The best horror games are specifically designed to make you want to drop your controller (or mouse/keyboard) and RUN. Or at least maybe close your eyes for the really bad bits. They're the ones that drop you into horrific settings with little more than a flashlight and the will to survive after all.
From AAA titles from the likes of Capcom and Konami, to smaller indie developers giving the big scarers a serious challenge, there are plenty of varied horror titles to dive into (maybe not headfirst) here.
Read on for the best horror games scaring off all the socks.
The best horror games, starting with...
This might not seem like an obvious scary game but there's a strong vein of cosmic horror running through everything Returnal does. This time looping roguelike is littered with Lovecraftian alien ruins, wrong-shaped monsters, and a terror that comes from trying not to die every 10 minutes. I get that it's a big ask to try this as it is all about trying to fight through waves of monsters and impossible feeling boss fights. But there's a great atmosphere to it all and a disturbing story that gradually unfolds as you piece together the past and your place in it.
Available on: PS5
24. Slender: The Eight Pages
It's old but it's free and a classic moment in horror gaming. While you can no longer play it online, it's easy to find a free download (opens in new tab) you can try. The premise is simple - find eight pages scattered around a spooky forest location without the Slender Man catching you. Every time you find a page he gets closer and harder to avoid. It's a simple idea but the execution is flawless and, even with the potato graphics, it's a terrifying experience. It's also a great game to challenge your friends to play and see how they get.
Available on: PC
23. Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
Picking up on the tropes of Japanese horror and folklore that were made famous in The Ring and Ju-on, the Fatal Frame series has always been unsettling. Characters are frozen in place with fear, their only weapon against soul-stealing ghosts is an ancient camera. This means the only way to fight your enemies is to face them head-on, an increasingly terrifying proposition as the game wears on. The franchise has several great entries, but we choose to single out the second game as the best fit for this list.
Crimson Butterfly updates the graphics a bit from the first game, and it's the most inviting in its difficulty, making sure there's an ever-present threat without getting too frustrating. It also has the best story, a personal journey between two sisters dealing with loss and guilt. It's always nice when the intense experience is backed up by a plot that's deeper than 'survive'.
Available on: PS4 and Xbox One (via backwards compatibility)
Mundaun is a weird creepy little game with a The Lighthouse and Midsommar vibe to its strange hand-drawn tale. The black and white first-person scares see you revising your Swiss hometown after the death of your grandfather and uncovering [spooky voice] an ancient family curse. The Swiss, 1920s-ish location and folklore, along with the scratchy penciled art, create an otherworldly vibe that gives the whole thing a foreign movie vibe you usually only see in Japanese horror games. It's a little clunky in places, with a few unclear puzzles and goals, but worth powering through if you want to try a horror game built from a different cultural foundation.
Available on: PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Switch
21. Resident Evil Village
While Resident Evil Village certainly captured the public imagination, Lady Dimitrescu in particular, it's far from the best the series has ever been. There are some strong moments though. Especially in the opening few hours with Castle Dimitrescu offering up some great Gothic monster threats and characters. It's House Beneviento however that cements this game's place in history. It's an incredibly creepy, rewarding escape room beat that ends with one of the best reveals the series has ever seen. It's a high point for the game, the series, and the genre in general. The rest of the game is good but veers strongly into action and shooting, eroding the scares through familiarity and ending on a fairly low-brow shooty bang charge to victory. It's always fun though and varied enough that you feel like you get a bit of everything.
Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One and PC
20. Alan Wake
Alan Wake isn't like most horror games. It doesn't trade in excessive gore or jump scares - in fact, it's not that scary on the whole. But its sense of place and character is second to none. That place is Bright Falls, a Twin Peaks-inspired mountain community with a terrible secret. The dulcet tones of the night DJ rambling across the airwaves - mixed with the little vignettes you can catch on TV - make this town feel alive, like a character unto itself. Its story unfolds like a thrilling TV miniseries, right down to the episodic structure that bookends each plot twist and revelation.
Alan Wake further distinguishes itself by, well, being a lot of fun to play. Maybe that sounds a bit mean, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable horror game than Alan Wake from a pure gameplay perspective. Developer, Remedy is as famous for action as storytelling, and that comes to bear here, as simple, fluid controls do away with the stilted awkwardness that's characteristic of this genre. Taking on a group of enemies is challenging for all the right reasons: the encounters are well crafted, and the pistol-plus-flashlight combat combo is fun to use without making you feel invincible.
Available on: PC and Xbox One (via backwards compatibility)
Carrion might look like a bit of fun because it is, but it's also a great horror game that reverses the roles and lets you play the monster. Through its pixelly recreation of tentacles and teeth, it really captures the essence of a good creature feature as you hoover up screaming scientists, rending limb from limb and leaving nothing but parts in your wake. It's excessively gory in a laugh-out-loud way and in between the bloody carnage, there are some decent puzzles to work out using an ever-expanding range of monster powers.
