Many games tend to take players on a power trip, offering robust tools and abilities in order to make you feel like you’re a hero who can overcome any obstacle. However, that’s not always the case when it comes to horror games, where the odds are usually stacked against you.
In the last decade, we’ve seen the horror genre evolve within gaming, finding new ways to scare players and offering more immersive stories and atmospheres than ever before. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight some of the best horror games you can play right now. Make sure to check back as we’ll be updating this list with new titles in the future.
Resident Evil 2 (2019)
Following the success of the first Resident Evil game remake, Capcom’s new and updated version of RE2 is nothing short of a horror game masterpiece. It features completely redone assets as well as some quality of life improvements that make the 20-year-old title feel like a current-gen release. You control rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield as they attempt to escape Raccoon City in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
While the core experience of RE2 has remained pretty much the same, and sees you scavenging for ammo and healing items, the story has been reworked in some areas, giving characters like Ada Wong a much more prominent role. The remake also contains the original’s ‘Hardcore’ difficulty mode, which requires you to collect and use a finite number of ink ribbons in order to save your progress.
The Light Keeps Us Safe
The Light Keeps Us Safe is a procedurally-generated stealth game with survival and metroidvania elements. You are tasked with leaving the safety of your bunker and exploring an apocalyptic-world, overrun by robots that want to kill you. Equipped with just a flashlight, you spend your time searching through abandoned buildings looking for supplies and running from enemies.
Items you scavenge range from food and medkits to bottles that can be thrown to distract the robots and components used for upgrading your flashlight, which allows you to explore areas that were previously inaccessible. Upon encountering enemies, you have no real means of defense as your flashlight beam can only stun them for a brief second, giving you time to run and hide. Due to its procedurally-generated nature, each run provides a different experience than the last, adding some replayability to the game.
Little Nightmares is a puzzle platforming adventure game with stealth mechanics. You play as Six, a little girl, who’s been trapped in the depths of a strange vessel. The game has you sneaking past giant humans, all of which have an array of disturbing physical abnormalities like long arms and disfigured faces, as you try to escape a massive ship.
Over the course of the game, Six experiences intense moments of primal-like hunger. These moments begin to occur more frequently and play an important role in the game’s story. While brief in length, Little Nightmares has a great atmosphere that stays with you and the game plays with scale in new and interesting ways.
The Blackout Club
The Blackout Club is an Early Access Steam title that proves that encountering the unknown is a lot better with friends. The first-person horror adventure game has up to four players controlling a group of teens as they unravel the dark secrets of their small town while avoiding a sinister creature known as ‘The Shape’.
Aside from weapons, your primary tool for survival is your trusty smartphone, which can illuminate the dark corners of houses and record photos and images of any monstrous creatures you encounter as proof. The game features procedurally-generated missions that vary based on player level and progress. This adds replayability to an already great co-op game as no two missions are the same and enemy patrols and mission objectives constantly shift.
Prey is an open-world first-person shooter with role-playing, survival, and stealth mechanics. You take on the role of Morgan Yu, a human aboard the Talos 1 space station, which has been overrun by a species of violent aliens known as the Typhon. Your task is to survive by collecting resources and using weapons in order to defeat the Typhon and uncover the secrets behind Talos I’s history.
The game offers a lot in terms of player choice, allowing you to pick Morgan’s gender, what weapons and upgrades you want to use, and make decisions in the world that affect how the game’s story plays out. Among Prey’s best features are the Typhon aliens you encounter, which have various sub-species, including shape-shifting creatures called Mimics. These spider-like aliens can take on the appearance of common items throughout in the game’s world, attacking you when you least expect it.
Inside is a 2.5D puzzle platformer from developer PlayDead, the same studio that made Limbo. The game sees you playing as an unnamed boy exploring a dark, quiet world, pursued by zombie-like humans and vicious attack dogs. Progress is made by completing a variety of puzzles that use interestingly new mechanics, like a mind-control helmet that allows you to control lifeless bodies.
Just like with Limbo, Inside’s story is very much left up to your interpretation as the game never tries to explain yourself but rather simply exists in all its eerie glory. The game features a number of hidden collectibles which grant you an alternate ending that’s just as ambiguous. While the game is rather short, Inside superbly delivers on its peculiar tone.
