Slasher horror is an underdeveloped area of video games. Part of it is due to the inherent power fantasy of the medium. Almost everyone chooses to play as an escape from life and being in control of a slasher victim is something that few players want to experience. Similarly, playing a slasher rarely has the level of joy that watching one of them work has. After all, most slashers are invincible stealthy super-killers hunting the much less capable band of teenagers that is their current play. To say the deck is stacked in favor of the slasher is understating things.
Still, there’s a few games that manage to capture the essence of the slasher experience without sacrificing the enjoyment factor. Here are some of my favorite slasher horror games and games that make the experience more entertaining for dealing with players set against invincible horror movie killers.
5. Resident Evil 2 (remake)
This is perhaps cheating because the Resident Evil games are puzzle action games and certainly not slasher horror, or are they? Resident Evil: Nemesis played with the themes of a slasher movie and became one of the most beloved games of its generation. Resident Evil 2’s remake takes the lesson of this game and makes the formidable Mister X. An invincible stalker, it seeks out the player character throughout the Raccoon City Police Department. The tension during early playthroughs is formidable and adds a whole new element to a classic formula. It’s also not entirely restricted to Mr. X as there are good moments of stalker horror with Chief Irons and the mutated William Birkin as well. None of them live up to Mr. X, however. X is gonna getcha, especially if you keep the difficulty ramped up.
Sadly, Mister X shows up his own inspiration with the Resident Evil: Nemesis remake having a significantly less scary version of its original monster.
Play Resident Evil 2 (remake)
4. Friday the Thirteenth: The Game
No, not the NES one, though I was tempted to homage that. As a long-time fan of Jason Voorhees, I was ecstatic about this game and almost sponsored it to get inside the game as a model. I missed my chance, though. The game was originally multiplayer-only but a single player campaign was added where Jason can reenact the events of Friday the Thirteenth I-IV with the game’s archetypal cast. The multiplayer is certainly fun, focused on players as campers escaping from Jason (also a player), but I love the single player mode more. It’s a simple and short series of a dozen scenarios but I loved all the homages as well as Hitman-like gameplay.
Play Friday the Thirteenth: The Game
3. Dead by Daylight
The most famous and popular slasher video game right now, Dead by Daylight is a flawed but entertaining multiplayer-only game. Honestly, I initially put this under Friday the Thirteenth: The Game. However, Dead by Daylight came first and has a much wider variety of killers present. Not only their own original creations but many licensed slashers. There’s Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Pyramid Head, and even Ghostface from Scream. It’s kind of funny that you can have these characters next to characters obviously based on them. My biggest complaint is that the story for the game is kind of silly with the slashers and their victims trapped in a sort of hell dimension where they repeat Groundhog Day-esqe loops.
Play Dead by Daylight
2. Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation remains one of my all-time favorite video games. After the excretable Aliens: Colonial Marines, this is a loving homage to the original movie and is a fantastic slasher game from beginning to end. Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, is out to find out what happened to her mother and finds herself on a haunted dialpidated station where something is stalking the few remaining survivors. The alien is terrifying and invincible against poor Amanda’s limited combat abilities. We need more games like this and it’s a shame it never got a sequel.
Play Alien: Isolation
1. Until Dawn
Until Dawn is easily the best slasher video game of all time with its only competition being Alien: Isolation above. It is a video game notable for being a pretty solid slasher movie by itself with an excellent cast, voice acting, motion capture, special effects, and lore. As you play half-a-dozen college kids, you can have the majority (or all of them) die horribly or work to save everyone. Hayden Panettiere is gorgeous and likable as lead Sam but I think Brett Dalton as well as Rami Malek are just as important to making it work. The gameplay is mostly quick time events and exploration but that’s not bad. It’s a shame its sequels and spiritual successors haven’t lived up to the hype.