While horror is something of a niche genre, it’s nothing if not tenacious, persevering through years and always looking back at its roots. And in the last decade or so we’ve seen a boom of new horror games coming out, which should be heartwarming and appropriately bone-chilling for every fan of the genre!

While traditionally a single-player affair, horror games have evolved a lo, and there are a few which shine as multiplayer offerings, be it through asymmetric multi, or as an interactive movie you can organize a whole party around.

Be warned, and mind the shadows. They are always listening… as they should, because now we can present our list of…

The Best Horror Games of all time
GameReleaseDeveloper
Dead Space 2008-10-20 EA Redwood Shores
Alien Isolation 2014-10-06 Creative Assembly
Outlast 2013-09-04 Red Barrels
Left 4 Dead 2 2009-11-16 Valve
Amnesia Rebirth 2020-10-20 Frictional Games
Carrion 2020-07-23 Phobia Game Studio
Maid Of Sker 2020-07-28 Wales Interactive
Phasmophobia 2020-09-18 Kinetic Games
Resident Evil 3 2020-04-03 CAPCOM CO., LTD.
System Shock 2 1999-08-11 Irrational Games
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope 2020-10-30 Supermassive Games
The Last Of Us Part II (PS4) 2020-06-19 Naughty Dog
The Medium 2021-01-28 Bloober Team SA
Resident Evil 8: Village 2021-05-07 CAPCOM CO., LTD.
Dying Light 2 2022-02-04 Techland

Dead Space Remake

Release:2023-01-27
Horror type:Sci-fi

The original Dead Space was released in 2008 and despite its age showing, it has remained an exquisitely crafted horror experience. In 2023 it received a remake and amazingly, it improved on virtually every aspect of the original game that didn’t age all that well, which pretty much boils down to graphics, sound design and certain gameplay dynamics.

The key change to the story is that this time around Isaac Clarke isn’t a silent protagonist and was instead voiced by the same actor who lent his voice in Dead Space 2 and 3. As for the story, it takes place on a mining spaceship overrun by horrific, flesh-warped creature animated by a bizarre intelligence. If you like the style of Alien and The Thing, you should enjoy it quite a lot.

Key features
  • A full technical lift of one of the best games in the horror genre
  • Necromorphs are terrifying lumps of twisted dead bodies
  • Sets up an interesting and bizarre cosmic horror setting
  • Your only weapons are repurposed engineering tools

Darkest Dungeon II

Release:2023-05-08
Horror type:Singleplayer

Darkest Dungeon II is the best kind of sequel. It stayed faithful to the original game’s aesthetic, themes, and core gameplay, but it also expanded on all of them in interesting ways. Most notably, it shifted from stylish 2D to incredible 3D and left the dusty, nightmare-ridden dungeons in favor of a stagecoach speeding towards a plot-relevant mountain.

Like the dungeons before, the road ahead features both points of interest, this time carrying extra narrative weight, and plenty of turn-based combat against a rich gallery of maddened cultists and twisted monsters. Your party members also still accumulate Stress, which eventually leads to the developing troublesome quirks making each run unpredictable in very interesting ways.

Key features
  • Heroes can develop relationships with each other, providing useful perks
  • The shift from 2D sprites to 3D models was seamless
  • You must reach a distant mountain and defeat a nightmare dwelling within
  • Tense turn-based combat

Resident Evil 4 Remake

Release:2023-03-24
Horror type:Adventure

Where Dead Space and Darkest Dungeon are big on heavy mood and oppressive atmosphere, Resident Evil 4’s attitude is more in the direction of an action-packed B-movie, and has a lot of fun with it. It’s also the latest of the series to receive a full remake, with modern, RE Engine powered-graphics, smoother gameplay, and a few expanded story elements.

The setup is simple: you’re playing as Leon S. Kennedy, an agent sent to Spain in order to rescue a daughter of the US president. You end up in a remote village with inhabitants controlled by a weird parasite and a violent cult. What follows is a lot of headshots, entertaining villains, and more than a few creatively weird bosses with extra limbs, excessive eyes, and all the delightful B-movie stuff.

