Scariest Portable Games
You don't need a big screen to feel the terror.
Horror-themed video games thrive on consoles, where franchises like Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Dead Space terrify audiences with a phenomenal blend of high definition graphics, creepy plots and good old fashioned scares. Clearly, if you can't play with the lights off, the developers have done their jobs.
On the portable front, scary games are a bit trickier to pull off. Evil things come in small packages (Chucky, the homicidal Hollywood doll, proved this), but it's hard to make people cringe when the platform of choice is a Nintendo DS, and not a 46-inch flat screen. You just don't have as much to work with.
That said, a handful of games have made us jump on more than one occasion, so without further ado, we present the scariest portable games of all time.
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (DS, 2006)
Capcom introduced the world to survival horror in 1996 with Resident Evil on Sony's PlayStation, then cemented the game's legacy on Nintendo DS, where longtime fans and newcomers experienced the creepy trek through a strange mansion filled with flesh eating zombies, dogs and even a killer shark.
While not as hair raising as the original version, Deadly Silence retained those jump out of your seat moments, as dogs burst through windows and dead bodies sprang to life. Even better, things completely changed once the developers replaced those slowpoke zombies with the much faster Hunters. Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine literally lost their heads.
Silent Hill: Origins (PSP, 2007)
Not to be outdone by Capcom, Konami brought its Silent Hill franchise to PSP with Origins, where players guide trucker Travis Grady through the eerie and borderline demonic town. Wandering aimlessly through fog is enough to make anyone uneasy. Enter a building, and the game transforms into a nightmare from Hell, as a bunch of twisted abominations assault the hero, including those whacky nurses. Good luck sleeping.
Origins was later ported to PS2.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (PSP, 2009)
How do you make a game scary? Simple, remove combat entirely. The result, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, gave new meaning to "oh crap" whenever monsters appeared, as it forced players to get hero Harry Mason to safety before things turned ugly; well, uglier than the creatures chasing him.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories also appeared on Wii and PlayStation 2.
Dementium: The Ward (DS, 2007)
Hospitals make a lot of people uneasy. Turn off all the lights and populate its corridors and rooms with monsters, and some might die from the shock.
Of course, the premise worked great for Renegade Kid's Dementium, a first person horror game that sends you around a seemingly abandoned building with a flashlight and not much else. While not universally praised, the game managed a few scares, especially when a floating head appeared from the darkness.
Dementium II (DS, 2010)
Renegade Kid stepped up its game for the Dementium sequel, once again plunging gamers into a nightmare full of nasty imagery. This time around, though, players could save at certain points, jump/crouch and monsters didn't re-spawn. On the flip side, that didn't stop us from screaming as bodies got torn limb from limb.
Slice HD (iPad, 2011)
Slice HD wins the award for scariest puzzle game, hands down. This imaginative effort tasks you with pressing a red button to move to the next stage. Covering said button, though, are a bunch of razor sharp objects that you must carefully (we must emphasize the word CAREFULLY) slide out of the way. Mess up, even the slightest bit, and those knives/pokers cut your virtual fingers, resulting in the unsettling image of blood splattering the iPad's screen. Great stuff.
Dead Space (iPhone/iPad, 2011)
Electronic Arts scored a huge hit with Dead Space for iOS, a new chapter in the hair-raising and bloody series. Set three years after the destruction of the marker (and right before series hero Isaac Clarke arrives on The Sprawl), you get to wander through dark hallways battling twisted abominations called Necromorphs, where the only way to defeat these mutated humans/aliens is to chop off their limbs and stomp the suckers into oblivion. It's a bit more predictable than the console games, but for a portable effort, it's quite chilling.
Papa Sangre (iPhone, 2010)
Nixing combat, as Konami did with Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, is one thing. Robbing players of their ability to see, on the other hand, is downright mean. Developer Somethin' Else's critically acclaimed Papa Sangre forces you to survive using your ears in the hope of saving someone's soul while at the same time avoiding death. Definitely worth checking out.
The Nightjar (iPhone, 2011)
With Papa Sangre under its belt, Somethin' Else delivered another spine-tingling survival horror romp with The Nightjar, a game that takes the best elements from its predecessor and flings players into deep space, where they'll rely on their ears to escape a dead spaceship without falling victim to aliens. Now all we need is a U.S. release.