What are the best horror games on PC? Scary games tend to turn traditional action concepts on their heads, forcing you to run and hide from your enemies. They leave you feeling vulnerable rather than empowered, and more than most, they are the gaming experiences that haunt you long after you play.
Of course, there is much more to the best horror games than jump scares and gore. So while we have included a few obvious picks like some of the best PC games, Outlast and Amnesia, you can also expect to find games that use different tactics to raise your heartbeat and get your palms sweating, whether that’s a dread-inducing atmosphere and careful pacing, or unpredictable multiplayer antics like you’ll find in Phasmophobia.
The best horror games are:
This sci-fi horror from the creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent takes the creepiest elements from the hit horror and creates a whole new dark adventure deep beneath the ocean. Stranded after an experiment goes wrong in an underwater facility, you must solve puzzles, pore over documents, and unlock hidden passages to uncover the horrifying secrets onboard PATHOS-II.
A tense and thrilling survival horror about a humanoid robot trying to find her friend on an isolated and abandoned moon base. Add in a mysterious virus and some mutated and bloodthirsty murderers, and SIGNALIS makes for a terrifying and lonely experience. The pressure slowly mounts, and as you’re frantically searching files and solving puzzles, there’s an inescapable realization that the end goal won’t be good.
The Outlast Trials
This prequel to the Outlast series casts back to the events preceding the classic horror games, as hopeful candidates who tick all or one of the boxes (lost, lonely, poor, confused) are taken to a secret facility to be unknowingly experimented on in mind control and brainwashing.
To escape the facility, you must complete the trials, a set of story-driven therapy sessions and challenges created to test your stealth capabilities and teamwork. The Outlast Trials is a co-op game with up to four players, but you can play solo if you wish.
Scorn’s grim aesthetic of mutilated body parts and fleshy, dingy corridors make this one of the best horror games we’ve played this year. Though it lacks in jumpscares, it more than makes up for in gory goodness, and it’s easy to see the inspiration of H.R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński work in Scorn’s skeletal structures, blood-veined flooring, and mechanisms made of appendages.
Scorn uses gore to create moments of unease instead of shock as you move through a non-linear path solving puzzles in almost near silence (other than the odd squelch). There are plenty of abominations to fight (or hide from) along the way, but like a quiet scream, Scorn becomes increasingly more unhinged as you start unearth its isolated world’s secrets.
Phasmophobia has climbed rapidly in popularity since its Early Access release, growing beyond a cult following and showing no signs of slowing down, so what makes it so good?
Although Phasmophobia is primarily a horror game, you could look at it as a co-op detective game as you and up to three other investigators explore a haunted location to deduce what type of ghost is spooking out the premises before reporting back. It requires teamwork, your best detective hat, and steady nerves to navigate the dark, tight corridors and eerily quiet rooms.
Using equipment, such as ouija boards, a spirit box, a crucifix, and smudge sticks – you and your team need to investigate the haunting and complete tasks such as taking a picture of dirty water, or asking the ghost questions. Be careful, though, all your prying will likely upset the ghost, and you don’t want to be around when it starts hunting.
Dead by Daylight
Asymmetric multiplayer horror games don’t come better than Dead by Daylight. You play as either a lone killer or one of four human survivors desperate to escape the map. The survivors can’t do much to fight back, but working as a team can misdirect, bait, and frustrate the killer while preparing for their escape. It’s a delightfully simple format that plays host to some of the best scares in gaming, and because it’s all player-driven, you can never really predict what’s around the corner.
But Dead by Daylight’s real strength is in its constantly expanding lineup of playable killers. Developer Behaviour Interactive has added almost every horror icon you can think of to its roster, from classic slashers like Ghostface and The Shape to gaming’s most feared, including Resident Evil’s Nemesis and Silent Hill’s Pyramid Head. Each of them boasts a unique set of abilities that reflects their style of murder and malice, and it’s up to survivors to adapt to whichever killer they’re being stalked by. Make sure you grab the latest working DBD codes. You can check out or Dead by Daylight killers tier list for pointers on who to pick.
