25 Best Horror Games You Absolutely Need to Play
Horror is always such a difficult genre to pull off. It requires correct timing, the appropriate narrative and proper build-up. Still, everyone is scared of something, especially in video games.
I have not included RPG horror games in this article to keep them more organized in a separate article.
The list is in no particular order.
Frictional games were no stranger to the horror gaming scene thanks to the penumbra series. However amnesia the Dark Descent completely blew away expectations.
Its tale of confusion and mystery highlighted by the protagonist’s amnesia clashed with the oppressive shadow that constantly sought out players. Amnesia – The Dark Descent, delivered a compelling psychological horror experience that was simple but still wholly terrifying.
The Amnesia collection features the first game. Amnesia: A machine for pigs developed by the Chinese room and Amnesia Justine while the latter two range from above-average to good. The entire collection is a steal for the amount of scares that it provides.
After setting our fears alight with amnesia, the Dark Descent frictional games told a slightly different more sci-fi story with soma. It took us into a far-future underwater lab that was falling apart.
The first-person title featured horrifying machines with human voices dotting the hallways as protagonist Simon struggled to recall the truth. The reality of the situation and the horror of what must be done would make the narrative that much heavier and more involving.
It’s not a scare per minute title, but soma succeeds wonderfully as a disturbing descent into the abyss.
Resident Evil 2 (2019)
Can you imagine the perfect remake? Because that’s what Resident Evil 2 was without a doubt. Capcom took the essentials of its original survival horror classic, translated it over into the RE engine with gorgeous visuals and brought a third-person perspective while maintaining the horror elements.
Classic seems like facing the tyrant who can relentlessly pursue you as Mr X by the way and William Birkin feel all the more terrifying now.
If you haven’t played it yet, Resident Evil 2 is a Game of the Year contender and a darn scary one at that.
Silent Hill 2
A venerable horror classic, the John Carpenter arrested in Evil’s George Romero. Konami made a name for itself with several classics it produced back in the day, and Silent Hill 2 stands at the top.
The protagonist is James Sunderland, who travels to Silent Hill upon receiving a letter from his supposedly dead wife. Upon entering the town, he’s beset by horrors manifest from his psyche and must navigate the town in an attempt to escape countless unforgettable moments.
Not to mention the terror of Pyramid Head, this still makes Silent Hill 2 stand out in this day and age.
Silent Hill 3
As a sequel to the first Silent Hill, Silent Hill 3 is about Heather, Harry Mason’s daughter. Now a teenager Heather finds herself wrapped up in the horrors of Silent Hill while dealing with the town’s mysterious cult.
As a whole, Silent Hill 3 captures the same feeling of dread that the series is known for and serves as a solid continuation of the series mythos. Plus it has memorable sequences like the mirrored room of blood that set it apart from other entries.
This is technically a demo; P.T. stands for playable teaser after all. But this is still one of the scariest games ever to release. Directed by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro, P.T. was meant to promote Silent Hills and saw players wandering down a hallway nigh endlessly while being haunted by Lisa.
It was moody, disturbing and downright atmospheric inspiring an entire wave of imitators over the years.
SLENDER: THE ARRIVAL
This is essentially a more polished version of slender the eight pages the free to play horror title which exploded in popularity, thanks to its streamlined approach and use of Slenderman.
The Arrival expands on the core premise introduces a secondary antagonist in the chaser and maintains the same elusive mystique for Slenderman with the narrative to drive the action.
The overall gameplay isn’t perfect, but the creepy atmosphere and scares are legit.
Red Barrel Game Outlast may seem like your average first-person horror game with nice visuals, but it’s a straight-up descent into hell. As journalist miles Upshur, you investigate the Mount Massive asylum where a whistleblower has reported strange goings-on.
Once inside, there are patients out for your blood. The massive hulking Chris Walker is looking to tear you limb from limb and the enigmatic wall Rider who stalks you.
Its pulse-pounding, tense and highly disturbing, which means it’s highly recommended for horror buffs.
Supermassive games narrative horror title was in development for a long time. Still, the reason became clear upon playing until Dawn is a game that’s continuously branching, accounting for several different decisions, and adjusting the story to your actions accordingly.
The tale of eight friends reuniting at a spooky Lodge on Blackwood Mountain made for some satisfying thrills and appropriately gory deaths. Until Dawn drew us in with its storytelling and presentation as we wondered who could meet their end next.
MAN OF MEDAN
While Man of Medan is not as massively ambitious as Until Dawn but it is still a satisfying and creepy tale that sees a group of friends trapped on an abandoned ship.
The ship is haunted and drives the cast crazy to the point that they see themselves as monsters. As you’d imagine, that could potentially lead to several gruesome deaths.
With QuickTime events branching paths and multiple endings Man of Medan’s still a worthwhile horror tale.
THE EVIL WITHIN
From the mind of Resident Evil creator, Shinji Mikami came a new survival horror game with a deeper psychological bent. The Evil Within is about Sebastian.
A police detective thrust into a nightmarish world when investigating a crime scene. He learns of Ruvik, the stem system and the conspiracy surrounding them while fighting for survival against entities like Laura and the keeper. Despite some awkward controls, The Evil Within was a chilling adventure ripe for more stories.
There are plenty of reasons to dislike Blair Witch, particularly since its main character Ellis can be rather annoying. Plus, well it is a Blair Witch game, and past entries have been less than stellar, forget terrifying.
Still, traversing into the Black Hills forest and falling prey to the supposed manipulations of the Blair Witch with time and space altering feels appropriately creepy.
It also doesn’t hurt that Ellis’s dog bullet is adorable and a welcome companion in this nightmarish journey.
