Winter and horror have always gone hand in hand. Whether it's the snowbound Overlook Hotel of The Shining, the Antarctic wastes of The Thing, or the blizzard-choked cabin of Dreamcatcher, there's something about the cold, icy months of winter that adds that extra dollop of terror to an already harrowing situation. Maybe it's the added sense of hopelessness that comes from Mother Nature at her worst, or the eerie calm that usually goes along with a snow-blanketed world, but horror seems so much more potent when it's served chilled.
That frigid fact holds true for video games as well. With the rumored Dead Space 3 taking place on a Hoth-like ice planet and this year's release of The Third Birthday bringing the Parasite Eve franchise back to its winter roots, there seems to be no end to snowy settings in horror games. Let's take a look back at a few of the other frigid frights that have chilled our bones and our blood.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
A peculiar reimagining of the first game in the series, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories once again cast players as the desperate Harry Mason, trying to find his lost daughter in the ominous town of Silent Hill. Where the original game and its two subsequent sequels were set in hellish industrial prisons of fire and rust, Shattered Memories caked its world in a frosty blanket of ice. Even its inhabitants were retooled in perverse ways to fit the new icy aesthetic: the omnipresent Raw Shocks looked cold-chapped and frostbitten and more than a little eager to jump on Harry for his warmth.
Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason
Certainly one of the more abstract games on the list, Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason uses time travel and flashbacks to flesh out the story of a ruined Russian icebreaker-class ship and its long-dead crew trapped in the arctic ice near the North Pole. Enemies are far more creative than your typical survival horror foe, representing their sins and vices during life (shades of Silent Hill or The Suffering) but in a more grotesque fashion. The biggest twist, however, comes from the ending, which allowed players to give these long-dead foes redemption.
Just like the aforementioned movie, The Thing game sends players to the icy wastes of the Antarctic, although this time to follow up on the events of the Carpenter film. While certainly placing much more emphasis on the man-versus-nature aspect of the cold—spending too much time in the not-so-great outdoors will sap your health—there are no shortages of Thing-spawn for the player to fight or flee. Although as you face off against your hundredth severed head/spider hybrid you may wonder how many victims the Thing has infected, it still hits the same chilly notes as its cinematic forebear.
While not as arctic as some of the other entries on this list, Parasite Eve's Christmas setting is no less iconic. Set around the week of Christmas 1997, the snow-dusted streets of Manhattan provide an eerily lifeless backdrop for the biological terror of Eve and her mitochondrial minions. Like a good Christmastime cop flick from the Eighties, Parasite Eve uses its sub-zero setting to narrow the focus on its outdoor environments to a laser point, providing a sense of claustrophobia even in open air parks and city streets.