The horror, the HORROR
Horror games are a dime a dozen. Scary horror games, good horror games—nicely, these are a lot rarer. We’ve rounded up some of the best horror games ever made, working the gamut from big-budget extravaganzas launched this very year to… textual content adventures. I’m critical.
Flip out the lights, placed on some headphones, make sure you’ve acquired a spare pair of underwear close by, and enjoy these terrifying spine-tinglers.
Editor’s notice: This list was updated on October 23, 2020 to add a number of new games and take away some older titles.
Like Left 4 Lifeless, Phasmophobia is a first-person, 4-person horror coop game. However whereas Valve’s undead shooter leans into motion with weapons a-blazing, Phasmophobia takes a more classical strategy to terror. You management a tiny team of paranormal ghost hunters, touring to various locations and using an array of equipment (from UV blacklights to EMF readers) to attempt to establish the sort of spook haunting the house, and the place they’re lurking. The locations are darkish. The ghosts are not pleasant.
It’s already the best ghost game I’ve ever performed, even in its current barely janky early access kind. The tips it pulls using the in-game voice chat will be really terrifying. Flip off the lights, seize some associates, and don’t miss out.
Over a decade after its debut, Frictional’s Amnesia series remain some of the most really spine-tingling horror games available. This year, Frictional delivered a treat just in time for Halloween. Amnesia Rebirth takes place in the Algerian desert in 1937, placing you in the footwear of Tasi Trianon, who—of course—wakes up with no memory. The game’s developers call it “A harrowing journey by desolation and despair, exploring the limits of human resilience.” Higher but, Rebirth is a direct follow-up to the legendary Darkish Descent, and a few of the locales give off robust Soma vibes—two games we’ll speak about more later.
Bloober Crew put out two games in 2019, and the one I am more enamored with is not a great match for this list. Layers of Worry 2 is a masterpiece of art direction, a superb homage to traditional Hollywood that I extremely suggest—but it surely’s not scary.
Blair Witch is fairly tense although. Taking over the found footage aesthetic of the movies, you play as an ex-cop who joins a lacking individuals search—and ends up (as you’d count on) hopelessly misplaced in the woods. As ever, Bloober’s acquired a neat gimmick to go with the motion, scrubbing by movie clips to change the state of the world. That is a side course although. Actually, this one’s just about the stress of being alone in a forest labyrinth, with no way out. Generally the easy ideas are the scariest, yeah?
A remake of Ice Choose Lodge’s 2004 oddity Pathologic, pseudo-sequel Pathologic 2 preserves a lot of the original’s delicate horror. There is a city. There is a plague. There’s by no means sufficient time.
And sure, there are more conventional horror parts—cryptic speeches, otherworldly entities. It is more about the experience although. Taking part in as “The Haruspex,” you are ill-equipped to unravel Pathologic 2‘s mysteries, and that is half of the draw. If horror games are about making the player really feel weak and powerless, then Pathologic 2 is one of the most profitable horror games of all time. Each success is hard-won, and any fleeting catharsis like a breath of recent air for a dying man.
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 was one of the more uncared for Resident Evil entries. Whereas each the debut and Resident Evil 4 have been remastered and even remade time and again, Resident Evil 2 was left to languor on the PlayStation for 20 years.
Capcom did proper by it although. The Resident Evil 2 remake is the bar for any and all remakes going forward, transplanting the story and environment of the original into a contemporary engine. A map that tracks your per-room progress is one of many good tweaks right here, as is ditching the iconic (however annoying) save ribbons for all however the hardest difficulties.
Whether or not they remake Resident Evil 3 next or gin up a model new entry, I will be there—as long as it performs this easily.
No Code’s last project Tales Untold created horror from the mundane, nightmares unfolding when you spooled by microfiche or adjusted the dials on an X-ray machine. Commentary is barely more active, however retains that analog really feel. This time you are aboard a spaceship in Saturn’s orbit—or quite, you are the spaceship. You are S.A.M., the ship’s synthetic intelligence, solely afforded a window on the world by your various safety cameras.
I nonetheless assume No Code described it best in their first pitch, once they mentioned “Observation is kind of 2001: A Space Odyssey—but you’re HAL.” Mix that with some Annihilation-esque cosmic horror, and you have all the makings of an unsettling gradual burn.
One other one for fans of New Bizarre, Management definitely is not the most conventional horror game. Hell, it is not even the most conventional horror game made by Treatment. That’d be Alan Wake, of course.