Key features
  • Action-packed, B-movie survival horror experience
  • An expanded remake of the 2005 hit
  • Improved combat, which included knife parries
  • Meaningful progression and upgrade systems

Alan Wake

Release:2012-02-16
Horror type:Adventure

Alan Wake is, at its core, about fiction, and how a mind submerged in fiction can lose touch with reality.

The titular Alan Wake is a writer who suffers from a writer’s block and in an attempt to find a solution tries a writer’s retreat with his wife. Unfortunately, this gets him involved with mysterious and dark forces which seemingly have something to do with his book.

The enemies in Alan Wake, the so-called “Taken”, are protected by darkness itself, which has to be pierced by light, making your flashlight avaluable tool and a powerful weapon. Alan Wake has excellent pacing, giving the players heart-pounding action, but there are also moments of respite and exciting cliffhangers when necessary.

Key features
  • A story about a writer haunted by otherworldly apparitions
  • Brilliant use of light and darkness as active game mechanics
  • It’s referenced in 2019’s Control, also by Remedy Entertainment and has a long-awaited sequel in the works
  • It’s a story about stories, with more than a few shades of Stephen King’s fiction

Phasmophobia

Release:2020-09-18
Horror type:Multiplayer

Most horror games are singleplayer affairs, leaving you alone with whatever nightmares stalk the shadows.

Not so in Phasmophobia, a team-based game about going into places in order to verify ghost hauntings. As you’d expect, it’s not a safe job, and many ghost types (well over a dozen already) can react quite aggressively to your team poking around.

The are many different locations your mission might take you, and many of them are quite haunting on their own, like abandoned asylum, or an after-hours high school. And then weird stuff starts happening, including the ghost itself manifesting when you’re alone in a room. Phasmophobia is also VR-compatible, which magnifies the scares it’s able to deliver.

Key features
  • Many different ghost types with unique behavior and traits
  • Engaging missions
  • Incredibly immersive, especially in VR
  • The ghosts react to you calling their name, so be careful with that

Darkwood

Release:2017-07-17
Horror type:Top-down perspective survival

Darkwood one of the titles which prove that horror games don’t need a first- or third-person perspective to be scary.

It uses its top-down perspective very cleverly to build suspense. Perhaps something ran through the narrow cone of vision provided by a closed window, or you hear the sounds of hungry mutants pounding on the door you hastily barricaded.

Just because Darkwood uses a top-down view doesn’t mean your character has eyes at the back of his head, after all. The game is set in the 1980s, somewhere in the Soviet Bloc, and the story starts by being just unsettling, but the horror elements quickly ramp up and the tension and weirdness doesn’t let go until the ending, which is influenced by your actions over several chapters.

Key features
  • A tense horror set somewhere in the 1980s Soviet Bloc
  • An unusual, top-down perspective
  • Partially open world
  • Several chapters and a branching ending

Oxenfree

Release:2016-01-14
Horror type:Supernatural mystery/adventure

Oxenfree straddles the line between a supernatural mystery and a proper horror.

It follows a group of teenagers who decided to have a weekend party on a nearby island, a former military base. The local stories say that there is some supernatural stuff happening in the caves, so the teens of course go to check, which triggers a bizarre and dangerous adventure.

Oxenfree focuses heavily on its narrative elements and the interactions between characters powered by a smooth conversation system. As you explore the island and discover more radio frequencies, you’ll start piecing together what’s really happening. Oxenfree is on the lighter side as far as scares are concerned, but the story is engaging, and the choices feel weighty.

Key features
  • An engaging mystery for you to untangle
  • Clever conversation system
  • Several endings
  • A lot revolves around discovering new radio frequencies

The Quarry

Release:2022-06-10
Horror type:Cinematic

The Quarry is currently the latest of cinematic horror games from the Supermassive Games studio.

It follows a group of camp counsellors at Hackett’s Quarry, who discover the place has a monster stalking the nearby woods. Some of the get attacked, which sets them on a course which will define the rest of their lives.

