Top Five Snowy Horror Video Games

Today we take a look at the top five video games that take place in a snowy environment in honor of the holiday season.

By L.B. Lubomski

Christmas is a time marked by tradition, from presents under the tree to kissing under the mistletoe. However, it is snow on Christmas morning that is both the biggest cliche and most-loved tradition all at once. In honor of that tradition, today we take a look at the top five video games featuring snow as a backdrop for their settings.

5. Extermination

Extermination was the first survival horror title to be released exclusively on PlayStation 2 back in 2001. The story follows U.S. Marine soldier Dennis Riley and his team who are sent to investigate a distress signal from a secret research facility in Antarctica. Upon arrival they discover that scientists have created a new parasitic form of water called H2013. Dennis is forced to fight for his life and escape the facility while preventing the infection from getting loose. This includes making sure that he himself does not succumb to it by curing his exposure through the use of a special vaccine. Being set in Antarctica means that snow and ice are prominently featured. Parts of the game even take place outside in the harsh, frozen environment. This forces players to deal with such hazards as walking through deep snow, slipping on ice, and being knocked off balance by fierce winds. It should come as no surprise that Extermination was heavily influenced by John Carpenter's The Thing.

4. The Thing: The Game

The Thing is a masterpiece of cinema released in 1983. Directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell, it is an absolute classic. The Thing game was released in 2002 for Windows, PlayStation 2, and Xbox, and acts as a direct sequel to the film. Players assume the role of Captain Blake, a member of a U.S. Special Forces team sent to investigate the incident at Outpost 31. Also being set in Antartica means that cold weather and snow are once again at the forefront. However, The Thing takes it a step further with much of the actual game taking place outside. It features whiteout blizzards that hinder the player's vision so much the use of flares are required to create pathways in the snow. The Thing also stays true to its source material with its fear/trust system. While Blake routinely has to earn the trust of his NPC teammates by proving who he is, players should also keep on eye on the the other members of their team. It was terrifying to be running through the snow when suddenly one of my teammates transformed into a monster and set their sights on me. That feeling of dread and the unknown is what really sets it apart from other horror games of the time.

3. Dead Space 3

This entry stings a bit due to the recent closure of Visceral Games, but the game has earned its spot on this list. Dead Space 3 was released in 2009 for Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Dead Space concludes the story of space ship system engineer turned survivor Isaac Clarke. This time he finds himself on a collision course with the ice planet Tau Volantis in search of his missing ex-girlfriend. Along the way he encounters Necromorphs, bodies of the dead that have been transformed by an alien infection. Isaac, with the help of soldier Sgt. John Carver, eventually leaves the cold expanse of space for the vast arctic wasteland of Tau Volantis. Once there, he discovers the origins of the Necromorphs which allows him to destoy them. By this point in the series Dead Space had begun to shift from horror to action adventure, especially with the addition of online co-op. Still, the atmosphere and jump scares that occur as the player wanders across Tau Volantis make the game well worth the time. I remember being partiularly on edge as I was relentlessly pursued by a gigantic snow beast during the game's later half.

2. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a reimagining of the original Silent Hill released for PlayStation back in 1997. Shatered Memories was released on the Nintendo Wii in 2009 but was later ported to PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. While many story elements, characters, and settings remain the same, there are vast differences in gameplay and environment. Besides the obvious use of the Wii's motion controls, the game also takes the series in an entirely new direction. The town of Silent Hill is no longer consumed by falling ash but snow. Replacing the iconic ash at first seemed like a mistake, but the snow and cold imagery really set the tone for the game. As his search for his missing daughter continues, protagonist Harry Mason is repeatedly transported between dimensions; one moment in Silent Hill and the next in an alternate world called Nightmare, an icy hell filled with monsters. These enemies cannot be fought, instead forcing players to make a run for it. Harry can only be attacked by monsters when trapped in Nightmare while in Silent Hill he remains safe. I personally still prefer the original Silent Hill but Shattered Memories gets credit for trying to do something new with the franchise.

1. Dead Rising 4

Dead Rising 4 has the distinction of being both the only next-generation game on this list and the only one specifically themed around Christmas. Reprising the role of series protagonist, photojournalist Frank West (he’s covered wars, you know) returns to where it all began: the town of Willamette, Colorado, birth place of the zombie epidemic. Frank is recruited to find and collect evidence of the U.S. government's involvement in the latest zombie outbreak. Dead Rising 4 truly embraces Christmas and everything that comes with the season, including tons of fresh snow. The zombies are dressed up in holiday outfits and many of the special weapons are holiday themed as well. If you've ever asked yourself what would a zombie outbreak during Chritsmas be like, Dead Rising 4 has your answer. In a list about games featuring snow, this game takes the top spot simpy due to the size of its playable area, all of which is blanketed in the stuff. Whether or not it is a good game, however, is a completely different matter. In order to find out more about Dead Rising 4, you will have to wait a few weeks until I publish my full review later in the month.

Any other snowy horror games that I missed? Disagree with the order of the list? Let me know in the comments and keep checking back here at Dead Entertainment for now content!

About the Author

L.B. Lubomski

Lawrence "L.B." Lubomski is an avid horror movie fan, gamer, musician, historian, and aspiring author. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, L.B. was exposed to the works of local filmmaker and godfather of zombie cinema George A. Romero early on. He has since developed a particular fondness for Italian zombie/cannibal and slasher films. This passion for horror extends into other media, from survival horror video games such as Resident Evil to horror-inspired musical artists. In his spare time, L.B. pursues many interests including building his collection of vinyl records, action figures, and vintage video games as well as drumming in various local bands.