Available on: PC, Xbox One and Switch
While Morgan Yu’s trek across a space station doesn’t offer the breathless horror Dead Space does especially the Mooncrash DLC showed off Prey’s potential for horror. A fairly straightforward alien shooter can become much more unsettling when the goal changes from you defending yourself to saving others, and the element of randomization in Mooncrash does a lot in keeping you on your toes. But basic Prey, too, has a certain spookiness to it. Apart from being a brilliant game with many secret nooks and crannies to discover, Prey, just like other Arkane games, gives you a certain freedom of approach. Many stories you come across in its environment tell of horrifying accidents, people trying to flee, or alien encounters. If you want a bit more action but love good environmental storytelling, this is another game you shouldn’t sleep on.
Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
17. Little Nightmares 2
There is something deeply wrong with Little Nightmare 2, in a good way. The sequel really doubles down on the original creepy children's story world but somehow ups the unpleasantness to impressive levels. The weirdness just creeps under your skin as you explore. From creepy juddering mannequins, to faceless, lost people - faces seemingly worn away by the TV static they'll die to stare at - there's little in this game that won't unnerve you, or leave you feeling uncomfortable thinking about it. It can be frustrating at times - the controls never really live up to the demands and there are a few trial and error encounters to blunder through. But stick with it and you'll experience probably one of the most traumatizing games on this list.
Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Google Stadia
16. Until Dawn
Teen slashers have been around for nearly four decades now, but aside from the abysmal Friday the 13th on NES, games haven't really been brave enough to venture into that territory. Until now. Or rather, Until Dawn (zing), a 2015 survival-horror game about a pack of randy teens going on vacation to an isolated mountain cabin, only to find that some heinous entity is set on killing them off. But it's not all fun and games: the characters will die gruesome deaths if you can't navigate Until Dawn's horror movie logic, and it takes every opportunity to scare the bejaysus out of you.
While many games on this list are here because of their fear-factor alone, Until Dawn earns a spot for more meta reasons, too - it's wilfully, soulfully entrenched in horror tradition, and uses those tropes brilliantly. It's packed with winks to the slasher genre, and you'll still love the ridiculous twists even if you see them coming from a mile away. You'll laugh as much as you scream, if not more, and few horror games capture that sense of grisly fun so well.
Available on: PS4
The easiest way to describe Darkwood would be to call it a top-down survival game, but while the survival elements exist to keep your character, well, alive, it’s less a game about surviving and more about pushing you deeper into its forest of horrors so you can enjoy being creeped out by what you find. The only place you’re safe is your hut, so you need to maintain it, but in order to do so, you need to go out – funny how that sometimes turns out. On your journey through the woods, you sometimes find weapons to defend yourself with, but you’re better off using meager inventory space in other ways, frantically pointing the cone of light that marks how far you can see to and fro to not miss a thing. Darkwood is proof that even a game from a top-down perspective can be absolutely nerve-wracking.
Available on: PC
From Software's Dark Souls games - of which this is a very obvious descendent - don't play like horror standards. They're action-RPGs, built around stat micromanagement and skillful play. And yet they feel scarier than most games that build themselves around fear - stress, dread, and jumps come as frequently as loot and leveling.
Bloodborne (opens in new tab) is the best of the lot, a sprawling, mysterious tale of eldritch horror set in a twisted nightmare vision of Victorian Europe. Traveling down cobblestone streets amidst dark spires, you'll hear hushed conversations behind firmly-locked doors, wondering who you are, and what "The Hunt" you seem to be on could be. It's gaming's best Lovecraftian horror - you'll be driven to discover its secrets as much as you are to master its vicious combat systems.
Available on: PS4
Red Candle Games' first Devotion may now be best known for its troubled release history (opens in new tab), but it’s a masterclass in environmental storytelling. Its horror doesn’t come from survival combat or even jump scares, but a feeling of creeping dread, mounting in time with you gathering more information about what happened to the inhabitants of the house you’re exploring. Devotion does a lot of great stuff with visuals, and while it’s not the most interesting game from an interactive perspective, it’s a great example of how to use space in horror, on par with classics like Amnesia.
Available on: PC
12. Resident Evil 4
This is the series that invented modern survival horror, but that wasn't good enough for director Shinji Mikami. So in Resident Evil 4 (opens in new tab), he invented the modern third-person shooting, just for fun. Leon Kennedy's adventures in gunplay are rightly famous, the feedback-heavy combat making every situation a shaky joy. But, I hear you cry, how does that make it qualify as a top 10 horror game? Surely it's just an action experience in Resi clothing?
