The 25 Best Horror Games On PC

25. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth [official site (archived)] (2005 /2006 PC)

Developer: Headfirst Productions
Publisher: Bethesda

Dark Corners of the Earth is one of the best halves of a game ever released. The great moments are scattered throughout the running time but the majority are front-loaded in the earlier stages, which mostly see Jack Walters, the player character, investigating, running and misplacing his mind. Later, there are weapons to wield but Headfirst never allow the player to feel powerful. You’re fighting unfathomable cosmic forces, after all, in this fairly faithful adaptation of Lovecraft’s novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The infamous hotel escape scene, which comes toward the close of the novella, is the game’s most iconic scene and from there it borrows from other elements of the Cthulhu Mythos, including a terrifying confrontation on the open sea.

It’s not only in terms of the game that was finally released that Dark Corners feels like it occasionally cuts corners. The sanity system, interactive environments and the town of Innsmouth itself were all stripped down during development, and memorable and intelligent as it may be, Headfirst’s game is sorely marked by compromises. Even so, it’s the most immersive interpretation of the corroding coastline of Lovecraft country and a rare opportunity to meet a Shoggoth.

Notes: In development for seven years and originally planned as the first part of a Cthulhu Mythos trilogy, Dark Corners of the Earth went through several iterations. Headfirst had originally planned a more free-form RPG structure and the eventual game’s linear progression relied heavily on scripted moments, such as the hotel escape.

Read more: H P Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Eurogamer’s Review.

Where can I buy it:Steam.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Lovecraft’s influence is scattered across gaming like the most common of horror seasonings. GOG recently re-released the two Infogrames Mythos adventures, Prisoner of Ice and Shadow of the Comet, and also consider Anchorhead, a fine work of interactive fiction that delves into Lovecraft’s themes and writing style.

24. Scratches [Moby Games] (2006)

Developer: Nucleosys
Publisher: Got Game Entertainment

The title is a warning. Like the recent indie horror film It Follows, Scratches recognises that a title can do a great deal of work, planting seeds up-front that work away at the audience’s nerves. In the case of Scratches, the title refers to a sound and it’s a sound that drags bloodied fingernails through horror history. In an abandoned house, notable for its verisimilitude, those scratches could be coming from inside the walls or from the underside of some trapdoor. They could be rats in the walls or Madeline Usher’s fingers tearing at the stone in which she has been prematurely interred. There’s also the possibility that the scratches are imagined, the nails on the chalkboard of your mind.

Scratches’ static first-person scenes create a convincing environment – a rural English home in the seventies – and while the setup is more unsettling than the denouement, the initial mystery makes something deeply macabre out of the mundane. That an atmosphere so thick with dread can be created using an interface that places so many barriers between the player and the world is a remarkable achievement.

Notes: The Director’s Cut contains an extra chapter, in which a new character visits the house after the events of the main game. Seeing the place derelict and vandalised might give a hint as to the environmental detail of designer Cordes’ next game, Asylum, which is set in an abandoned place.

Where can I buy it: Recently removed from digital distribution services due to a lapsed license with the publisher, Scratches is only available in boxed form. The second-hand market is your friend.

What else should I be playing if I like this: (Sub)urban environments are horribly subverted in Dark Seed, a punishing horror adventure featuring the art of the late H R Giger.

Read more: Lead designer Agustin Cordes’ blog is no longer updated but contains a wealth of entries about cult games, films and more, an in-depth Kickstarter update about Cordes’ upcoming Asylum.

23. DayZ [Official Site] (2001)

Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive

Any assessment of DayZ, positive or negative, must come with caveats. When criticising the game, its incomplete state must be taken into account and when praising it, entertaining experiences should be placed alongside the hours of nothing in between encounters. Revisiting now, more than three years after the initial burst of excitement surrounding the mod, reveals a game that is superficially the same as that first iteration. The zombies are still rare and don’t offer threat enough to force human players into any sort of cooperative behaviour, and you’re more likely to die by accidentally drinking gasoline than by stumbling into a horde of the undead.

The detailed simulation of the world is capable of producing moments unlike anything else, however, and that in itself is remarkable considering how many games have made themselves cosy in the space that DayZ carved out. Whether by accident or design (perhaps initially the former and more recently the latter), DayZ is Lord of the Flies with added blood bandits and all the cruelty of the internet age. For some it’s a playground in which to enact their worst possible selves and for others its the most desperate and grim roleplaying game in existence. Without the long hikes through desolate and uninhabited forest, the single crack of a gunshot in the distance might not have the ability to make your blood freeze. Like many zombie films, DayZ exists to remind us that man is the real monster and it makes a compelling argument.

