Some idiot once said there's nothing to fear except fear itself, although to be fair that was before Red Barrels created Outlast. Here you play as the world's stupidest journalist, Miles Upshur, who infiltrates the abandoned Mount Massive Insane Asylum, which of course isn't abandoned at all.
Outlast isn't so much immersive as submersive, dragging you down into its treacle-thick atmosphere as you sneak and scurry and squeal through Mount Massive's dank, halogen-drenched corridors, evading the patrols of the lumbering, twitching inmates, using your camera's grainy night-vision to light its darker areas, and document the goings on within.
It's the contradictory sensation Outlast creates within you that makes it such a terrifying, compulsive experience. It asks you to film the horrors you witness in order to learn more about the place, to stand and watch while every fibre of your being is shouting "Run! Run away and hide, hide under the bed and Don't. Come. Out."
The new Tomb Raider doesn't involve a whole lot of raiding tombs, it has to be said. They're relegated to optional side missions. But the thundering adventure that explores Lara Croft's transformation from shy young woman to wisecracking, gun-toting relic hunter certainly makes up for it.
Much has been discussed on how well this alteration in Lara's character is paced, but honestly, it doesn't matter all that much because as a raw action game Tomb Raider is absolutely stonking, with combat and platforming systems that are beautifully balanced and a clever drip-feed of new mechanics which keeps the game feeling fresh throughout.
6: Don't Starve
The survival genre which is emerging in the wake of Minecraft is likely to dominate the next few years of gaming. That elegant formula of base-building, resource gathering, and generally not-dying has proved itself to be quite a heady combination, and there are a slew of games currently in development which are adding their own little twists to the recipe. Don't Starve is one of the first to leap upon the bandwagon, and it does it with aplomb.
Don't Starve's philosophy is "Minecraft, but weirder." So it involves chopping down trees and mining rocks to build shelters, and hunting animals or farming plants for food, but it also casts you as a 19th century inventor who uses a "Science Machine" to build his survival equipment. Pigs roam the land like humans, and you can even have a pet called "Chester" who is a furry bouncing storage box. And all of these things are the least strange aspects of Don't Starve. It's witty, stylish, and tougher than reading Finnegans Wake in Hieroglyphs.