30 of the Scariest Games Ever Made

30 of the Scariest Games Ever Made

Horror games are some of the best video games out there. It’s not my favorite genre, but I can understand Horror’s impact on the medium. The genre is not only influential but has an immense amount of games to choose from. There truly is something for everyone in horror. There are games for those like me who prefer more psychological and slower-paced experiences. There are games for fans of thrilling cat-mouse chase-style gameplay. There are even games for children with the massively popular mascot horror genre. But for those looking for the scariest of the scariest, we’ve got you covered. Here are 30 of the most terrifying games ever made.

30. Little Nightmares

©Little Nightmares Box Art

  • Release Date — April 28, 2017
  • Release Platforms — Android, Google Stadia, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
  • Metacritic Score — 78

Little Nightmares is the perfect start to this list. It’s one of the scariest titles in gaming because of its unique surreal approach to horror. Its environments are dark, eerie, and filled with grotesque unsettling imagery. You control Six, a small defenseless character. The gameplay is closer to a puzzle game where you have to escape from these creepy enemies. It’s a good horror game if you’re not a fan of jumpscares. Every scare is telegraphed and slow, preying on a sense of anxiety more so than an immediate scare.

29. Alone In The Dark

Alone in the Dark Cutscene screenshot.

©Alone in the Dark Cutscene screenshot. - Original / License

  • Release Date — 1992
  • Release Platforms — MS-DOS, 3DO, Mac OS, PC-98, FM Towns, iOS
  • Metacritic Score — N/A

For fans of an earlier era, you cannot go wrong with Alone In The Dark. This game is one of the best games of the 1990s and can be seen as the creator of the Survival Horror genre. A lot of the other games that will be showcased on this list will owe their legacy to this game. The game draws inspiration from the works of H.P. Lovecraft and incorporates it flawlessly. The game also is scripted and presented almost like a horror film. Horror fans should give this game a try if they haven’t already. Specifically this one, and not the 2024 remake.

28. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

F.E.A.R. key art

©F.E.A.R. official artwork - Original

  • Release Date — February 10, 2009
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Metacritic Score — 77

If you can make players feel scared while they are holding a gun, you’re doing something right. This title uses psychological horror to unsettle you. F.E.A.R. 2 is a masterclass in atmospheric tension and how to use the paranormal effectively. For fans of FPS games, this could be perfect not only do you get to open fire on enemies you can still be scared by the horror set pieces. The game also has one of the best antagonists in gaming history. A must-play for sure.

27. Manhunt

©Manhunt Screenshot

  • Release Date — November 19, 2003
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox
  • Metacritic Score — 76

A different type of horror for sure, this controversial title is known for its extreme violence and dark atmosphere. The game’s premise revolves around a death row inmate who is forced to participate in a series of snuff film-style executions. The player must use stealth to survive while taking down enemies with various weapons and the environment around them. Not as scary as others on the list but its horror comes from the horrifying ways you engage with the enemies. This type of horror won’t affect everyone the same but when it works it works.

26. The Suffering

©Box Art of the Suffering

  • Release Date — March 8, 2004
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox
  • Metacritic Score — 77

Another horror shooter, The Suffering is set in an abandoned island plagued by supernatural forces. The game has this chilling and dark atmosphere as you navigate through the prison. The Suffering dives into the psychology of its protagonist as well as his suffering. Grotesque monsters are everywhere symbolizing human torture. The game wants to shock you with the things you run into and similar to Manhunt it’s not afraid to show the players violence and gore.

25. F.E.A.R.

©One of the game's most iconic moments; as the player turns to descend a ladder, Alma suddenly appears from nowhere, stoically watching the player without moving.

  • Release Date — November 19, 2003
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox
  • Metacritic Score — 88

As the F.E.A.R. trilogy went on the games moved further and further away from the horror and leaned more into the action side of the game’s design. The original title however was dripping in horror. It expertly used tension and suspense to terrify you on top of having an interesting mysterious storyline. It’s a game that keeps players on the edge of their seats from start to finish, delivering a memorable and terrifying experience.

24. Dead Space

Dead Space key art

©Digital Storefront Artwork - Original

  • Release Date — November 19, 2003
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Metacritic Score — 89

Dead Space is a survival horror game that takes place in space. This game’s horror comes from its claustrophobic environments. Dead Space employs cramped corridors, flickering lights, and eerie sound design to sell you its world. The title loves filling its players with dread, as you never know when the nightmarish alien creatures will leap at you from the shadows. Resource management is important as everything is limited. This game recently was remade and it is just as good. Dead Space is an outstanding game with exceptional environments, combat, and sound design.

