The survival horror genre is broad and popular, and not just because both survival games and horror are popular. Survival horror is about something more: the perseverance of a mortal spirit against the overwhelming tide of nightmares and danger. And gaming certainly does deliver on that promise, in many different forms.
In most survival horror games you’ll be like a child left unattended – fragile, exposed, defenseless. Your best resort is to hide, run, or risk spending the precious few resources on dealing with the enemy. Even in games with more action, of which there are a few on the list, the immersive environment, the mystery of what’s behind the corner, and the scarcity of ammo, or medkits, can make for a tense survival horror experience, in addition to explosive gameplay.
Below we’ve prepared a list of games which will not only scare you to bits, also create so much tension you might just lose your nerve. But you won’t lose money! because on G2A you can find plenty of cheap, excellent horror games!
Anyway, behold, our list of the best survival horror games you could play right now.
|Developer:||Acid Wizard Studio|
Imagine not only living in Eastern European 1980s, but also finding yourself on the border of a mysterious forest which appeared out of nowhere. To make matter worse, the place is populated by mutants, apparitions, and other kinds of highly disturbing and probably extremely dangerous phenomena. And now you are there to solve this puzzle, because otherwise you’ll never escape.
Darkwood is unique among survival horror, because it uses a top-down perspective. Normally you’d think it spoils the scares, but a limited cone of vision and excellent sound design make the game just as tense as an FPP horror would be. Darkwood also features a day/night cycle, which forces you to prep well for the night, since this is where monster come out to hunt.
System Shock 2
System Shock 2 might well be one of the most influential games out there, and it also happens to an excellent cyberpunk survival horror game. No wonder it gets a place on the list. Taking place decades after the events of original System Shock, SS2 puts you in the shoes of a freshly unfrozen soldier who has to deal with an infection and other crew either dead or driven mad. Good luck.
System Shock 2 is an immersive first-person game with tight level design, nerve-wracking moments, and an engaging cyberpunk plot set in year 2114. Sure, now it looks dated (it’s from 1999), but if you’d like to see the game which Deus Ex and 2018’s Prey hail as major inspiration, you should give it a shot. You should also give it a shot if you’re starving for a good science-fiction horror.
|Developer:||The Farm 51|
Chernobylite isn’t just a great option to play if you can’t wait to play the next STALKER game. It’s a fantastic Chernobyl-themed science fiction survival horror in its own right, with a gripping complex narrative and a phenomenal world design. You’re playing as Igor, a former employee of the power plant, now coming back to reopen old wounds related to the disappearance of his fiancée.
In the 30 years since the disaster, the Zone started growing weird a weird substance, the Chernobylite, which is of interest to scientists, the military, and weird creatures from another reality. The game creates an amazing, wonderfully immersive setting, and the atmosphere resulting from clashing agendas and the supernatural phenomena makes for a great survival horror experience.
|Developer:||The Indie Stone|
Project Zomboid isn’t going to captivate you with it’s tightly-paced plot, or emotionally devastating sequences. No, Project Zomboid’s horror is more mundane: it’s the growing awareness that you’re not well-prepared and your character might not survive the night. It’s hearing the zombies outside your weakly barricaded windows and deciding if you can afford to shoot them.
Project Zomboid is, in its essence, a survival game taking place in a town overrun by shambling zombies. It is ridiculously detailed, more so than more graphically impressive games can afford to, and it can be a very stressful experience indeed. Death comes easily, and it’s possible that if your character gets zombified in one playthrough, you’ll have to deal with them in the next.
Phasmophobia is a game which would put the fear of ghosts in the Ghostbusters theme song. This game puts you and your co-op buddies in the role of investigators trying to confirm a ghost sighting and establish the identity of the haunter. The job might sound easier than it is, however, because the ghosts are not very friendly and can react aggressively to being bothered.
There’s over a dozen different ghost types, including classic Poltergeists, spooky Banshee, violent Oni, and you’ll have to learn how to deal with each. Remember: your job is documenting and identifying, not fighting. You do have a range of tools you can use, and if you have a microphone, you could try speaking the ghost’s name to see if that gets the reaction. If you’re lucky: it won’t.
Alien: Isolation is one of the perfect examples proving that you don’t need a stream of jump scares in order to make someone terrified. You are playing Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, on her errand to uncover the fate of her missing mother. The game takes place on a space station, far from civilization and with no way to get help from the outside.
