Horror games offer players the opportunity to tackle a terrifying and fearful experience. It is safe to say that these titles are not for everyone and generally are targeted toward those who can stomach such an ordeal and are mentally prepared to face their fears.
Throughout video game history, many horror games have been released, letting users immerse themselves in various sub-genres, including survival, psychological, and even action-adventure horror games.
From original video games to adaptations from popular media, these titles can come from any source and inspiration.
Thus, horror games are numerous and plenty, with gamers having multiple choices, should they wish to replay any, this July.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s opinions.
Ten top horror games that will keep busy this July
1) Slender: The Arrival
The Slender Man originated as a creepypasta on internet forums, depicted as a featureless, tall, thin humanoid creature in a 3-piece suit. It became an urban legend known to stalk and abduct people, typically small children.
Thus, this otherworldly entity took hold of our reality. Soon spreading to works of fiction across various platforms, the Slender Man appeared in the horror game Slender: The Eight Pages and its sequel Slender: The Arrival.
The second game in this series was developed and published by Blue Isle Studios in 2013 for PCs and later on for various consoles. It revolves around the mystery of Kate, the protagonist of the last game, who is now missing.
As her friend Lauren investigates Kate’s abandoned house and nearby area, she is met with various creepy horrifying incidents, eventually leading her to the Slender Man.
The title is separated into different levels, with players required to complete some environmental puzzles in some levels. In others, they were tasked with collecting eight different pages scattered about the map.
This horror game is chock full of very effective jumpscares, so here’s a warning for the fainthearted.
Outlast, a first-person survival horror game, was developed and published by Red Barrels in 2013 for PCs. It became successful enough to launch a franchise of its own, with three games in its catalog.
This first video game follows the story of an investigative journalist named Miles Upshur, who makes one of the classic horror media mistakes of visiting an abandoned psychiatric hospital in a remote location.
Once he reaches the Mount Massive Asylum, Miles realizes that the hospital’s patients have escaped and are currently running amok inside the facility. It is evident that the patients have killed all the employees and are quick to terrorize any trespassers in the vicinity.
The gameplay is heavily reliant on survival and features little to no combat. Users are tasked with surviving encounters with patients by hiding and using the environment to circumvent their way around the area.
As they use the camera and its night vision feature to see in the dark, gamers must ensure to collect batteries on the map or risk running out and playing in the dark.
3) Five Nights at Freddy’s
Released in 2015, FNAF is a survival horror video game developed and published by creator Scott Cawthon. Kicking off an entire franchise, it is a horror experience unlike any other, with players tasked with taking on the role of a night security officer at the Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza family restaurant.
Mike Schmidt is informed via a call from the previous night’s security officer that the animatronic mascots of the restaurant come alive at night and should not be encountered by humans after hours. This is because if this happens, the animatronics will capture and forcibly stuff the human into a mechanical costume, killing them in the process.
Gameplay occurs across five nights, lasting from midnight to 6 am, which translates to several minutes in real-time. Users are stuck inside the security office and must ensure that none of the animatronics are near the two entrances to the office using various security cameras.
If any of them approaches, gamers will see them by the office windows and must hold the door closed to survive.
4) Dead Space
Envisioned as Resident Evil but in space by creator Glen Schofield, Dead Space is a sci-fi survival horror game released in 2008. Developed and published by EA, it was one of the best horror video games to come out at the time.
The title boasted a great story and intuitive and ingenious gameplay design. A remake for this classic horror game is currently in development under EA.
Set in the year 2508, gamers take control of protagonist Isaac Clarke, an engineer sent to investigate the sudden radio silence of the USS Ishimura, a space mining vessel. Issac and a small crew of people make it onto the large vessel, only to discover most of the crew dead, horrifying mutant creatures on the prowl.
Played in a third-person perspective, this horror game is a shooter, although Isaac can use other abilities using various modules in his suit. The player’s primary weapon is the plasma cutter, which can chop off the limbs of the necromorph enemies, as well as other projectile weapons.
They can also use a telekinesis module that allows them to grab and throw items and a time module that can freeze enemies and moving environments.
FromSoftware dipped its toe into the horror genre with Bloodborne, incorporating various types of lovecraftian horror elements into a Victorian setting. This action role-playing horror game is for those who aren’t easily scared off by giant monsters and body-morphed creatures but prefer to hit these nightmares square on the face with a transforming weapon of some kind.
Users will initially find themselves in the blood-soaked streets of Yharnam during the night of the hunt when citizens crazed off of drinking the ‘old blood’ patrol the streets looking for beasts to kill. After the initial leg, they will venture out to more obscure locations, ending up in different realities and inside a nightmare or two.
While combat is highly inspired by previous souls games, gamers have little to no option for defense. Shields are not prevalent in this game, and they must use the step dodge and quick successive attack mechanics to gain the upper hand in battle.
