If you’re looking to scare yourself silly with some of the best horror games of all time, then you’re in the right place. Whether you’re looking to lose sleep for fear of what lurks in the shadows, or you simply want some fear-fuelled laughs, there are an abundance of tremendously terrifying video games out there to try.
Resident Evil is one of the first games I remember, and the countless late nights I had binging horror movies with my dad have granted me an affectionate affinity towards horror as a genre. I’ve also realised that I don’t particularly like being scared, but I do really admire how horror games can make you feel so much at once when they’re done right. I also think monsters and aliens are kinda cool – and that's why horror games, in particular, rule: they can combine all of the above in an interactive, entertaining way.
With that in mind, here’s our list of some of the best horror games of all time (in no particular order) that you can still play today, ranging from recent award winners to some more off the radar titles.
- Resident Evil 1, 2, and 7
- Silent Hill series
- Until Dawn
- Murder House
- Dead by Daylight
- Alien Isolation
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent
- Dead Space
- Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
- Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
- Little Nightmares
Resident Evil 1, 2, and 7
I can’t choose a single Resident Evil game for this list, so I’m going to make mention of a few for different reasons.
Both Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 are horror heroes to this day, and the remakes of each certainly helped immortalise and amplify the outstanding architecture and endless gore they possess, while still remaining faithful to the original games. The original Resident Evil game, and its successor, are arguably some of the founding fathers of the survival horror genre as we know it today.
The third contender that I must make mention to is Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I can’t begin to describe the relief I felt when I made my way through Biohazard for the first time. Having moved away from the less-than-impressive Resident Evil 5 and 6, Biohazard feels fresh, and is absolutely terrifying.
With Resident Evil 7, Capcom basically said, ‘You want horror? Here’s horror.’ and sent Ethan, a new character, on an adventure that feels eerily like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets The Shining. It’s a chilling experience from start to finish, especially with Jack and his family on your tail. And it sets you up perfectly for Resident Evil Village – if you want to graduate from horror to action in one quick step.
Silent Hill series
A classic brought to us by Keiichiro Toyama, Silent Hill (and its many sequels), will go down in history as some of the best horror games ever. Silent Hill intertwines physical and psychological hell; nothing is as it seems, and every character has plenty of personal demons to face in the desolate town.
The entire series hosts frightening enemies that you can only hope never appear in your nightmares. There’s the monstrous manifestation of Alessa’s fears, Double Head, in Silent Hill, the iconic Pyramid Head and Bubble Head Nurses of Silent Hill 2, and the horrifying Valtiel of Silent Hill 3, to name a few memorable encounters.
Most of the Silent Hill games offer great replayability too, if your mind can handle it. Each game has so much subtext, psychological analysis, and deeply embedded references to pop culture at the time that you’ll find yourself becoming a Silent Hill lore goblin sooner or later.
Visage is an indie, first-person psychological horror game that is, simply put, not for the faint-hearted.
Developed and released by Sadsquare Studios in 2020, players take on the role of Dwayne Anderson, as he explores a bizarrely structured house with a lot of dark past to unpack. The game itself will no doubt remind you of the illusive Silent Hills demo, P.T., which is even more of a reason to check it out.
As you debate which doors to open and corners to turn, Visage will not give your heart a break. It isn’t for everyone, as it oft relies on jump scares beyond any other element of horror, but horror devotees and P.T. fans will likely find themselves impressed… and petrified.
Until Dawn is the spiritual predecessor to The Dark Pictures Anthology (which features other amazing horror titles such as Little Hope, Man of Medan, and House of Ashes). Each of these games, including Until Dawn, follows a strong narrative where you must make decisions that impact the outcome of the story and the characters you meet.
While the games of the Anthology build on the formula of Until Dawn, it’s the 2015 horror game that where it all began. Until Dawn takes the form of a teen slasher, a formula we’re all used to seeing in the likes of cult classic horror movies Friday the 13th and Halloween, and turns it into an interactive, story-based game where you try to keep curious teenagers safe from whatever creature is lurking in the surrounding mountains.
The narrative is familiar, but it encapsulates the classic slasher experience and makes you the director, as you try to keep alive as many characters as possible. Or you can purposefully ensure everything is killed off, you do you.
Murder House is an ode to the past created by one-man powerhouse, Puppet Combo. While Puppet Combo has a lot of horror games worthy of this list, it’s Murder House that’ll stick with me.