The title relies on creating an unsettling and claustrophobic atmosphere – it builds tension thanks to the presence of deadly enemies, including the titular alien, who must be avoided at all cost. It’s not the look of the alien that’s scariest – it’s the fact that it is smart and can be anywhere you don’t expect it to be. And that’s before humanoid enemies become a recurring issue.
|Developer:||Endnight Games Ltd|
The Forest is not exactly a horror game, but it will leave you shaking anyway. It starts on a heavily forested island – you survived the plane crash, and now you need to find a way to survive and get off the island. Unfortunately, the area seems to be inhabited by a hostile tribe, and as if that wasn’t enough, one of its members kidnapped your child.
As a result, before attempting to leave the place, you will need to find and help your son. On first glance it might look like a very mundane, if stressful survival situation, but it doesn’t take long for you to realize there is something off about the locals, and that there are weird creatures roaming about. Learning the answers will take you a long time, and you will wish you hadn’t by the end.
|Developer:||Monolith Productions, Inc.|
F.E.A.R. may not be the most up-to-date horror video game on the list, but despite being released over a decade ago, it didn’t lose its ability to scare people, especially if you play at night. As a member of First Encounter Assault Recon you are tasked with eliminating the threat in the form of Replicas – telepathically controlled clone supersoldiers.
The mission goes haywire, when it turns out the facility is also haunted by very murderous psychic apparitions of a mysterious young woman. The game focuses on combat with use of both traditional and sci-fi firearms, and the fear factor comes from your protagonist’s increasingly strong hallucinations and an unfolding story about the source and reason for the apparitions.
|Developer:||EA Redwood Shores|
If you are looking for a great survival horror video game, you can’t simply pass the Dead Space from 2008 indifferently, as it was often cited as one of the greatest video games of all times. In Dead Space, it is 2508 and you are playing as engineer Isaac Clarke who is sent to investigate the distress signal received from the nearby mining starship on which his girlfriends was supposed to be.
Soon enough you will discover the ship is overrun by gruesome, grotesque Necromorphs – recombined and mutated dead bodies animated by a bizarre infection. What follows is a tense, terrifying science fiction horror that’s equal parts Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing. And all of that with almost of HUD to disrupt your immersion in this horrific world.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
It’s year 1839. you awaken, confused and unarmed no no recollection of what brought you to the dusty corridors of the castle you’re in. What you do know, however, is that there are terrifying creatures roaming the halls, and the darkness itself affects your ability to think clearly. Welcome to Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
Amnesia is one of the exemplars of the FPP survival horror genre, leaving you defenseless against threats, and forced to rely on stealth and wit to survive to whatever ending is in store for you. The story has a pretty strong Gothic horror atmosphere to it, and the Prussian castle serving as the game’s setting is an unsettling, overwhelming location even when you’re relatively safe.
Dying Light brings first-person perspective parkour to the zombie-apocalypse environment which, in combination with the open-world, gives players much more freedom in tackling the awaiting challenges. You’ll need that extra mobility while running from the hyper-active zombies at night, where much of the survival horror vibes kick in in earnest.
The game also features an engaging multiplayer mode, which gives you the possibility to play either as a survivor or as a powerful zombie invading other people’s servers. If PvP isn’t your thing, you can also have fun in co-op. This way your can watch as your friends fall one by one to the zombies because of a simple mistake during a nightly trip for XP and resources.
Alan Wake is a famous mystery writer, but he’s been suffering from a prolonged writer’s block recently. To fight that, Alan and his wife Alice leave to Bright Falls, a small town, where Alan hopes to get back in the mood. Unfortunately, soon after their arrival Alice disappears and the darkness itself seems to go chasing after Alan, bringing to life stories he doesn’t remember writing.
Alan Wake is a perfect survival horror if you love the brand of terror delivered by Stephen King stories, with the blending of real and imaginary and writing about writing. The interplay of darkness and light is as important to the gameplay as it is to the story – your most powerful weapon is the flashlight, which can weaken and stun darkness-infested enemies trying to claim you.
The Long Dark
|Developer:||Hinterland Studio Inc.|
In The Long Dark, it’s not the gruesome creatures that you will be scared of. In fact, there are none, not counting the wolves. Instead, the game puts a strong emphasis on classic survival aspects, forcing you to take care of your basic needs, such as hunger, and fatigue. The game is set in the cold and snowy Canadian wilderness, so finding the warm clothing will also be required to survive.
Despite the lack of supernatural elements, The Long Dark can still keep your nerves taut, because the wildlife and, especially, humans, can present as much of a menace as any monster when you’re exhausted, tired, and trying to figure out what happened. The Long Dark is excellent, if you favorite horrors are fully mundane – the nightmares of terrible situation made worse by awful humans.
Lone Survivor is several things at once: a survival game, a horror game, AND a survival horror game, which might seem like it makes no sense, until you play the game. You play as a man who finds himself n an apartment located in a city overrun by zombies. To make matters worse, you seem to be suffering from hallucinations which might have more effect on reality than they should.