Metro Exodus is a number of games packed into one inviting post-apocalyptic slice of Russia: it’s a story-focused family drama as much as it is a Wolfenstein-esque, heavy metal-scored FPS. However, there are plenty of spine-tingling horror game sequences creeping en route to the climactic Metro Exodus ending.
4A Games’ irradiated outing allows you to choose whether you want Artyom’s adventure to be a guns-blazing assault or a stealthy affair shrouded in darkness, thanks to the game’s day/night mechanic. But, if you sleep through the daylight hours to creep up on your opponents in pitch darkness, expect a much scarier experience. Human enemies might be on the back foot, but the chill of a howling Watchmen or the charge of a Humanimal is excruciatingly unsettling.
Yet, as we pointed out in our Metro Exodus PC review, this is a game that is at its most terrifying when it changes the rules. The game’s early stages teach you to extinguish the light and master the shadows. Then, in the spider-infested bunkers beneath the Caspian Sea, it becomes your weapon. Your arachnid foes are fatally vulnerable to light, so they skulk about in any dimly lit crevice they can find. As their disgusting, hairy legs scrabble madly against the walls, it becomes apparent that, in Metro Exodus, you can never let your guard down.
Resident Evil 4 Remake
Ever since Resident Evil 2 got its stellar remake several years ago, it was almost inevitable that Resident Evil 4 would get a similar treatment. However, few of us were prepared for just how much better it could be than the original. In his Resident Evil 4 Remake review, Ed says that it “improves the moment-to-moment experience of one of the best games ever made”.
From updated boss fights, the removal of QTEs, and even some alterations to the story, Resident Evil 4 Remake is its own beast. The Separate Ways DLC also makes itself more than just a retread of Leon’s journey with another character. If you get it and want to challenge yourself, here are all the Resident Evil 4 S-Rank requirements, as well as a list of the most important Resident Evil 4 unlockables you can find.
The Evil Within 2
The best horror games keep you up at night. By that metric, The Evil Within 2 screams itself to the top. You will certainly struggle to get to sleep after you have seen a pile of severed bodies skitter across the floor and assemble themselves into the form of a pale, fleshy mass of limbs with several faces – all of them laughing – and a buzzsaw in place of a right arm.
The Evil Within 2 is packed with skin-crawling set-pieces like this, each one as inventive as the last. But Tango Gameworks’ impeccable sequel is much more than a list of the best moments in horror games. Slaying bosses and exploring spooky mansions are separated by open-world sections where you never know what awaits you: some much-needed shotgun shells or a devious specter that will continue to haunt you for the remainder of your playthrough.
Underneath the whip-smart enemy and level design, The Evil Within 2 stays true to its survival horror roots, always pitting you against one crazed enemy than you have bullets for. If that’s still not enough to convince you then take a look at our The Evil Within 2 review.
Alien: Isolation is a horror game about being stuck on a space station with a (spoiler) big scary alien, which, thanks to some devious AI and level design, is more terrifying than it ever has any right to be. As we discovered while writing our Alien: Isolation review, this horror game is effectively a first-person hiding simulator – your monstrous stalker can’t be beaten, shot, or bashed into submission.
The best horror games make you feel utterly powerless, and in Alien: Isolation, it is your wits, your knack for crawling under desks and into lockers, and a variety of distractions that will save you from the hulking, Gigerian horror. A deadly creature who can appear at any moment, unscripted and without warning: what more could you ask for from a horror game antagonist?
Alan Wake 2
Atmosphere is a huge deal for horror games, and while many play with your perception, Alan Wake 2 tap-dances on top of those expectations, particularly during those sequences where you guide Alan deeper into The Dark Place. Our Alan Wake 2 review highlights that while it’s been 13 years since the original, Remedy hasn’t missed a step in creating a disturbing horror game well worth the wait.
