There have been some amazing horror games that deliver such frightening experiences over the past few years, with my personal favourite being Resident Evil 7. Even so, a game has to be exceptionally scary, or maybe even disturbing to its core, to actually give most people nightmares.
Sometimes, it doesn’t even have to be a horror game, but instead an aspect of a game that will cause you wake up in the middle of the night, cold sweat running down your forehead and that fear that if you go back to sleep right now, you would dream about it again. With that in mind, here are the top five games that will give you nightmares. You’ve been warned.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners, developed by Headfirst Productions and published by Bethesda, is a game that to this day, I recommend to every H.P. Lovecraft fan out there, or any gamer that loves a good horror experience. Last year, I even listed it as one of the five greatest games that you probably haven’t played, because it is simply a fantastic experience from start to finish, as it is filled with puzzle elements, investigative work, stealth and that Cthulhu themed horror.
What isn’t so fantastic is due to the game’s disturbing imagery and out-of-this-world frights in the first-person perspective, it has that raw creepiness that will give even the most stalwart of horror fans nightmares. One moment that has stayed with me since I played the game roughly 14 years ago, involves a basement, a door and a small hole that I could look through. I peeked through and regretted it for the next couple of nights.
F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon), gave me two of the biggest scares I have ever experienced in gaming. The game, developed by Monolith Productions and released all the way back in 2005, is an FPS survival-horror. Those two frights, for anyone who remembers the game, had to do with a ladder just as you got to the top, and getting hit in the head with a piece of wood.
However, that wasn’t why F.E.A.R. gave me nightmares. Instead, it was due to one of the most frightening and genuinely disturbing antagonists I have ever encountered. Her name was Alma, a small Sadako-like girl with telepathic powers. Every time the gameplay slowed down, I could almost sense her presence.
After finishing the game in two sittings, I had nightmares about Alma for about two weeks straight, as her image and personality just stayed with me.
If you haven’t played the original F.E.A.R., then you definitely should, but Alma can and probably will haunt your dreams.
In every Souls game created by From Software, death is around every corner. Players face off against frightening monstrosities, the undead and more creatures that will fill your heart with terror. Eerie environments, that impending sense of doom and the knowledge that you will die over and over again can and will get to some gamers, while others see it as a worthy challenge. It is the challenge, grind and a dark world that really makes the franchise stand out above all the rest. However, the reason I picked the original Dark Souls as one of my top five games that will give you nightmares is simple.
Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough
That should cause shivers to run down the spine of most Souls veterans. You can die and die against one boss in a Souls game, but this encounter throws two at you at the same time. It is truly a thing of nightmares, as even if you manage to kill one, the other one becomes supercharged. There is no doubt in my mind that Ornstein and Smough have given even the most hardcore players nightmares in the past.
What’s even better (or worse depending on how you look at it), is that the original Dark Souls’s remastered version is out which means Orstein and Smough will be able to crush and haunt the dreams of a new generation of gamers.
Your first trip into the cold, dark corners of space as Isaac Clarke, the protagonist of the original Dead Space, is one of the most disturbing videogame experiences you will ever have. Guaranteed. The game plays off on an interstellar mining ship in an over-the-shoulder, third-person shooter perspective with an intense atmosphere.
The Necromorphs (monstrous, reanimated members of the crew), coupled with a story that feels as if it was brewed in a nightmarish hell and the highly-disturbing audio logs found throughout the game will keep you on your toes right up until the end. If you complete Dead Space in one or two sittings, especially at night, prepare to meet those Necromorphs again in your dreams.
Both Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3 are also great games, but in my opinion, they didn’t quite deliver the same experience that my first time in the boots of Mr Clarke did. Those moments of desperation and the frightening setting can and will give you nightmares because, in space, no one can hear your screams.
My Name is Mayo
When Marco mentioned My Name is Mayo in his opinion piece about 5 of the most embarrassing video game guilty pleasures, I just had to try the game out for myself, not because it sounded interesting, but rather because there was an easy Platinum Trophy waiting for me at the end. To get the trophy, I had to tap a jar of mayonnaise 10,000 times, with various outfits and little bits of “wisdom” in between. After 10,000 taps, I did it and heard that beautiful sound of getting that Platinum Trophy on my PS4.
The unforeseen result of tapping a jar of mayonnaise for 3 hours was that I woke up a couple of times that night in cold sweat, dreaming about endlessly tapping that jar, but that trophy never materialized. I know this might sound like a joke, but honestly, there have only been a few other times in my life that I had such a fear and couldn’t go back to sleep after a nightmare. So, was that trophy really worth it? Probably not.
Have you played the games on this list and which games have given you the worst nightmares? Let us know in the comment section below.