What’s a horror game without sound design? Not much, maybe even nothing. A great horror game is only as good as its sound design. But what if you took the audio experience of horror games to the extreme? Let the visuals take a backseat and instead, ramp up the sound to unsettle and shock. Do more, with less.
Can you be scared of what you cannot see? Well, let’s find out. If you’re into scaring yourself silly, we’ve rounded up a list of audio-based horror games that you should totally
chicken out check out.
Perception (PC via Steam)
“Perception is an award-winning narrative thriller about a blind woman’s journey to uncover the truth about the mansion from her nightmares, or else become one of its victims.”
You play through the eyes of the blind woman Cassie using an echolocation mechanic to move around the haunted mansion. To “see” around you, you’ll need to tap your cane against the floor, a la Daredevil. But the thing is, every time you need to “see”, it only draws the entity haunting the house closer. Tap too much and who knows what you’ll attract. The excellent soundtrack and spooky ambient sounds are genuinely creep and adds even greater depth to the game. If jump scares are what you live for as a horror nut, you’ll be pleased to know this game is peppered with it.
Get Perception for $18.50 on PC via Steam here.
Stifled (PC with VR Support via Steam)
You step into the shoes of David Ridley, whose mind is slowly deteriorating due to grief, gradually turning his world from colour to nothing but darkness. Much like Perception, Stifled also utilises an echolocation mechanic for navigation. But to get the most out of Stifled though, it’s best played with a VR headset and a mic. Speak and the world’s revealed around you but at the same time, you reveal yourself to the monsters that lurk in the darkness. With the VR headset, the environment and world around you take on a whole new life. You’ll see how each step you take create a small puddle of clarity as the sound bounces off objects in the environment. Ambient noises like dripping water provide temporary illumination that you can use to navigate. If you ever wonder what it feels like to be Daredevil and fight evil with jump scares, give this a go.
Get Stifled for $20 on PC via Steam here.
Blindside (iOS | PC | Mac)
Interestingly, Blindside was born when one of the creators experienced temporary blindness from a chemistry accident. According to the website, you play as Case, an assistant professor who wakes up only to find himself blind and mysterious creatures devouring people. He has to escape with his girlfriend and find out what’s going on — all without his sense of sight.
This truly is a game that you can’t even see because there is nothing to see. The game teaches you how to navigate via audio cues from both the environment and Case, who’ll yell if he bumps into things. Environmental sounds are important for orientation too. For example, if you’re facing a TV, you’ll hear it out of both earphones/speakers. Turn 90 degrees to the left and you’ll only hear it on your right. Move away from the source of noise and it’ll fade out. It’s essentially an audio maze that even the blind can play. Check out the PC/Mac gameplay here.
Yes! That’s the beautiful voice of Benedict Cumberbatch in your ear holes. He’s the voice behind your guide as you attempt to escape in total darkness in a derelict spaceship. The onboard computer warns you, “there are 30 complex life forms aboard this ship, of which one is human.” You’re then forced to navigate your way to safety. The gas release of airlocks, whirrs and beeps of sensors and machinery will guide you along your way.
Like many games of its kind, there are no graphics, save for the minimal on-screen navigation. Tapping moves you forwards and backwards while swiping controls your orientation. With just 14 chapters lasting a few minutes, it makes for about an hour of gameplay. Somewhat short, but with top-notch sound design and Cumberbatch whispering into your ears, what’s there not to like? Check out the gameplay here!
Get Nightar free on iOS.
Survival horror game Vanished is set in a world “without light, with no memories of how you got there and no clues on why everything has disappeared.” To uncover the mystery, you won’t need your eyes to see. Navigation controls are simple and straightforward. Using your iOS’ compass, accelerometer, players point their phones in the direction they wish to travel and touch the screen to walk. To attack any monsters you come across, simply shake the device.
With 3D audio, you’ll hear the world around you rotate as you point your phone in different directions. Hear a monster coming towards you? Orientate yourself with environmental audio clues and fight with your ears and imagination. “We think that imagination is the most powerful hardware a game needs,” reads the game’s description on the website. “The game itself is only part of the experience. It’s your imagination that creates the world in which you play.”