Tell that to anyone coming to the Ganado-infested village for the first time. The sheer stress of being rushed by the parasite-infested local population, headed up by sack-masked, chainsaw-wielding maniac ranks up there with gaming's most frightening moments. It's a feeling that returns constantly - whether it's one of the iconic boss fights, a battle across crumbling rooftops, or in the most expected location, Resident Evil 4's horror is in how it puts you on the backfoot and asks you to fight your way out.
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
11. Amnesia: Rebirth
Building on the themes of memory loss, pursuing monsters, and otherworldly magic, Amnesia: Rebirth builds on the previous games in the series to deliver a tense, playable slice of horror fiction. There's almost a literary feel to the game as you explore the darkness as Tasi, a French explorer lost in the desert. Familiar mechanics like failing sanity, eroded by the dark or looking at monsters, returns but this time contained within a much more coherent and enticing story. There are some great puzzles, horrible monsters but it's that narrative that binds it all together. Tasi goes on a journey and there's a strong draw to following her to see where it all goes and what it means. Whether you're a fan of the Amnesia franchise or not there's a real page-turning, 'must-see what happens' feel to the adventure. The monster encounters can be horrific and stressful but it's the space between where the story expands, and twists and turns that really sells it.
Available on: PC, PS4
10. Dead Space
If Resident Evil is the king of survival action-horror, then Dead Space (opens in new tab) aimed to be the pretender to the throne, bringing together Capcom's early dread and latter-day over-the-shoulder shooting into one gory package. Borrowing from Alien and other sci-fi classics, the 2008 release put players in the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer trapped on a derelict spacecraft. Soon Isaac finds out the ship isn't as empty as it seems, as a strange alien artifact has transformed everyone on board into hideous, flesh-eating creatures, each more horrific than the last.
Dead Space crafts a horrifying experience by limiting the player. Isaac is short on ammo, he rarely knows what's going on in the continually shifting story, and he's most in danger of what he cant see. So much of the disturbing atmosphere is built on what you hear, and the amazing sound design uses audio to fashion an entire deadly world around Isaac. Though the sequel pulled back on the scares somewhat in favor of cinematic action, the original remains trapped in our nightmares.
Available on: PC
SOMA (opens in new tab) has problems, largely from the clumsy stealth section, but it also has, hands down, one of the most unpleasantly disturbing stories of anything in this list. To explain why would ruin it, but this plays with ideas of consciousness and what makes you 'you' in a terrifying way. When you're not exploring the rusting, decrepit undersea base of PATHOS II, you're playing with some pretty heavy metaphysic concepts fit to give you nightmares.
This is a world, filled with broken machines full of glitching human consciousnesses and slimy growths, that expands and morph into something terrible the longer you spend exploring. The undersea and biotech elements make a Bioshock comparison hard to avoid but while there are similarities - man's hubris and science pushed too far, especially - this is far more unpleasant and ethically shocking. The new 'safe mode' means you can also now play it just for the story - finish it and see if you can sleep after.
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
Outlast (opens in new tab) offers a first-person trek through a setting literally no one in real life would willingly check out - an old asylum that seems abandoned, but also strangely very active. At night. In the mountains. Miles from help. Who does that?! The setup alone is perfect horror fodder, but this plays out like Found Footage: The Game, via clever use of a videocamera's night vision mode to see in the dark. The grainy, glowing green view it creates gets a little too close to real life as well. It's one part exploring to two parts follow shadowy, wheezing shapes in the black distance through a viewfinder while cowering behind a table. Scary enough already, the perfection of its pixilated whirring focus pulls only adds to the atmosphere. It's a great game to play with friends too, because you'll both be screaming at some point.
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch
7. Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill, as a franchise, is home to some of the most frightening enemies and situations in gaming history, but the series' most abiding horror is Silent Hill 2 (opens in new tab). This PS2 classic manifests our deepest fears as flesh, to reveal there is no greater evil than our own imagination. Though he'll encounter creatures like the iconic nurses and Pyramid Head, protagonist James Sunderland is far more threatened by his personal demons. And the empty town of Silent Hill brings them all to the surface.
James has returned to Silent Hill answering a letter that seems to come from his dead wife, but all he finds are reminders of his own anguish and guilt over her death. Every corner of the town is inhabited by some new horror, but James has to push past his fears if he ever wants to know what's going on. You and he will not like what he finds beyond them. Silent Hill 2 doesn't just present you with a horror game worth playing, but a story worth being listened to, parsed, and gawping awfully about. The deeper you go, the worse it gets.
