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The Wrong Kind Of Scary - Worst Horror Games Ever

by Joe Juba on Oct 31, 2012 at 01:00 PM

When done right, horror-based video games are just as thrilling as the latest scare-fest in theaters. When they go wrong, they are more laughable and unbearable than a low-budget student horror flick. With terrible pacing, cheesy moments, and lousy mechanics, these titles represent what happens when a game tries to be scary and fails spectacularly. Sure, they may send shivers down your spine or make your heart skip a beat...but for all the wrong reasons.

(This story originally appeared on Game Informer on September 29, 2009)

Friday the 13th (NES)
Jason Voorhees is one of the most terrifying icons of horror, but even a resurrected walking death machine couldn’t inspire nightmares more terrifying than this game. Friday the 13th is ridiculously difficult, even by NES standards. The problem is that it’s the broken kind of difficult. Unavoidable hits, stupid weapons, and baffling enemies ensure that your crew of teenagers dies quickly and without ceremony. If they make it through that, Jason will probably appear (as he randomly does) and kill you. In that sense, it’s true to the series...but aren’t video games supposed to be fun?

Resident Evil: Survivor (PSone)
Considering its role in shaping survival horror, Resident Evil is one of the most trusted names in the genre. Survivor exploits that trust to the fullest degree, giving players a worthless side-story, first-person combat, and exploration. Imagine trying to shoot a horde of zombies while neck-deep in water...that’s how it feels to move through this world. The awful mechanics make a little sense when you consider that Resident Evil: Survivor was intended to be played with a light gun, but the U.S. version didn’t support any peripheral of the sort. What you get instead is an affront to Resident Evil’s good name.


The concept of possessing other humans and having them kill their comrades is messed up. As the spectral protagonist in Geist, you have the power to do just that - except you don’t do it nearly as often as you should.  Instead, you’re more like a ghost out of a Scooby-Doo episode, haunting file cabinets, dinner plates, and dog bowls in attempts to spook your foes. That may cut it if you’re trying to keep punk kids away from your sawmill, but in the video game business, people tend to want to do things that aren’t super lame.

McFarlane’s Evil Prophecy (PS2)
This mess of a game is a thinly disguised marketing tool intended to sell more McFarlane toys. It kind of works, since you quickly realize you’d be better off buying one of those grotesque figures than this unplayable disaster. Everything anyone could possibly like about video games is absent from Evil Prophecy, including good graphics, creepy atmosphere, and not totally sucking every second you play it. Even the blandest button-masher looks like divine genius next to this tedious, festering pile of necrotic pixels.

Night Trap (Sega CD)

This list of bad horror games could have easily been populated solely by garbage full-motion video titles of the ‘90s. Though Corpse Killer and Ground Zero: Texas get honorable mentions, Night Trap is the ultimate FMV abomination. Despite all of the controversy surrounding the game’s content, Night Trap is essentially about watching security camera footage. The whole game is basically just switching cameras to overhear conversations. No nudity. No ridiculous gore. Every now and then you trigger a trap to catch some bumbling “vampires.” Boring!

Lifeline (PS2)
We’ll admit it: when Lifeline first released, we were entirely too impressed with its unique voice controls. Innovation is admirable, but a clever control scheme means nothing if it doesn’t work, and Lifeline’s is completely broken. Players guide a waitress named Rio through a monster-infested space station by speaking various movement and combat commands. The problem? Rio is barely smart enough to breathe, much less follow instructions. Tell her to go to the closet, and she uses a heal capsule. Tell her to dodge, and she goes to the closet. Every now and then she’ll randomly do something right – it’s like shouting instructions at a disobedient dog. No, wait. That’s an insult to dogs.

Grabbed by the Ghoulies (Xbox)
Ha ha! “Grabbed by the Ghoulies.” Its name alone is one of the most enduring punchlines in the gaming industry. Developer Rare, which at the time had a sterling track record, managed to throw together one of the worst games in Xbox history by combining simplistic controls, repetitive gameplay, and awkward innuendo-laced dialogue that was too mature for kids and too dumb for adults. We heard (read: started) rumors that Microsoft tried to dump and bury excess copies of this game E.T.-style, but no landfill would accept a contaminant so foul.

Illbleed (Dreamcast)
Amusement parks! Wait, that doesn’t scare you? What about...trap-laden amusement parks! Now we’re talking. Illbleed makes players tiptoe around various deadly contraptions in a theme park, using their senses to locate and disarm various hazards. There is no tension, only tedium, as you methodically search each area for devices meant to maim, scare, or kill you. That’s easier said than done, since Illbleed’s awful controls make even basic movement hopelessly difficult. To be fair, Illbleed doesn’t take itself seriously...but maybe someone on the development team should have.

Nosferatu (SNES)
This martial-artist-fights-vampires game is like Prince of Persia meets some kind of homemade sequel to Van Helsing. It actually looks okay, but once you touch the controller, all optimism is sucked from your veins, leaving only desiccated contempt. The main character moves like he just downed a bottle of elephant tranquilizer, so any button you press is more like a suggestion than a command. Convincing the dope not to get skewered by spikes is bad enough without the addition of sluggish combat. On the plus side, you get to punch werewolves in the face, so it’s not all bad.

D (multi)
Cult followings often develop around underappreciated games, but sometimes people are just looking for people to share their pain. The latter must be the case with D, a plodding and frustrating adventure title about a young woman wandering around a corpse-littered hospital. The atmosphere actually succeeds in being creepy, but you won’t even notice amid all of the terrible design choices. Players have two real-time hours to solve puzzles and get to the bottom of the mystery, but since there is no save system, the game needs to be beaten in a single sitting. By the way, the “D” stands for “Dracula.” There. Now you have no reason to ever waste your time on this one.