Exploration-heavy survival horror games?

futurefields

Diamond Member
Jun 2, 2012
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Are there any good modern survival horror games where the emphasis is more on exploration and a creepy environment versus the more action-heavy survival horror games that seem to be more common lately?
 

Dankk

Diamond Member
Jul 7, 2008
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There are plenty.

Your problem here is that you're looking at major, big-budget "horror" games that rely more on action and cheap scares to appeal to casual audiences (i.e. Dead Space, the newer Resident Evil games, etc, etc). Most of the good survival horror games are actually indie games. All of these games I'm about to list focus very heavily on horror, and very little on combat. They each have at least a decent level of exploration.

  • Penumbra (my favorite horror series ever)
  • Amnesia (from the makers of Penumbra. Not as story-heavy, but more polished and more accessible)
  • Scratches (incredibly unnerving point-and-click adventure, probably my second fave)
  • Slender: The Arrival (an enhanced version of the original Slenderman game)
  • Lone Survivor (basically a 2D silent hill)
  • Darkness Within (another damned creepy point-and-click adventure)
  • Pathologic (extremely creepy, unsettling, mystifying open-world horror game from a Russian developer)
  • Nightmare House 2 (an HL2 mod, but don't let that deter you. An extremely well-made, polished horror game)

All of these games are available as digital downloads, and most of them are cheap ($10 or less). I think you should try Penumbra or Amnesia first. Amnesia especially is a good introduction to terrifying horror games.
 
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Via

Diamond Member
Jan 14, 2009
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I know STALKER is an action based game, but it has some great spooky sections.
 

Dankk

Diamond Member
Jul 7, 2008
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I know STALKER is an action based game, but it has some great spooky sections.
STALKER is a great suggestion actually. I forgot to mention that one. It's an FPS game at it's core, and normally I wouldn't suggest an FPS to someone looking for horror, but... STALKER is an exception. I'll be damned if Shadow of Chernobyl isn't one of the scariest games I've played. It also has exploration in spades.
 

Tweak155

Lifer
Sep 23, 2003
11,292
196
106
What about Fallout 3 and Fallout NV? Stalker for sure.
Fallout 3 was not scary, and definitely not NV.

I just started playing Alan Wake and I like it so far. It is nowhere near exploration though, at least not yet.
 

PowerYoga

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2001
4,603
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Fallout 3 was not scary, and definitely not NV.

I just started playing Alan Wake and I like it so far. It is nowhere near exploration though, at least not yet.
alan wake has no exploration whatsoever. You visit a lot of places but you never truly "explore".
 

AstroManLuca

Lifer
Jun 24, 2004
15,633
3
81
What about Fallout 3 and Fallout NV? Stalker for sure.
I agree on STALKER but FO3 and NV didn't feel very survival horror-ish to me. There were a few creepy parts, mostly the abandoned vaults, but it doesn't take long before you level up into an unkillable super-soldier.
 
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werepossum

Elite Member
Jul 10, 2006
29,876
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I agree on STALKER but FO3 and NV didn't feel very survival horror-ish to me. There were a few creepy parts, mostly the abandoned vaults, but it doesn't take long before you level up into an unkillable super-soldier.
Unless you use a mod that slows down leveling.
 

z1ggy

Diamond Member
May 17, 2008
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How do the original silent hill games rank among games like amnesia and the others listed? I watched some youtube vids of amnesia and I wanted to poop my pants. I can't imagine playing it... In the dark...Alone. D:
 

Via

Diamond Member
Jan 14, 2009
4,695
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I didn't find Silent Hill that Scary, just creepy, but I had a girlfriend at the time that would make me stop playing because it freaked her out so badly.
 

Zenoth

Diamond Member
Jan 29, 2005
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I would definitely highly recommend STALKER games.

Any of the trilogy would do, but particularly Shadow of Chernobyl of course is very atmospheric and immersion-heavy. I'd say that Clear Sky isn't "bad" (in terms of atmosphere that is), and actually both the Swamp and the Red Forest levels do have a lot of atmosphere to them, especially the Great Swamp since your field and distance of view is limited by the tall and tick reeds out of which creatures would run and jump just to make sure you'd have your daily dose of heart attacks, not to mention that the place feels like a labyrinth and the feeling of getting lost until you open up your map is always there unless you have a "safe" campfire in clear view nearby. And the Red Forest just constantly throws plenty of "something-behind-you" types of ambient sounds and feelings at you.