As a news crew break into the abandoned home of a serial killer, you’re reminded of VHS eighties horror, and the crew land themselves in some trouble when it becomes apparent that they aren’t the only ones there. Can you make it out alive?
Inspired by the low-poly style of the PS1 era, specifically the likes of Silent Hill and Resident Evil, Murder House is a point-and-click horror escapade that feels incredibly gritty and inherently nineties. The villain also wears a bunny suit while wielding a shotel, which might even remind you of Silent Hill 3.
Dead by Daylight
When it comes to multiplayer horror, we aren’t rife with good options. Dead by Daylight, however, is one of the best multiplayer horror games we’ve seen in recent years. The formula isn’t new, but it’s arguably done a lot better than that of the Friday the 13th game adaptation.
Dead by Daylight is an asymmetrical horror that pits four survivors against one killer - the killer more often than not being a familiar face from Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, or more recently, The Ring. Much of its content involves licensed collaborations with various horror franchises to bring as many beloved characters to the title as possible, and encountering classic horror villains and protagonists regularly is part of Dead by Daylight’s fun.
This one provides plenty of jump scares, although it provides plenty more laughs when playing alongside friends. Dead by Daylight is one of the best ways for any fan of horror cinema to burn off steam.
Another win for multiplayer horror is Phasmophobia, and this ghost-hunting indie is still regularly having new features added. One day, we might even see it leave early access!
The game has you and your trusty team of paranormal investigators flock to various homes and places (including a prison and a campsite) to seek out what ghosts lurk there. The team here will be your friends (or a random lobby, or nobody, it’s up to you). As you scare yourselves senseless, you’ll find that Phasmophobia is a lot of fun when you’re not being subjected to blood-curdling screams of your scared friends.
Phasmophobia can also be played in VR, making the supernatural experience even more immersive. I’m too much of a scaredy-cat for Phasmophobia in VR personally; it’s hard enough staying alive as it is.
Alien Isolation is the 2014 sci-fi horror adapted from Ridley Scott’s iconic 1979 film, Alien. In the game, you find yourself in the claustrophobic environment of a trading station floating in space, with Xenomorph in pursuit of you. As Amanda, Ripley’s daughter, your mission is to not only stay alive, but to also try and find out what happened to your mother when she vanished 15 years ago.
If there’s any one way to do sci-fi horror, Alien Isolation did it, and they terrified us when they did. You find yourself entirely immersed in the universe of Alien, regularly running and hiding, so you don’t end up as prey in this stealth FPS.
Alien Isolation perfectly encapsulates the classic, Alien, and feels incredibly fresh as fear relies on ever-increasing tension, dread, and unscripted jump scares.
Yet another game that will regularly see you run, hide, and wish it was all over is Outlast. Outlast follows a stereotypical formula for horror, but the game successfully evokes so much terror with its jump scares and mutilated enemies. This is one that you won't want to play all alone in the dark.
In Outlast, you are Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist. After receiving an anonymous tip-off that inhumane experiments are going down at Mount Massive Asylum, Miles takes himself to the psychiatric hospital to see what’s going on. Let me tell you, it isn’t pretty.
Red Barrels created a game with a distinct look, and teamed it with clever camera angles and lots of grotesque experiments that make Outlast a wild ride from start to finish.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
I fondly remember my first laptop of my own, and downloading Amnesia: The Dark Descent onto it. The poor laptop fought for its life, but I managed to complete what I’d deem to be an absolute classic when it comes to horror games.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a simple game, with another stereotypical start (you’re an amnesiac who awakes in a strange castle), but its legacy will forever live on. The game arguably kickstarted the careers of multiple YouTubers – one who is known for their fascination with the barrels of Amnesia – and inspired multiple games and budding creatives.
As for the game itself, it’s your job to try to flee from imminent danger if you wish to make it out alive. Regardless of its fame, Amnesia is a frightful experience that’ll leave you wanting, and if that’s the case when The Dark Descent comes to a close, there are dozens of custom, community-made stories to explore.
SOMA comes from Frictional Games, who are, funnily enough, the same team that brought us Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The sci-fi horror is another classic that explores some of the same themes as Frictional’s prior game: identity, morality, and the differences between mind and body.