Notes: Singleplayer and console versions of the game are expected by the time of the final release in 2016.

Before its release as a standalone game, the DayZ mod had one million players within four months of release and was considered responsible for hundreds of thousands of sales of ARMA 2.

Read more: Perma-Permadeath In DayZ, Survival Games Are Important, The Injustice Engine: Cruelty and Murder in DayZ, The Saline Bandit: A DayZ Diary, Jim’s Thoughts On An Early Release of DayZ Standalone.

Where can I buy it: Steam.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Project Zomboid offers a different take on the zombie apocalypse – not as horrific, with the isometric camera providing some distance from the harsh realities of survival, but measured and accomplished.

22. My Father’s Long Long Legs [Official Site] (2014)

Developer: Michael Lutz
Publisher: N/A

Michael Lutz’s short Twine game has the pacing and logic of a nightmare. The choices that you make cause the story to be delivered piecemeal, each morsel adding to the sense of wrongness that comes to a head in a sequence that pushes the Twine medium to its limits. How much can be done with text, a few tricks of layout and design, and a simple sound effect (not a screamer, not a jumpscare)? Enough to trouble sleep and keep the mind turning over impossible horrors and the insinuations that make feasible realities of them.

Many of the games on this list overtly discard their psychological trappings – eventually, the metaphor is shown to be an actual monster. Sometimes, the most terrifying reveal is the discovery that the man behind the curtain actually was a man all along. No wizard, no magic, no cult, no escapist fantasy. A hundred people might have a hundred interpretations as to the specific meaning of My Father’s Long Long Legs but most would agree that it’s a game that finds an absurd and lasting terror that is somehow recognisable. Fear of the known.

Notes: Lutz’ work has some similarities to the short stories of Bruno Schulz as well as the body horror of Junji Ito.

Where can I buy it: It’s free.

Read more: Have you played My Father’s Long Long Legs, Michael Luz’s Twine follow-up, The Uncle Who Works At Nintendo.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Cyberqueen and Horse Master are excellent and unusual Twine horror games. Traditional interactive fiction is also home to some uncanny experiences, notably the cleverly told urban legend of All Alone, the strange reality of Shade and the horrific moral maze of the intricately constructed Vespers.

21. Sylvio [official site] (2011)

Developer: Apostrophe
Publisher: Apostrophe

The idea that electric voice phenomena – the voices of spirits captured in recordings – is a powerful one because the possibility of fragmented communication from beyond is both reassuring and terrifying. Reassuring to think that some semblance of the self still exists and might make the effort to leave messages for those left behind; terrifying to think that those messages might be warnings or threats, and that they are an ever-present part of the white noise and electronic waves that are the background to our lives.

Sylvio requires the player to gather recordings in an abandoned park, which is drowning in a creepy red mist that would make Silent Hill flinch. There’s a smart interface for manipulating the recordings on a reel-to-reel player, altering the direction and speed of playback, and there are puzzles to solve, some clunky and weirdly out of place, others sinister and satisfying. The game’s effectiveness comes from its willingness to resist shock, relying instead on a gradually increasing sense of dread that eventually becomes almost unbearable. In a game full of situations in which the player is straining to hear, how easy it would have been to startle them with a scream or a shout – instead, Sylvio relies on the power of its words and in doing so creates a quiet cocoon that, like EVP, is almost comforting until the penny drops.

Notes: Sylvio had a Kickstarter campaign but the two-year development was mostly complete when the fundraising began. Instead, Swanberg raised funds to create promotional packages in order to spread awareness about the game.

Where can I buy it: Steam.

What else should I be playing if I like this: The scariest ghostly games in existence belong to the Project Zero (Fatal Frame in some territories) series but they’re not available on PC. The Blackwell adventure game series is all about paranormal communication and is a far less stressful experience.

Read more: Our Review.

20. Manhunt (2003/2004 PC) [official site]

Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games

Combining elements of snuff films with the horrors of reality TV, Manhunt is an oppressively unpleasant game. It delves into aspects of horror that have been excavated so thoroughly by modern film-makers that the barrel has been scraped dry, buried, exhumed, reincarnated and then thoroughly dismantled from top-to-bottom. Found footage + extreme violence is a stinking trough that too many snouts have been buried in for too long. Rockstar recognise that the violence must be a requirement of survival rather than an indulgence, and by mixing their snuff with stealth, they make horrible deeds feel necessary, cathartic and then horrible again.