Additionally all three of the STALKER games are loaded with all sorts of ambient sound effects, ranging from anomalies to mutant groans and growls in the distance, or seemingly just behind you. They did an amazing job with the sounds aspect for all three of them. A fair advice of the ex-STALKER fan I am, just don't go in the X-18 Labs or the Agroprom's Sewers/Underground facility (in Shadow of Chernobyl) during night time if it's your first time there, especially not with headphones, or I'm telling you if you're easily absorbed in a game's environments (like I often am) and get yourself immersed in your character's shoes in a matter of seconds (again, like me, especially when the atmosphere just "forces" you in) then you're in for the fastest heartbeats you'll ever experience whilst playing a video game. It's just so tense and grim, it makes DOOM 3 look and feel like a child's sandbox.
 
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Dankk

Diamond Member
Jul 7, 2008
5,555
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my friend said RAGE was pretty good game.
RAGE was decent, but it wasn't scary in the slightest, and I don't think it's relevant in a discussion about horror games.

Same goes for FO3 and FO:NV. In FO3, at least, I don't remember any scary parts. FO:NV I haven't played long enough to have an opinion on.

(If anyone was actually scared by the vaults or subway tunnels in Fallout, I'd like to see their reaction to the secret underground labs in STALKER :sneaky:)
 

Stringjam

Golden Member
Jun 30, 2011
1,871
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Additionally all three of the STALKER games are loaded with all sorts of ambient sound effects, ranging from anomalies to mutant groans and growls in the distance, or seemingly just behind you. They did an amazing job with the sounds aspect for all three of them. A fair advice of the ex-STALKER fan I am, just don't go in the X-18 Labs or the Agroprom's Sewers/Underground facility (in Shadow of Chernobyl) during night time if it's your first time there, especially not with headphones, or I'm telling you if you're easily absorbed in a game's environments (like I often am) and get yourself immersed in your character's shoes in a matter of seconds (again, like me, especially when the atmosphere just "forces" you in) then you're in for the fastest heartbeats you'll ever experience whilst playing a video game. It's just so tense and grim, it makes DOOM 3 look and feel like a child's sandbox.

I concur. Everything about the Lake Yantar area is just so haunting.

I am also one of those people who gets easily immersed into game environments. I'll never forget my first decent into X18. Immediately I felt this anxiousness as that brilliantly horrific musical score began to play (this one... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEekqlzyf6k ).

The darkness; the sound of the rusty light reflector spinning in the socket....over and over and over...; the wobbling headlamps in the distance, and that echo-drenched sound of steel doors shutting in the distance. Everything words together to create an incredibly immersive experience.

I literally felt exhausted by the time I cleared the lab.
 

xSkyDrAx

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2003
7,707
0
0
Pathologic! I was looking for that title recently. I remember reading an awesome review about a few years back.

Great read. May actually pick it up now.
 

thm1223

Senior member
Jun 24, 2011
336
0
71
There are plenty.

Your problem here is that you're looking at major, big-budget "horror" games that rely more on action and cheap scares to appeal to casual audiences (i.e. Dead Space, the newer Resident Evil games, etc, etc). Most of the good survival horror games are actually indie games. All of these games I'm about to list focus very heavily on horror, and very little on combat. They each have at least a decent level of exploration.

  • Penumbra (my favorite horror series ever)
  • Amnesia (from the makers of Penumbra. Not as story-heavy, but more polished and more accessible)
  • Scratches (incredibly unnerving point-and-click adventure, probably my second fave)
  • Slender: The Arrival (an enhanced version of the original Slenderman game)
  • Lone Survivor (basically a 2D silent hill)
  • Darkness Within (another damned creepy point-and-click adventure)
  • Pathologic (extremely creepy, unsettling, mystifying open-world horror game from a Russian developer)
  • Nightmare House 2 (an HL2 mod, but don't let that deter you. An extremely well-made, polished horror game)

All of these games are available as digital downloads, and most of them are cheap ($10 or less). I think you should try Penumbra or Amnesia first. Amnesia especially is a good introduction to terrifying horror games.

Thanks for the great list. Definitely one of my favorite genres and I'll have to check some of these out.
 

fixbsod

Senior member
Jan 25, 2012
415
0
0
Throwing a shout out for Metro 2033, was down to $3.74 during Steam sale, great environment and enjoyable shooter.
 

ImpulsE69

Lifer
Jan 8, 2010
14,794
824
126
Amnesia, and the new one coming out in a few weeks are probably the best suggestions if you haven't already played it.

Personally, I also think that while a little more action oriented, the first Dead Space was pretty good and had great atmosphere.

There's another older game made by the Penumbra people called Fahrenheit that is decent as well.
 
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