Horror is always quite a subjective thing, with different aspects of the genre scaring different people, but this year several games arrived that seemed to inspire a universal sense of dread in almost everyone who played them.
While there were quite a few horror games released in 2014 many of the titles on our shortlist failed to garner any votes. Games like Daylight, The Forest and Escape Dead Island were not chosen by any of our esteemed judges, so we ended up with only three titles actually getting votes and two of those received a whopping 81.6% of the total.
Taking third place with the remaining 18.4% of the vote was The Evil Within, a game that had some issues but still delivered hours of very visceral horror gameplay. This title has more in common with gory films like Saw than it does anything featuring supernatural or alien beings, so while there were some jump scares, the main horror here is the alternate reality Detective Sebastian Castellanos finds himself in. Piled up corpses and rivers of blood are just two examples of the grim setting you explore in the game, meaning you’ll need a strong stomach to play this one.
In second place, a meagre 2.4% behind our winner, was P.T. – the Playable Teaser that turned out to be an interactive reveal trailer for the new Silent Hills game. Coming from Metal Gear mastermind Hideo Kojima and the twisted horror icon, Guillermo Del Toro, the sneaky playable reveal came out of nowhere after being released as a free demo during Sony’s E3 conference. Set in one stretch of a deserted house, P.T. saw you going through the same area again and again with small, subtle changes each time that made every trip through the section full of unease. When the pressure was cranked up enough that you would be on edge, a huge jump scare would occur resulting in plenty of ‘Let’s Play’ style videos appearing online of people genuinely screaming in fright.
Our winner this year though is Alien: Isolation. After so many false starts and crushed hopes for games set in the Alien universe, Creative Assembly decided to approach the fiction from the perspective of Ridley Scott’s tense original film rather than James Cameron’s marine-fest ‘Aliens’. In Isolation you play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of the iconic Ellen Ripley. Set 15 years after the events of the film, you must go on an exploratory space trip to try and discover what happened to your mother. The developers really did delve into the background of the film and managed to recreate the look and feel of the equipment and environment from Alien. Skilfully capturing the physical setting of the film is one thing but it seems the developers also honed the gameplay to fill players with the same fear Ripley and her crew felt, no mean feat with only one Alien in the game!
Alien: Isolation is TheSixthAxis’ Horror Game of the Year 2014.