Though horror has long struggled to find critical acceptance in literature and cinema, its output has had no such trouble in the video gaming medium, at times earning universal high scores and even ending up on “greatest game of all time” lists. Neither have they sold poorly. The kind aggregators at GameRankings have provided the scores seen below (which, for detail junkies, are taken from the highest-rated version of that game), and give a clear indication that horror is well received when the audience is allowed to plunge themselves right into it.
10 Dead Space 2, 2011 : 89.1%
The follow-up to EA Redwood Shore’s tremendously successful Dead Space, Dead Space 2 puts players back in the armoured boots of engineer Isaac Clarke who, three years following the terrifying events on the USG Ishimura, finds himself aboard a massive space station that has become overwhelmed by the vicious Necromorphs he previously encountered in the Aegis VII system. For the sequel, the studio—now known as Visceral Games—ratcheted up the action and provided Isaac with extensive voice work, fleshing out the character more than the first Dead Space’s text logs allowed. Apart from its GameRankings rating, Dead Space 2 has scores in the high 80s on fellow aggregate Metacritic for all three platforms it’s available on. Brad Shoemaker of Giant Bomb noted that while the game “doesn’t do anything especially new,” it was still very well-produced, and he praised EA for taking risks with a newer franchise, saying the franchise would be an important legacy for the publisher.
9 Left 4 Dead, 2008 : 89.44%
8 Resident Evil, 2002 : 89.75%
7 Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, 2002 : 90.58%
6 Limbo, 2010 : 90.68%
5 System Shock 2, 1999 : 92%
4 Resident Evil 2, 1998 : 93.13%
3 Resident Evil Code: Veronica, 2000 : 93.79%
2 The Last of Us, 2013 : 95.04%
1 Resident Evil 4, 2005 : 95.85%
The fourth inclusion of Resident Evil, apart from being GameRankings’ top-rated horror game, completely revitalized the franchise and majorly influenced the third-person shooters that would follow. Resident Evil 4 did way with the static, largely pre-rendered backgrounds of earlier games in the series and adopted an over-the-shoulder perspective, as well as placing emphasis on action over ammo conservation and enemy avoidance. Though fans of the series initially came close to revolting against changes made to the franchise’s formula, Resident Evil 4 garnered astounding praise from a wide variety of publications. Critics applauded its improved controls, voice acting, and weapons system, and Edge magazine would eventually name it the second greatest game of all time. Just goes to show a little shake-up every once in a while can’t hurt.
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