How would you feel if all the people and their noises suddenly disappeared? Initially, such an experience could probably be quite fun! Until you start to feel terrified by all those empty spaces.

Horror game developers constantly invent new methods of terrifying their audience. Some of these techniques reach very primal, almost inexplicable dreads, like the fear of abandoned places. They aim to scare with the lack of frightening monsters and supernatural phenomena, instead providing this unsettling feeling of loneliness, repetition, and alienation.

They prompt questions like ‘What if I’m not as alone as I think?’ That sensation is exceptionally present in Stanley Kubrick’s movies. Does that sound like fun? If so, you’ll love this list of the best liminal video games!

Liminal Space Horror games
GameReleaseGenreDeveloper
Paratopic 2018-09-06 Adventure Arbitrary Metric
The Mortuary Assistant 2022-08-02 Horror DarkStone Digital
Five Nights At Freddys Security Breach 2021-12-17 Horror Steel Wool Studios
Five Nights At Freddys 2014-08-18 Adventure Scott Cawthon
Bendy And The Ink Machine 2017-04-27 Indie Kindly Beast
Escape The Backrooms 2022-08-11 Survival Horror Fancy Games
Poppy Playtime Chapter 2 2022-05-05 Adventure Mob Entertainment
Naissancee 2014-02-13 Adventure Limasse Five
Control Ultimate Edition 2019-08-27 Action Remedy Entertainment
Layers Of Fear 2023-06-15 Adventure Bloober Team
Observer System Redux 2020 Adventure Bloober Team
The Stanley Parable 2013-10-17 Adventure Galactic Cafe

Silent Hill 2

Release date:2001-09-23
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Team Silent

After receiving a letter from his sadly deceased wife, James travels to Silent Hill – their once ‘special place.’ But little does he know that following her trace may result in discovering a secret he never wanted to unravel.

Silent Hill 2 is a phenomenal survival horror shrouded in fog and liminal spaces. Exploring a forsaken town means two things – an ominous feeling of loneliness and incredibly terrifying encounters with creatures that shouldn’t exist. And the best thing is that this dark adventure has six unique endings with two funny included!

Key features
  • Play the second part in the brilliant horror series from Konami
  • Explore the foggy Silent Hill and try to survive
  • Follow the clues to solve the mystery of James’ dead wife
  • Enjoy the gloomy atmosphere of the decaying town

Control

Release date:2019-08-27
Genre:Action
Developer:Remedy Entertainment

It is a disturbing third-person shooter telling the story of Jesse Faden traveling to the Federal Bureau of Control in New York. But when its director dies in mysterious circumstances, she will be the only one to solve the case.

Use a rich arsenal of weapons and powers to fight newly encountered opponents in the brutalist spaces of the Federal Bureau of Control. What exactly hides in this place? And what happened to Jesse’s brother? Fight them all and unravel the truth!

Key features
  • Play an action-fueled shooter about a woman looking for her brother
  • Explore the vastly desolate spaces of the Bureau
  • Use weapons and powers to challenge your opponents
  • See realistic graphics creating a truly living world

Layers of Fear

Release date:2023-06-15
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Anshar Studios

Can insanity transform your surroundings? This game blurs the thin line between the real world and complete madness!

Play as a painter desiring to complete his life’s masterpiece. Sounds simple? Oh, you sweet summer child, that is just the beginning of your new, intensely disturbing adventure. Explore the abandoned rooms of a forgotten house and try to gather your equipment. But beware, every move can change your surroundings, trigger terrifying visions, or awaken forgotten memories!

Key features
  • Explore the sophisticated spaces of the Victorian mansion to complete your painting
  • Witness how madness transforms your surroundings
  • Follow the clues and collect six must-have accessories
  • Discover a new terrifying level of solitude

P.T. (Playable Teaser)

Release date:2014-08-12
Genre:Horror
Developer:Kojima Productions

It is a deleted project by Kojima (under the 7780s Studio name) introducing the distressing adventure of a man exploring an unknown house. Solving all the puzzles unravels this mystery!

P.T. is a brilliant production by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, focusing on exploration and solving highly disturbing puzzles. Prepare for odd sounds, terrifying incidents, and transforming surroundings. All these features deliver the definition of liminal spaces involving a strange space-time loop.

Key features
  • Explore the same passage but differently each time
  • Solve increasingly challenging puzzles
  • Collect bits of the terrifying plot
  • Experience the fear of enclosed spaces

NaissanceE

Release date:2014-02-13
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Limasse Five

Lucy is lost somewhere in the non-reality of megastructures hovering in the middle of nowhere. What awaits her at the end of this story?

NaissanceE puts the feeling of alienation at the core of your experience. It’s all about exploration, following cryptic directions, and admiring the visited places. Some are scary, others mysterious, but the fundamental question is – what is this place?

Key features
  • Explore forgotten megastructures
  • Solve puzzles and see what happens
  • Follow the light and sense this world change
  • Experience infinite loneliness

The Stanley Parable

Release date:2013-10-17
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Galactic Cafe

Play as Stanley, an anonymous employee working for a massive company. Until the day his computer and everything around him turns off – this is the beginning of his extraordinary adventure!

When Stanley leaves his desk to investigate what happened, he can hear the narrator’s voice advising him what to do next. The only problem is this strategy may not provide any answers. So Stanley is on his own in the office maze, and his new job is to find if there is a way out of this ever-changing system.

Key features
  • Play as Stanley trying to comprehend the lifeless world around him
  • Explore the rooms of a massive office
  • Listen to the narrator or choose the path yourself
  • Discover the startling truth hidden behind the comedy setting

Five Nights At Freddy's

Release date:2014-08-18
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Scott Cawthon

Play as a man starting a security guard job at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. Alone, with something unimaginably evil hiding in the shadows.

The pizzeria has unique mascots – robotic animatronics that sometimes get naughty at night. Luckily, you also work at night, and your job is to watch them on the cameras. What if they’re not in the proper spots? Well, you may have a little problem, but the ringing phone should explain the details of this unusual situation. Good luck!

Key features
  • Work as a security guard at a local pizzeria
  • Watch cameras and see what happens
  • Solve the mystery of strange phonecalls
  • Survive at least five nights alone and without any help

Conclusion

As you can see, liminal horror doesn’t require loud monsters and endless jump scares to be scary. Sometimes, all it needs is the complete opposite. Human imagination is powerful, so confronted with liminal spaces and an utter lack of company, it begins to fill in the gaps with the most creepy scenarios.

That is the result of the developers’ complex work combining this feeling with mysterious ambient sounds, a spooky story, and a suspicious environment. It is a new level of fear. Primal, invisible, striking to the core because you know no one will hear you scream.