The executions are dirty and desperate. There’s no glamour in the game and even in the most excessive moments, the camera is a grotesque voyeur rather than a fetishising framing device. The gunplay is rubbish, and the environments are ugly and repetitive (by design, but still…) but the stealth-violence is tense, horrific and smartly designed.

Notes: Manhunt was one of the games targeted by now-disbarred attorney Jack Thompson during his campaign against “murder simulators”. Links between the game and a 2004 murder were dismissed by police but pursued by Thompson, who attempted to sue Rockstar and Sony (Manhunt was initially a Playstation exclusive), later describing the latter’s release of violent games in America as “Pearl Harbour 2” and Rockstar’s games as “the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio”.

Where can I buy it: Steam.

What else should I be playing if I like this: This might be the first time these games have been linked, but the Thief games’ interludes into stealth-horror are the best example of that particular genre crossover.

Read more: Kieron’s thoughtful retrospective .

19. Dead Space 2 [Official Site] (2011)

Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Big budget horror rarely works well. The temptation to show the money on the screen works against the mystery and murkiness necessary for so much that frightens us. The original Dead Space threw everything at the screen – guts, extra limbs, hallucinations, cult religions, erratic sci-fi – and was content to see at least some of it stick. It was at the gun-happy end of the survival horror spectrum but it succeeded in creating a strong setting and icky, fearsome set of creatures to laser-carve into pieces. While the ‘tactical’ limb-lopping might have been slightly oversold, the combat was satisfying and there were some genuine scares.

Dead Space 2 went bigger. Protagonist Isaac Clarke found his voice (literally – he was silent in the original, bar his grunts of distress and stomp-sigh) and the action moved to The Sprawl, an enormous space station that lived up to its name. The new setting allowed Visceral to mix the familiar with the strange, as Isaac moved through residential quarters, shopping districts and everything else one might expect in a city. The Sprawl was an urban environment that just happened to be located in the vicinity of Titan. That helped to anchor the ridiculous excess of the game’s wilder setpieces but Dead Space 2 succeeds because of that excess – it’s loud, violent and paced like a theme park ride. There’s no subtlety but at least 80% of what Visceral throw at the screen works.

Notes: Although it has spectacular moments – the journey through a graveyard of wrecked ships being the most notable – Dead Space 3 was as bloated as a ‘Pregnant’ necromorph’s abdominal sac. EA’s sales targets were similarly bloated and DS 3 was considered something of a commercial disappointment. Developers Visceral moved on to Battlefield: Hardline and a currently untitled Star Wars game.

Where can I buy it: Steam and Origin.

Read more: Our Verdict, in which John complains and Jim defends, Our Review of Dead Space 3.

What else should I be playing if I like this: If you want the full Dead Space experience, the first game is definitely worth playing. It feels more like a survival horror game than the sequel, which has big action setpieces and, in giving Isaac a voice, makes him more than a vessel for your own fears and anxieties. The Bioshock games aren’t quite as loud and violent, but similarly mix action, sci-fi and horror.

18. Depths of Fear: Knossos [official site] (2014)

Developer: Dirigo Games
Publisher: Digital Tribe

Knossos is an obscure game that didn’t receive a particularly warm welcome but it’s a perfect example of how well horror can work when created with strict limitations. In that sense, it’s completely at odds with Dead Space 2, the previous game on this list – where Visceral use their big budget for bombast, Dirigo (a one-person studio) uses a tiny budget and a few stiffly animated models to create something truly uncanny. Equal parts animatronic Greek mythology gone terribly wrong and perfectly scored giallo tribute, Knossos is a series of procedurally generated deathmazes that rarely make sense and generally appear as if they’re about to fall apart at the seams.

Sometimes that’s how horror is most effective, when we don’t even trust that the creators are in control of their creation. Knossos is a dangerous game, in which the sound effects feel as if they might have been borrowed from a tape of samples created in the Berberian Sound Studio and the behaviour of the enemies is as unpredictable as the design decisions that lead to a randomised horror game starring a terrifying satyr and endless streams of spiders.

Notes: The entire game is the work of Philip Willey, including the remarkable seventies-synth soundtrack.

Read more: Our Review.

Where can I buy it:Steam.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Terry Cavanagh’s Don’t Look Back is another weird take on Greek mythology. To cleanse your palate of the fear, you might want to turn to the colourful clicking of Titan Quest.

