There’s something compelling about a good horror experience. Much like TV and films, the horror genre is one of gaming’s long-lasting and most popular genres. But what sets horror video games apart from other mediums is its ability to truly immerse you in the experience. You can actually feel the terror as you try to make it out unscathed instead of just watching it.
With so many horror games out there to choose from we’ve pulled together a quick list of 13 games that will send shivers down your spine. Whether that’s by conjuring up a chilling atmosphere or by forcing you to confront some terrifying monsters that will put your wits to the test, these games stand as some of the most enthralling horror games that you can play right now.
Capcom / Oculus
Nearly 17 years after the release of Resident Evil 4, Capcom’s seminal survival horror game just received a unique and innovative reinvention on Oculus VR. As a rebuild of the entire game in VR, you’re now firmly planted in the shoes of Leon Kennedy as he battles through hordes of mutated monsters and chainsaw-wielding maniacs in a remote village. The original game has a deft approach of blending action and horror and the new VR interface introduces some clever twists that lean into those moments of tension. Resident Evil 4 VR is a surprisingly faithful and innovative take on a classic game, so if you’ve got an Oculus Quest 2 headset, give this one a shot.
While there’s no shortage of terrifying games to play on Halloween, few titles capture the whimsical side of the holiday as well as Luigi’s Mansion 3 for the Nintendo Switch. Mario’s cowardly plumber finds himself trapped in a haunted hotel, and he must use a special ghost-sucking backpack to work his way through the resort and rescue his missing friends. Each floor of the hotel is filled with clever environmental puzzles to solve and crafty bosses to overcome, and Luigi’s comical reactions along the way give the adventure a light-hearted tone that makes it a great family-friendly alternative to other games on this list.
EA / PlayDead
As a spiritual successor to the dark and moody indie-darling Limbo, Inside follows a similar tale of a lonely protagonist trapped in a dangerous, overbearing world. However, what sets Inside apart is its gradual transition from exploring a curiously somber world into surviving in a grotesque environment that includes some sudden elements of body horror. Not a single word is said throughout Inside, yet its atmosphere and overarching story speak volumes, leaving a chilling impression as you barrel towards an unforgettable climax to this unnerving horror game.
This first-person horror game has recently been making waves on Twitch and social media, and for good reason. In the vein of Five Nights at Freddy’s, part 1 of Poppy Playtime sees you trapped in a ruined facility for a children’s toy company. Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Inside with you: a roaming animatronic in the mold of a friendly character, but it’s clear that it’s gone haywire. What follows is an incredibly tense cat and mouse game that forces you to escape a homicidal machine that still tries to keep a smile on its face.
Dead by Daylight sticks close to the tropes and cliches of classic horror slasher films. It’s a team-based survival horror game that tasks you and other survivors with evading a homicidal killer. In the years since it came out, it’s been filled with new content that adds horror icons like Pinhead, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers. If you’re in the mood for a traditional slasher experience, and you think that you can do better than characters that show up in the movies, then give Dead by Daylight a shot.
Creative Assembly / Sega
Video games with ties to films frequently get a bad rap, but one of the few exceptions is Alien Isolation. As a direct sequel to the original Alien, you have to escape a ruined space station that’s fallen into chaos by a roaming Xenomorph. Instead of being armed with pulse rifles and other military-grade weapons, all you have to survive are gadgets made of scrap to help you stay one step ahead of the alien. One of the great strengths of Alien Isolation is it genuinely made the titular alien feel terrifying once more whilst paying a stellar and hearty tribute to the original sci-fi horror film.
Baggy Cat Ltd.
While games with full-motion video are seen as relics of a bygone era, At Dead of Night takes a refreshing and equally unnerving approach to using live-action video to instill some scares. Trapped with a haunted hotel, you’ll have to uncover the mystery of what happened to several murdered inhabitants, all while evading a hotel manager who wants to ensure you don’t make it out alive. Stylistically, At Dead of Night blends the eeriness of The Shining with the gameplay of Myst and Five Nights at Freddy’s, making for a horror experience that feels so unlike anything you’ve played.
Arkane Austin / Bethesda
There’s one certainty about playing Prey: There will be a moment where the game’s unsettling Mimic creatures will catch you by surprise. As you explore an alien-infested space station, you will come across ordinary objects that will reveal themselves to be a monster in hiding. In a similar vein to John Carpenter’s The Thing, there’s a prevailing sense of paranoia throughout Prey. Even when you acquire more skills and weapons, such as the handy glue gun, you’ll still have to contend with well-hidden creatures that become more cunning as the story transpires.
Along with Resident Evil 4 VR, the latest core entry in Capcom’s long-running survival horror series introduces some clever ways to keep the scares going. In some ways, exploring Resident Evil Village’s world is akin to exploring a theme park. With the titular village serving as the general hub, the four key areas connected to it offer different types of thematic thrills to experience. Along with facing off against the infamous Lady Dimitrescu and her cabal of witches, you’ll also descend into a literal haunted house full of dolls. The later setting features one of the most intense and terrifying moments that the series has ever seen, making Resident Evil Village a must-play for any fans of the survival horror franchise.
Taking cues from the developer’s previous efforts on Until Dawn, The Dark Pictures expands upon the horror-themed choose-your-own-adventure formula by turning it into a multi-episode anthology. With each episode working as a standalone story, The Dark Pictures feels more akin to a videogame version of Black Mirror or American Horror Story, putting you in the position of choosing the fate of characters contending with supernatural forces. You can even play with friends with the Movie Night mode, letting you share the thrills of a chilling episode together.
Tarsier Studios / Bandai Namco Entertainment
The Little Nightmares games start as a twisted fairytale but quickly descend into something even darker and more unsettling. What makes the two horror games so intriguing is the clear focus on illustrating a bleak and surreal setting and how the protagonists feel like small parts of a larger world. Just when you’re taking in the disturbing imagery, you’re soon confronted with some horrifying monsters, and you’ll have no choice but to run. While these encounters can be quite scary, there’s something thrilling about discovering tricks to overcome them, which can give rise to some truly memorable moments in this narrative-driven horror game.
It can sometimes be fun to get scared of friends. As one of the surprise hits from 2020, Phasmophobia is not only an eerie and terrifying game about ghost hunting; it can also be an unexpectedly hilarious romp through a haunted house. Working as a team, you and other players have to accomplish goals in a house haunted by a poltergeist. While working together is the name of the game, there are times where your group will fall apart, with the hostile ghost picking off your crew one by one. And strangely, that’s where Phasmophobia shines. If you’re going to play this game, then definitely get a solid crew to roll into the haunted house.
Tango Gameworks / Bethesda
Mix the trippy dreamscapes of Christopher Nolan’s Inception with the horrifying monsters of the Resident Evil series, and you get The Evil Within 2. Set within a nightmare world full of grotesque creatures, The Evil Within 2 is a survival horror game that blends fast action with the exploration of a world that’s slowly unraveling within a decaying inner psyche. One of the most frightening aspects of diving into The Evil Within 2’s world is seeing what sort of creatures you’ll uncover, one of which is a multi-armed creature with an old-fashioned camera as ahead. While there’s plenty of thrill in seeing how you’ll overcome some of the game’s most hideous monsters, it still manages to ratchet up the tension by surprising you with some unexpected scares.