The year 2019 is off on the right foot. The first month of the year has brought a few cool Switch games and is ending with a double-crescendo in the form of Kingdom Hearts III and Resident Evil 2 (on the same day). Resi 2 is a remake of a PS1 game from way back in 1998, so if you never played the original, nobody would be surprised. Now’s your chance, however, and this remake is a total overhaul of the game’s mechanics, atmosphere, and even its story.
What inspired this change, though? Why didn’t the developers simply rerelease the original with a fresh coat of paint? Maybe these 10 recent horror games had something to do with it. If you’re excited for Resident Evil 2, these are all worth sinking your teeth into as well.
10 Resident Evil 7
An obvious place to start, but a good one. Resident Evil 6 was a critical and commercial flop, so Capcom took a chance at overhauling the formula a little with the next one, and it paid off in spades.
As the first Resident Evil game to be played in first-person, this 2017 game (also released in January), was not only a departure mechanically, but also a return to the close-quarters single setting style of the very first Resident Evil.
The focus on a single family of scary enemies, rather than a hoard of zombies, introduced a whole new kind of dread to be experienced from a whole new perspective.
This clever little indie game—soaked in a grim and decaying atmosphere—is very different and yet very similar to Capcom’s Resident Evil series. Familiar tropes inspired by Resi include context puzzles which unlock doors and passageways to advance the story. There are also collectible items which help the player solve these puzzles. The game also stands on its own as a 2D side-scrolling horror game with its creepiness coming from ghosts rather than zombies.
Developed by a Taiwanese company and inspired by recent events in Taiwan’s 20th-century history, this history provides a little more weight and a little less fantasy to the game’s unraveling story, enhancing its horror effect even further.
From the developers of Amnesia: The Dark Descent comes a game set in a sci-fi alternative reality that takes place in a city at the bottom of the sea which definitely isn’t called Rapture. This game succeeds in two parts: its horror comes in the form of enigmatic monstrosities which roam the corridors and hunt you down if they spot you, and its story is one of the most intense philosophical journeys concerning the matter of human consciousness that you’re ever likely to play through. More than a horror game, this is a dreaded horror experience, and one well worth living through.
7 Until Dawn
Taking the choice-based gameplay mechanics made famous by Quantic Dream games like Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, Supermassive Games have delivered a fantastically fun romp that’s inspired by the B-movie slasher flicks of the ‘80s. A single-player experience with the aim of keeping every character in a group of friends alive as they spend a night in, you guessed it, a cabin in the woods, the game offers narrative choices which require quick thinking and quicker reflexes. Unnerving and stressful, this is a different kind of terror, and perhaps the most unique horror experience on this list.
6 The Last Of Us
While not technically a horror game, The Last of Us has all the mechanics and atmosphere of one. It's a game that’s more about survival and telling a strong narrative-focussed tale (with impeccable writing and voice acting). Taking a lot of inspiration from Capcom’s most successful Resident Evil game, Resi 4, The Last of Us uses an over-the-shoulder perspective to keep the action close, as well as healing items and ammunition which must be found in-level. On top of this, we have a strong focus on stealth as you avoid the zombie-inspired enemy ‘clickers.' The entire game is also built around one long escort mission, once again inspired by Resi 4. Long story short, if you like Resident Evil, you’ll love The Last of Us.
Not dissimilar to our eighth entry, SOMA, Outlast is a game about, well, outlasting your predator. Taking place in a psychiatric hospital (or ‘insane asylum’ as they were once known), our protagonist must use his wits and a lot of luck to avoid the inmates who have escaped and taken control of the building. Knowing that everything in the game wants to hurt and kill you (and that you haven’t had a single ally aid you) creates an utterly horrifying experience. There is no way to attack — you can only run and hide, and while the game does rely on jump scares here and there, it still uses some excellent visual and sound tricks to produce some horror moments that will really stick with you.
4 Alien Isolation
Cementing the first-person horror trend begun by Outlast in 2013, Alien Isolation is an astonishing video game. Set in the world of Xenomorphs and big, strong, crate-lifting exoskeleton things, this absolute gem of a game leans heavily on the mood and aesthetics of the original Alien. With tight corridors, blinking lights, limited weapons and ammunition, and three distinct enemy types, this game is the complete horror experience. The game's refusal to try and modernize its sci-fi aesthetic—instead opting to capture the set, costume, and character design of the '70s film—was just the best decision. Fan of Resident Evil or not, this game is for you. It’s for everyone who appreciates game design and likes a good scare.
3 Dead Space
Our top three games each stick closest to the formula we’ll see in the Resident Evil 2 remake, but each has something uniquely enticing about it. For Dead Space, that something is, uh, space. Inspired by Resident Evil 4, Dead Space is a survival horror game set on an abandoned space station (hello, Alien, good to see you again so soon). With a checklist of mechanics and level design lifted straight from Resident Evil (interconnected map, inventory management, ammo that must be scavenged, uniquely-disposable enemies, over-the-shoulder action), Dead Space smartly adds in a few original ideas. There are varied weapons repurposed from cool sci-fi mining tools, a health bar contextually applied to the suit of the protagonist, and a menu system that doesn’t pause the game. This game still holds up tremendously and will go down in history as a real horror classic.
2 The Evil Within (1 and 2)
Two for the price of one, the first Evil Within was directed by the legendary Shinji Mikami (of Resident Evil 4 fame) and the second by his protegee. The Evil Within is very much Resi 4 with a new skin. Everything fans loved about that game is here, as well with current-gen graphics, physics, and lighting effects. It's a far darker nightmare aesthetic. Both games use the concept of ‘the nightmare’ as a means of crafting a series of games that utilizes every single creepy horror trope imaginable (body horror, distorted landscapes, butcher shops, rooms flooded of blood, torture chambers). You name it, it’s there in these games.
1 Resident Evil 4
It’s no surprise that this game is number one. Mentioned alongside almost every other game on this list, and sharing a series with the titular game, this is where modern horror came from. Every mechanic already mentioned on this list (over-the-shoulder camera, inventory management, ammo and health pick-ups, exciting set-pieces) started with this game. What is often overlooked as part of the game’s genius, however, is its glorious campiness.
Now, campiness isn’t for everyone, but Japanese developers, writers, and artists excel at it. The enemies here are designed with a high creep factor as well as a high camp-factor. The dialogue is cheesy to the point of cringing; the setting has an oozing sense of melodrama; and every big moment is hilariously hyperbolic. This game is so much fun and an absolute must-play for every horror fan. Fortunately, it’s been ported almost as much as Skyrim, so go find it.