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Unique Horror Games (That Are Mostly Sorta Obscure)

A couple years back I got way into horror games. I've spent a lot of time playing them and thinking about them, so I thought I should at least write down my thoughts on a few. Something I'm always looking for are horror games that stand out from the crowd. Since there are probably other horror fans that share my pastime of poking around the internet looking for weird, obscure horror games, I figured I'd make a list to try and spread the word about some of my favorites. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

List items

  • One of my favorite games ever, and the one that introduced me to Korean horror. The gameplay is basically if someone tried to do the whole Amnesia thing in 2001. The atmosphere, the style, and especially the music, though, are like nothing I've ever seen before or since. Listen to this if you want to feel like a ghost is haunting your computer for the next 15 minutes: (Something's REALLY funny, apparently). The original has its share of issues, but there's a remake out on mobile (and hopefully PC very soon) that seems to have fixed a lot of gripes I have with the original. I still have a soft spot for the original, though, and it's abandonware available free legally on ModDB if you want to check it out. (Maybe bring a walkthrough for that key puzzle in the first area, though.)

  • As far as weird PS2 horror games go, this one's probably the peak for me. If you were into Silent Hill 2 or Haunting Ground/Demento, give Rule of Rose a shot. I'd rather not say too much about the plot, since half the fun is trying to piece everything together, but it deals with a lot of heavy themes while still maintaining this disconcerting fairy tale vibe. If creepy orphans, psychological warfare, cute dogs, and surreal narratives are your thing, Rule of Rose might scratch an itch few other games do.

  • Horror games made in RPG Maker can be a little polarizing. Some people get taken out of the experience by the pixelated graphics. If you're open to all sorts of horror aesthetics, though, Ib is a really fun time. Climbing into a painting world where all the monsters and puzzles are inspired by fictional works of art is one of the more interesting experiences I've had in horror games. It isn't necessarily the scariest game in the world, but what it lacks in sheer terror, it makes up in heart. There's fun characters, the story goes some cool places, and the different endings and short length give it a good replay value. Since it's an RPG Maker game, this one's also free. Check it out if you want to see how creepy art can be.

  • Another pixelated horror game, the Clock Tower series might be better known for its PlayStation title. The SNES game, however, is where the series really started. It didn't release outside of Japan at first, which may cause some confusion as to the naming of the first three games (Clock Tower (JP) = Clock Tower: The First Fear (US), Clock Tower 2 (JP) = Clock Tower (US), Clock Tower: Ghost Head (JP) = Clock Tower 2: The Struggle Within (US)). While the PS1 game has its fans, I personally think the original is the best the series has to offer. It's an adventure game with point and click elements, but you're still given a character to control. You have to explore the mansion, solve puzzles, and try to save your friends, all while trying to escape the clutches of a killer with a giant pair of scissors (We've all been there). One of the interesting things about Clock Tower is that it doesn't count your friends as dead until you actually see them die. So if you hear a scream and don't investigate it, that character might survive longer than if you follow the noise and witness their death. The game can be a little slow at times, but I think it's worth it just to see how well the developers were able to build a tense, unsettling atmosphere on a game made for the Super Nintendo.

  • Rounding out the trio of pixelated horror games on this list is Corpse Party, probably the least obscure of the bunch. It started as an RPG Maker project in the 90s that was eventually remade into a much better game for the PSP. If you enjoy horror stories that introduce a cast of characters and gradually pick them off in horrible ways over the course of the plot, this might be the game for you. It is a game heavily influenced by modern anime style, and it carries some of the baggage that those types of games usually do. Lots of potentially annoying dialogue and fanservice await. If that kind of stuff doesn't bother you, however, I think there's something pretty special here. The tension of not knowing who's going to die next is a lot of fun, and there's plenty of twists and turns that make this an entertaining ride. The voice acting is also superb, and there's a point towards the end of one chapter that might be one of the best executed horror scenes I've ever seen in a video game. Be warned: the blood and gore in this thing might approach gratuitous levels for some, but the fact that it's usually laid out in text instead of simply being shown onscreen gives it a slight edge over a lot of gorefests. It's available for 20 bucks on the Vita/Playstation TV, so check it out if it sounds like your kind of jam.