If you were born in the 80s and a video gamer, there’s a good chance that you’ve played some great classics during the late 90s.
“Oh yeah! I remember playing this console game where you had to push a series of buttons to solve this puzzle and it would transport you to a magical underwater world.”
That wasn’t a game. That was my washing machine. You kept flooding my kitchen, you fiend.
“Yeah. Good times.”
Anyway, with Halloween just around the corner, I thought this would be a great time to take a walk down memory lane and shine a spotlight on some of the best horror-themed PC games of the 90s (and one from the early 2000s – Woo! Flashback!)
“Doc! We gotta go back, Doc!”
Oh, nice Back To The Future reference there!
“Hmm? What? Oh, I was just remembering the time where my doctor managed to escape from his shackles from my basement.”
… you need serious help.
“Yeah. Good times.”
Onward to Fuzz’s Fantabulous Five Old-School Horror PC Games!
“Dude, you really gotta work on your titles…”
Shut your face.
System Shock 2
System Shock 2 is considered to be one of the greatest games of all time for good reason.
Released in 1999, this game was the inspiration for many video games that we love today. In fact, Bioshock is effectively the spiritual successor of System Shock 2, since it was created by the team from Irrational Games and designed by Ken Levine.
There’s no System Shock 3 because the rights are owned by the worst company in the world. Damn you, EA!
A wonderful hybrid of first-person shooting, action and role-playing elements, this cyberpunk horror game is atmospheric, frantic and absolutely brutal.
How brutal, you ask? Let’s just say that only the stout of heart need apply. This game will not hold your hand and guide you along. Oh no, this game will provide you all the necessary tools for you to defeat it before it promptly devours you and spits you out – forcing you to replay from the last save.
This game does not rely on cheap scares to raise the fear factor either. A combination of the dark environment, the brilliant writing, and the kind of video game difficulty that only retro gamers would know and appreciate, makes SS2 a legendary and terrifying classic.
Alone In The Dark
If the dark undertones of Edgar Allen Poe’s work had a raunchy love affair with the Cthulhu mythos in a spooky haunted house, then Alone In The Dark would be its unholy love-spawn. And what a wonderful little love-spawn it was.
Released back in ’92, this game was lauded for being the first horror game with 3D.
Ah, old-school 3D… You made me colour blind for a while…
AitD was an action-adventure game for DOS where you had to escape from a haunted house by solving various puzzles. Oh, you also had to survive all sorts of nasties that go bump in the night. When I say survive, I mean if you can’t kill it, run for your life!
The legacy of this game has seen many sequels and a movie (which was bleagh!) to date. But sadly, none of them ever came close to the dark majesty of this game.
The Beast Within – A Gabriel Knight Mystery
Ah, Sierra On-Line… One of my favourite game publishers of yesteryear. From the Leisure Suit Larry games to King’s Quest, Sierra had built its roots in my childhood.
And one of the definitive games from them was The Beast Within. Released in 1995 and created entirely from Full-Motion Video (FMV), this point-and-click adventure had you controlling the eponymous Gabriel Knight and his assistant, Grace Nakimura, as they romped about a small German village trying to solve the mysterious death of a little girl.
This delightful adventure (boy, what an adventure, it was!) involved werewolves, sexy mystery and history!
We need more games like this. Absolutely brilliant! And that cover art is just awesome.
Haunted houses are to Halloween like the way Santa Claus is to Christmas. They’re synonymous, going together hand-in-hand.
There’s a strange pleasure that we get when watching a cartoon or a movie where the protagonists explore the dark corridors and creaky rooms of a haunted house – the suspense of knowing that something bad is just waiting round the corner to eat our faces or something just as bad.
Perhaps that’s why 7th Guest has long been regarded as a favourite of mine. Supernatural entities? Fiendish puzzles? Campy full-motion video? Sounds like fun!
7th Guest has been considered by many to have been one of the catalyst for the advancement of PC technology. Mostly because you needed to have a CD-ROM to play this wonderful little gem – a rarity back in ’93.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Based on the popular White Wolf Publishing tabletop RPG, Bloodlines has long been considered to be one of the BEST video game RPGs around.
As testament to this fact, Bloodlines which was released in 2004, has been lovingly updated and modded by fans for ten years.
But, boy, was this game buggy. And yet, despite that, this game is amazing.
In Bloodlines, the player chooses one of the several vampire clans available at the start of the game. Each clan bestows upon the player unique powers and abilities. This choice would then affect your dialogue and combat options, as you attempt to uncover the truth behind a mysterious relic that could wipe out all of your vampire brethren.
A rare combination of great writing, stellar voice-acting and oddly humorous moments, Bloodlines brought players into a dark, immersive world where vampires were still cool and sexy. None of that Twilight rubbish here.
Things weren’t always simpler back in the day. But they were rather cheesy.
“Cheesy. Like that white gunk between my toes.”
Sure, recent video games are a lot prettier to look at, and much more user-friendly. But there was something truly magical about classic video games – especially the ones that sent shivers down your spine.
I hope you enjoyed this article. And if you’re keen on having a go at the games above on current-gen PCs, check out gog.com (Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines can be found on Steam)