Available on: PC, and Xbox One and PS4 (via backwards compatibility)
6. The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners
The only reason this isn't our top horror game full stop is that it's VR, which obviously limits a lot of people's access to it. However, if you can get a VR headset this is an essential horror game. It's one of the greatest playable interpretations of the source material ever made - from swinging axes or stabbing screwdrivers into zombie's heads, to cautiously exploring rotting houses, terrified of every corner - this absolutely nails the zombie horror fantasy. There's a semi-open-world too where you explore and revisit hubs, crisscrossing locations in search of valuable resources, enemies, and allies to help. It's also got nothing to do with the comics or TV show beyond the zombies, so you don't need to be a fan to enjoy it, either.
Available on: PS4, PC
5. Resident Evil 2 Remake
It seems almost unimaginable that over 20 years after its original PS1 release the classic Resident Evil 2 is back on the best horror games list. But then we are talking about Resident Evil 2 Remake (opens in new tab), a from-the-ground-up remake of the original game that honors the past while building a future for the franchise with a game nearly two decades old. It's a success, and high on this list, because of how it melds old and new so perfectly. It's a perfect retelling of Leon and Claire's original attempts to escape a zombie-filled Raccoon City, with all the monsters, set pieces and story beats you remember. BUT. It's also built with today's horror sensibilities - merging an almost beautiful level of indulgent gore with tight gunplay, clever puzzles, and some beautiful levels. This is as essential now as the original game was back in the day.
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
If you brought together the world's most idiosyncratic game auteur and one of its greatest film monster creators and they didn't make one of the oddest, most horrible games yet released, you'd be pretty upset. Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro's "playable teaser" for the now-canned Silent Hills, places you in a single, infinitely looping hallway, and proceeds to find a thousand ways to terrify you. This is no idle boast: one member of the GamesRadar+ team was unable to play this game with the lights off and was forced to turn the sound down to make it tolerable.
There are moments where you face peril, but they're few and far between. The real terror comes from the unknown. What could be around the next bend? A fresh nightmare or nothing at all? Your imagination fills in the blanks, creating more terror than any simple jump scare or creepy noise could. Add in an underlying tale of domestic terror that would make any Silent Hill fan nostalgic, and you've got the world's shortest masterpiece of horror in your shaking hands.
3. Alien: Isolation
Countless games have been inspired by elements of the Alien franchise, be it James Cameron's space marines, Ellen Ripley's fortitude, or the chilling power of silence in a soundtrack. Despite all that, Alien: Isolation (opens in new tab) may be the series' greatest gaming triumph. It takes the gut-wrenching fear fostered by the lone Xenomorph in the original film and extends it into a lengthy game. Isolation's tense survival gameplay keeps the pulse-pounding for hours and hours
You take on the role of Ripley's daughter, Amanda, searching a derelict space station for her mother, only to find the same beast she fought. You're constantly on guard from the cinematic AI of your Alien hunter. This means holding your breath as you narrowly avoid detection, or screaming in terror after failing to reach safety. The atmosphere the game sustains is impressive enough, and it deserves even more credit for taking the Xenomorph, a movie monster bordering on cliche due to overexposure, and making it terrifying once again.
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, and PC
2. Layers of Fear
Most games can make you jump, they can make scream, but few can make you doubt yourself in real life. Layers of Fear (opens in new tab) initially appears very familiar as you explore a spooky, creepy, and cavernously empty house. The Gothic story unravels slowly as you play an unnamed artist returning home. It soon becomes clear though that madness has overtaken the painter and it expresses itself in the unreliable narration of the physical world. Doors disappear and corridors warp out of shape just in the corner of you; the game rearranges itself in such a way to recreate the main character's madness that only a few hours in and you'll find yourself questioning everything. Was that desk on that side of the room last time you looked? Are you sure? Add to that the nature of the protagonist's illness - an obsessional painting made from... less than savory materials, and you have one of the greatest horror games of all time.
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC
1. Resident Evil 7
It could have been a disaster - a clunky, forced update to a revered series, that left fans clamoring for the bombastic nonsense of Resident Evil 6. But Resi 7 (opens in new tab) is a triumph, smartly feeding off the best horror movies of the last 20 years, effortlessly easing all that edgy new into a recognizable, modern reinvention of the series. The central story is fantastic, the mysteries artfully concealed and your tormentors, the Bakers, are brilliantly subversive.
Switching the action to first-person adds some VR possibilities, but also makes the horror feel uncomfortably close - grueling, compelling stuff, in a setting you’ll remember long after exploring it up close. But perhaps the cleverest trick is just how Resi it all feels. The safe rooms have the same sense of unsettling respite; ammo feels desperately scarce; and the boss fights have the right mix of terror and glowing, oozing bits to shoot. It’s a tight, smart horror game, and far better than most fans dared hope. It's not the scariest – or most subtle – game on this list, but a brilliant and chilling rebirth.
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC