinned those classics is admirable. Sadly, that’s where the praise ends.
Because while the 2013 PC release tries desperately to emulate their succinct style, it fails spectacularly when it comes to what matters the most–some kind of satisfaction from playing it. From awkward camera angles, to a really flimsy plot–BlackSoul is the kind of game that cynics of retro survival horror tropes thrive on: actual proof to back up their argument.
Even as a fan of the early survival horror mechanics–something which is battered by many modern critics–I still can’t recommend BlackSoul to players. The game is just too clumsy and soul zapping that you’re better off just sticking with the game’s biggest inspirations instead.
1 Online Multiplayer Only Works If People Play
Games like The Letter are admittedly awful, but there’s something to be said for their scant budgetary restrictions. However, that excuse can’t be made for the successful Alone in the Dark series, which makes Illumination all the more atrocious.
The fact that a survival horror game like this was made just two years ago is almost laughable. Whether it’s the poorly implemented co-op aspect, the buggy game engine, or the broken gameplay mechanics–Illumination feels like it was undercooked by about three years. Oh, and good luck finding anyone online to play with. Chances are they’re just as turned off by the game as you are.
Someone should have illuminated the developers on just how bad this game was before it hit the shelves. This is how you run a once great gaming franchise into the ground, and if that was the objective, then Alone in the Dark: Illumination succeeds every awful step of the way.