23. The Evil Within

©The Evil Within screen print

  • Release Date — October 14, 2014
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Metacritic Score — 75

Directed by the legendary Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil, The Evil Within is different but just as good. The game puts a lot of emphasis on the psychological aspect of its horror. The main character, Detective Sebastian Castellanos, is at the very forefront of the game’s world, gameplay, and narrative. This is a game for those looking for scares and a good story. The combat is an important pillar in the title’s design as well. It leans into grotesque and terrifying enemies while also incorporating presentation styles from horror films.

22. BioShock

Entrance to the city of Rapture in Bioshock Remastered.

©Screenshot of gameplay - Original

  • Release Date — August 21, 2007
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Mac OS X, iOS
  • Metacritic Score — 96

Bioshock is a good example of a horror game that isn’t quite a horror game. It borrows elements from survival horror titles but technically I wouldn’t count it as a horror game. That isn’t to say the game isn’t horrifying in its own right. The game has a few cheeky jumpscares placed throughout it. Bioshock also tells a lot of its narrative through its atmosphere. The walls tell a story of collapse and tension. Also, the enemy design is full of unpredictable, aggressive creatures.

21. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 title card

©eShop artwork - Original

  • Release Date — January 11, 2005
  • Release Platforms — GameCube, PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows, Wii, iOS, Zeebo, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Android, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Oculus Quest 2
  • Metacritic Score — 96

Resident Evil 4 is a game known for its tense atmosphere, fear-inducing enemies, resource management mechanics, intense combat encounters, and occasional moments of genuine horror. It may not be as purely survival horror-focused as earlier entries in the series, but it still delivers a thrilling and frightening experience. Similar to the F.E.A.R. series this game is a good midway point between horror and action. Players who want to be scared but still want to be capable of fighting back will love this title.

20. The Last Of Us

The Last of Us gameplay

©The Last of Us gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Release Date — January 14, 2013
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation 3
  • Metacritic Score — 95

The Last of Us isn’t a horror game in the normal sense but I would argue that its horror comes from how this story could happen to us in reality. The anxiety of an apocalyptic event is a very real fear and on top of that, the enemies are terrifying. Clickers, for example, are blind but have highly sensitive hearing and can kill the player character with a single attack. The tension of encountering these infected creatures adds to the game’s overall sense of fear and dread.

19. Soma

©Cover Art of Soma

  • Release Date — January 14, 2013
  • Release Platforms — Linux, OS X, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
  • Metacritic Score — 84

This title might not have the scariest encounters on this list but what it lacks in scary monsters it makes up for in the narrative. Soma just might be one of the most well-written games of all time and the way it captures the fear of loneliness is immaculate. With a story written in the same vein as the Harlan Ellison short story, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, this game is a must-play for fans of horror literature.

18. Silent Hill

©Silent Hill Cover Art

  • Release Date — February 24, 1999
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation
  • Metacritic Score — 86

The Silent Hill franchise is one of the major pillars of modern horror games. These games all embody a very particular kind of horror and it all started with this entry. This has some of the best sound design in the genre. With its ambient noise, unsettling music, and chilling sound effects, it’s hard not to be immersed.Silent Hill also takes advantage of the hardware it was developed for. The game has found a way to be scarier in-game due to real-world limitations. Nowadays you don’t have to worry about lack of power when it comes to designing a game but you have to admire the creativity deployed by Konami and Team Silent.

17. Until Dawn

©Until Dawn gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Release Date — August 25, 2015
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation 4
  • Metacritic Score — 79

Until Dawn is an interactive drama survival horror game where player choices have significant consequences on the story’s outcome. These consequences also bleed into the fate of the characters. This style of gameplay adds a layer of tension and anxiety as players must make split-second decisions that can lead to life-or-death situations for the characters they control. The game also utilizes a combination of psychological horror and jump scares to achieve its horror. Also with its cinematic presentation, this title is perfect for those who see it as an interactable horror film. Horror games usually are best experienced alone but games like these are perfect for sharing the scares with friends.

16. Clock Tower

Clock Tower – Screenshot

©Clock Tower – Screenshot - Original

  • Release Date — September 14, 1995
  • Release Platforms — Super Famicom, PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, WonderSwan, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
  • Metacritic Score — N/A

Another classic horror title, Clock Tower is known for its unique approach to horror. Something I haven’t talked about much in this article is powerlessness. This title emphasizes powerlessness and works well to get its themes and scares across. Also, the iconic game and horror antagonist, Scissorman, made his debut with this title. He is an unpredictable threat and just when you think you’ve finally escaped, he appears again.Clock Tower has had a significant influence on the survival horror genre, inspiring many other games that followed it. Its impact on the genre and its enduring popularity among horror fans speak to its effectiveness as a scary game.

15. Alan Wake

Alan Wake Remastered cover art.

