Oh man! Uhm, off the top of my head …
Resident Evil IV - I realize that’s a pretty domestic choice, but I remember* they really nailed a stranger-in-a-strange-land vibe. I think most Resident Evil titles that reset in a new location work really well, partially because it revitalizes the mystery. I mean, it’s always Umbrella Corp. and a weapons project gone wrong, but I enjoy when the details and settings aren’t a retread of previous games. *=I haven’t played it in ten years … I don’t know how it would hit for me now.
The Lurking Horror - Infocom game where you’re a student at a MIT-like school trying to wrap up a school project during a blizzard, but your final paper gets swapped for some document containing weird crap from someone in the school’s Department of Alchemy(??). Coincidentally I am sure, random students have gone missing recently. Maybe there’s a connection? I dunno … go wander around the school and find out.
Everyone at the time was all about Zork, but I remember picking this up for 5 bucks at a computer show at the Cow Palace around 8 or 9 years old and just eating this up. No dungeons, no dragons … a contemporary (for the time) setting where some weird shit is going down (this was also a factor that really pulled me into Persona/Persona 2/SMT games in general).
Friday the 13th - I think most folks know this one as well. Not so much creepy scary, but more just ‘playing tag’ scary. I have a really close attachment to it because I was recovering from an illness when this came out and I had to be isolated for a few weeks. I was feeling really depressed at the time, and this game gave me genuine laughs I hadn’t had in a long time. Something about sitting in a car helpless and nervous while another counselor is desperately trying to drive the car through trees to avoid Jason, while the others in the car at yelling at them to go the other way, is just peak unintentional 3D games goofy shit. Shout out to Dead by Daylight as well, which has a similar vibe.
Man … I guess these aren’t really deep cuts. 😛