The Top 20 Best Horror Games of All Time: Open If You Dare

Best horror games

Horror: it’s a genre that most people associate with blood and guts, and loud noises that, while expected, still manage to throw you for a loop. Those easy scares, however, can get old—especially for those of the not-so faint of heart. That’s why horror fans, especially fans of horror games, tend to gravitate towards the quiet games; the games that promise disturbing fates, and yet, it’s what is going inside their heads while playing that proves to be the scariest element. 

Coming up, we’ve got 20 of the best horror games of all time. From long-standing pillars to recent classics, we’ve got a little bit of something for everyone. 

20. Best Horror Games: Little Nightmares

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This is an ideal horror game for fans of Tim Burton. It is disturbingly beautiful, integrating classic horror elements with those from an animated movie. Set in a location called the Maw, players (who are represented by Six, a strange little girl with a yellow raincoat and no backstory) have to escape the Maw, avoiding grotesque creatures while doing so.

From the contorted blind janitor to the obese, disgruntled chefs, Little Nightmares lets players explore a strange world with revolting characters, making this a great horror experience and one that’s fairly unique as well.

There are, of course, a few glitches, with some users stating the game has a few frustrating camera angles, but at the end of it all, the horrible atmosphere of Little Nightmares is hard to shake. And that’s what horror fans want, right?

19. Best Horror Games: Lone Survivor

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It’s clear just by looking at the credentials of Lone Survivor that this game has all the elements a horror fan would want. It was, after all, developed by Jasper Bryne, the same man who turned Silent Hill into 2D games. 

In this game, you are the only living human in the world (well, as far as you’re aware), giving the game an ominous tone from the get-go. Lone Survivor deals with two things: staying away from the evils in the world and staying away from the dark corners of your brain. Not only do you have to walk down barley-lit corridors to avoid the Things That Go Bump in the Night, but you also have to maintain your sanity. If, for instance, you are deprived of necessities in the game, such as food and water, chances of hallucinating increase.

That’s when things really start to take a turn in the game. 

18. Best Horror Games: Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly

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Japanese horror has to be one of the best. It can trick (and revolt) the mind in ways that Western media fails to do, and it’s for that reason that the Fatal Frame series has become such a staple in the horror games market. From the start, the Fatal Frame series has had a terrifying storyline: characters are frozen in place with fear, and they can only defend themselves against soul-stealing ghosts by facing them head-on. All unsettling, of course, but it’s the series’ second game that takes things above and beyond, allowing it to secure a place on this list. Crimson Butterfly has perhaps the best storyline of the series, focusing on two sisters who have suffered loss, making it a story that’s about more than just survival.

If you are someone who wants the horror and not the personal side of the relationships, don’t worry. Crimson Butterfly does not fail to make sure that there is an ever-present threat in the different stages of the game. 

17. Best Horror Games: Amnesia: The Dark Descent

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There are a lot of unnerving elements in this game. For starters, the player is trapped in a monster-infested location without knowing why they are there. Even worse: the player doesn’t even know who they are. The game follows Daniel, the protagonist whom the player has to guide through the fortress, as he avoids monsters and tries to stay out of the dark in order to maintain his sanity.

Sure, while all of this sounds like the basics of every horror game made, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is in its own category. Daniel has no weapons. Daniel cannot fight the monsters; he can only hope to avoid them. Every room has something new that impacts Daniel’s sanity. And then, of course, there’s the infamous “water part.”

All we can say about that is if you make it through this part while playing Amnesia in the dark with your headphones in—actually, this applies if you can make it through this part in the daylight—you should consider yourself to be very brave. And we mean very brave.

16. Best Horror Games: Alan Wake

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You know how some people say they like the horror genre, but what they mean by that is that they actually like crime or psychological thrillers? Well, the game Alan Wake is ideal for those people, as it’s not actually a horror game. There’s no gore or jump scares, and it’s not even scary. The game does, however, focus on a mountain town with a secret, and it plays out like a thriller TV miniseries, incorporating an intriguing storyline with an episodic structure that reveals plot twist after plot twist. 

Alan Wake is fun to play, too. If you’re playing a horror game, you must enjoy the genre a little, but even then, these games can get too much. Especially if you’re playing them in the early hours of the morning. Yet Alan Wake is different. It’s an enjoyable “horror game” that has all of the right elements without giving you nightmares hours after you turn it off. 

15. Best Horror Games: F.E.A.R.

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The number of scares in this game is ridiculous—in the best way possible.

F.E.A.R. is a first-person shooter game that gives the player boosts of confidence after they clear out a whole room, but it’s as soon as that power is achieved that the world around them starts to crumble. Seriously. We don’t want to give anything away, but if you find yourself clearing out a room full of enemies, immediately start looking around for Alma. She’s a ghastly little girl that will follow you during the game. Can’t see her? Try looking at the end of the hallway. She’ll likely be there staring at you. 

