Silent Hill 2 (PS2)
"Silent Hill 2" follows James Sunderland, a man who has just received a letter from a his wife, Mary, telling him that she is waiting in Silent Hill. The catch: she's been dead for a few years. Obviously confused, the distraught husband goes to the town to look for her, with the slightest hope that she really is alive.
If there is any game that understands fully and completely the emotions of the man, this is the game. The imagery is shocking and disturbing, while keeping it all suggestive, and the overall execution of the story makes it appear much more complicated than it really is. Many Silent Hill fans have cited this as the best game of the series.
With great everything, from voices to music to atmosphere, this is one of the all time horror games you won't want to miss.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (GameCube)
Imagine finding yourself in a room, surrounded by zombie creatures, with the zombies of Edgar Allan Poe echoing eeriely in your mind. That's exactly how "Eternal Darkness" begins, and with this game, you're in for a lot of trickery, not with your playable character, but on you. The game implements "sanity effects" that will mess with the player, by flipping maps upside down and showing the walls behind characters bleeding.
Different from other games, you play through as a variety of characters spanning time periods all with stats that change depending on who you are controlling. Some characters have better health than others, or stronger magic. One thing you do in one time period with one character, may affect you as another character in a different time.
"Eternal Darkness" is very Lovecraftian based, featuring bizarre monsters and ancient cities and gods with weird names. If you are a Lovecraft fan, or even mildly interested in what Lovecraft has to offer in inspiration, "Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem" is the game for you.
Penumbra: Overture (PC)
Penumbra: Overture was the very first horror game I ever picked up. Well, one that wasn't a point and click. This game is not like many others. There are no boss fights, a very limited number of characters (only two that don't exist solely in notes), and a unique arsenal.
Sound is limited. Light is scarce. The only way out is to go deeper and deeper into the mines your long-lost father told you to stay away from. As Philip, you explore these old abandoned mines only to discover that something sinister roams about and that nowhere is safe.
It's a very simple 1st person game, created by the same folks responsible for Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and will shake you to the core with fear. It's ambience and atmosphere alone is enough to make you want to squeal in fright.
Grab a broom, pick up the game, and don't stop playing till it's over. Trust me, once you play the game, you'll understand the broom reference.
Haunting Ground (PS2)
"Haunting Ground" is tension-inducing, hair-raising, and traumatizing at times. You play as young heroine Fiona Belli, who after a car crash, awakes in an old castle which she finds out belongs to the family. In this castle, she meets the "foreman" of sorts Riccardo, Daniella the maid, and Debilitas the mentally handicapped gardener who has a peculiar interest in dolls. There is also the old man who seems to be trying to help Fiona escape, because as she soon finds, there is something very off about Belli Castle and its inhabitants.
Fiona is very limited in what she can do. If attacked, hit, or too frightened, she will go into what is called "panic mode", and the player will loose all control of her while she wanders around a low-framerate and high contrast black and white screen. During this time, she is extremely vulnerable, and if you haven't built up a good relationship with your dog-pal Hewie, you very may well just see the words "Acta est Fabula" (the game's way of saying "Game Over") and hear your killer gloating above your dead corpse.
So, yes, this game can get frustrating at times, but the end result is worth it. The characters are very engaging, the AI intelligent, the story and setting captivating..... The only thing other than panic mode that can get annoying is Fiona's bouncing cleavage (a very sarcastic thank you, Capcom).
This game was originally meant to be a fourth installment to the Clock Tower series, but I'm very glad it's its own entity. This game is certainly unique.
American McGee's Alice (PC)
Not necessarily survival horror, "American McGee's Alice" is horror nonetheless. With incredible visuals, emotional rollercoaster moments, and crazy story, this is a game that is not easily forgotten.
You venture around Wonderland after the events of the novels. But since the book's timeline, Alice has lost her family in a house fire and has been placed in an asylum, believing herself to be responsible for their deaths. Everything in Wonderland is falling apart thanks to the reign of the Red Queen, who has enslaved the lowly beings who reside there, and many of Alice's friends have now turned enemy.
This game is very artistic, from its look and feel to the polish of the voice acting and writing, to the excellent music by Nine Inch Nails' Chris Vrenna. Alice's movement can be a little bit tricky, and undoubtedly a remake by the visionary American McGee himself would be a wonderful thing to behold, but in the meantime, "Alice" is a fantastic masterpiece.
Resident Evil REmake (GameCube)
The Resident Evil REmake is a prefect exmaple to Hollywood of how adaptations and remakes should be handled. It takes a classic horror game and revamps it with excellent lighting and beautiful imagery, while keeping the content of the original.
Players find themselves back where it all started: the Spencer Mansion. And this time around, new things come to crash the party, like a horrific woman that wanders around, chained and moaning, and the Crimson Head zombies that makes you even more terrified of the regular undead bodies roaming about, as you never know which ones will come back a third time, even more angry and powerful than before.
All our original characters have returned for another stand against Umbrella, and without the goofy dialogue, but the mansion layout is all very much as you see it in the very first Resident Evil game, so hardcore fans will not and have not been disappointed.