Top 10 Scary Retro Horror Games You Need To Play

Sometimes, simple concepts are scary as hell. That’s a common trait with earlier ‘retro’
title; games from the early days of the industry that used the more crude graphics of the time
have the uncanny ability to scare the crap out of gamers these days. Part mastery of tone, part imagination fodder,
these retro titles have managed to succeed in places that some games these days still
can’t accomplish. So today we’re counting down the top 10
scary retro video games you need to play! Let’s get to it. 10 Castlevania 2 Simon’s Quest
Let’s begin with a classic; Castlevania 2, Simon’s Quest, released for the NES in
1988. While the first Castlevania is arguably full
of scares itself, Simon’s Quest really elevated the formula of its predecessor by integrating
more RPG elements, a day and night cycle with grim implications, conversations with NPCs,
inventory, etc; so many of the elements that we associate with more modern games in the
franchise. Dark, gritty, eerie and filled with horrors,
it’s an iconic retro title that any horror aficionado needs to play. 9 Alone in the Dark
A PC game released in 1992, Alone in the Dark was the beginning of a survival horror series
that has lasted the test of time, with the latest release dropping in 2015. But we’re here to talk about that first
title; largely inspired by HP Lovecraft’s work, along with the influences of voodoo,
HR Giger and the wild, wild west, it was one of the first two games to use polygonal characters
versus pre-rendered backgrounds. Considered the first ever 3D survival horror
game, Alone in the Dark places you inside a haunted mansion with the simple goal of
just surviving. There’s no one to rescue, no ulterior motive. You just need to get out alive, all while
solving puzzles to do so. 8 Go to Hell
Go To Hell came out in 1985, and it’s weird AF. You find yourself in the depths of hell in
search of seven crosses while you traverse a series of hellish horrors. At its heart, it’s a maze game, but filled
with some really scary imagery. There’s screaming skulls, dead bodies galore,
straight up explicit torture, all of which dance the line of legit scary yet quite comical. Some critics have even likened it to a predecessor
of Hotline Miami in terms of colours and aesthetic, so hey, if that floats your boat, it’s worth
checking out. 7 Night Stalker
From 1982, next up we have Night Stalker. Night Stalker, also known as Dark Cavern on
the Atari 2600, might be nowhere near impressive as far as the graphics are concerned (by today’s
standards), but back in the day, it was up to par with the likes of Pac Man and Berzerk. Placed in a creepy haunted cavern (because
of course, it’s haunted), this shoot em up is filled with a whole lot of violence
and a whole lot of 8 bit terror. In addition to that, each gun you acquire
only has 6 shots, and if you run out, you need to make your moves wisely until you can
find another, adding some serious edge to this old school classic. 6 Escape from Monster Manor
From 1993, this retro first person shooter is one that may be hard to come by, thanks
to it being created for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer system. You traverse through a maze, collect keys
to open doors, collect pieces to a talisman, of course, kill horrific looking monsters. The latter bit is what puts this game on our
list. Despite the time, the monsters, creatures
and entities you encounter are quite scary, even to this day. 5 Alien
This 1984 tie in game managed to accomplish something that many early movie tie in video
games failed to do; be good. Despite being released a handful of years
after Ridley Scott’s Alien hit cinemas, this 8 bit game still does it’s namesake
justice, and is genuinely scary. For the PC, the game takes a different approach
than you’d think. It’s a strategy title where you have two
options; lure the Xenomorphs to Nostromo’s airlock, or escape the ship, with Jones the
cat (because how DARE you leave Jones the cat??!). While the graphics might be lacking to some,
it’s the slow burn tension that makes this title a scary game worth your while, especially
if you’re willing to put in the work for it’s long haul play style. 4 Necromancer
Another title from 1982, Necromancer is as scary as it’s title implies. Initially created for the Atari 800, Necromancer
has been described by critics as an 8 bit fever dream. Compared to other titles on this list, each
level lacks consistency in terms of narrative and play style. One level has the player as a dark wizard
planting trees and beating up the goblins who try to destroy them. Another level puts you in the shoes of one
of those trees, now sentient, needing to avoid trippy hands that reach down and try to grab
you. The game’s premise is that you are trying
to grow trees to defeat the evil Necromancer Tetragon, whose evil minions are trying to
take over a graveyard. There’s a lot going on. But for the time, it’s got some really impressive
graphics and sound design work that makes it definitely worth a play. 3 Wolfman
Upon first glance, Wolfman, a text adventure game from 1988, might not appear scary at
all. But take the time to actually partake in this
text adventure, and you won’t regret it. You play as Wolfman, a character who must
learn to control their primal urges, and prompts the player’s imagination to go wild. The game begins with your character waking
up in torn clothes, covered in blood, and an angry mob of townspeople having crowded
around the mangled corpse of a woman. Yikes, right? This is a prime example of how simplicity
can be scary as hell; it’s like reading a terrifying interactive novel, and it’ll
leave you with chills down your spine. 2 Splatterhouse
Splatterhouse is a long-running horror video game series that began as an arcade game,
and, over time, expanded onto console and mobile. The original Splatterhouse, which was released
in 1990, had a release on the TurboGrafx-16 in the days of NES’ height of popularity,
and was praised by some because of how much it leaned into gratuitous violence. It’s a beat-em-up largely influenced by
slasher films and HP Lovecraft, with many considering it to be an homage to the more
violent parts of American horror cinema. You play as Rick, a Jason Voohres look-alike,
who is trapped inside a haunted mansion, searching for his girlfriend, all while slaughtering
terrifying monsters with an assortment of weapons, like a machete and a shotgun. 1 Sweet Home
Sweet Home may have a pleasant title, but it’s anything but. From 1989, this Japaense title is often seen
as the spiritual predecessor to the Resident Evil franchise. A top down RPG survival horror, Sweet Home
is actually a film adaptation video game. The story of both the game and movie follows
a team of five filmmakers exploring an old mansion in search of valuable frescos (frescos
being large mural-esque paintings the likes of Michealangelo’s The Creation of Adam. The building is on the brink of falling apart,
too, which adds another nice element to the gameplay. It doesn’t rely on jump scares, but rather,
builds tension as you progress, and uses claustrophobic atmospheres to further increase the players
discomfort during certain sections. It’s also credited as being one of the first
titles in the survival horror genre to use mechanics the likes of limited weapons and
items, and, scariest of all, the mechanic of perma death; if one of the characters die
during the game, they’re gone for good for the rest of the story.

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