Should you decide to delve deeper, there are a few things you should be aware of, such as the best Alan Wake 2 Words of Power to get early on, the locations of all Alan Wake 2 weapons, and just how you can get the Alan Wake 2 lighthouse key, given that it’s not near there at all.
Sound does not get enough credit in horror games, and if you ever need a reminder of how powerful a simple scratching noise or a distant knock can be, seek out one of the best indie games to delve into the horror genre, Darkwood. This is a top-down horror game about a mysterious man cooking mushrooms in a house right in the middle of a plague-infested forest.
When it is light outside you are free to roam the festering woods, fighting off rabid dogs, collecting resources, and trying to figure out who you are and how you ended up here. By night, however, your only option is to get back to your house and wait for the horrors of the night to pass you by. You can load up your generator with fuel to ward off enemies, barricade the windows to hide in, and set traps as a last line of defense – but they are coming for you, no matter how well you have prepared.
Darkwood’s ability to seep into your pores and haunt you without showing you as much as a limb is uncanny. Rustling sounds, inhuman shrieks, and creaky doors had us smashing the Esc key and walking away from the desktop time and time again. Don’t let the top-down perspective fool you; this is one of the best horror games out there.
System Shock 2
System Shock 2 kicked a particular flavor of first-person survival horror games into gear. It boasts an open-ended structure with an endless maze of decks and quarters that promote exploration and discovery. It is a lot like being stuck in a haunted John Lewis, except with psychic death monkeys.
The faster-than-light Von Braun is a persistent world that appears to exist and unfold even while your back is turned – building a heightened sense of place aboard the scarcely populated starship.
But it is corrupted artificial intelligence SHODAN who makes System Shock 2 one of the greatest horror games to have ever graced our fair platform. Right up there with HAL 9000 in the soothingly voiced yet subtly evil computer stakes, she torments and tricks you endlessly, transforming an already terrifying survival RPG into an isolationist horror classic. Few space games match System Shock 2’s sense of isolation.
Amnesia: The Bunker
Not since the first Amnesia game have we seen any of the follow-ups be as exciting to play. While we didn’t review it upon release, Nat summarized what makes it such a special and terrifying experience, calling it WW1 poetry in motion.
As for the game itself, it’s six hours of relentless survival horror set during the First World War. It also recently got additional content via the Halloween update if you’ve already completed the main game. Of course, if you want to delve into the horror for yourself, we have details on the Amnesia The Bunker map and the steps for how to save the Amnesia The Bunker prisoner.
Employing the ‘found footage’ style of contemporary horror cinema, Outlast is a first-person exploration game set inside an abandoned psychiatric hospital. Like all abandoned psychiatric hospitals in horror games, this one is populated by a cast of deranged patients and cruel staff, whom you must avoid to survive with all of your guts still inside your body. These tropes might be well and truly covered in cinema, but horror games can make the most out of these clichés, and Outlast is the proof.
In order to find your way around Outlast’s dark corridors, you must cautiously peer through your camcorder’s green-tinged infrared mode. This gives Outlast a distinctly eerie visual identity while leaving you feeling vulnerable to baddies creeping up behind you. Your camera’s batteries only last a few minutes, so it is a small mercy that the hospital you are exploring is full of batteries that fit the exact make and model of your camera. Phew.
Dead Space Remake
It’s long been on this list, but the recent Dead Space Remake did such a good job with a fan-favorite sci-fi horror game. But while the Dead Space Remake review highlights the more modern tweaks that make it special in its own right, much of the praise should go to the original. Like the horror game adaptation of Event Horizon that never was, Dead Space is the story of a fun cabal of ne’er-do-well cultists who bring a deep space mining ship to its flickering, malfunctioning knees.
You are a mechanic armed with a laser cutter capable of strategically dismembering the legions of already malformed alien creatures who now infest the ship, but despite your powerful weaponry, you are never close to being at ease. Like all the best horror games, Dead Space’s brand of horror is disturbing and often lashes out at your psyche, subtly mixing violence and paranoia to create an atmospheric and unrelentingly bleak miasma of despair. If you find yourself lost in the Remake, then our Dead Space weapons and Dead Space suit upgrades can offer some protection from the terrors hiding in the vents.