17. Alan Wake [official site] (2010/2012 PC)

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Alan Wake is overlong, repetitive and altogether too-reliant on its central torch and gun combat mechanic. It’s a game that promises so much, beginning with the initial view of the town of Bright Falls and holding up through the first enemy encounters. Eventually, it settles into a rhythm that is more action than adventure, and the plot seems as scattered and fragmented as the pages of Alan’s book that are available to collect. Is it a story about a man who has predicted his own descent into murder and madness, or is it a story about the power of writing and its ability to fray the fabric between worlds?

Despite its hefty running time and all manner of subplots and segueways, Remedy’s game refrains from definitive answers. It’s not ambiguous so much as overwrought and overwritten, and that’s in keeping with the chap whose name is on the box. Alan Wake is about Alan Wake. That’s initially disappointing because Twin Peaks has trained us to value sleepy lumber-haunted towns like Bright Falls – the story should be about the place not the person visiting – but Wake is a fascinating protagonist because he allows Remedy to indulge in and play with all manner of horror mainstays. Even though Alan Wake disappoints in places and is baggy in others (both the man and the game), its a playful exploration of horror fiction that shouldn’t be taken quite as seriously as it sometimes seems to take itself.

Notes: Like Misery’s Paul Sheldon, many of Wake’s problems begin when he kills off the main character in his most popular series of books.

Where can I buy it: Steam.

Read more: Our Review, Our Interview about the PC port, Our Review of semi-sequel Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, a schlocky semi-sequel, is a much tighter game and improves the combat. For other mysterious small town goings-on, turn to Deadly Premonition.

16. Lone Survivor [official site] (2012)

Developer: Superflat Games
Publisher: Superflat Games

Lone Survivor initially looked like a 2d Resident Evil but as more details emerged, it started to resemble a 2d Silent Hill. That lone developer Jasper Byrne managed to shake off both of those reference points and make something that stands alone is impressive enough, but that Lone Survivor is funny and heartbreaking as well as frightening is astonishing. No game other than Hotline Miami has a soundtrack so important to its mood and overall composition. Whether it’s the improbable jazz filtering through a rotting and apparently uninhabited apartment building or the click of fingers in a Lynchian dream lodge, Lone Survivor’s horror takes place in a welcoming sea of synths.

The plot demands to be unpicked and although there is a fairly strict structure, replays reveal fresh ideas and the player often has control of the pacing. Some scenes are gruesome but there’s a warmth to Lone Survivor. Not everything is lost, even when there seems to be nobody left alive, and despite the monsters, gore and corpses, the eventual horror is touched by sorrow rather than disgust.

Read more: Our Review and an interview with developer Jasper Byrne in two, parts

Where can I buy it: Steam or direct from the developer.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Lone Survivor almost demands that you turn to the Silent Hill series but also consider the superficially similar Home and if you tire of playing a character who shuffles slowly from room to room, look into Deadlight.


  1. Meowcenary says:

    I was hoping for Alien: Isolation being 1st but a really good list nonetheless. Lone Survivor being an especially great game that more people should play

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Alien Isolation looked awesome, nailed the tone of the films, and had some pretty tense sequences. But I didn’t like the game overall just because its writing and acting weren’t great and all the tense stuff was undermined by a whole bunch of annoying “stealth around humans so they don’t kill you” sequences and “finding new X gimmick to open Y doors” type stuff. If it had kept the human and silly door locking stuff to a minimum and reduced its playing time to like 4-6 hours, it could have been monumental. But it was an expensive AAA game, so I guess they figured they needed to add a bunch of silly gamey stuff to pad the length to 10+ hours or people would be mad when they charged 60 dollars for it.

      Honestly, I liked Amnesia way better. Even Outlast was way better.

    • Unsheep says:

      Alien Isolation was definitely more stressful to play than Pripyat, Pathologic and System Shock 2.
      In those games you at least have a decent chance of defending yourself against the enemy, in Isolation you are extremely vulnerable for most of the game.

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    Andy_Panthro says:

    Alone in the Dark should have been on the list. It spawned a genre! Surely that’s worth of a place?

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      Adam Smith says:

      I had it fairly high on my first draft, played it last week (I played almost a hundred horror games last week, mostly briefly – a few for the first time) and bumped it down a few place. Went back to it again and bumped it down a few more. Realised it was outside the 25.

      I am enormously fond of it but I wanted to make room for the games I think people should play rather than the ones they should be aware of. Absolutely not intended to dismiss what AitD means though!

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        Andy_Panthro says:

        I find it such a shame that Resident Evil 1 has had two different remakes, but the granddad of the genre sits almost unknown by comparison. I can appreciate that to a newcomer it’s controls and graphics would be off-putting, they were very much at the cutting edge at the time but they were never going to age well.

