The Resident Evil 4 remake is a refined experience that takes the skeleton of the original and gives it stronger gameplay muscles and a better-looking 4K skin. Its gameplay is much smoother, but perhaps more importantly, much scarier. The RE4 remake does away with the original’s campy attitude and focuses on a dark atmosphere and locations that ramp up tension. The RE4 remake knows how to make you scream, either because a monster jumped out from a dark corner or because a Ganado’s head exploded into a Las Plagas at the worst possible moment. And just like the original, the Resident Evil 4 remake includes DLC that lets you control Ada Wong. – AG
Fatal Frame 2
The original Fatal Frame asked what would happen if you shot the undead with a camera rather than a gun. The result was a terrifying ghost hunt that forced players to keep a steady hand and not fire until they saw the whites of their enemies’ eyes…assuming they had any. But like many burgeoning horror franchises, Fatal Frame was far from perfect, so the developers refined the experience for its sequel.
Like the original Fatal Frame, Fatal Frame 2 is a tense journey through the dilapidated and haunted ruins of an abandoned Japanese village with only a magical camera for protection. Much of the challenge and tension stems from the ghosts, who are disfigured in entertainingly gruesome ways, and the only way to destroy them is by snapping their pictures. The closer you get, the more damage each shot deals, and if you wait until the ghouls are about to attack, you deal even more damage. Easier said than done since many ghosts can teleport, phase through walls, and turn invisible. Combine this terrifying combat with a sinister atmosphere that puts you on edge and sets you up for some deviously clever scares, and you are in for a wonderfully horrifying time. – AG
Resident Evil Remake (2002)
Though I honestly worried about featuring too many Resident Evil games on this list, the fact of the matter is that you can’t talk about modern horror gaming history without giving a lot of love to the Resident Evil franchise. Besides, Resident Evil‘s 2002 remake is increasingly in danger of becoming a lost Resident Evil title despite possibly being the scariest Resident Evil game ever made.
This remake is perhaps best thought of as what 1996’s Resident Evil would have been if time, technology, and knowledge had allowed its developers to complete their vision. It’s infinitely more playable than the original game, significantly better looking, and packed with new concepts, enemies, and areas that feel like they always belonged in the base experience. At a time when Capcom is reimagining Resident Evil’s earliest days, this remake shows how that classic style of survival horror can still deliver a uniquely terrifying and captivating experience. – MB
Silent Hill 2
The problem with the “games as art” argument is that the terms are too often dedicated by those who do not fundamentally understand the medium. A game is not a painting, a book, a movie, or a TV series. It is all of those things and none of them. More importantly, it should more often than not be judged on what it is uniquely capable of achieving.