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Scariest games we've ever played - The CCL edition

Halloween is almost upon us, and this OctoooOOoOober here at CCL, we've come up with a list of the scariest, most anxiety-inducing games we've ever played.

Cover image of a pumpkin next to a monitor

 

Virtually all of us here at CCL Computers are gamers. Many of us grew up gaming, so deciding what game scared us the most was interesting, but also difficult. Many games (or their aspects) have scared us, some that were made decades ago, some that are more recent, but there’s always that one game that, while it may not be scary to others, has bore itself into our minds.

Scary games don’t always have to be horror, either. Sometimes, certain aspect of otherwise non-horror games can be extremely terrifying. When we looked at the scariest games we’ve played, we took into consideration any games that were anxiety-inducing or had aspects that were generally terrifying.

Here is the list of the scariest games ever played by the gamers at CCL Computers.

Phasmophobia

 

Cover photo of Phasmophobia in sylised letters

 

If Phasmophobia wasn’t on your radar before, it’s definitely time to pay attention to this little indie masterpiece. Three of our teammates have chosen Phasmophobia as the scariest game they’ve ever played.

Phasmophobia is a 4-player co-op, psychological horror game where you and your team investigate paranormal activities and hunt for ghosts. As you search for clues to discover the type of ghost you’re up against, the entity haunting you will become more and more aggressive.

Adam Harley, our Junior Product Manager at CCL, says that the AI in the game is extremely responsive to everything you do, which contributes greatly to immersion. The better the immersion, the scarier the game. What’s more, as this is a co-op, talking to your teammates via game chat will reveal your position to the ghost, and it will start hunting you, similarly to the way Xenomorph behaves in Alien: Isolation should you or anyone around you in the room make any noise. The game can be played on the desktop or in VR, which makes the experience even more terrifying.

It’s not necessary to play Phasmophoba in co-op, however. The game can also be played solo, but as  Adam Harley, Matt Rees and Heather Richmond of CCL confirmed, the already terrifying game becomes a whole lot more terrifying in VR. In the words of Adam Harley:

You can play it by yourself… if you have the nerves of steel

- Adam Harley, Junior Product Manager

Half-Life: Alyx

 

Cover photo of Half-Life:Alyx showing Alyx walking through ruins

 

Half-Life: Alyx is a VR, first person shooter, developed by Valve and is a prequal to Half-Life 2. Set five years before the events of Half-Life 2, it is a Valve’s serious attempt at reinvigorating the franchise as well as taking it to VR. To say nothing of the requirements needed to run the game, the effort Valve has put into using VR to create incredible immersion is one of the best parts of the game. HL:A in VR looks years ahead of any other VR game currently out there.

Half-Life: Alyx isn’t a traditional horror game in that the dread, anxiety, and the feeling of looming danger aren’t constant and unrelenting. While the overall mood isn’t like that, the gameplay and the action very much are. In Half-Life: Alyx, you don’t merely control the character, you ARE the character. There are no dedicated buttons to press to get you out of danger; it is all on you, and that makes it terrifying.

Our Head of Trading, Emma Lethbridge, (an avid gamer across all platforms) has chosen Half-Life: Alyx as probably one of the scariest games she’s ever played, especially because it’s in VR.

Having to manually reload your gun while a Poison Headcrab scuttles towards you, instead of just being able to hit 'R' creates a different kind of panic and fear!

- Emma Lethbridge, Head of Trading

While this already sounds extremely anxiety-inducing, I can’t help but wonder how well we’d all do with manual reload while trying to take a zombie horde down. Hope you’re listening, Bend Studios!

Doom and Doom 3

 

Doom 3 cover photo showing the Unnamed Marine in action

 

No list of the scariest horror games can go without a mention of the Doom franchise and here at CCL, we’ve had two Doom nominations as the scariest games we’ve played. Robin Martin, another one of our Product Managers, named Doom 3 has the scariest game he has played and one particular aspect of the games is what made Doom 3 make the list: Cherubs.

There’s something about twisted baby cries that make the hairs at the back of your neck stand up.

- Robin Martin, Product Manager

To be fair, the screams are pretty terrifying as are the insect-like sounds they make with their wings. The fact that these creatures also look like infants adds even more terror to the entire thing. It’s giving me some ‘Child Crusader’ vibes from Clive Barker’s Jericho. Absolutely terrifying.

