Castlevania 64 - I was a Nintendo loyalist up until the PS2, which came out when I was ten years old. So I didn’t play a Resident Evil until RE4. But now looking back, I think it’s pretty obvious Castlevania 64 was trying to court that audience. Very flawed but it left a big impression on me (due to its effect on my pulse) and I think being the only Castlevania that actually tries to lean into straight-up horror is worthy of note, at least.
Silent Hill - I know people are going to nominate Silent Hill 2, but I just played this for the first time recently and I don’t think it should be overshadowed. I’ve been a big fan of the recent wave of indie low-poly horror games like Paratopic, or any of PuppetCombo’s games, and I was still a little surprised to see just how much of their DNA could be traced back to here. Feels like a game that you couldn’t do a remaster of in HD without losing something crucial that makes the horror feel the way it does.
Bloodborne - In my opinion, all of the Souls games are horror games, but Bloodborne’s the one where you fight werewolves and Lovecraft monsters in a foggy Victorian city and you have stats tracking your sanity, so that one wins.
Alien: Isolation - This game messed with my nerves more than any other game I’ve ever played. That’s probably partly due to the fact that I always played it after getting off work at midnight, in the dark, with headphones on, while drinking a soda. Like, my hands violently shook. But yeah, sneaking around the Alien was really tense, and I loved how the team recreated a lot of imagery from the films but also expanded the universe in cool ways through Seegson and the Working Joes, and it all felt totally in keeping with the series’ mythology. If it weren’t two or three times longer than it should have been, I could see myself replaying it annually.