Perception is a thrilling walking sim horror experience that has you controlling a blind woman named Cassie as she tries to unlock the truth behind her nightmares. The game has you exploring an eerie mansion that’s brimming with creepy dolls and a deadly monster known as ‘The Presence’ that must be avoided at all costs.
In order to traverse the nightmarish estate, Cassie uses echolocation in order to temporarily make out shapes and objects. Approaching the game with this in mind makes Perception feel unique as the mechanic adds to the game’s fear factor and overall spooky visuals.
Stories Untold is a puzzle adventure game that’s broken up into four episodes, with each chapter telling a different part of the story. The game utilizes elements from traditional adventure genres, such as text-based adventures, puzzle-solving, and first-person exploration. While gameplay slightly differs between each chapter, it usually boils down to completing a series of tasks in order to reach that chapter’s conclusion.
The game has a 1980s retro aesthetic, incorporating technology as well as sci-fi tropes from the time period. With each episode offering little action, aside from one exception, Stories Untold uses well-written dialogue and immersive atmospheres in order to draw you in. It’s a refreshing take on the horror genre and does a good job at paying homage to classic adventure games.
The Forest is a first-person, open-world horror survival game with combat. You play as Eric Leblanc, who along with his son Timmy, lands on a remote island after surviving a mysterious plane crash. Timmy is captured soon after and Eric discovers that the island is inhabited by cannibalistic mutants.
The game revolves around crafting items, such as shelters, weapons, and tools in order to defend yourself from the inhabitants, search for Timmy, and uncover the island’s secrets. One of The Forest’s most fascinating aspects is the enemy AI, which reacts differently to the player based on the time of day. During the day, the mutants tend to keep their distance and observe the player while at night, they become much more aggressive.
Layers of Fear
Layers of Fear is a first-person horror survival game that has you play as a painter attempting to make his greatest work yet. However, he has had trouble finding inspiration and begins to explore his home, completing environmental puzzles in order to guide him towards his goal. The game is broken up into six chapters, with the player searching for different items in order to progress.
Along the way, you quickly learn that the painter is psychologically-disturbed and begins having twisted visions of his wife and daughter who are nowhere to be seen. The house itself plays a role in the game areas begin to shift and become distorted as you continue. While the game leans heavily on jumpscares to hit its mark, the story is still satisfying and has branching paths.
Serving as the follow-up sequel to the 2013 game, Outlast 2 is a first-person horror survival game that refines the mechanics of the first Outlast and tells an even darker story. You play as Blake Langermann, a cameraman who, accompanied by his wife Lynn and a pilot, is flying over the Arizona desert in search of clues surrounding the murder of a pregnant woman known only as Jane Doe. Suddenly, your helicopter crashes and Blake wakes up to find his wife missing and the pilot dead, his body mutilated.
Although Outlast 2 plays much like the first game, forcing the player to use a handheld camera in order to see in the dark and document key moments, the addition of new tools like a microphone for listening to enemy footsteps adds new opportunities for stealthy gameplay. The game’s shift between the main story and flashback instances from Blake’s childhood help with pacing and keep things exciting. While there are plenty of enemies waiting to reach out and grab you, the scariest part of Outlast 2 has to be watching your camera’s battery deplete, unsure of when you’ll find another.
Observer comes from developer Bloober Team, the creators of Layers of Fear, another game on this list. The cyberpunk horror game has you playing as Daniel Lazarskian, an elite neural detective known as an ‘Observer’, who’s tasked with infiltrating the minds of others in order to solve a murder.
You’ll have to analyze clues and interrogate potential suspects, all while making your through the bizarre and often terrifying images that plague the minds of others. Observer takes an interesting spin on the classic detective game formula while offering an adventure that’s equal parts intriguing and disturbing.
Visage is an Early Access Steam title that shows a lot of promise so far. Even in its current state, the first-person survival horror game manages to deliver on its atmosphere and immerse you in its world while drawing inspiration from titles like P.T. and some others mentioned earlier in this list. The game has you exploring a family home which has seen a myriad of grisly events take place.
You are tasked with exploring the home, managing to keep yourself from going insane by avoiding the dark and staying medicated, while solving puzzles as the house around you changes. You’ll find doors suddenly lead to different areas than before; discover hidden messages on walls, all the while being stalked by sinister creatures. While still in development, Visage is definitely worth keeping your eye on as the final product will no doubt be one of the most engaging horror games of this generation.