In a true Supermassive fashion, The Quarry is pretty much an interactive movie, with the players interacting with the story via quick-time events and narrative choices. The Quarry is a great tribute to a few classic horror tropes, with nosy camp counselors, a weird family, and all. As a result it more reminiscent of Supermassive’s Until Dawn than their recent Dark Pictures Anthology titles.

Key features
  • Several characters to play as the story develops
  • Deeply cinematic
  • Local and online multiplayer
  • Camp counsellors, remote location, and a monster in a forest. A classic setup!

Friday the 13th: The Game

Release:2017-05-26
Horror type:Asymmetrical multiplayer

The Friday the 13th film franchise is one of the all-time classics not only of the slasher subgenre, but horror as a whole.

This game, developed by Illfonic and Black Tower Studios oozes with love for the source material, from the perfect murder-fodder in the form of camp counselors to Jason’s numerous costumes and kill animations. And it’s at its best when played in multiplayer.

The core experience is an asymmetric competitive multiplayer mode pitting one player controlling Jason against several player (or AI) controlled counsellors. The game isn’t much of a horror when you’re playing Jason, but when you have to run from a competent Jason player, it can quickly become a hectic, nerve-wracking struggle, although not without hope of survival.

Key features
  • An asymmetric multiplayer horror game paying tribute to classic slasher horror movie franchise
  • Many playable versions of Jason drawn from all across the series
  • All maps are based on locations from the movies, including the famous Camp Crystal Lake
  • Can be quite scary for Counsellor players

GTFO

Release:2019-12-09
Horror type:Action

GTFO runs on a relatively simple story premise: crater caused by the Dinosaur-killing meteor hides some unsavoury inhabitants, now unleashed by scientists who drilled too deep.

You play as prisoners pressed into exploring the derelict complex and completing whatever tasks need some cannon fodder thrown at them. Tight cooperation and good communication with your team are going to be absolutely crucial.

GTFO puts you in dimly lit corridors from which a horde of vaguely humanoid toothy monsters can erupt at any moment to overwhelm you and eat your face… unless your team has your back. The enemy designs are sufficiently humanoid to feel wrong, and them swarming at you after you triggered an alarm will certainly raise your pulse. Not a psychological horror, but quite scary nonetheless.

Key features
  • Disgusting monsters roaming in scary swarms
  • A few mysteries to uncover
  • Claustrophobic atmosphere
  • Tight team-based action

Hunt: Showdown

Release:2018-02-22
Horror type:Action

At first glance Hunt: Showdown looks like a first-person shooter set in the gloomy rendition of the Old West.

But then horrifying worms emerge from the puddle nearby, reanimated dead start shambling in your direction, and you’ve just picked up a trail of an unholy monstrosity you came here to banish. To make matters worse: other hunter teams are after the same bounty.

There are currently four extremely dangerous boss monsters: Scrapbeak, ‎Spider, ‎Assassin, ‎Butcher, each being its own brand of terrifying and disturbing. The tension of chasing these monsters, the fear of being too slow to get out of the sights of enemy hunters, and the monsters that populate the maps can really create an oppressive, nightmarish atmosphere.

Key features
  • Horrifying abominations you hunt and send back to hell
  • Even after getting the kill you need to contend with other player teams until safe extraction
  • A lot of in-universe codex entries about the monsters you encounter
  • You work as a team of two

Inside

Release:2019-10-17
Horror type:Puzzle-platformer adventure

If a side-scrolling platformer game can be a horror, then Inside certainly qualifies.

From the beginning to the end (any of several possible), this minimalist platformer makes sure you won’t feel too comfortable at any point. The scenes you move through are mostly on the black-and-white spectrum, with barely any hints of colour, and the world is populated by odd, hostile creatures in addition to soldiers of an unspecified dystopian government.

It might not have the infamous spider, but it swings from an oppressive dystopian setting with mind control, to nightmarish monsters from horror and myths. Death comes cheap, too — the little boy you control can die in many different ways, and they tend to be quite brutal and discouraging from further failures. The best-known ending is probably the most graphically disturbing thing in the game, too.

