The problem with horror games is overexposure. Resident Evil, Amnesia, even P.T. itself, often considered scary enough to be a free laxative alternative, can never elicit the same shrill screams of terror on repeated playthroughs and beyond. It's that damned sense of security fostered by familiarity that denies us the sought after adrenaline rush on return visits, and short of a memory wipe, there's no way to have that first-time experience again.
Fortunately, developers love making nightmare fuel just as much as we love consuming it, even to the extent that some such offerings inevitably slip by unnoticed. The genre's niche appeal always makes getting the word out tough, though, and with only the lucky few penetrating pop culture via viral exposure, we're left to sniff out those rare gems eagerly waiting to provide a nasty thrill ride.
From adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft's cosmically horrific works to harrowing plunges into the human psyche, nary a year goes by without a slew of obscure horror games quietly making an impact, and they're being criminally overlooked certainly isn't an indication of low-quality effort.
If you're looking for ways to stave off the ever-present Sandman in the near future, granting your time to any of these greats will ensure you never sleep again.
Joe is a freelance games journalist who, while not spending every waking minute selling himself to websites around the world, spends his free time writing. Most of it makes no sense, but when it does, he treats each article as if it were his Magnum Opus - with varying results.