However Management attracts rather a lot of inspiration from The Southern Attain Trilogy, from SCP Basis, from Home of Leaves, from The X-Recordsdata and Twin Peaks—in different phrases, from rather a lot of sources which might be horror or at the least horror-adjacent. It is not often scary but it surely’s virtually at all times creepy, a pervasive sense of wrongness that arises from each empty office, each clean concrete wall, and…nicely, in all probability from the people floating immobile in the air as nicely.
It is the sort of horror that sits in the back of your thoughts, like the veil of the world’s been torn back just a bit to reveal the abyss gazing by. And that is very special indeed.
Man of Medan
In 2015 Supermassive tailored Telltale’s model of branching cinematic storytelling to the horror style. The result? PlayStation 4 unique Till Daybreak, a surprisingly entertaining pulp horror tale a couple of bunch of ill-fated teenagers.
Fortunately follow-up The Darkish Footage Anthology is funded by Bandai Namco, and thus free to come to the PC as nicely. The first chapter is Man of Medan, which retells the story of the real-world ghost ship Ourang Medan—albeit from the perspective of a recent group of ill-fated twenty-somethings. It is half adventure game and half movie, as you make dialogue decisions and decisions that might hold your characters alive, or result in everybody’s death.
The writing is pretty predictable, and a few of the appearing a bit picket, but it surely’s nonetheless a enjoyable time attempting to outsmart everybody’s favorite horror tropes. And no matter you do, do not open the coffins. What, are you attempting to finish up dead?
New Blood’s carved out a neat little area of interest, creating not just retro-inspired shooters however ones which might be vaguely horror-inspired as nicely. Nightfall takes you thru sinister farms and abandoned cityscapes, Amid Evil to a lot weirder fantasy environs. However each are about moving one million miles an hour, taking pictures something that moves, and opening a bunch of locked doorways. Scary? Possibly not a lot—however solely as a result of you could have more than sufficient weapons to defend your self from all the horrors that await.
If that is not sufficient, Blood: Recent Provide remasters one of New Blood’s inspirations. Would possibly as nicely seize all three and get gibbing.
The Evil Inside 2
The first Evil Inside was a large number of a game. Oh sure, it had good concepts, however the execution was just dismal at times—clunky motion, a tedious and poorly paced opening, and a save system that precipitated more than one particular person I know to give up after just a few hours.
However The Evil Inside 2 is superb—one of 2017’s best games, even. The more open-world construction of some acts takes a bit of getting used to, however its more story-driven bits are home to jaw-dropping spectacle: people’s last moments frozen in time, unsettling structure, supernatural hallucinations. All the concepts that made the first game worth the grind are back, and paired with a game that truly performs nicely this time.
Lifeless by Daylight
As soon as upon a time this slide was a battle between Lifeless by Daylight and Friday the thirteenth, two horror games with an analogous conceit: Uneven multiplayer, the place 4 survivors have to band collectively and maintain out whereas one other player, the powerful monster, tries to kill them off. “Suppose Evolve, however for sadists,” I wrote.
However Lifeless by Daylight is your solely option now. The Friday the thirteenth game acquired caught up in the ongoing lawsuit over the series rights, with the developers just about abandoning and saying “no new content” could be forthcoming. Relaxation in peace, and all. You’ll be able to nonetheless buy it on Steam, however you’re higher off sticking with Lifeless by Daylight.
One alien. That was the design direction behind Artistic Meeting’s Alien: Isolation, which pursued the survival horror temper of the original 1979 movie as a substitute of the action-packed plot of Aliens.
And it labored. Although a bit overlong and at times needlessly tough, Alien: Isolation is the strongest big-budget horror experience in years. This game is just plain tense—virtually unbearably so should you play it with a VR headset. And it is available for Linux, Steam Machines, and OS X, too.
SOMA is not the scariest game Frictional’s ever made. It’s not. It’s barely a horror game for lengthy stretches at a time, and the monsters are more hindrance than terror.
However the underwater confines of PATHOS-II are sometimes unnerving, what with the groans of pressurized steel and the flickering lights and the robots that appear to consider they’re nonetheless human. It’s a robust experience, and one nicely worth playing even when it won’t make you leap out of your seat.
Amnesia: The Darkish Descent
Now we’re digging into Frictional’s really great scares. A Victorian-era fort might not appear like the best setting for a horror game, however with Amnesia: The Darkish Descent Frictional took all the pieces it discovered from its earlier games, polished it, and launched one of the scariest games of all time. You play as Daniel, an archeologist who’s misplaced his memory and has solely a letter—apparently written by him—to information his escape from the mad fort and shadowy figures that stalk him.
