The scariest video game on Xbox 360 is EA's sci-fi survival horror Dead Space 2, a new scientific study has determined.
The survey, undertaken by usability studio Vertical Slice, tested both core and casual gamers' heart rate, sweat levels and body temperature while playing Alan Wake, Resident Evil 5, Dead Space 2 and Condemned, reports Gamasutra.
Players exposed to the first half hour of Dead Space 2 demonstrated varying degrees of shock at the events on screen: "None of the players' interest was stimulated during the cutscene that played at the start," the report details, "at least not until Isaac witnesses his dead wife become a necromorph in a horrific fashion."
"At least four of the participants found this moment distressing, and were frightened further still when throttled by the orderly, only to have him gruesomely slaughtered by a grotesque creature."
Unsurprisingly, experienced players labelled "core gamers" dealt better with the scares than the wussy subjects labelled "casual".
All test subjects experienced rapidly increased heart rate, "stunted breathing", and a rise in skin temperature, however.
Some even expressed their fears vocally. "Olivia suffers her first direct attack from a necromorph," the study notes. "Clearly, her irregular GSR [Galvanic Skin Response] patterns are aligned with this moment, and she was shouting, 'God, Oh my God, this s**t is so scary!'"
Games initially considered but found not scary enough for the study included Left 4 Dead 2, Gears of War 2, Condemned 2, Fear 1 & 2, Dead Space 1, Silent Hill: Homecoming, Alone in the Dark and Mass Effect 2.