4. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
The precursor to Dawn of Sorrow, Aria takes place in a world where Dracula was defeated by the Belmonts, and so his powers are sealed away in a solar eclipse. But a prophecy about his reincarnation’s return in 2035 meant that one day, someone would take back Dracula’s mantle. So of course, an exploration through Dracula’s castle and battles against hordes of demons unfold. What’s fantastic about this game is its introduction of the Tactical Soul System. Defeated enemy’s souls could be made equipable to grant different abilities. What’s fun is that it doesn’t take all that long to finish this game, let alone become unbelievably overpowered.
3. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
A psychological horror action-adventure, what’s interesting about Eternal Darkness is that it stars multiple playable characters set in different places in time. It’s a non-linear narrative whose story intertwines with an ancient mystery. To add to this fragmented sense of reality, there’s also the game’s insanity meter. A gauge which when low or depleted can affect playable characters, but also augments reality itself in the game. This can be environmental displacement effects, fake characters, and zombification, or most terrifyingly, 4th wall breaks executed on what looks like your side of the screen. All while offering fun ways to reenact the feelings of going insane. In terms of scary, I personally think this game should be near the top of the chart. However, these last two games were just far too groundbreaking
From the makers of System Shock 2 came Bioshock. A narrative-driven story set in an underwater dystopia known as Rapture. Where System Shock 2 was a look at a corrupt dystopia fueled by corporate interests, Bioshock took a look at that idea made manifest, in creating a society based on the elitism and works of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The city, a construct by business magnate Andrew Ryan, was meant to be a utopia for the elite set outside the confines of the law. A technologically advanced utopia, Rapture’s location was heavily motivated for both its seclusion but also its use in farming underwater sea slugs. Creatures which when converted into ADAM could become an injectable plasmid capable of granting superpowers. What’s crazy is in its revelation of how it all falls apart, along with the mystery that again shattered what was thought possible for a first person narrative.