Best Scary Video Games - If You Dare To Try Them
Power up your washing machine because you'll need a few new sets of under garments when checking out these scary video games just in time for Halloween. Beware, the entries on this list will surely scare the living pants off you.
Since the early days of gaming leading back to the 1980's, games like Haunted House on the Atari set the groundwork for later releases to jump scare the living hell out of you. Even though pixelated ghosts and spiders weren't all that scary at the time. Today we have iconic franchises such as Alone in the Dark, Sweet Home which later paved the way for Fatal Frame, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Eternal Darkness and Dead Space to name a few.
Today we we're given the next step in survival horror experiences with first person experiences beyond human comprehension in P.T as well as a full fledged interactive horror movie Until Dawn.
Table of Contents
Five Nights At Freddy’s
We seem to underappreciate what turns out to be the cult classics. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is often regarded as one of the most brutal and annihilating movies of all time, there's actually very little on screen gore in the entire film.
Five Nights At Freddy is a horror game done right. No slasher techniques, no brutal gore is needed to give the player the experience of being scared. Couple that by throwing on a pair of headphones and you will surely jump out of your seat.
As the security guard monitoring the cameras, it's your job to stop the animals from entering the control room. There's so many traps and tricks to catch you off guard during a first playthrough. It is genuinely scary every time an animal makes its way into the control room.
Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 is a very special game. Before it's time, the Resident evil were always set in 3rd person tank controls where you'd move around a fixed pane from screen to screen. Resident Evil 4 was the first in the series to feature a true fixed 3rd person camera angle.
Resident Evil 4 has been ported everywhere since it's original release on the Nintendo GameCube. It's even set to be released on Windows, PlayStation 4 PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S as a 2023 rerelease 18 years later.
It's set the way for action games to come. It's not the scariest game by any means but Resident Evil 4 creates a sense of tension of the chainsaw roaring or the regenerator breathing but you don't know where they are. That's where Resident Evil 4 shines in the horror department.
Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is the best game in the franchise's existence. Yes the voice acting can be a bit cheesy at times but offers a fantastic experience with the use of it's soundtrack, gameplay design, puzzle solving and some epic characters and enemies (like Pyramid Head).
As a survival horror game, Silent Hill 2 never feels like cheap in the scares department. There's no jump scares anywhere and still manages to feel terrifying.
With movie spinoffs such as Silent Hill, This PS2 classic will be revisited and remastered for years to come.
I never quite understood why BioShock wasn't considered a scary game. Sure it's not the survival horror games such as Resident Evil or Silent Hill, but it's downright scary with it's atmospheric storyline that managed to scare players during each playthrough. BioShock's personalities are so powerful, they seem to act more of a live action movie or book.
Being an FPS in genre, BioShock offers a ton in combat, problem solving, role playing and use of strategy baked within an FPS experience. Enemies can be taken on from brute force to defensively strategic.
The Thing offers a package of incredibly atmospheric design by adding icy landscapes, flickering lights and tricky quarters) without skimping on the scares. The deeper you go into The Thing, the more immersed you get into the gameplay and want to continue inching closer to the end.
It's filled with grotesque blood, exploding bodies and the uttermost of violence you can take. Think Mortal Kombat level gore here!
It works really well how The Thing combines action, puzzles, and team management. Since the game demands you to do something new nearly every round, the variety of game play components really helps to keep the game exciting the entire way through.
The main premise of Clock Tower is simple, You must piece together evidence to stop Scissorman, a disfigured mass murderer who is chopping up Norway's population, from escaping.
It's point an click adventure style will leave you problem solving and exploring the mansion room by room. This task is no easy feat, as you try and survive the mansion while trying to escape.
With its scary aesthetics and numerous ways to fight off the Scissorman. Although, a few of the halls can get quite cumbersome to navigate through.
Clock Tower is an absolute gem of the 16-bit era and is generally scary to navigate through each of the eerie hallways and makes for an excellent horror gaming experience.
Outlast is simply one of the most scariest games you'll ever play. While some horror games use somewhat cheap jump scares to give you the feeling of being frightened, Outlast makes use of imagery and timing in order to scare the living pants off you.
Game developer Red Barrels have put together a fantastic combination of setting and visuals, coupled together with some slick camera angles to leave you scared to get up and grab a cup of water in the middle of the night.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evil 7 feels like the franchise has been reinvented during the transition to a first person perspective. Somehow it still manages to follow the template that made the series ever so renowned to the survival horror genre.
Everything is to be expected, the complicated rooms within houses, each with it's own convoluted wings and hallways as you explore and find keys to unlock and progress further. Then there's the inventory management which requires you to strategically select the various items you'll need to progress to the next section of the game.
The inhabitants are a lot scarier than what you'd expect in a zombie or a dog. They're still just fodder to the real stars of the show in Jack Baker and his Family Marguerite, Lucas, Zoe and the rest of the gang.
