Roleplaying horror games is an underserved niche genre. Probably because combining the confidence-boosting treasure hunter bliss of RPGs with the ominous tension of horror is a difficult marriage to pull off. Hence, games that manage to combine both elements with care usually come out as timeless masterpieces whose brilliance might never get replicated (save for a certain game with "souls" in its name that's featured here).
In any case, finding RPG horror games that are of AAA quality or at least close, can be a grueling task. So, we've searched far and wide (sort of?) to bring you the best of RPG horror. Of course, they're not as scary as dedicated horror genre games but they sure as heck are more replayable.
10 DARK SOULS SERIES
You're probably already sick of hearing this game whenever someone asks for horror; well, too bad because the Dark Souls franchise is one of the most horrific RPGs ever made. While the brand of horror here is more slow-burn dread that in-your-face jump-scares (though there are some of those as well), the foreboding atmosphere and creepy creature design are undeniably there.
In all three Dark Souls games, you're always in constant fear of getting squashed to paste and losing your hard-earned currency. That does happen so many times that the fear factor dissipates and is slowly replaced with infantile rage but nothing comes quite close to the feeling of despair and hopelessness upon seeing a boss execute its most disgusting kill combo against you.
If Dark Souls' horror elements are too softcore for you, then you might want to look at its more terrifying cousin, Bloodborne from the same developers. It has the same formula but takes place in a fictional Victorian era plagued by Lovecraftian monsters and mythos. As you can imagine, the creature design here is the stuff of nightmares... if the nightmare was accompanied by a high-fever delirium.
It's a game you really shouldn't miss if you've been a longtime fan of Lovecraft; there aren't many games that successfully translate that kind of horror either. Even some fans of the Souls-like genre consider Bloodborne as better than Dark Souls. Getting your hands on Bloodborne, however, might be more difficult as it's a console-exclusive game.
8 THE EVIL WITHIN 2
The Evil Within 2 has proven itself to be a worthy successor to the first game and they were somewhat successful at rivaling the Resident Evil franchise. In any case, it's more horror than RPG so don't go in as a hardcore RPG fan expecting some deep customization and character development. Most of what The Evil Within 2 has are RPG elements and at times, they can even feel tacked on.
However, that provides a nice change of pace and offers more freedom than games like Resident Evil. Your character, Sebastian Castellanos, can be upgraded and has some specialized skill sets you can develop for a specific playstyle. Weapon variety is also commendable and you'll certainly start feeling more powerful (or less helpless) as you progress into the game.
7 DEAD SPACE 3
The preceding Dead Space games were flagbearers of the horror genre and were unique in their own right. They became so much more than just Resident Evil in space and were even popular enough to get a third title. Even so, the third game, Dead Space 3 is notably a weaker entry than its predecessors. It introduced a new progression system to its aging mission structure and incorporated more RPG elements.
On top of that, there are also optional side missions in the game that can distract you from the main story. What really does scream 'RPG' in Dead Space 3 is the modularity of the guns. Your arsenal has been expanded and you can even do some crafting to make hybrid versions of your default weapons. It's arguably the third game's greatest advantage over the first two.
6 VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE - BLOODLINES
There's no doubting the horror elements of this one, it's written on the name. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is a classic from 2004 but was revolutionary back when it was released. Still, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is more of a traditional RPG than a horror game. You get to customize your character's stats at the character creation and even pick your vampire clan.
There's also lots of dialog in between the action and your choices matter more than most games on this list. It's a true RPG alright. There is, however, at least one guaranteed spot in the game called the Ocean House Hotel which can quickly change the tone and make you feel like the prey instead of a bloodsucking predator. It's a ghost hotel that's better if you experience by yourself.
5 SYSTEM SHOCK 2
The first System Shock game was shook the gaming industry to its core and gave eventually led to the creation of some spiritual successors like Bioshock. Point is, it's a masterpiece and was certainly ahead of its time. System Shock 2 does follow it up with awesome additions to the core gameplay.
System Shock 2 incorporates certain RPG elements such as skills and character progression through stats but it's still mostly a horror and survival first-person shooter (FPS). Nevertheless, it's a worthy follow up to the cyberpunk legacy that System Shock created. If you can stomach the heavily outdated graphics, it's worth giving a try.
4 STALKER SERIES
Here we have another hybrid survival FPS game which to this day has never been successfully recreated: the Stalker games. Clear Sky, Shadow of Chernobyl, or Call of Pripyat, no matter which game you play among these three, you'll surely have a unique experience. The Stalker games have successfully interwoven survival, RPG, FPS, and horror elements into one game (albeit a buggy one).
You play as a lone Stalker in the Zone, a quarantined area made desolate because of the Chernobyl accident. You'll have to do your best to scavenge gear, improve your stats, and discover the secrets of the Zone-- maybe even reach the fabled ground zero where an entity who grants wishes resides. There's nothing quite like these games despite having existed for more than a decade.
Since horror RPG games are not a very popular combination of genres for gaming, not many mainstream or AAA developers make them. So it's up to indie studios to fill in that void and one of the best indie games in this genre mishmash is Darkwood. You play it from a top-down perspective but it's every bit as immersive as most horror games.
The RPG elements are quite simple but they work well to support the game's survival aspect. There's also a crafting system to keep the monsters out. Even the premise is simple: the woods are creepy, dark, and deep (sorry Robert Frost); so you do your best to explore and survive the place while finding some weapons and tools to aid yourself.
2 PARASITE EVE SERIES
Leave it to the Japanese to invent some hybrid games that actually work. What would the gaming industry do without them? Anyway, the Parasite Eve games are one of our best choices to recommend for anyone looking for that harmonic horror RPG experience. It's made by Square (that figures) and thrusts the NYPD rookie named Aya Brea (player character) into a mutant apocalypse in motion.
The gameplay is turn-based for the first game while the sequel revamps it in real-time. As with most Square games, intricate and serviceable RPG elements are present but in no way does Parasite Eve skimp on the horror aspect. In fact, it might have even worked without the RPG elements. The unique gameplay and the interesting ideas of Parasite Eve games alone make them worth playing.
1 DARKEST DUNGEON
We mentioned earlier that Lovecraftian horror games are too few right? That's what makes the handful of them all the more memorable. Darkest Dungeon, for that matter, is a shining diamond. It takes the good old fashioned dungeon crawling and turn-based combat and added a dash of madness and masochism to it.
The result is one of the most difficult and most nerve-wracking horror RPG games ever. It might even be harder than Dark Souls or Bloodborne. You have to manage your adventurers' stress levels and the fact that they're all disposable no matter how much you value them. Oh, and you also frequently deal with freaky Lovecraftian monsters who love to lurk in ambush in every nook and cranny of the Darkest Dungeon.