©Alan Wake Remastered cover art. - Original / License

  • Release Date — May 18, 2010
  • Release Platforms — Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
  • Metacritic Score — 83

Alan Wake’s combination of atmospheric storytelling, psychological horror, dynamic gameplay mechanics, and immersive sound design have earned it a reputation as one of the scariest games of all time. This game is another story-driven horror as it tells a psychological, thrilling story about Alan Wake’s wife’s disappearance. The protagonist is a writer struggling with his sanity as he battles against dark forces trying to consume him. The game uses surreal imagery, hallucinations, and psychological torture to scare its players.

14. Dead Space 2

©Dead Space 2 box art

  • Release Date — January 25, 2011
  • Release Platforms — Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
  • Metacritic Score — 90

Everything that made the original Dead Space title horrifying is dialed up to eleven in its phenomenal sequel. Dead Space 2‘s use of claustrophobic environments, dim lighting, and eerie silence gives off a feeling of isolation and vulnerability. This is another game that is very capable of making you feel anxious even though you have a plethora of ways to deal with combat scenarios. The protagonist, Isaac Clarke, is haunted by hallucinations and traumatic memories, blurring the line between reality and madness similar to a few other protagonists on this list. Dead Space 2‘s masterful blend of story, visceral horror, and action gameplay make it one of those games everyone should experience at least once.

13. Condemned: Criminal Origins

©Criminal Origins Box Art

  • Release Date — November 16, 2005
  • Release Platforms — Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
  • Metacritic Score — 81

Moving away from psychological horror a tiny bit, with this title. Condemned: Criminal Origins is praised for its gritty atmosphere and intense melee combat. The game does pull from psychological horror with its themes of paranoia and the dark side of humanity. What sets this title apart from other horror games is its forensic investigation gameplay. Having to collect evidence and analyze crime scenes makes the world feel believable and lived in. A truly unforgettable horror experience.

12. Outlast

©Still from the outlast launch trailer

  • Release Date — September 4, 2013
  • Release Platforms — Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Metacritic Score — 81

Another game that preys on player isolation and vulnerability is Outlast. The game’s setting is an abandoned psychiatric hospital overrun by deranged inmates and supernatural forces. Outlast masterfully creates a chilling atmosphere of dread and unease. The dark corridors, flickering lights, and eerie ambiance truly make you feel like danger is lurking around every corner. The game also is a bit more immersive than others on this list. It’s not only in first-person perspective but also makes use of a camcorder’s night vision setting to invoke claustrophobia.

11. Resident Evil 7

©Resident Evil character renders - Original

  • Release Date — January 24, 2017
  • Release Platforms — Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Metacritic Score — 86

Resident Evil 7 revitalized the Resident Evil series by returning to its roots of survival horror while introducing a first-person perspective. If you asked me, games are way scarier when using this perspective as it becomes harder to separate yourself from the game’s protagonist. Combat encounters are intense and resources are light. Having to make that split decision on whether you should run or fight a creature adds this extra layer of anxiety. If you play Resident Evil for its over-the-top action or campy dialogue you probably won’t like this one. However, if you play these games to be scared none of them do it quite like this one. Well, maybe the first game.

10. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly

©mobygames.com - Original / License

  • Release Date — December 10, 2003
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation 2
  • Metacritic Score — 81

Kicking off the top 10 is Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. If I had to come up with a word to describe this title it would be haunting. The game is a story about twin sisters Mio and Mayu, who become trapped in the cursed village of Minakami. The game’s horror and creatures draw from Japanese folklore and incorporate elements such as vengeful spirits, cursed objects, and rituals into its story. Fatal Frame II also has a unique gameplay mechanic where the player defends themself from these monsters with a camera. This approach to combat requires players to face their fears head-on to progress instead of running away.

9. Darkwood

©Wolf from Darkwood gameplay

  • Release Date — August 17, 2017
  • Release Platforms — Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Google Stadia, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S
  • Metacritic Score — 80

Darkwood is a unique title on this list because it leans more into the survival portion of survival horror. The game’s top-down perspective and detailed pixel art create a hauntingly atmospheric world. The game uses dense forests, eerie abandoned buildings, and dimly lit interiors to contribute to a sense of oppressive dread. There is a story tying together these threads of design but Darkwood‘s narrative is pretty ambiguous. This leaves the story open to interpretation and honestly not having the answers makes everything that much scarier.