Key features
  • Evocative aesthetic emphasises the dark, heavy atmosphere
  • Solid platformer
  • A secret ending just as disturbing as the regular one
  • Many puzzles to solve

Layers of Fear (1, 2)

Release:2016-02-15
Horror type:Psychological

The first Layers of Fear is a trip through a large mansion in the body and mind of a hallucinating painter roaming the corridors and rooms of his mansion as he’s trying to piece together his life after a series of tragic events.

The surroundings change and twist in unexpected ways, obscuring the truth of your past. Can you handle the visions put in front of you by your haunted mind?

Layers of Fear 2 also pursues the immersion in a troubled mind of an artist, but this time it’s an actor, not a painter. The story follows The Actor during an extended film shoot taking place on an ocean cruise ship. Unfortunately, the Actor is haunted by visions of a mysterious Rat Queen, the childhood broken by an abusive father and a lot of other, more…disturbing imagery.

Key features
  • Journeys into the minds of troubled artists
  • The series uses the environment to unnerve the characters and players alike
  • Emphasis on psychological horror rather than gore
  • Musical score works very well with visual presentation

Outlast 2

Release:2017-04-25
Horror type:Psychological

After the original Outlast making good use of a non-combatant protagonist and interesting expansion came Outlast 2, taking the terror to a secluded corner of Arizona.

You play as Blake Langermann, a journalist investigating a mysterious murder with his wife, also a reporter. He finds crazed, violent doomsday cults, confronts his past, and uncovers the truth underneath everything that happens.

Blake needs to save his wife, who went missing after a helicopter crash, and he pretty much has only his camera to aid him along the way and show enemies looking for him in the darkness. Outlast 2 doesn’t feature any obvious monsters, but the crazy cultists easily make up for it, with the added terror of not knowing what made them this way. Just watch out for the one with a pickaxe.

Key features
  • You are helpless against those who stalk you, you can only hide or run
  • Your camcorder can handle night vision, but it doesn’t diminish the terror at all
  • You have to uncover the truth behind a murderous cult in rural Arizona
  • Subtle ties to the original Outlast

Resident Evil 2 (Remake)

Release:2019-01-25
Horror type:Survival

2019’s Resident Evil 2 is a remake of a classic Capcom survival horror under the same title.

It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, it simply keeps the mortifying atmosphere of the original even and makes sure the presentation matches modern standards. As a rookie police officer Leon and a college student Claire you’ll face deadly zombies and other results of the Umbrella Corporation’s research.

You’ll deal with low ammo, try to unlock doors, and do your best to stay ahead of Mr. X, a lumbering behemoth keen to find you and crush your skull with its Umbrella Corp.-sculpted hands. Despite the change of camera perspective, RE2 remake doesn’t lose its touch, and the enhanced graphics make the zombies and other monstrosities appear much scarier.

Key features
  • A fantastic remake of a revered classic
  • Two playable characters: a rookie cop and a university student
  • Mr. X is a terrifying, relentless pursuer which will keep chasing you no matter what
  • Since RE2 Remake’s release RE3 also received an excellent modern version and RE4’s was announced

Soma

Release:2015-09-21
Horror type:Adventure

Soma takes place in an underwater research facility in the early 22nd century, the last place on Earth where humans have survived after a massive extinction event.

After an odd brain scan procedure, you awaken in a research station, seemingly abandoned except for an occasional transmission and the whirring of machinery. The last hope for humanity is the ARK holding brain scans of the crew.

As you’ll explore the corridors of PATHOS-II in order to launch the ARK you’ll encounter robots with conflicted identity, some of which are openly hostile to you. You’ll also answer the questions of what constitutes identity and consciousness. The underwater setting, the secrets uncovered along the way, and great pacing make Soma a thrilling and unsettling experience.

Key features
  • Interesting premise for a science fiction horror
  • The underwater research facility makes for a very claustrophobic environment
  • A game by the developers of Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Encourages thinking about the nature of consciousness

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan

Release:2019-08-30
Horror type:Interactive survival

From the developers of 2015’s Until Dawn came Man of Medan, the first of horror stories collected in The Dark Pictures Anthology.