CONDEMNED: CRIMINAL ORIGINS
Developed by monolith productions, Condemned Criminal origins took a grittier muddier dive into the world of urban horror. Inspired by the likes of 7, the story sees FBI agent Ethan Thomas in pursuit of a mysterious serial killer X.
Exploring condemned buildings and fending off madman in the process. Emphasizing melee combat condemned did a great job at building an era of paranoia and reluctance at what the next corner could hold.
ALONE IN THE DARK
Before there was Resident Evil, there was alone in the dark, released in 1992. The first game is considered a pioneer and 3d survival horror, set in a haunted mansion. Gamers can control either Edward Carnby or Emily heartwood, and they must escape emphasizing puzzle solving, exploration and investigation.
Alone in The Dark succeeded in crafting a scary atmosphere despite the limitations of its hardware. It’s a shame then that the newer titles effectively solely that reputation.
Boarding the Ishimura for the first time, we had no idea what horrors awaited protagonist Isaac Clark. Dead Space from E.A. redwood later visceral games presented a worn down environment with nightmarish foes from the start and only ramped things up from there.
It’s not just the threat of violent death are facing unknown hordes of Necromorphs that captured us though. Dead Space was a phenomenal third-person shooter an excellent exploration and puzzle-solving experience and also a great story with likeable characters.
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ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITY’S REQUIEM
Silicon Knights most famous title released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002. Flying in the face of many who felt the console was only for kids. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem presented an epic tale, unfolding across multiple characters and generations, all joined by the tome of eternal darkness and the War of the Ancients.
Perhaps more importantly, it introduced the sanity meter, which produced all kinds of terrifying hallucinatory effects like your character being dismembered or the controller becoming unplugged during battle.
LAYERS OF FEAR
It’s funny how the Bluebird team went from a relatively subpar multiplayer title like basement crawl to a narrative-focused horror experience like Layers of Fear. Layers of Fear on an artist struggling to complete his masterpiece and seemingly at the edge of sanity.
The title took players through a winding mansion of surreal occurrences and terrifying sights. Even if it felt overtly linear, there was an interesting story in the backdrop as we learned about the artists downward spiral and subsequent horrendous acts.
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ALAN WAKE: REMEDY ENTERTAINMENT
Alan Wake is an amalgam of influences, from The Shining to Twin Peaks, but the story revels in its ambiguity. Writer Alan Wake ventures to bright falls with his wife, but things take a dark turn when she goes missing.
From their Wake must struggle with his memories and the dark presence within to decipher what’s happening. Though, it might be more of a dark fantasy than straight-up horror. The stunning visuals and strong atmosphere make Alan Wake worth experiencing.
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Yes, this is a direct sequel to the first Alien film and sees Amanda Ripley investigating her mother’s disappearance. However, Alien Isolation is best known for the horrifying cat-and-mouse game with the Xenomorph.
Clever and capable of sniffing you out when it’s not straight-up outplaying you. The Xenomorph is nigh unkillable and can seemingly show up at the worst times.
Combined with the stellar retro-futuristic art direction and pacing the Xenomorph, an Alien Isolation helps channel the horrifying atmosphere of the older films.
At first Dream, Forge’s Sanitarium seems to follow the same amnesiac protagonist struggling to regain his memory trope of other horror properties. However, when the protagonist max awakens in a sanitarium and begins to explore it, things take a turn for the bizarre.
He’ll find himself transported to different locations whether it’s a circus at the bottom of the ocean or the end of the world. Filled with a disturbing aesthetic and themes, not to mention excellent puzzles and storytelling, Sanitarium is an underappreciated horror title that you need to check out.
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Moody atmospheric puzzle platformer, Little Nightmares looks to channel titles like Inside and Limbo. Thankfully the overall story about a young girl named six who was kidnapped and subsequently had to escape the horrifying creatures of the maw is unique.
Its atmosphere and presentation capture how much more terrifying things can be for a child. It is whimsically creepy and well worth the trip, despite its relative length.
CLOCK TOWER 3
The clock tower series started its knee shove horror back in the day. Clock tower 3 was released in 2003, and while it didn’t quite deliver in the gameplay department, it did not lack in scares.
A young girl named Alisa is in pursuit of her mother who’s gone missing and finds herself travelling through time, witnessing horrifying acts to find her.
There’s plenty of running that must be done when the subordinate suddenly shows up to hunt Alyssa down.
FATAL FRAME 2: CRIMSON BUTTERFLY
The story of Mio and Mayu, twin sisters who explore the village of Minakami feels timeless in a way like an old Japanese horror movie. The atmosphere is tense, and the scares are built up to have some real weight behind them.
Fatal Frame 2 is still about using the camera obscura to take pictures of enemies and damage them, but there’s also an intriguing story surrounding the crimson sacrifice ritual that permeates Minakami. It has arguably one of the saddest and scariest endings of all time.
Appearing as little more than a simple first-person survival title, in-night games at the forest has a certain method about its cannibalistic madness. As a plane crash survivor marooned on an island, Erik must locate a Sun and strange mutants that have a taste for flesh.
Setting up camp is essential but knowing how to deal with the mutants makes things more intriguing since they’ll often observe you and attempt to communicate rather than simply attacking.
With a surprisingly deep storyline and some genuine Horrors, The Forest comes highly recommended.
SIREN: BLOOD CURSE
It was released in 2008 for the PS3. Siren Blood Curse is the last major title in the series. Much like fatal frame, it offers a more Japanese horror film style atmosphere, focusing on several characters who become involved in strange events in Hanuda village.
Siren Blood Curse offers a variety of different characters while emphasizing their struggle and isolation against the undead shibito. Siren Blood Curse isn’t perfect, but it’s plenty scary in its own ways.