8. Eternal Darkness

©Eternal Darkness Box Art

  • Release Date — June 23, 2002
  • Release Platforms — GameCube
  • Metacritic Score — 92

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem earns its reputation as one of the scariest games of all time through its masterful manipulation of gameplay mechanics and horror. The game has found a perfect way to blend the two. It employs a sanity meter that gradually diminishes as the player encounters terrifying creatures and environments, resulting in visual and auditory hallucinations. These hallucinations include effects such as fake error messages, fake game crashes, and even the appearance of the player’s save files being deleted. These meta-horror elements are incredibly terrifying and laid the blueprint for other fourth-wall breaks in horror. Eternal Darkness delivers a chilling experience that lingers long after the console is turned off and that’s honestly all you could ever ask for with a horror game.

7. Silent Hill 3

©Silent Hill 3 cover art

  • Release Date — June 23, 2002
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows
  • Metacritic Score — 85

What truly sets Silent Hill 3 apart is its exploration of taboo themes such as guilt, trauma, and existential terror. It taps into a very specific type of horror that can shock you to your core if you can attach it to your real-life experiences. If you have never played any of the Silent Hill games they are recommended as they are some of the best horror experiences of all time. Specifically, the original trinity. This game portrays a beautiful look into some of the horrors of womanhood and tells a story that will be studied for years to come.

6. Visage

©Visage Logo Art

  • Release Date — October 29, 2020
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
  • Metacritic Score — 81

There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between critics and average gamers when it comes to this title. But the one thing they can all agree on is the fact this game is utterly horrifying. Set within a seemingly ordinary suburban home, the game lures players into a web of psychological horror and supernatural dread. As you explore and engage with the game’s systems you’re bombarded with phenomenal sound design. Sound Design is so important when it comes to making players feel isolated and Visage does it better than most of this list. This is one you should probably play with the lights on.

5. Five Nights at Freddy’s

©Freddy fazbear from Five Nights At Freddys

  • Release Date — August 8, 2014
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows
  • Metacritic Score — 78

Five Nights at Freddy’s did something that no other game on this list could. This title brought out the globally repressed fear of animatronics to the forefront of the industry. This game plays into some cheap horror tactics but it nails the atmosphere. Scott Cawthon completely jumpstarted the mascot horror with this game. 10 years later none of them have been able to become as big or prolific as this series. Want a fun horror game to make your kids hate animatronics? Good luck, they probably already know this one.

4. Silent Hill 2

©mobygames.com - Original / License

  • Release Date — September 24, 2001
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation 2
  • Metacritic Score — 89

If you’re looking at an article about the scariest horror games then I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard of Silent Hill 2. When gamers think of psychological horror, they probably will think of this game first. Silent Hill 2 didn’t create the tropes it deploys but the way it approaches these tropes has been influential for the many games that came after. What sets Silent Hill 2 apart is its profound exploration of themes such as guilt, grief, and the nature of evil. This title is a perfect precursor title to Silent Hill 3. Where the 3rd title explored the horrors of womanhood, this title explores the horrors of manhood. Another must-play game.

3. Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Amnesia: The Dark Descent gameplay

©Gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Release Date — September 8, 2010
  • Release Platforms — Microsoft Windows
  • Metacritic Score — 85

This is probably the closest game on this list to the very unique Eternal Darkness. This title is set in the eerie halls of a Prussian castle. The setting of Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of its selling points as there aren’t many horror games with a similar setting. The game evokes this feeling of helplessness. You will navigate this castle solving puzzles and relying primarily on stealth to survive encounters with the monsters in the shadows. The sanity meter mechanic in this game adds another layer of anxiety. If you witness too many unsettling things or remain in darkness for too long, the horrors of the game amplify creating something truly unique.

2. Silent Hills P.T.

©Silent Hills Logo Card

  • Release Date — August 2014
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation 4
  • Metacritic Score — N/A

Anyone looking for the best horror games to play should be looking into the Silent Hill series. There is a reason it has shown up so many times on this list. Unfortunately, as great as this game is it’s the only game on this list that you can no longer play. What makes this game so great when compared to the rest of the list is that its demo was completed through a communal effort. The game has been praised ever since it got into the hands of gamers for its unique approach to horror and its use of puzzles. The game was canceled before it could be fully realized but that didn’t stop it from gaining accolades. That just speaks to how great it was, when has there ever been a demo that won a Best Horror Game award?

1. Alien: Isolation

©Gameplay Screenshot of Alien: Isolation

  • Release Date — October 7, 2014
  • Release Platforms — PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
  • Metacritic Score — 79

This game is the pinnacle of survival horror. Perfect for fans of the Ridley Scott horror film as it picks up 15 years after the events of the original Alien film. This game deserves to be remembered as one of, if not the scariest modern horror games because of its antagonist. An AI-driven alien that stacks players throughout the entire game. This Alien lifeform is very unpredictable and surprisingly intelligent as it adapts to your playstyle. You have to rely on stealth and resourcefulness to survive all with the anxiety of knowing you’re never really safe. Honestly, if that isn’t terrifying I don’t know what is.

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