Our Content Executive, Mark Byrne agreed on Doom being one of the scariest, however, for Mark, it is the very first game:

The scariest game I ever played was tame by today's standards, but still... Doom was the first game to make me jump out of my skin. I had never experienced such an immersive game up until that point. The frantic action would sometimes be broken up by backtracking down corridors etc. as you found your way around, and I will always remember the way that game could make me shriek if I encountered an enemy that was still roaming around.

- Mark Byrne, Content Executive

Alien: Isolation

 

Alien: Isolation cover photo, showing a protagonist in a space suit and a reflection of the Xenomorph in the helmet

 

Of course, Alien: Isolation made the list. If you’ve not yet played it, we highly recommend that you do, especially if you enjoy horror. If constant, unrelenting anxiety, fear, and stress are not something you’re into, then it’s best to stay away from this game.

Alien: Isolation got three nominations as the scariest game we’ve ever played. Our Marketing Executive and the Web developer, Shagen Amragian considers this as one of the scariest games ever.  Emma Lethbridge and I both very much agreed.

Alien: Isolation is a survival horror that pits you against one of the most recognizable and the most terrifying monsters/aliens in movie history: The Xenomorph.

 

Close up image showing Xenomorph with its jaws slightly open

 

And much like in the movies and the pop culture, the creature is almost indestructible. In the Alien: Isolation you’re put in a similar situation, whereby you can only run away from the Xenomorph if you wish to survive. There is no way to fight or kill it; it is constantly following and stalking you as you make your way through an abandoned space station.

It knows and detects every move you make, whether in game or in your own room. Making noises to yourself, screaming, or getting scared will alert the Xenomorph in-game and it will close in on your location. My palms are sweating just thinking about it.

Emma Lethbridge says that she was able to play the game in 10 minutes intervals only, and that’s just on the desktop. Now imagine it in VR. I’ve not played it in the VR yet either, but I have on the desktop, and it is the only game I could not manage to play alone. There had to be someone in the room with me.

If you’re feeling adventurous or you don’t think you can be scared, for the most terrifying results, play the game in VR, on nightmare mode, where your HUD is gone, your motion tracker broken, resources and ammo are scarce, human and android enemies are more aggressive and the Xenomorph’s AI is cranked up several notches. Your distractions may work for a bit, but Alien will learn them, it will learn your way of avoiding and distracting it and it will attempt to subvert your efforts.

For that extra kick, enable sound detection, which will cause any noises you make in your room be heard and detected by the enemies and of course, the Alien.

Good luck! And let us know how you get on.

Warzone Haunting of Verdansk, 2020

 

Promo poster for Haunting of Verdansk 2020, showing leatherface, JigSaw, Michael Myers, Ghostface and others

 

Every year for Halloween, Warzone graces us with jump-scares from its loot boxes. So far, the Halloween 2021 has been a great fun and the reactions we’ve seen have been hilarious, though the Haunting of Verdansk 2020 was on a whole new level. Unlike this year’s scare fest on Warzone, which gave us a warning that things may scare the living daylihgts out of us, Haunting of Verdansk 2020 had no warning and no indication that anything out of the ordinary was going to happen. Queue random in-chat screaming and hilarity.

CCL’s Product Manager, Pete Hulme, chose the Hunting of Verdansk 2020 as the ‘scariest’ game, but also the most hilarious, especially when playing in teams.

For Pete Hulme and for our lead developer, Liam O’Flynn, Haunting of Verdansk may not be the most terrifying of the games ever made, but they are the most entertaining if for no other reason than to hear teammates crying out in fear.

There’s nothing more entertaining than hearing your teammates scream down the mic in fear at 2 in the morning.

- Peter Hulme, Product Manager

I wonder if this is what Michael Myers thinks to himself every Halloween?

The Evil Within

 

Cover photo of Evil Within showing a screaming face encased in barbed wire

 

When the first The Evil Within was first announced, I remember thinking that the best I’m going to do with this game is watch someone else play it. In the very first chapter, at the very beginning of the game, you are tasked with avoiding and escaping the Sadist, the boss you will actually fight much later in the game.

The Evil Within series scariness seldom comes from jump scares. While many horror games do rely on jump scares to some extent, The Evil Within is all about the atmospheric horror in a very strange and extremely hostile environment, compounded by the fact that you initially have no idea what is happening nor why. The world changes drastically around you (especially during a mental episode or a flashback), as you’re exploring, making it even more unsettling and frightening. If you’ve ever played Silent Hill, the drastic environment change will be familiar to you, though this is where the similarities end.