On top of these unpleasant circumstances, you must also make sure you have something to eat and something to defend yourself is. And if that wasn’t enough, you also might find other survivors, and you have to get to the bottom of you situation. There’s a lot on your plate in Lone Survivor, and as the story develops, if goes from creepy zombies, to stuff even Silent Hill would be proud of.
Left 4 Dead
If you are looking for a horror game that could be played together with friends And Dyiung Light isn’t to your tastes, then Left 4 Dead is the obvious alternative – not only does it have tight, challenging, co-op-heavy gameplay, but also a pretty fun story about survivors of a zombie outbreak trying to get out of dodge together, despite their incompatible personalities.
If human players are unavailable, you can get a helping hand from the computer, who will control the other characters, though then the game may be slightly harder – bots can do a lot, but they aren’t as reliable as real player would be. However, if you do have three friends willing to smash some zombie heads and tiptoe around the Witch, L4D is a great game to spend time in.
Outlast is definitely not a game for a faint of heart, as it involves a lot of blood and gore. As an investigative journalist, Miles Upshur, you arrive at the psychiatric hospital, where reportedly inhuman experiments are being conducted on the patients. The reality of what’s going on is, however, even more disturbing that the whistleblower’s message would have you believe.
You are a simple journalist, so you can’t fight the enemies – you will need to resort to hiding and relying on your camera’s night vision to avoid not only the violent patients/experiments, but also a weird invisible presence which seems like the true threat of the place. Outlast is brutal, bloody, and your character can’t do anything about it, so you should hide better.
Silent Hill: Homecoming
|Developer:||Double Helix Games|
Silent Hill: Homecoming might not be the legendary title that SH2 was, but it would be wrong to omit the series from the list, and Homecoming has the benefit of being easily accessible in digital distribution, making it much easier to actually play if you’re on PC. So, with that preamble in mind, what is Silent Hill: Homecoming about?
The plot follows a veteran, Alex Shepherd, who comes back to his hometown of Shepherd’s Glen only. Things are, predictably, not going great, and Alex will discover not only his own family’s history, but also what connects the town to the iconic Silent Hill itself, sitting just across the lake. Cults, family tensions, dark secrets, Homecoming has it all, punctuated by Akira Yamaoka’s unsettling musical score.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
|Developer:||CAPCOM CO., LTD.|
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard follows Ethan Winters, who arrives in Louisiana following a cryptic message from his missing wife. It quickly turns out that the house he finds is not only not abandoned, but also occupied by a violent, twisted family. He has no idea this will kick off a series of events which will forever change his life and the way he thinks about the integrity of his limbs.
Resident Evil 7 brought a significant change to the series, ditching the traditional third-person camera in favor of a first-person view, falling in line with other popular survival horrors. Coupled with excellent graphics powered by the fresh RE Engine, immersive environment, and excellent antagonists, it all turns RE7 into one of the finest survival horrors of the decade.
Dead by Daylight
|Developer:||Behaviour Digital Inc.|
This is another viable option if you want to have some fun with friends. Dead by Daylight is an exclusively online asymmetrical PvP survival horror game pitting four survivors against a supernaturally empowered killer. Each character has a tailor-made set of perks and abilities and learning how to use them effectively is crucial to success.
Killer’s role is to kidnap and sacrifice the others to the ominous Entity controlling the nightmarish world, while the survivors are trying to unlock the escape routes before ending up dead and sacrificed. Each game is slightly different thanks to procedural map generation, and the killers are a delightful mix of original terrifying creations and guests from famous horror franchises.
The Evil Within
The last position on our list is The Evil Within. It’s half-survival horror, half psychological horror coming from the creative mind of Shinji Mikami, the creator of the original Resident Evil. The game puts you in the unenviable shoes of detective Sebastian Castellanos, whose mass murder investigation brought him into a manifested mindscape filled with nightmares.
Unlike many other games on the list, The Evil Within uses the third-person perspective, but the expanded awareness this camera view provides won’t save you. What might save you, is being careful with resources and choosing the right abilities to upgrade. And even then, your meager defenses might not be enough to save you in the twisted mindscape you must navigate.
At first you’ll be afraid, but you will survive
That about covers our survival horror games list, but much like a zombie covered with a thing sheet, it still twitches and might wait until you’re distracted to bite you face off. Will you shoot it in the face and risk drawing more horrors your way, or should we end this confused metaphor?
Hopefully, you’ve found something that sounds like a great way to spend a few evening getting goosebumps and elevated heart rate while hiding from some unsightly creature in a dusty closet. Enjoy the struggle to survive!