In SOMA, you play as Simon Jarrett. Simon has a brain injury from a car accident, and for some reason, agrees to take part in Mr. Munshi’s studies on back-pedalling brain damage. When Simon goes for a scan, he later wakes up in a very different reality. 80 years have passed, human life is nowhere to be found, and the machines have started to think that they’re human.
As Simon attempts to solve the troublesome mystery that he’s found himself a part of, a lot of questions are raised in this psychological horror, and you’ll often find yourself querying what it actually means to be human.
Another sci-fi horror, another disconcertingly quiet spaceship, another win for horror games. The one thing that I consistently see nailed in sci-fi horror is atmosphere and suspense-building, Dead Space is no different in this regard.
As Isaac Clarke, you’re searching for your missing girlfriend aboard a seemingly abandoned spaceship. However, you’re (obviously) not alone. Rather than fleeing and hiding from the sight of aliens, coined Necromorphs, Dead Space relies more heavily on combat, making it unique to that of other sci-fi horror games on this list.
Even with a bloodbath of alien dismemberment on your hands, the unnerving nature of Dead Space never falters. Dead Space 2 and 3 are also worthy of a mention, but these games did what Resident Evil 5 and 6 did; they moved away from horror, and leaned more into action elements.
There’s also good news if you haven’t played this yet. A Dead Space remake is on its way, and is expected to arrive in 2023.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
A sanity mechanic in a horror game wouldn’t be surprising nowadays, but back on the Gamecube, you could argue that it was game-changing (literally). Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was one of the first horror games to make the most of this, and it messes with players in the best way.
While the game, at the time, wasn’t all that successful, it has gone down in history for how unique its gameplay was, and the way in which it tried to psychologically mess with the player. Perhaps the best way in which Eternal Darkness messed with those fortunate enough to play it would be by making them think all of their save files had been deleted in a moment of madness - something that we’ve seen more recent horror games, such as Doki Doki Literature Club, employ since.
This meta-game tactic might not seem fresh right now, but rest assured, Eternal Darkness was the first game to really fuck with its players and make them think their sanity was slipping.
Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
Developer Tecmo struck themselves with the fear after creating Fatal Frame. The fear being that players were not finishing their game because of how scary it was. To overcome this problem, Tecmo placed more of an emphasis on narrative when it came to Fatal Frame 2. By doing this, they could create a horror game so compelling that players would have no choice but to play it to completion.
Needless to say, Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly was, and is, a success. Leaning into Japanese folklore, Crimson Butterfly is equal parts haunting and harrowing. You’re Mio, twin sister to Mayu, and you wield a camera as your weapon. In this supernatural horror, you must face your fears directly as you use photography as a means of dispelling spirits and ghouls across Minakami Village.
While focusing on survival isn’t exactly a unique goal across horror, Crimson Butterfly feels a lot more soul-stirring as you attempt to protect your sister first and foremost, and is a game that certainly sticks with you for a long time afterwards. If the game doesn't make you feel some kind of way, the snappy camera angles certainly will.
Little Nightmares (and Little Nightmares 2) are both games that truly encapsulate what it means to be a ‘cosy horror’. Both instalments are puzzling platformers with a simple gameplay loop, and through both narrative and design, they're incredibly charming and difficult to put down.
In Little Nightmares, you are Six, and have somehow ended up in the strange, sinister world of Maw. Hungry, alone, and afraid, you must make your way through various levels and traverse the dark, eerie, and structurally bizarre world of Maw in an attempt to escape.
This title, and its sequel, are both relatively short and sweet. Even as you get accustomed to where danger lurks, Little Nightmares doesn’t become any less spine-tingling, and you’ll never be emotionally prepared for how it ends.
Other Honourable Mentions
There are certainly some outstanding games that didn’t quite make this list, not for any particular reason or fault, but solely because I’d be here for weeks if I tried to discuss them all.
Honourable mentions go to: Returnal, Layers of Fear, Bloodborne, P.T., Prey, Eternal Darkness, Limbo, Inside, The Evil Within 2, Cry of Fear, Carrion, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Parasite Eve, Manhunt, and BioShock, Slender, Metro Exodus, Oxenfree, Darkwood, Left 4 Dead 2
That’s all from us, but we’d love to hear what you think the best horror games of all time are. Be sure to let us know! In the meantime, check out our compilation of 50 of the best FPS games of all time.