It’s not just Alma that makes this game terrifying. Wait until you encounter Paxton Fettel, a telepathic cannibal that leaves you gifts throughout the game (spoiler: they are remnants of the people he has eaten).

From revolting characters to objects moving and lights turning off, the fear of what comes next in this game is the main reason it will be considered a pillar in the horror games market. 

14. Best Horror Games: Bloodborne

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Contrary to popular belief, not every horror storyline is set in a mental asylum or a monster-filled fortress. Take Bloodborne, for instance, which is set in Victorian Europe. Bloodborne is an action role-playing game that sees the player’s character—you create the character at the start of the game, determining gender, name, skin color, body shape, and eye color—exploring cobblestone streets and avoiding the Things That Go Bump in the Night. 

If you’re a fan of Lovecraftian horror, Bloodborne is for you. 

13. Best Horror Games: Resident Evil 4

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It’s pretty safe to say that Resident Evil invented modern survival horror. But with Resident Evil 4, we’re introduced to a new element for, well, the fun of it. Resident Evil 4 is a modern third-person shooting game, and while it might not do much for those familiar with the story, it’s bound to keep newcomers on the edge of their seats—or up at night. 

It’s not easy arriving at the Ganado-infested village with no prior experience of what to expect. It’s a parasite-infested population, after all, and there are chainsaw-wielding maniacs running around. You would think it would be casual, I know, but it turns out there is nothing more stressful than being placed in this village and realizing you have to do something about the man running full-speed at you with a chainsaw.

And because of that, Resident Evil 4 holds a special place in the hearts of the horror gaming world. 

12. Best Horror Games: Until Dawn

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Teen slashers, final girls; these are all common terms horror buffs will recognize. We’ve seen the Friday the 13th’s and the Scream movies, but the idea of teen slashers had never really converted from the Hollywood screen to gaming until the release of Until Dawn in 2015. For that, it deserves a spot on this list. And yet, Until Dawn is so much more than a game that made genre history. 

Until Dawn has a classic storyline: a group of teenagers go up to an isolated mountain cabin, and slowly, one by one, they turn up dead. It’s packed with references to and tropes of the slasher genre and never fails to incorporate jaw-dropping twists and turns. And did we mention that you control what happens? That’s right, one failed quick-time event, one wrong decision, and you could end up killing a character. How well these characters make out (pun intended) is completely up to you.

If you can navigate the game, maybe one of the characters won’t die a gruesome death. But if you can’t… well, play the game and find out.

11. Best Horror Games: SOMA

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Okay, there are a few glitches with this game, but for anyone who knows the story of SOMA, you will understand why it’s one of the best horror games out there. I mean, it’s terrifying. And to explain why would be a major spoiler, but know that the game plays with ideas like consciousness and it addresses some pretty heavy concepts, heavy enough to give some players nightmares. Also, there’s the fact that it takes place in an undersea base called PATHOS II, which becomes more terrible the longer you explore it.

SOMA is unpleasant and shocking, and for those who are immediately intrigued after hearing that, here’s something fun for a Friday night: the game has a “safe mode,” which means individuals can play the game just for the storyline. There are, of course, no promises that if you do finish it, you will be able to sleep successfully, however.

10. Best Horror Games: Until Dawn: Rush of Blood

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Until Dawn gave players a cinematic experience but playing Rush of Blood is like one big hallucinogen trip. It’s a master of the jump scare, and it uses pace to make individuals turn on themselves while wandering alone through dark rooms. It plays on fears of inescapability and claustrophobia, and with a range of different things trying to kill you (spoiler: there are clowns. I repeat, there are clowns), players might find themselves sinking farther and farther into their couches, looking frantically over their shoulders every minute or so.

So, in other words: Rush of Blood is the epitome of a horror game—plus, this one’s in VR, bringing all that horror just that bit closer to you.

9. Best Horror Games: Silent Hill 2

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Silent Hill 2 is one of those games that gets worse the deeper you get. I mean, that was expected, being part of the Silent Hill franchise, which has introduced gamers to some of the most frightening enemies and encounters ever. And yet, Silent Hill 2 managed to take those iconic enemies like Pyramid Head and place them next to other fears, such as those that stem from our own imaginations. 

In Silent Hill 2, protagonist James Sunderland returns to Silent Hill after answering a letter from his supposedly dead wife. When Sunderland returns, he is met with reminders of his own fears, and then has to learn how to navigate around them to find out the truth about his wife and Silent Hill. 

It’s a horror game worth playing, but it’s so much more than that. And you’ll just have to play the game for yourself to find out why. 