Our Sales advisor, Jack Mitchell, nominated The Evil Within as the scariest game he ever played, citing Sadist as a particular frightening aspect of the game, and it's more than understandable. A hulking (yet suspiciously agile for his size) humanoid with a bloodied chainsaw (or a clever) who, for vast majority of encounters, should be ran away from, rather than fought. Exploring the environment then seconds later getting chased by Sadist is an adrenaline pumping, anxiety-inducing experience, especially if you’ve seen what happens when you get caught.

One minute you're walking through a building, next thing you know your whole surroundings change and there is some big scary dude chasing you with a chainsaw

- Jack Mitchell, Sales Adviser

Get your Agony Crossbow out and get ready to bolt (all the puns very much intended)!

Fatal Frame Franchise

 

Fatal Frame Maiden of Blackwater cover photo showing a protagonist and a Maiden of Black Water just behind her

 

Fatal Frame, or Zero as it is known in Japan, is a Japanese survival horror game franchise, where the object of the game is to capture and pacify ghosts.

Heather Richmond, our Credit Control/SOP nominated the Fatal Frame as one of the scariest games she’s ever played. For most of us, these games may have gone under the radar, but according to Heather, the games are immersive enough to make them extremely frightening.

I found it scary because the sounds in the background like the creaking of the floor or the wind outside really immerse you, even if it is an old game, and just when you start to feel at ease or like you’re comfortable, the ghosts will attack, or a memory of the house/person will flash up to you and scare the heck out of you. In the first one the sound of the ropes in the hallway and the image of the hanging man just sticks with you. It’s amazing!

- Heather Richmond, Credit Control/SOP

Japanese horror, especially about ghosts, is generally extremely terrifying (think The Ring, Grudge (Ju On), Teke Teke, Dark Water and the likes…). Personally, I’ve not played it, but it is now on my radar, as a huge fan of East Asian horror.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

 

Need for Speed Most Wanted poster showing a car and a title in stylised letters

 

You’re probably thinking this made it here by mistake but wait! Hear me out. This one is a bit different (and also kind of interesting).

Our PC Sales Adviser, Lee McGill said that an aspect of this game used to terrify him when he was a lot younger, and that aspect was the constant fear of police showing up.

Obviously, Need for Speed Most Wanted isn’t a horror game, but the fear of police catching you is pretty terrifying, we must admit. For most other people, that fear exists IRL, but for Lee, who was much younger back then, that fear manifested way before he could even drive.

So when I was a kid, I used to go over to my cousins house and play Need for Speed Most Wanted. I drove around really slowly and followed traffic lights because I was scared of the police starting as chase. Any time I was in a chase, I paused the game and waited for my cousin to come back to get away from the police for me.

- Lee McGill, PC Sales Adviser

Woop-woop! That’s the sound of da police!

Honorable Mentions

No list of scariest games would be complete without the mention of Silent Hill and Resident Evil, though as most of us here at CCL are PC gamers, we can be forgiven for not giving many votes to them. Few of our colleagues have played them long time ago, but I’ll give my votes to both of them, as a PlayStation console peasant.

For my personal nomination, I am going to go with Clive Barker’s Undying and Clive Barker’s Jericho. Undying was one of the very first games I played that legitimately frightened me. While the game is very old, even today, watching the gameplay on YouTube brings back the feeling of dread and danger.

While Undying might have scared me more initially, Clive Barker’s Jericho will forever be one of my favourite scary games of all time. The world and the story that Clive Barker built around this game are incredible, extremely well crafted and very unsettling. You aren’t alone while going through the game, being part of a special ops team named Jericho who, essentially, have superpowers and an incredible knowledge of the occult.  You and your team step into the ‘box’ – a world carved out of ours by a creature known as The First Born. It was God’s first attempt at making a human. Neither male nor female, neither dark nor light, both beautiful and terrible to behold, it both terrified and repulsed God.  Horrified and disgusted by what he had made, God banished it into the Abyss, alone and unloved.

What is horrifying about this game cannot be summed up in a sentence, or even a paragraph. The horror and the hell that you experience, you soon find out, isn't even the creation of The Firstborn, but it came out of the mind of those who were filled with greed, blood lust and malice and attracted to it by promises of power. The Firstborn wanted to show God that while he abandoned It for being the way it was, and refused to love it, humans are the true grotesque underserving of love.

Everything about this game is horrifying, unsettling and scary, and the world you visit is even more grotesque as you navigate what could only be described as Hell.

While the game did not receive great reviews, my mind remains unchanged, and if you have the opportunity, I’d recommend Clive Barker’s Jericho this Halloween.

Happy Halloween from all of us here at CCL!