In many ways, Man of Medan is similar in concept to Until Dawn and The Quarry. As you play through it, at certain moments you will have to make a choice between two (three, if we include no choice) options which influence the story in big ways.

The story involves a group or young adults going on a diving trip to a sunken World War II plane, but get captured by pirates and taken to a ghost ship, Ourang Medan, where weird apparitions and creatures start to haunt them. You can play it in a few different ways: alone, in a 2-player online co-op, or even with a few friends over in the Movie Night mode, which has you pass the controller to other people as the story dictates.

Key features
  • Two very entertaining multiplayer modes in addition to the singleplayer option
  • A story which stretches from World War II to the present day
  • Comes from the developers of Until Dawn
  • Multiple endings, both for individual characters and the game as a whole

Observer

Release:2017-08-15
Horror type:Cyberpunk

Certainly an interesting title, if very niche, it deserves a spot on the list because it combines that unmistakable Polish take on the cyberpunk with a deep atmosphere of horror and an uncomfortable vision of transhumanism.

The gameplay consists mostly of you exploring the world as Daniel Lazarski, a special investigator who can connect to a chip inside the brain of a person and interrogate their mind for clues.

This time, though, it’s personal: the case involves Daniel’s son, and the mystery gets bigger and weirder the longer you look into it. Observer’s atmosphere is unlike any other game’s, and the casting on Blade Runner’s Rutger Hauer lends it an extra air of genre credibility. Cyberpunk horror games aren’t a populated enough genre for you to skip this one!

Key features
  • A cyberpunk story set in futuristic Cracow
  • Stars Rutger Hauer in the leading role
  • You can hack into people’s brains
  • Made by the creators of Layers of Fear

Alien: Isolation

Release:2014-10-06
Horror type:Action & Shooter

Alien: Isolation follows Amanda Ripley, Ellen’s daughter, who tried to find her mother lost after the events of the original movie.

Unfortunately, the space station she finds herself on has an active Xenomorph problem, in addition to AI having weird ideas, and humans continuing to be just the worst. Not a great environment for seeking clues, so you must get out. Good luck.

The AI of the Xenomorph is stuff of nightmares in its own right, and you’ll spend a lot of time frantically trying to hide as it stalks the corridors alert to any sound. Watching the large, but nimble alien walk past the locker you hid in never gets old, and the consequences of failing to stay hidden and quiet are severe enough to make you try twice as hard after reloading the last save.

Key features
  • A spin-off featuring Ellen Ripley’s daughter as the protagonist
  • Very faithfully recreates the style and aesthetic of the original movie
  • Manages to capture the horror atmosphere of original Alien movie
  • Crafting will help, but won’t replace your instincts

Dead by Daylight

Release:2016-06-14
Horror type:Asymmetrical multiplayer

Dead by Daylight is something of a love-letter to horror movies from the 80s.

Quite literally, in fact, as it features several cameos from popular characters from those movies, such as Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger or the Leatherface. They come in addition to DbD’s own creations which easily match the classics in being a terrifying presence you want to be as far away from as possible.

Better yet: you can actually take on the role of these deranged villains. Dead by Daylight is an online, asymmetrical multiplayer game, where one of the players will become the vicious killer, while others will have to accomplish map objectives and attempt to find a way out. The maps and objectives are varied, the villains are powerful and terrifying, and the atmosphere is absolutely on point.

Key features
  • An asymmetrical multiplayer horror game
  • Many inspirations taken from and crossovers with famous movie franchises
  • There is a quite a lot of lore for you to discover
  • Each killer and survivor has unique talents and perks

The Evil Within 2

Release:2017-10-13
Horror type:Mystery

The Evil Within is a delightful, psychological horror, taking serious inspiration from one of the most well known horror game series of all time — Silent Hill.

It is a pure survival horror through and through, with no multiplayer or other gimmicks, and yet is both critically acclaimed and popular (given the niche appeal anyway).

It’s something of a mystery thriller with all things that would make it so: a cryptic investigation by a broken detective, a shadowy organization conducting strange experiments, and a literal journey into the mind of a killer, which presents most of the game’s scares through weird psychic manifestations and a really messed up mindscape. It’s immersive, it’s difficult and it’s absolutely terrifying.

