The best horror games all have something in common: The ability to deliver a feeling of unease that someone or something is on your tail — with sinister plans to take you out. Games have only become more frightening as technology has evolved, and with so many excellent horror games, it’s time to put a spotlight on the scariest games we’ve ever played.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of titles designed to send you into a heart-racing and adrenaline-pumping frenzy, and we’ve highlighted a few of our favorites below. Some of them lean into action, while others are more focused on survival, with a few options in between. The one thing they all share is that they’re designed to make you feel like anything could be lurking around the next corner
#1 Resident Evil 7 biohazard
One of the most terrifying video games to date is Kicking things off — Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. This game managed to keep the essence of what makes Resident Evil great but turned it on its head by presenting it in first-person. At first glance, it might not seem like a Resident Evil game at all, but after about an hour or so, everything starts to fall into place — especially in the horror department. The main villains are mutated humans, which come across as even more horrifying than traditional zombies because they’re much more believable. There’s a section around the 30-minute mark (you know the one), in which you’re sitting at the dinner table with the Baker family, and it’s one of the most memorable moments of the generation. We won’t spoil it, but it truly sets the tone for the most refreshing Resident Evil game to date. And while you’re at it, we highly recommend you play it in its entirety in PSVR. With it being a first-person game, the scares are that much more pronounced in PSVR, so give it a try if you’re brave enough. But either way, whether you’re playing the regular version or in PSVR, do not skip this one.
#2 The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
Virtual reality can offer a feeling of immersion simply impossible via traditional video games, and The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners is a shining example of this. The first-person VR game is heavily story-focused, with players impacting the outcome based on their choices, and it features both ranged weapons and melee in combat. Set in New Orleans, it’s a different take on the series than the television shows or comics, and it has plenty of side content for completionists. In any zombie game worth its salt, the human survivors are just as deadly as the undead, and this is certainly the case with Saints and Sinners. No one can be trusted, and with numerous options for most situations, it’s up to players to decide how to best approach danger.
#3 Resident Evil 2
A remake of one of the most beloved horror games of all time, the deck was stacked against 2019’s Resident Evil 2 being able to truly impress longtime fans. Despite the legacy of the original, however, that is exactly what it did. Featuring blood-curdling audio and going to an over-the-shoulder perspective similar to Resident Evil 4, Capcom made the action scarier and feel more modern. With plenty of great weapons to discover and use against zombies to Mr. X himself. No longer did playing Resident Evil 2 get in the way of experiencing its chilling story. And what a story it remains in 2019. Shifting from the mansion of the first game to the infested streets and buildings of Raccoon City, Resident Evil 2 raises the stakes considerably with a conspiracy-filled journey that throws Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield into the middle of a terrifying disaster. The humans they encounter are often just as dangerous as the infected, and it gives newer players an idea of what to expect from so-called allies in the remainder of the series. No one can be trusted.
#4 Metro Exodus
Equal parts “survival” and “horror,” the Metro series is one of the most chilling depictions of post-apocalyptic life ever seen in video games or any other medium. Following a nuclear war that left most of humanity dead, protagonist Artyom and his comrades search for a new home away from violence and sorrow – and are immediately greeted by both. The third game, Metro Exodus, is particularly terrifying with its depiction of mutants, cannibals, and irradiated areas that can kill men in mere seconds. Much of Metro Exodus’ scares come from the fear of running out of ammo when dealing with monsters. Ammunition is scarce, as are the filters you need for your gas mask, and the enemies you encounter go far beyond the subway system itself. Metro Exodus remains a hopeful game despite the horrors you encounter, and it’s one backed by impeccable storytelling. Characters don’t feel like cardboard cutouts, so it feels real when one of them makes a threat or attacks.
It’s an action-role-playing game, too, but there is no denying that From Software’s Bloodborne is firmly rooted in horror. Inspired by gothic and Victorian architecture and featuring Lovecraftian enemies to battle, the world of Yharnam is nothing short of terrifying. Blood gushes out of enemies with every slash, and the bosses range from enormous spiders to electrified behemoths with skulls faces. The game’s cryptic story is even framed as a nightmare from which you cannot wake. From Software kept its knack for clever enemy placement intact for Bloodborne, which only makes it scarier. You’ll rarely go more than an hour without having an enemy leap out unannounced, delivering a small cardiac episode as you slash and dodge your way out of danger. Oftentimes, however, you won’t be able to do so, and the horror of having to find your lost Blood Echoes and eliminate hordes of enemies again becomes as scary as the world itself.