As of 2018, Amnesia‘s also been updated with a new difficulty stage, tougher than earlier than. I would not suggest it for new players, as true horror’s found in considering you may die after which escaping. However for veterans, it is great to have a reason to revisit the fort.
And whereas it is more polarizing, the sequel Machine for Pigs is worth checking out, so long as you curb your expectations.
Doki Doki Literature Membership
Half of the enchantment of Doki Doki Literature Membership shouldn’t be figuring out it’s a horror game while you go into it, so it feels a bit like a betrayal to put it on right here, a “Finest Horror Games” list.
However even figuring out there’s a twist coming, Doki Doki Literature Membership remains to be a wise horror experience that pulls some unsettling tips on the player. Higher but, it’s free, so even should you’re not big into the visible novel style usually (I’m not) you won’t risk a lot by downloading it and giving it a attempt.
Asylums are simple fodder for horror. That mentioned, Outlast makes the most of its clichéd setting by offering you no way to defend your self and forcing you into the found-footage conceit popularized by horror movies like Blair Witch Mission. The game has some pacing points, but it surely’s undoubtedly not for the faint of coronary heart—gore and jump scares abound.
And should you already performed and loved the base Outlast game, be sure to test out the Whistleblower DLC launched last year. Outlast 2? Not a lot.
Two years after it first made the list, Visage remains to be in Early Entry—and for good reason. Stock administration is tough, some of the tutorial textual content has typos, and there are lots of rooms gated off at the second.
However should you like slow-burn horror, Visage is shaping up to be great. You’re trapped in a house that just retains going and going and going, a non-Euclidian space with creatures in the partitions and a dearth of dependable lightbulbs. Talking of which, Visage also adopts the “sanity” mechanic from Amnesia, Everlasting Darkness, et al. Keep in the darkness too lengthy and… nicely, don’t keep in the darkness too lengthy. That’s all I can recommend.
Little Nightmares is the best Limbo-style platformer I’ve performed. It borrows the standard Playdead template—you’re a small little one and also you do rather a lot of working (and typically leaping) to the proper. Nothing new there.
However these types of games live and die on their aesthetic. Little Nightmares blends the surreal and the grotesque in a way that’s each fascinating and just plain disgusting. Its shambling, outsized monsters aren’t essentially scary however they’re unnerving, and there’s a sure Spirited Away high quality to them too—a light however ever-present social commentary at work. It’s charming, and more than makes up for the simplistic mechanics.
It’s a point-and-click, however Stasis has environment in spades. You wake up on an odd spaceship, surrounded by our bodies, and it solely will get worse from there.
Styled after the traditional isometric horror game Sanitarium and paying apparent homage to Alien, Occasion Horizon, I Have No Mouth and I Should Scream, and different bits of beloved style fiction, Stasis is well one of the best horror games in latest years—not essentially as a result of of overt scares, however as a result of it tells a compelling story and has a way of getting beneath your pores and skin.
Dice Escape: Paradox
It’s lengthy past time I put one of the Dice Escape or Rusty Lake games on this list. The series has a knack for psychological horror, the sort that doesn’t actually make you jump a lot because it worms its way into your mind and sits there for days. Grotesque puzzle options abound, by some means rendered even more unsettling by the welcoming cartoon aesthetic of all of it.
Dice Escape: Paradox is the latest game in the series and doubtless a bad place to start—I’d suggest both the free Dice Escape games or perhaps Rusty Lake Roots. Paradox is the most up-to-date game although, and also the most bold because it comes hooked up to a 20-minute brief movie set in the similar universe. What began as a easy room escape series will get a bit weirder each year, and I adore it.
If System Shock 2 is the best space-based survival horror game of all time—and it’s—Lifeless House is a detailed second. Engineer Isaac Clarke makes an attempt to restore an infinite space station, solely to discover it is infested by aliens generally known as the Necromorphs.
Lifeless House is actually the horror game Doom 3 so desperately tried to be. It’s completely worth checking out.
Scared by… a textual content adventure? It is true. The tale of a creepy outdated mansion and a young couple, Anchorhead is over fifteen years outdated at this level and owes a hefty amount to Mr. H.P. Lovecraft. Like a good horror novel, Anchorhead is much less about jump-out-of-your-seat scares and more about creating stress, but it surely does that masterfully.
Plus it is free, like most fashionable textual content adventures, and playable by your browser.
Additionally worth checking out: Slouching In the direction of Bedlam, Vespers
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