The Top 7... Scariest games you've never played

The Dark Eye (1995)

Why you never played: The Dark Eye is an experimental point-and-click adventure based on the depressed, possibly deranged writings of 19th century author and poet, Edgar Allan Poe. Sound like something you’d be willing to try nearly fifteen years ago? Unless you were coincidentally a high-school English teacher and follower of obscure cult games during that time, we’d wager not.

What’s so scary: Um, have you ever read Edgar Allan Poe? His short stories – meticulous depictions of murder, torture and insanity – remain as bizarre and unsettling today as when they were originally published in 1800s newspapers. “The Cask of Amontillado,” for example, follows a narrator who buried his drunken friend alive, slowly sealing him away brick-by-brick in a catacomb cell. In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” an old man is dismembered and hidden under the floorboards simply for being ugly. And while the titular victim of “Berenice” is killed by disease, her cousin / fiancé is the one who pulls the teeth out of her corpse and stores them in a box on his office desk.

All three of these gruesome tales are brought to animated, interactive life in The Dark Eye. Shockingly, however, that’s not why the game is so disturbing. Nor is the fact that you play through each Poe-inspired crime from two different perspectives – both the victim’s and the perpetrator’s. Nor is the hub world between nightmares, a decaying mansion full of empty rooms, locked doors, surreal paintings and sharp knives.

No, the real reason that The Dark Eye is our top choice for “scariest game you’ve never played” can be summarized in one brief but horrifying word:


Yes, every single character you interact with looks like that: a motion-captured marionette wearing dusty doll clothes and staring blankly through the screen from a melting clay face. Their eyes are sunken, their arms are spindly, their complexions are ashen and their bodies resemble decomposing potatoes. They are literally some of the most terrifying… things… we have ever seen in a game. And after researching this Top 7, we’ve seen more than most will ever imagine.

Current availability: The Dark Eye’s developer, inSCAPE, shut down shortly after making the game. What a surprise, right? Fortunately, you can still buy copies on Amazon for about $25, and if you search the web thoroughly enough, you might even be able to find a free download of the full product. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about those puppets, though.

Oct 26, 2009

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  • FalseNegative - October 26, 2009 11:09 a.m.

    Your right, I've never even heard of any of these games. Oh, and first first! Sorry.
  • mattol58 - October 26, 2009 11:28 a.m.

    good article
  • PinkLenny - October 26, 2009 11:31 a.m.

    good comment
  • zer0hvk - October 26, 2009 11:34 a.m.

    good comment on that comment great article, might check out some of these games!
  • CheeseFiend - October 26, 2009 12:10 p.m.

    Holy crap, The Dark Eye looks scary, i might get it, even though it may give me nightmares
  • Trg564 - October 26, 2009 12:16 p.m.

    Thats some pretty freaky stuff there, I am now slightly afraid of puppets. Damn those things look scary
  • bonepicker - October 26, 2009 2:44 p.m.

    WTF HAUNTED HOUSE!! Lmao that game is no where near scary. It's(god I hope I got that right)bot even that fun lol.
  • Jacob816 - October 26, 2009 3:03 p.m.

    Ugh, another unnumbered Top 7...
  • NotBraze - October 26, 2009 3:25 p.m.

    The concept for The Path is absolutely brilliant! Regardless of the quality of the rest of the game (which I can't comment on, since I've never played it) it's a remarkable idea and someone should take it and use it in a different context.
  • garnsr - October 26, 2009 4:22 p.m.

    God, I hated Haunted House. I could never figure out what the hell was going on, but everyone seemed to have it. And shouldn't the main reason we've never played most of these games be that they were on PC, not consoles?
  • oryandymackie - October 26, 2009 4:25 p.m.

    I think they should make text-only games for the 360. Cheap. I would be willing to pay 50p for a text-only game, and let's face it, a text adventure is something a junior programmer can do in his lunch break. But not on Live. A DISC, MICROSOFT. Pleasums?
  • TKTOWA - October 26, 2009 7:23 p.m.

    I was a little dissapointed to see that Realms Of The Haunting was not mentioned. It's an Interplay game for anyone that's interested. I proudly keep the box on my "Legendary games shelf".
  • slickmcwilly - October 26, 2009 7:47 p.m.

    I played a demo of The Path, and i must say that did not fill my curiosity of it. it was very interesting, but i didn't really know what to do in it.
  • prahanormal - October 26, 2009 8:05 p.m.

    I've played all these games, and wholeheartedly agree. These are some of the scariest games I've ever played.
  • Schnipke - October 26, 2009 8:15 p.m.

    I haven't heard of Illbleed but I have heard of the rest, and I would play all but Haunted House and The Lurking Horror. And YOur right with the mind coming up with scary stuff, I will Lose sleep Because I will get HORRIFIYING images stuck in my head.
  • Useoam - October 26, 2009 9:14 p.m.

    The Path is one of the most amazing expirences I have ever had while playing a game. It's truely original and refreshing if you can digg it. I certainly reccomend it to thoes willing to try it out.
  • CH3BURASHKA - October 26, 2009 9:41 p.m.

    "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream" is the best indie porno ever.
  • H2A2I00 - October 26, 2009 9:48 p.m.

    lol @ CH3BURASHKA but i seriously want to try the path it looks so cool and wen it said which path will u take the path of needles or the path of pins i just said i need to play this
  • Amnesiac - October 26, 2009 10:19 p.m.

    The Dark Eye, sounds interesting, I might see if I can dig up a free/cheap copy. And I have No Mouth
  • Cyberninja - October 26, 2009 10:21 p.m.

    all of these look interesting and the old man in the tell tale heart wasnt killed for being ugly he was killed because of his "evil" vulture eye

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