A once download only briefly existed by the founder of Metal Gear Solid's Kojima, a demo was published for the PS4. Since the departure of Kojima from developer Konami and the eventual cancellation of the Silent Hills game, P.T. has been removed from existence.
P.T is set in the first person perspective. Carefully progressing throughout the hallways and doorways that lead you to whatever terrible awaits you, chipping away at your sense of reality.
P.T is considered to be the scariest game of all time. There's no unnecessary tension, no filler story line or character development, just sheer horror and mystery that will keep you coming back for more.
If only there were more games that did the story as well as Alan Wake does. Alan is a writer who gets lost in the stories that he writes and right off the bat it unravels the amount of tension that it brings when he's trapped in his nightmare leading Alan to a strange lighthouse.
Each story flows at a reasonably comfortable time frame rather than bogging you down with unnecessary character design or cut scenes. With Wake narrating his story along the way, it's almost like listening to a collection of recorded tapes.
Even in 2022, Alan Wake has aged gracefully and is an excellent horror shooting experience. Alan Wake is a great game to discuss with friends based on the storyline it provides. It's almost like a book club brought to life for gamers.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
Otherwise known as Project Zero II, Fatal Frame isn't the most difficult and doesn't really bring anything new to the often overlooked franchise, it still manages to bring an unsettling tale full of secret rituals, drawing you deeper within the experience.
The use of the camera offers a unique experience. While you set up your antique film reel and look through the lens to take on the soulless daemons in the first person perspective. Seeing the ghosts from all angles gives you an unique way to scare you.
With it's fantastic use of the camera, music and coupled with sound effects that will scare the pants off you, Fatal Frame II is a fantastic horror entry on the PS2.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
An under the radar launch title of the Xbox 360 that would go on to receive better known horror games, those that initially took a chance on Condemned were left with a winner being one of the scariest games ever made.
The gameplay is incredibly dark and gloomy. With the use of it's exciting melee combat methods and fantastic use of jump scares and Condemned is a scary experience that will stand the test of time.
Condemned also clearly draws references to Se7en by design, which is one of our favorite movies of all time. From the enemies to the opening credits within the introduction.
Condemned is an absolute must place for fans of the horror genre. Although it may be a bit on the linear side, it offers a scary experience that will leave you at the edge of your seat the entire time.
You're put in control of a group of teenagers and terrifies you the entire time while doing so. It's one of the scariest experiences out there.
Until Dawn screams 80's and 90's slasher movies among the likes of Freddy Krueger, Scream and Jason Vorhees. Coupled with it's style of writing that will make you cringe (in a good way).
The game play will remind you of the Telltale franchises, which offers an interesting spin on the horror genre. It's also a tad bit on the shorter length only around 10 hours in game play from beginning to end.
If you're a fan of horror movies, Until Dawn will not disappoint. It's an incredibly bold experience that does not let down from beginning to end.
Darkwood goes in a different direction than many of the titles on this list. Instead of getting you on jump scare tactics or filled with the numerous weapons in your arsenal, Darkwood relies on atmosphere and physiological ways to scare you.
Darkwood does not hold your hand right off the bat. While drawing references to Dark Souls, Darkwood is aimed at the more hardcore audience. This will unfortunately steer away individuals who are looking for something more accessible.
Darkwood uses a day and night cycle that directs the flow of the game play. You'll have to explore the setting of the woods you're in to barricade windows and doors or find food or supplies. Failing to prepare for the night time and you'll likely be murdered by the beings that lurk once the night time arrives.
It's simply amazing that a title designed by a single person in Mark J. Hadley was able to produce such a fantastic spin on the horror genre. Slender makes sense from the standpoint of simplicity and makes for one scary experience.
The basic premise is simple, you're dropped into a forest searching for the 8 pages. Along the way you'll spot a long and tall man bearing a suit and tie that has no face. As you pull out your flash light, you'll have to avoid the Slender Man. As you gain the pages, the fog will grow thicker and Slender Man will be harder to avoid. The use of visual and audio cues will alert you of the danger that lurks from a distance.
It can be summed up as a glorified game of hide and seek. There's absolutely nothing wrong with giving Slender a chance if you're looking for a lighter experience to take turns with a friend or by yourself.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
With radioactive mutants everywhere in the setting of Chernobyl, Ukraine it's a perfect mix of a setting for a scary video game. Imagine a second nuclear disaster took place at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, inhabiting these mutant creators and military factions, unraveling the mystery of why you're there in the first place.
It's a first person shooter with open world mechanics, don't expect this to be a cake walk where you can just pick off enemies from a far. You have to engage with the enemies in combat in order to progress.
Stalker has a really distinct setting that really draws you in. Playing through the ten hour main quest, it's a bit on the short side. We would have liked to see S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl add in RPG elements to explore further in the game.