October is here, which means Halloween is just around the corner. Along with dressing up in spooky costumes, trick-or-treating, and going to parties, it’s time we indulge in a bit of emotional masochism and find the scariest and best horror games to play by ourselves, with friends and family, or perhaps on stream.
We all know the disappointment of going to a Halloween party or stream ready to scream together, only to be stuck with games that are bogged down with lengthy opening tutorials, take too long to reach any scary sections, or simply aren’t scary at all. To avoid this, we’ve picked out the 10 scariest games that are sure to spook you. Grab your favorite snack, turn off the lights, and gather ’round the TV.
10. White Day: A Labyrinth Named School
White Day was once an obscure Korean horror game, but stories began circulating following its 2001 release that it was too scary and players committed suicide after playing it. It slowly began to earn urban legend status similar to the fabled Polybius arcade game. Unlike Polybius, however, White Day is a real game and as more and more people became interested, two remakes were made in 2009 and 2015 on mobile in Korea, the latter releasing worldwide on PC and PS4 in 2017.
You play as a high school boy who gets trapped in his cursed high school while trying to return a diary and chocolates to his crush on White Day. You must explore the haunted school while avoiding ghosts and a creepy janitor to find the girl and escape. White Day features light romance game features where you can unlock several different endings with different girls. Unique ghost encounters are scattered about in certain locations and conditions, which are frightening if discovered.
9. Five Nights at Freddy’s
Five Nights at Freddy’s is an indie game where you work the night shift as a security guard in a pizza restaurant featuring animatronics that not only come to life but feast at night. You are in the security room monitoring the cameras set up around the restaurant. There is an open door on either side of you; in order to close them, you must expend electricity, of which you have a limited amount. The animatronic puppets slowly make their way to the control room. You must check the cameras to monitor where they are, learn their behaviors to prevent them from advancing to you as much as possible and, as a last line of defense, close the doors when they get too close. It’s easy to roll one’s eyes at this game, but it’s surprisingly tense. Often-despised “jump-scares” are used, but it earns them with rising tension and differently behaving A.I.
8. Resident Evil Remake
Resident Evil Remake is the original survival horror made even more horrific in this shining example of a remake done right. While the original is a classic, the remake modernized the gameplay and improved the script and voice acting. As fun as the original voiceover is, the revised one doesn’t take you out of the horror with laugh-out-loud dialogue.
While uncovering the mystery of murders and a zombie-infested mansion, players must conserve ammo using the revolutionary inventory system where only a limited number of items can fit. This, combined with narrow corridors and hallways, intentionally sluggish controls, and the need to find ink ribbons to be able to save in designated areas makes players feel vulnerable, birthing the survival horror genre.
7. Alien Isolation
They did it, they finally did it! While there were good games in the franchise, particularly Alien vs Predator 2, they finally made a scary Alien game that captures the spirit of the original movie. Taking cues from the next game on this list, Alien Isolation is light on combat with a greater focus on evasion and hiding.
You play as Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley, the main character of the 1979 film. Ripley must explore a deserted space station to learn what happened to her mother. Turns out she’s alone, as a Xenomorph is also on board, hunting whatever living creatures it can find. Evading and hiding from a Xenomorph is frightening thanks to impressive lighting and superb sound design. Clanking coming from overhead vents or cold footsteps around the corner will tell you where the creature is if your motion device isn’t enough.
Now considered a classic in the horror genre, Amnesia revitalized the then-stagnating horror genre, ignoring popular trends to add more story, action, and combat. Instead, that effort was put into creating a mad mansion where you must flee and look away from a monster.
Unable to fight, equipped with only a lantern and a sanity meter, you must evade the nightmare creature that lurks everywhere you go. If spotted, your only option is to run, hide, turn off your light, and resist the urge to look behind you. This is a great setup for many terrifying sequences and is guaranteed to leave you checking your own real-life sanity meter.
5. Little Nightmares
Little Nightmares is an underdog adventure by Tarsier Studios that surprised many folks who assumed it was just another dark side-scroller like Limbo or Inside. Little Nightmares surpasses both of them in crafting an immersive world and engaging gameplay connected to the core concept of the game. At just 2 to 4 hours in length, it can be completed in one sitting, making it perfect for Halloween night.
You play a young child trapped on a mysterious and deteriorating vessel. Most of this nightmare is spent eluding frightening creatures who are much larger and more powerful than you. Every move you make is critical, as the slightest sound will alert them to your presence. You constantly experience that sense of fear when trying to get away from something chasing you, that feeling when you turn off the light and sprint up the stairs to your bedroom.
4. Dead Space
More action-oriented than any other game on this list, Dead Space still earns a spot for its immersion and atmosphere. Not since Ridley Scott’s Alien has space horror been so well executed and remained so simple. You control Isaac Clarke who is on a space station overrun with monsters, fighting for survival.
Dead Space‘s third-person, over-the-shoulder viewpoint, along with its masterful no-pause user-interface, keeps you on your toes. The space station is a labyrinth with freakazoids lurking everywhere. Just as masterful as the HUD is the combat focus on destroying the monster’s limbs rather than always aiming for the head. Enemies with fewer limbs continue to claw, leap, and drag themselves towards you. The solitude of space and unrelenting predators makes Dead Space the definition of “survival horror.”
3. Fatal Frame 3
While never achieving the fame that Resident Evil and Silent Hill enjoy, the Fatal Frame games are scarier as their design is focused less on gun combat and psychological horror and more on putting you in a defenseless position and spooking you. While each of the mainline games is excellent, the third is the spookiest.
You control three different characters who live together in a modern Japanese home. When they go to sleep, they awaken in the ghost-infested Manor of Sleep. The manor features frightening encounters with ghosts as well as subtle, tension-building false alarms, like a cup falling on the floor. The stand-out element of Fatal Frame 3 is its daytime sections when the home degrades from a feeling of safety into one of terror.
2. Until Dawn
A cinematic horror game akin to Quantic Dreams’ story-driven titles, Until Dawn takes a cliche group of teenagers and puts them into a cliche cabin in the woods. These cliches, along with its release on the heels of several Telltale Games and Quantic Dreams duds, meant there wasn’t much hope this game could turn out well. To our surprise, it was amazing.
With excellent graphics, spooky atmosphere, an excellent script by an established horror author, and a cast of talented actors, the story captivates you all the way to the end. There are plenty of scares and twists that make this a winner on Halloween.
P.T. is the undisputed champion of spookiness. This is the scariest game ever made. Short for “Playable Teaser,” this was a demo for the now-canceled Silent Hills game that was to be developed by Konami. Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro were slated to direct.
In P.T., you walk through the same hallway on loop as the atmosphere becomes creepier and creepier. Despite its small scope and short length, this demo continues to be the most terrifying experience on any platform. Anyone who has yet to play it or watch it on YouTube or Twitch will undoubtedly be pulling their legs up into their chair and needing breaks. The only issue is that it is no longer available for download, so you’ll need to have a PlayStation 4 with it installed. Worst-case scenario, watch a no-commentary long play on YouTube.