#6 Alan Wake
Arguably Remedy Entertainment’s best game, Alan Wake is a psychological horror thriller with a ton of personality sprinkled throughout. You’ve probably seen this comparison before, but it’s very reminiscent of the popular mystery show, Twin Peaks. Much of the game’s driving force revolves around uncovering the mystery of the disappearance of Alan’s wife, Alice, but you’ll also find a satisfying gameplay loop and a prominent sense of atmosphere along the way. Alan Wake has turned into somewhat of a cult hit, with a tight-knit group of loud, vocal fans, despite the game failing to smash commercial records (though it did sell somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 million copies). Interestingly, Remedy’s newest game, Control, is set in the same universe as Alan Wake and will be getting a new piece of DLC that links the two games together. Considering Remedy has regained the rights to Alan Wake (after Microsoft previously owned the IP), Remedy has stated it also has a sequel in the works.
#7 Layers of Fear
A surprise 2016 indie hit from developer Bloober Team, Layers of Fear puts players in the role of an ambitious painter at work on his magnum opus. The game takes place in his lavish Victorian mansion and he adds a new layer to the painting following the completion of each chapter. Finishing the painting quickly seems to be secondary to the man’s psychological state. Throughout the first-person experience, players are exposed to the man’s hallucinations about his disturbing past. Mirroring the style of P.T., Layers of Fear‘s main source of fear comes from the constantly changing environments. Turn back to a previously empty wall, and a creaking door with light emitting from its bottom crack may be there. While it could be categorized as a walking simulator, as there is no direct combat, players do interact with objects to solve puzzles to get the rooms to shift. From melting walls and ever-changing portraits to eerie hauntings, Layers of Fear surprises throughout its brief but masterful journey. They did follow this game up with a sequel — and a new game, The Medium, exclusively on Xbox — but neither matches the scares of the first in our eye
#8 Outlast II
Outclassing its predecessor, Outlast 2 is perhaps the hardest game to stomach on this list. The grotesque and vile manifestations you encounter throughout the game are bound to turn some players off — even those who enjoy the genre. At the outset, Journalist Blake Langermann and his wife head off to a remote location in Arizona where a pregnant woman’s body was mysteriously found on the side of the road. The cause of death was unknown and it doesn’t make sense that she died there. What begins as an investigation quickly turns into a fight for survival. Blake and Lynn garner the attention of a sex-crazed local cult and a vicious backwoods group. Just like Outlast, you can’t defend yourself. Besides sparse quick-time events, you must simply run and hide. And you have to do both of these wells unless you want Blake to suffer a brutal, torturous death. Without going into the details, let’s just say that Outlast 2 isn’t for squeamish players. Outlast 2 does both survival horror and psychological horror incredibly well tells a gripping narrative and will keep your heart beating a mile a minute as you navigate through its extremely terrifying setting populated with even more terrifying people.
#9 Dead Space
Dead Space was and is special because it managed the rare feat of simultaneously being an action-packed and deeply unsettling game. Released to near-universal acclaim in 2008, Dead Space remains one of the shining jewels of the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era. You play as Isaac Clarke, a systems engineer tasked with working his way through a mining ship that has become overrun by aliens. The humans that previously occupied the ship have turned into devastatingly frightening and powerful creatures dubbed Necromorphs. The game’s satisfying action comes from dismembering these creatures limb by limb with high-tech weapons and gadgets. But you never know when they are going to crawl out of exposed corridors or slither from the ceiling. The broken-down starship is filled with atmospheric tension, and Isaac’s solitude amplifies the sense of dread. Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3 gradually shifted toward more action and less horror, but the original’s terrific blend of action and quiet intrigue make it stand out as the scariest game in the franchise. A remake is also on the way, but the original is still worth experiencing.
#10 Amnesia: The Dark Descent
From Frictional Games, the team behind the Penumbra series, 2010 indie darling Amnesia: The Dark Descent expanded on the company’s unique brand of first-person horror adventures and created something of a phenomenon among horror game developers and indie game fans. Set in 1839, a young Londoner named Daniel awakens in Prussia’s Brennenburg Castle. He’s confused, not knowing anything but his name, and that he is desperately on the run from something that is hunting him. His lack of memories, according to a note he wrote himself, was self-imposed for his good. So begins the winding adventure that twists and turns with every room Daniel visits in the sprawling castle. Along the way, Daniel runs into utterly menacing creatures called gatherers, who, like many horror game oddities, were previously human. Daniel can only run or hide from these nefarious beings. There’s danger lurking everywhere, but Amnesia tends to save its most startling scares for when you think you’re safe. Unraveling the mystery of Daniel’s past and the castle itself is a journey that will keep you up late at night — and perhaps even after you’ve exited the game. The sequel, made by a different developer, was unfortunately unable to capture what made this game so horrifying.