Horror freezes us in dread as a monster passes. Being so immersed in your games that you’re afraid to leave is a great feeling.
Horror is exciting because it keeps us frozen in fear when a strange monster appears in our peripheral vision. No other medium can equal the amount of anxiety provided by horror games, which constantly instill self-doubt. It’s a great feeling to get so engrossed in what you’re playing that it’s too frightening to even enter a room.
Although the majority of the games on this list are true horror titles, it is not a prerequisite. Some video games, whether it be via its mechanics, unpleasant locations, or the gloomy ideas of its tale, have an eerie feel that is more effective in causing unease than what jump scares in shadowy alleyways may manage.
Here are some of the most terrifying video games I’ve ever played, including some surprising selections, to honor the power of terror.
Resident Evil 2
Although Resident Evil 2 is undoubtedly not the scariest horror games available, it is unquestionably my favorite. By pursuing them constantly, Mr. X keeps the player in a condition of anxiety. When Mr. X initially appears, there is no cutscene of any kind; he just emerges from behind some debris, and the player knows they need to flee right away. He never gives you a break after that unless you are in a secure place.
Of course, a zombie apocalypse surrounds everything, but it’s all the tiny details that add up to something remarkable in the game, particularly throughout Claire’s journey. A little girl named Sherry must be safeguarded from a collapsing city after being abducted by the police head. One scenario in particular allows the player to control Sherry as she attempts to flee the police chief’s residence. This is undoubtedly one of the game’s scariest moments.
The player becomes terrified as they hear Mr. X’s footsteps coming from around a hallway corner. The police station’s labyrinthine layout makes RE2’s design particularly effective since it allows players to memorize every hallway and room. This implies that the player must attempt to use the station’s meandering passageways to elude Mr. X anytime he is in the area. This game is tough because of the rigorous resource management requirements and the zombies that are always attempting to block your progress.
While Outer Wilds isn’t a horror games and the most of the voyage isn’t particularly frightful, there is one section that evokes a strange sense of cosmic dread. The player will land in a foggy world with a severely limited view distance when they fly through Dark Bramble, a strange wormhole-like phenomena entrenched among the branches of a planet’s core. The player can only make out a few dim flickering lights, but as they continue to fly through, they will suddenly hear a monster that wants to consume them snarling. Those lights turned out to be tiny bulbs emanating from enormous angler fish intermingled with smaller lights from other tiny wormholes that may take you to various locations in Dark Bramble.
It’s quite terrible to be confined to a little starship in an unending universe with poor visibility as gigantic angler fish snarl and bite at you. While you’re aimlessly floating through space, the sound of a monster you can’t see but knows is there is interfering with the total quiet is horrifying.
The ideal horror games to play with pals is Phasmophobia, but even your friends won’t prepare you for its dread. I never manage to get accustomed to the feeling of being alone myself in a haunted home and it being much too dark to see anything at all, no matter how many times I leap into it.
Phasmophobia’s main cause of anxiety is anticipation. Even while a ghost chasing you isn’t very terrifying, the whole process leading up to it is terrifying. This is a game that understands how to make the most of extreme darkness; even when every light in a building is on, the atmosphere of the game gives even the normal living room the appearance of a monster’s hunting grounds. This becomes a goosebump-inducing experience when the total absence of music is combined with a concentration on the steady ambient hum that is sometimes broken by bangs and whispers.
You can only hear the players next to you when a ghost starts its search due to the static on the radio and the flashing of a player’s flashlight. Even though, it is extremely advised that they remain silent since else the monster would know where to go on its quest. It’s a terrific idea to encourage players to utilize the in-game voice chat to increase immersion since it brings a lot of cooperative dread to the experience.
You are a target. The central idea of Alien: Isolation is the pursuit of the object, and even if there are times when the pursuit is put on hold, the player’s constant thought is “Where is it?” With an emphasis on facing players against a true pursuer rather than a villain that is just employed for jump scares or staged chase sequences, The Xenomorph boasts its own artificial intelligence that is designed to learn from and react to the player’s actions.
Instead, uncertainty permeates every moment. Every moment becomes a battle against something that seems alive when you are aware that the Xenomorph reacts to your actions directly. Horror games may seem too scripted if certain enemies are placed in important locations or if a monster only sometimes emerges. However, Alien: Isolation defies such assumptions and allows the player to fully experience the Xenomorph’s wit.
Demon’s Souls has more profound roots in horror than Soulsborne, while being more frightful. This game heavily depends on the player feeling helpless in the face of the horrors that pervade each realm. More than most other horror games, there are several unique passages in Demon’s Souls that made me feel a stronger feeling of dread. I recall the incident in Upper Latria, when I unknowingly entered a cage that was fastened to a chain before falling thousands of feet from the highest point on Earth into the growing abysses of a crimson marsh. As I moved across the shaky wooden planks in this dark hole, fleshy monstrosities with frozen, deformed features sprang at me.
