Horror games may not be as popular or as common as other genres of games, such as open-world RPGs and first-person shooters, but they definitely have their own fanbase of brave souls. There have been some fantastic horror game releases over the past few years, ranging from the creepy and unnerving to the straight-up horrific.
Whether because the mental images in them will scar you for life or because the jump scares will give you a heart attack, these are the most frightening games that just aren’t advisable to play alone at three-in-the-morning when you’re bored. Save these for when you have company or when there’s daylight streaming in.
Outlast is a survival horror game. It’s played in first person, with the character being a reporter who enters a psychiatric hospital that has been taken over by the murderous patients. Psychiatric hospitals can be a cliché setting for a game, but Outlast uses all the tropes to its advantage.
There’s no fighting back in this game, no combat. The reporter has to run, hide, and engage in some bloody and truly gross cutscenes. One of the most frightening games out there, this game received a lot of positive reviews from horror fanatics.
Run, hide, do whatever: just don’t get caught.
9 Outlast 2
Some games release sequels that are tragic disappointments. However, this was far from the case with Outlast 2.
Another first-person horror game, this time it takes place when another journalist is in a helicopter crash and ends up in rural Arizona. The game basically starts out with the crash and then this poor guy finding his pilot murdered in a truly horrific way.
Although it starts out a little slower than the first game, the imagery that comes up later is definitely much more disturbing. This game isn’t just a jump scare fest, it’s a game that’s only meant to be played by people with strong hearts and strong stomachs. You’ve been warned.
8 Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation is known as a very frustrating game due to the high level of difficulty that even the easiest mode gives you. Based on the movies, of course, it’s an action adventure game that’s based on outsmarting the alien hunting you. There are other antagonists, like androids, but the alien itself is going to be the real challenge to beat and the game requires a lot of stealth. Like, a lot. This alien is way too good at hunting you down.
You’ll probably get desensitized to the jump scares after a while since the game is a challenge to beat, and you might be repeating the same parts over and over, but it starts out super tense. And there's even a mobile game now!
7 Until Dawn
More of an RPG this time than A survival or action adventure (though it has elements of everything), Until Dawn starts out with the premise of eight teenagers trapped on a mountain for a night with only a cabin for protection.
The story is truly enthralling, probably more so than it initially sounds. There are a lot of twists as people begin missing and getting hurt, and the player plays as each of the characters at different points. The game relies mostly on the choices you make as a player when confronted with a decision, and the objective is to finish with as many people alive as possible — which is more difficult than it sounds.
6 Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Going back to survival horror brings us to Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The game’s main character is a man called Daniel who’s exploring a castle and has to avoid monsters and other things. Much like in Outlast, he can’t fight back — his objective is just to survive, and to keep his insanity down. Encounter too many horrifying sights or even just stay in the darkness too long and Daniel’s insanity meter will spike, which is exactly what you want to avoid.
It’s a creepy game full of dark corridors that should only be attempted alone if you’re not too sensitive to the tension…
5 Resident Evil 2: The Remake
The 1998 game Resident Evil 2 was remade this year and has received a lot of praise for staying so faithful to the original but also being updated enough to feel like a modern game.
It’s a third-person shooter this time, but another survival horror. You can choose the character for your main campaign and it’s all about escaping the zombies that have taken over.
The first zombie game on this list, it’s one of the only games that is actually pretty scary. It’s not quite as disturbing as some of the above, so you may want to attempt this on your own, but it’s still not exactly a Disney game for kids. Be warned.
They were going to release another Silent Hill game called Silent Hills, and P.T. was the Playable Teaser (get it?). It was released for the PlayStation 4 in 2014, but the next installment in the series was ultimately canceled, so it didn’t go anywhere.
An unnamed person wakes up in a pretty domestic, normal-seeming house; well, a house that seems as if it might have once been normal. It’s a tense game that requires puzzle-solving. Try not to be too unnerved by the jump scares; it’s worth playing, but will make you sad that they never finished this game.
3 The Evil Within
The Evil Within is a lot more abstract than any of the previous games. It features main character Sebastian Castellanos, who is pulled through what seems to be other dimensions. In each chapter and each world, he has to use the environment to find things to help him survive. There are recurring enemies though, and a ‘Safe Haven’ to use to upgrade weapons and save the game if need be.
There is a story connecting the whole thing, and it’s a really good playthrough, but definitely pretty eerie and another one to be saved for the daylight hours. Unless you’re a masochist, in which case…
2 Dead By Daylight
The only pure multiplayer game to make the list, Dead By Daylight is a pretty tense game where five players are loaded into a match; one killer and four survivors. The killer’s objective is to hunt the survivors, and the survivors’ objective is to escape the killer. There’s no fighting back — only running and hiding.
Most multiplayer games, even those who attempt to be frightening, usually turn out pretty silly, but this one actually does a good job of making the whole thing tense. It can be super unnerving when the killer pops out of nowhere and grabs you. Luckily, this one is always played with company.
1 The Last Of Us
The Last Of Us is more morally disturbing than out-and-out horror scary, but it’s one where you’ll definitely lie awake at night thinking about the characters and events of the game, so it counts. Don’t play it alone. You’ll want to talk to someone about it afterward.
Another zombie game but extremely complex when it comes to the characters involved, featuring a heart-breaking twist close to the beginning of the game and more towards the end. With the second game coming out this year, you’ll want to get in on this if you haven’t already.
Again, maybe in the daylight hours when the emotional agony won’t keep you awake at night straight after.