Stories Untold is a fiendishly imaginative package of four small horror experiences, each one told using a different piece of retro tech as the main vehicle for its twisted tales. The opening episode plonks you in front of a chunky old CRT monitor and plays a horror text adventure called The House Abandon. It’s not long before the environment around you begins to mirror that of the story you’re reading as lights begin to flicker, mysterious thuds go unchecked, and imagined noises keep you pinned to the screen in anticipation of a jump-scare that never comes. This methodical pace sets Stories Untold apart from most other horror games in that its four episodes care more about mood and atmosphere than cheap thrills.
The spooky stories also span a range of genres and mediums, from a menacing thriller that’s revealed via the process of decoding radio transmissions to an elaborate sci-fi yarn that sees you carrying out an experiment on a mysterious artifact using a host of machines and contraptions. And while each episode feels separate, they’re tied together in subtle ways, and the final act delivers a twist so punchy it would leave M. Knight Shyamalan reeling.
Also from the Stories Untold studio is the horror game Observation, a sci-fi thriller where you assume the role of an AI trying to save a space station in crisis.
Although Little Nightmares is on its second outing, it’s still worth picking up the first game in the series – it not only sets the scene for a climactic showdown against The Thin Man in the sequel, but it is perhaps even more terrifying. Set in the claustrophobic corridors of The Maw, you play as Six, a small child trying to flee the horrors of the remote vessel, a place steeped in mystery and malevolence.
You’ll need to solve puzzles in order to move through a treacherous maze of rooms and corridors, avoiding the inhabitants that dwell throughout. The grotesque Twin Chefs are after you with their sharp butcher knives, and The Janitor’s long arms wind through the air vents after you as you desperately try to escape. It may be a relatively short game, but Little Nightmares manages to ramp up the tension in a grim, unsettling world, while creating a harrowing storyline and taking us on a ghastly journey that ends in an epic finale.
Similar to Little Nightmares, our protagonist must escape a dark world, where he is hunted and alone, moving through deadly obstacles and avoiding detection. Using a mind control helmet, he can control the hapless, unwitting crowds of people found huddled throughout to help him move objects and solve puzzles. You’ll also probably die a lot, and like its predecessor Limbo, all the ways you can die are graphic and merciless before the screen fades to black.
Inside’s art style uses monochromatic backdrops and sporadic flashes of color to create a truly unsettling experience, along with the sparing use of sound and ambient lighting – this sinister, narrative-driven platform game is a horrifyingly haunting ride.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals
How do you follow up Oxenfree? That is the big question for many going into the indie classic, but as our Oxenfree 2 review points out, it does so by casting “off adolescence in a bid to explore the trials and tribulations of adulthood, featuring authentic dialogue that packs an emotional punch”.
Continuing five years from where the original left us off, Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals improves much of the previous games’ shortcomings, such as the lack of skipping important dialogue. It also boasts a far bigger island and a deeper mystery to solve that will take all your cunning. If you were a fan of the first story, the second part won’t disappoint. We just so happen to have the Oxenfree 2 letter locations if you get stuck.
Doom 3 is almost as old to us now as the original Doom was when Doom 3 came out, but as is the case for all of the best horror games, all that matters is how scary it is, and Doom 3 is still scary as balls.
As traditional a shooter as they come, the focus here is on a rapidly escalating armoury of weapons with which to slaughter an army of hell demons, upside-down baby-face spiders, and weird alien bears. The id Tech 4 engine was a marvel of its era, bringing an unfathomable level of detail to what had previously been an array of flat brown sprites.
That’s all from us, the very best horror games available on PC. If you’re in need of a little R&R, why not check out the best card games or building games on PC? It’s okay; you can come out from behind whatever piece of furniture you’ve been cowering behind; that really is everything – we’re not going to throw a cheap jump scare into the credits or anything like that.
This story originally appeared on PC Gamesn