In the presence of anybody or anything, dread is there. Demon’s Souls is the most terrifyingly abstract of the series’ following games, which still feature strange monster designs but are more action-oriented. It’s like something out of a nightmare to be walking through the Swamp of Sorrows and having deformed zombies charge at you as you wade in sticky bile and avoid giant mosquitoes.
Resident Evil VII
Even though Resident Evil 7 is horrifying in and of itself, the conditions under which I played it make it easily the most embarrassing video games experience I’ve ever had. Of course, PSVR was used in such situations.
I’ll never forget witnessing the world through Ethan’s eyes when he is kidnapped by the Bakers, confined to a chair, and cruelly tormented by Jack. Since it was my first time using VR, my mind had a hard time determining if what I was seeing was genuine or not. When Jack stabbed Ethan in the eye, my brain interpreted it as my body going to be stabbed in the eye, and this feeling overcame me in full force.
Every part of me seemed to be attempting to prepare for that hit, and when it finally arrived, my mind briefly imagined experiencing agony. Then, when it seemed as if nothing had happened, there was a short period of confusion. I’ll never forget how it made me feel, and even though each subsequent scene in Resident Evil 7 VR became less agonizing, it seemed like I had to force myself inside every single room.
American McGee’s Alice
Alice by American McGee is dark. Even though it’s not horror games, it had a tone that seeped into my mind and wouldn’t leave; it was uncomfortable and has been with me for years. There are no jump scares, dark corridors, or unkillable animals in a maze-like style.
Non-canon continuation of the original Alice in Wonderland. Adult Alice, mortified by how much has changed, returns to Wonderland after a lengthy absence. No longer fun and vibrant, it’s corrupted. The presence of Alice is a clue that the agony of Wonderland’s occupants, who have experienced senseless death and imprisonment, may cease.
In American McGee’s Alice, innocence lost is a key theme. Alice has returned to the imagined world she knew as a child. But because of her suffering and the darkness that appears to have consumed her, it’s a nightmare. Each episode of this game exposes more about Alice’s life in relation to Wonderland. Locals feel angry with her for allowing the place to degrade, accusatory and insistent.
Throughout most of the game, Alice’s mental state and events in Wonderland are clear. As the story’s conclusion approaches, Alice is stricken with pain because she keeps seeing the Liddel home burn down. The Jabberwock killed her sister, parents, and in-law.
A phrase from the Jabberwock encapsulates Alice’s suffering: “You smelt the smoke. You were enjoying tea in a dream world. You’re lazy. While your family burned in an inferno, your chamber was secure.
American McGee’s Alice is built on misery, self-loathing, eerie character designs, and frightening environments. Even though it’s not a horror game, these themes are more frightening than the worst horror games.
SCP: Containment Breach
SCP Containment Breach is the scariest single-player game I’ve ever played in terms of gameplay. Its basis is inextricably linked to the mythology of SCP, a company that deals with confining and protecting a variety of enigmatic occurrences, each with a unique identification number and danger level. The player in the game assumes the character of an unknown prisoner who is caught in the center of a sudden breach where several of these monsters (SCPs) have been released. You must flee before they catch up with you.
Since each SCP has its unique set of laws, they may not even be living things but rather inanimate objects with strange properties. For instance, SCP-1499 is a plain-looking gas mask that, when worn, enables the person to disappear from view and, until it is removed, causes them to reemerge in an unknown parallel reality. However, not all SCPs are as inert; instead, each has a unique set of guidelines that the player must learn and comprehend in order to pass through.
The fact that the player may freely wander inside a randomly constructed facility that these animals navigate using artificial intelligence is what makes Containment Breach so terrifying. The player must always be on the lookout for creatures that behave independently as the game’s programmers haven’t written any of the exact sequences that take place. The player is naturally left alone with creatures on the prowl, which is different from other horror games.
Honorable mention: Super Mario 64
It’s impossible to call Super Mario 64 a horror game. In actuality, it makes many of us joyfully nostalgic and brings back wonderful childhood memories. But there has always been a sinister gloom about it. When I played the game again last year, the stages’ creepiness persisted from when I was a child. I felt really uneasy, especially in the cramped, rocky Hazy Maze Cave, which is home to disgusting beetles and had the feeling of being at the bottom of the planet.
Wet-Dry World is also notably unsettling since it is a fully flooded and deserted metropolis. The implications are troubling, particularly when you gaze out into the horizon and see that the backdrop scene is one of a cramped, strange metropolis with too close-knit structures. This city was completely buried, and it is obvious from the brilliant light shining through the wide oceantop at the crest of the photograph that none of its residents survived.
In Super Mario 64, every stage seems strangely lonely. Although it’s possible that this is only a function of the N64’s technical capabilities, Mario is often left alone with strange animals as he explores these fantastical settings. Hoping between paintings generates the unsettling suspicion that he is examining deserted photographs of locations that are making an effort to resemble reality. Similar to the presence of the artworks, like Geometry Dash, their significance is unclear. Yes, Super Mario 64 is not a horror game, but the absurdities that permeate each level give it a dreamlike quality, and when you think about it, its most bizarre elements are really rather frightful.