Closing in the distance and striking while the iron is hot is the best strategy, while hesitation is defeat in this fan-favorite title.
6) The Blair Witch
Another property based on a legend created in popular media, The Blair Witch is an entity that first appeared in the movie The Blair Witch Project. Heavily inspired by this and subsequent films, The Blair Witch is a 2019 video game developed by Bloober Team and published by Lionsgate Games.
Players play as Ellis Lynch, a war veteran with PTSD, out searching for a missing boy in the Black Hills forest. Accompanied by his faithful dog Bullet, Ellis ventures deep into the woods in search of the boy, following tracks and clues. Ultimately, he is led to witness strange events and hallucinations.
This is a first-person horror game, with users being able to command Bullet to perform specific tasks and petting and scolding him. Certain sections require them to proceed in stealth or use offensive measures, but the title does not feature actual combat.
While it has three endings, it is nearly impossible to get the ‘good’ ending the first time, as the witch is constantly tricking gamers and Ellis using simple gameplay mechanics.
7) Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
After the failure of Resident Evil 6’s action-packed adventure style, Capcom returned to its horror game roots with Resident Evil 7. Completely changing the gameplay with a first-person perspective, players had to deal with this new scary game head-on.
Released in 2017 for Windows, PS4, and Xbox One, this survival horror game saw Resident Evil rise back into popularity. The protagonist was a new character known as Ethan Winters, who comes to a derelict farmhouse in Louisiana, searching for his wife.
He soon encounters the inhabitants of this farmhouse, the Baker family, who do not take kindly to his presence. It is soon made evident that this family is not entirely normal, with Jack Baker, the patriarchal figure refusing to die, even after being set on fire.
As Ethan, players are tasked with finding Mia, his wife, and later on escaping from the area. He can discover various arms and ammunition throughout the title, which he can use while fighting the different family members infected with a fungal pathogen, giving them supernatural abilities.
Phasmophobia is an investigative horror game, which can be described as ghostbusters but more horrifying. For people who enjoy ghost hunting experiences, this is the perfect simulator to play either with friends using online multiplayer or on their own, although it is not recommended.
Developed and published by Kinetic Games for early access on Windows in 2020, this is a unique experience for horror fans.
Users can choose from numerous locations, depending on their level, and must investigate the household, building, or site to find clues as to what type of spirit is haunting it.
After a specific time (except in professional difficulty), the spirit will become active and start hunting in the area, killing gamers off one by one amidst long intervals. Once all the participants die, the game is lost.
Players can hide in closets or rooms by locking the door behind them and remaining hidden till the hunting period is over, as indicated by lights flashing in the area. Using tools like a spirit book, EMF reader, and thermometer, they must accurately identify the ghost and leave through the truck they came in.
Alternatively, to avoid a loss, users can use the truck to leave at any time, although no identification will lead to no money gained from the job.
9) Alien: Isolation
Based on the original Alien movie from 1979 featuring Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, Alien: Isolation is a survival horror game with a similar premise and execution.
Developed by Creative Assembly and published by SEGA, it was released in October 2014 and received much praise for its art direction, sound design, and AI. This story takes place after the events of the movie.
The game’s protagonist is Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley. She ventures out onto the Sevastopol Space Station, as it was reported to have found the flight recorder of her mother’s ship.
Once on board, things get out of hand. Amanda notices most of the crew missing, dead, or in a state of panic. The reason for this soon becomes apparent as she sees a fully formed Xenomorph alien emerge from the vents.
As the narrative unfolds, gamers must use stealth and some weapons to make their way across the space station to find a way off it. While malfunctioning androids sometimes hinder them, they can be dealt with via melee attacks.
The alien itself cannot be harmed in any way. Once it has entered an area, players must do their best to stay hidden or get immediately killed by H.R. Giger’s iconic creation.
10. The Quarry
Supermassive Games has been in the business of developing great interactive horror games since 2015, with their hit game, Until Dawn. Since then, they have had an ongoing anthology series of games, titled The Dark Pictures Anthology, releasing a title each year.
However, in 2022, they launched The Quarry, a spiritual successor to Until Dawn, with similar gameplay elements and a similar premise.
It tells the story of a group of young adults who get stuck in a summer camp a day after it has closed down. Like most Supermassive games, the narrative is told through multiple perspectives.
While, initially, all seems well, as night dawns, things start to go out of hand for these teenagers as they are attacked by some kind of grotesque creature as a group of strange men prowls the woods.
In this horror game, players get to take control of different characters and play through different types of sections, including conversations, third-person gameplay, and quick-time events. Their input in all these is noted, with dialogue options and paths chosen affecting crucial story moments later.
The failure of certain QTEs might even result in a character’s death. With such a diverse branching narrative, this horror game offers up to 186 endings.
Poll : Do you enjoy playing horror games?