When someone tells you they have good news and bad news, do you prefer to take the bad news first or the other way around? I like hearing the bad news, that way I can get it out of the way. Otherwise, it's impossible to really soak in the good because all I can think about is the looming threat of whatever will hit me next. Because of this, I'll be starting off this list of the best and worst horror games with the bad, the disappointing, and the just plain ugly. Then, when you think you can't possibly handle any more, I'll share the great games, giving you a reprieve from all the bad I hit you with earlier. Let's jump right in.
Resident Evil 5 was by no means a bad game; in fact, it was actually a very good game if you'd never played Resident Evil before. It's when you started comparing it to its predecessor, Resident Evil 4, that the problems started to surface. Sure, there were a few issues that would bother newcomers to the series, like the awful A.I. or the unintuitive controls, but if you'd played RE4 beforehand, you couldn't help but notice that RE5 was the same game—or, at least, it stole the structure from the last game. You started off in a village filled with crazed townsfolk who wanted nothing more than to beat you down with their arsenal of broken bottles, sticks, and other blunt instruments. Then, you moved on to a somewhat more evolved group of enemies that used traps, ranged weapons, and things of the nature. By the final third of the game, you were fighting guys with guns, rocket launchers, grenades, and stun rods. If this sounds familiar, it's because RE4 had done the exact same thing four years prior.
Now, when selecting a bad Silent Hill game, I could easily go with The Room, because in my opinion it's actually the worst game in the series. However, the main issue with that game was that it wasn't originally intended to be a Silent Hill game. Sometime into its development cycle, Konami decided to make it a part of the series, so the end result was a game that, while creepy, never felt like it meshed tonally with the rest of the series. Homecoming's issue, on the other hand, was that it so desperately wanted to be something it wasn't. Silent Hill was never supposed to be action/horror, and more importantly, it wasn't even the least bit scary when the character you controlled had the ability to take out mostly anything that came his way. Silent Hill is supposed to make you feel feeble and helpless, and Homecoming ruined that. Oh, and it also borrowed far too heavily from the 2006 film adaptation, which didn't make any sense. A game that borrows from a film that's based off a series of games is always a bad idea; just look at Street Fighter.
I have what some might consider to be an unhealthy obsession with Clive Barker's work. From Hellraiser to Undying, Barker has rarely failed as terribly as he did with Jericho. I can only assume it wasn't his fault that almost everything about this game ranged from forgettable to awful. Instead of giving gamers a twisted look into Barker's deeply disturbed mind, we were given a bland, unbalanced squad-based shooter with a dull story and an even duller cast of characters.
How do you suck the fun out of a game about fighting mutant dinosaurs in space? You do exactly what Capcom did with Dino Crisis 3. The first two games were critically acclaimed action/horror games from the studio that pretty much invented the genre. But instead of building on what the series did right, Dino Crisis 3 threw it all out the window and replaced it with a smaller arsenal of weapons and a clunky camera. The future of the series is uncertain at this point, but at least Capcom recognized the failure, with Christian Svensson saying "Dino Crisis 3 went off the rails." Yeah, Mr. S, that's an understatement.
I can't tell you how excited I was for this game. I watched every video, scoured every screenshot, and read and re-read every bit of news that came out leading up to the game's release. I started questioning a few of the design choices, like making me put out fires a little too often or the wonky combat, but I had no idea what was in store for me until I was about a half hour into the game, asked to drive a car through the quickly crumbling city. That's when I was introduced to one of the worst parts about this game: the driving. There wasn't a single redeeming factor about the driving sections in Alone in the Dark; they were frustrating, unforgiving, and bordering on broken. Add to that a cheesy story, unlikeable cast of characters, and the entirety of the last third of the game where your sole purpose was to burn devil trees, and Alone in the Dark was a game that truly should have been left in the dark.