8. Best Horror Games: P.T.

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Imagine: you are in a single hallway that plays on a loop, and there are thousands of different terrifying things in that hallway that are out to get you—how would you cope? Well, players of P.T. are faced with that exact predicament. And it’s not an easy one to navigate. One player even said that the game was only playable when the lights were on, and the sound was off. 

P.T. might be a more stripped-down masterpiece of horror in the gaming world, but it is one that deserves a spot on this list without a second thought. It’s the fear of the unknown that will get you, both while you’re playing and in the hours after you turn the power off. P.T. was actually meant to be a demo for a new full-length sequel to the Silent Hill series (P.T. standing for “playable teaser”), but sadly, the project was canceled before that could happen, and now, players are stuck wandering the same hallway again and again and again…

7. Best Horror Games: Outlast

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Horror is one of those genres where the more you watch, the more it takes to get a reaction out of you. If you find yourself getting immune to jump scares and monsters and guts and gore, check out Outlast. The game is scary enough in a traditional sense to get you back to your roots (it’s set in an old asylum in the mountains), while also giving you a rush of adrenaline from the eerie and grainy atmosphere that centers around the game. 

It has to be said as well that, while the horror genre is constantly evolving, we have to look to the past to appreciate the future. And no matter how many new monsters and serial killers Hollywood introduces us to, nothing will ever beat those stories that start in an old building in the mountains, miles away from help. I mean, did The Shining not teach us anything?

6. Best Horror Games: Dead Space

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An engineer trapped in a spacecraft with crew members who have been turned into flesh-eating creatures, what could possibly go wrong? Play Dead Space and find out, as the game provides a horrifying setting for users as they navigate the life of trapped engineer Isaac Clarke. 

The most memorable aspect of Dead Space is perhaps the fact that it plays a lot on what you can and cannot hear. There’s a disturbing atmosphere in the game, and it has amazing sound design, making the possibility of a jump scare that much more deadly. 

Dead Space is a gory package, and users have been warned. Play at your own risk. 

5. Best Horror Games: Alien: Isolation

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I was first introduced to the Alien franchise when I was a kid, and it’s stuck with me decades later. Seeing the original movie is terrifying, but playing the game? That’s a whole other experience. That’s where the nightmares truly begin. 

Several games have been built off of the movie, but Alien: Isolation stands out by a mile. The game is about survival—you take on the role of Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda—and it builds on the fear created in the movie about Xenomorphs. Players will find their pulse pounding as they search an ominous space station for Ellen Ripley. 

There are so many impressive elements to this game, but the fact that it took what was turning into a cliché monster and made it terrifying again is enough reason to give this game a spot on this list. 

4. Best Horror Games: Condemned: Criminal Origins

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This may not be the best game out there, but it deserves a shout-out considering it’s one of the few that beautifully blends fiction and non-fiction. It’s a murder-solving game that switches from a cop solving crimes to a cop living in a monstrous reality that’s constantly unpredictable and dark. 

Turn the corner, and your worst fear might be there. Real or not real. And that’s the terror behind the game. 

3. Best Horror Games: Layers of Fear

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This has to be one of the best horror games of all time. No game makes individuals doubt themselves more in real life than Layers of Fear, as it starts in a creepy empty house and turns into a story where users don’t even know what the room looked like minutes before without doubting everything they thought was true. 

The game centers around a mad artist, but its incorporation of the protagonist’s illness is more than a mere characteristic trait. You become so involved with the painter that you start to question your own mental state. And that, folks, is why Layers of Fear is one of the greatest horror games out there. 

2. Best Horror Games: The Stanley Parable

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To include this game on this list might be a stretch, but you have to understand that The Stanley Parable places a user in an ominous setting, one that is consumed by loneliness and has an undertone of psychosis and schizophrenia. As Stanley maneuvers through an empty office, it becomes difficult to know what is real or not. Stanley hears the voice of the Narrator, who, depending on the level of the game, can become very passive-aggressive with Stanley. 

The whole concept that reality is fictitious and that we are being controlled is an idea that many psychotic patients believe and is one the game addresses. Sometimes, being lonely is the scariest thing, and if that’s what The Stanley Parable was going for, it hit it on the nose. 

1. Best Horror Games: Resident Evil 7

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The release of Resident Evil 7 could have been bad, it could have ruined the franchise, but it didn’t, and for that reason among others, we consider it to be one of the best horror games of all time. I mean, the game took one of the most famous franchises of all time, and somehow made it better. More terrifying. More enthralling. How is that even possible?

First-person games make the horror feel more personal, more up close, and that’s why Resident Evil 7 was as successful as it was. It switched the action to first-person and created an atmosphere that is desperate and unsettling. It takes everything gamers love about Resident Evil and revamps it enough to consider it a chilling rebirth of one of the scariest concepts the world has seen.

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