Key features
  • Detective Sebastian Castellanos goes back into the STEM
  • You have to find your daughter, once though dead
  • More emphasis on combat than in the predecessor
  • Psychological horror taking on a literal meaning

Little Nightmares

Release:2017-04-27
Horror type:Adventure

The most distinguishing things about Little Nightmares is the way it mixes it’s unique aesthetic and the morbid setting.

The player assumes the role of Six, a small girl in a cute, yellow raincoat, attempting to escape a floating prison known as the Maw. Six has no means of defending herself from ghastly, twisted opponents she will encounter, and her only tool is a lighter, only marginally dispersing the darkness, so she must use her wit to find a way out.

Little Nightmares is a beautiful, cryptic and very immersive game with amazing style, showing distorted humanoids and skewed proportions. It tackles heavy subjects including child abuse, cannibalism and exploitation, so it’s not for the faint of heart. There’s also a prequel, Little Nightmares II, which has its own share of scares with a new protagonist and the same outstanding aesthetic.

Key features
  • A story about a child escaping from a horrifying place
  • You must deal with a powerful hunger consuming you
  • Very caricatural enemies
  • Dark, stylish, and frequently brutal

Resident Evil 7

Release:2017-01-23
Horror type:Family dining survival

Few video game series have achieved the levels of fame belonging to Resident Evil, and the seventh main installment revitalized the series on every level.

Not only does it look perhaps too good (all the gruesome stuff you witness comes in top-tier HD), but also ditched the third-person perspective, so now you’re always up close and personal with everything the game family throws at you.

And it does throw a lot of disgusting stuff, from steadily mutating humans enemies and weird sludge monsters, to every story-driven injury Ethan Winters, the protagonist, suffers. The excellent sequel, Resident Evil Village ramps that up with even better graphics and even more graphic horror stuff, from injuries to werewolves and other weird mutants.

Key features
  • The first Resident Evil game shown in the first-person perspective
  • Excellent graphics
  • Set in the heart of Louisiana
  • Subtle, but effective ties to earlier games in the series

Outlast

Release:2013-09-04
Horror type:Adventure

Outlast draws deep into the “investigative journalism goes horribly wrong” genre of horror.

In this case, you got a message from a whistleblower that some weird stuff is going on in a local asylum, including experiments on the patients and something that’s hard to describe. Unfortunately, instead of a Pulitzer-worthy scoop you find yourself having to hide and run for your life.

In Outlast you are helpless agains the violent denizens of the troubled asylum, and your only aid against the horror of the place are the dwindling power reserves of your darkvision-enabled camera. It is an intense experience, and received warmly-enough to see a sequel, which we’ve already covered higher up on the list.

Key features
  • Features a horror classic: a psychiatric hospital covering for weird experiments
  • Your character is helpless, you better get good at hiding
  • The Whistleblower expansion serves as a prequel
  • Inspired in no small part by Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Release:2010-09-08
Horror type:Lovecraftian survival

Amnesia: the Dark Descent might be the game responsible for the explosive popularity of first-person horror games which leave you helpless against crazed humans, twisted mutants, and supernatural forces.

In this case, you wake up in a Prussian castle in the mid-19th century, and from the get go you realize that darkness hides not only physical danger, but also wreaks havoc upon your mental well-being.

As you progress through dark corridors and abandoned chambers, you’ll start piecing together your own memories, and learn more about the dark force which stalks the castle. The story gracefully walks the line between Gothic horror and lovecraftian mystery, and if you’re keen on either of them, you owe it to yourself to play Amnesia.

Key features
  • Strong Lovecraftian horror influences
  • Set in the 19th century, in a Prussian castle
  • Darkness affects your sanity
  • It’s not a stealth game, but you’ll sneak around anyway

Sometimes “fun” means being terrified

This covers our list of top scary games on Steam. We’ve got science fiction, we’ve got multiplayer, we’ve got both paranormal and supernatural elements. Fear is subjective, so we can’t say what is the scariest game on the list, but we’ve covered enough bases for you to find just the thing that will make you keep your lights on.