        It was more adventure game than anything else too, something which is a little lacking from horror games in general (although you have picked a few good ones here). Too many games let you shoot and kill the horrors, so few make them a puzzle to overcome.

      • Pazguato says:

        Alone in the Dark is a better game (and much more scary) than Alan Wake, for example, an overrated bad written game with nice graphics that don’t deserve to be in any list. In my opinion, the original Alone is a classic that can be played today without hesitation and still portrays some of its old greatness (a well written story, close and respectful to Lovecraft legacy is part of it).

      • Risingson says:

        That is very unfair: I played the game two months ago and, apart from the running controls, it was way better written and paced than half of the list here.

        What a boring list, by the way.

        • Aviron says:

          Alan Wake would be decent if it lasted 4 hours instead of 10, had more interesting types of enemies than 3 flavours of rednecks/Birds/Floating Debris, or at least tried to be a survival horror instead of Max Payne but Boring.

        • Jeremy says:

          Nothing says “expert” quite like cool, detached apathy.

      • Fnord73 says:

        Fair enough, though I disagree with the verdict. My reason for this: Alone in the Dark scared a hell of a lot mor epeople than several other titles on the list. Since it was a first, the experience was genuinely frightening, the camerashifts and so on. I remember playing it with friends, screaming at the screen a couple of times. Still thinks it works, especially since the age means that its clunkyness becomes part of the horror itself, it takes *time* to run away from a mistake.

  3. GameCat says:

    Thank you for not putting Amnesia at first place.

    • Halk says:

      Ditto. The Dark Descent must be the most overhyped game ever. I don’t understand how anyone can get scared by this threadbare PoS.

      • James says:

        It’s not a bad way into the horror genre, much better than starting out with something like Outlast – it’s mild horror, more just generally creepy with the odd jumpscare. Not much, but it gives a taste of what the better (or ‘proper’ if you’re being a snob) horror games do so well.

  4. Alice O'Connor says:

    Deadly Premonition is #1 on the objective list of my heart.

  5. Sin Vega says:

    Ooh, I’m glad you went for the good Stalker game. I finally gave it a chance (after hating the original) last year, and I … I had to stop playing. It was too much for me. I wanted to go home. I could find no motivation to go on after what I’d seen, in this horrible, wrong place that was clearly warning me to leave. I spent about 20 minutes crawling, terrified, through an abandoned bunker, utterly convinced something terrible was about to happen the whole time. Everything about the place communicated danger and horror that never came. And then when I saw the spot – THE spot where I just knew it would all happen, I eventually worked up the nerve to go in. And nothing happened.

    And then when I got to the other side, I went through a doorway, and was back at the entrance again. After that I ran away and abandoned the job and never went near the place again.

    Eventually I got to a main plot mission where I was supposed to enter a tunnel that someone had left, in the process filling it with traps and poison, and sealing it with industrial machinery. And the game expects me to open it again?

    Fuck. That. In my world, the player character promptly turned round, cashed in a few thousand dollars’ worth of loot, told his bosses the people he was sent to rescue were all dead, and spent the rest of his days thanking his lucky stars he had that chance.

    • Mezmorki says:

      That chills me to read that … but I do want to play it more now :)

    • RedViv says:

      The looping room is such a nice NOPE moment. Fuck you, Old Ones. I’M OUT. I’ll just sit next to this lake here. That is a hill. THIS IS MORE NORMAL.

    • Distec says:

      You have absolutely nailed my experience with SoC and CoP. I do think the first game was scarier, or at least the drearier game between the two. I’ve just never finished either. I like them and I can eagerly burn through a few nights of progress in the zone. But I inevitably hit a point where the idea of firing it up and enduring the discomfort just feels like too big a tax on my psyche.

      It’s amazing, and I greatly appreciate the few games that can make me feel that way, even if that means I’ll never complete them.

    • banananas says:

      Though you’ve GOT to try SoC sometimes again, and be sure to install the Complete Mod!
      I’ve realized that the original is soo much denser in atmosphere and sense of dread (after finishing CoP). Yes, it’s rusty in places, and the end section is balls-to-the-wall hard (“Ok, how the hell should I even *get* to that friggin’ reactor entrance from here!”), but I’ve NEVER been more scared than in that bunker where you encounter that psychic monster for the very first time. It was just so dark. And those sounds, out of nowhere… Ugh.

      I’m a bit surprised CoP, and not SoC made it to 1st place here… oh well, probably subjectivity.

      • Sin Vega says:

        I’ve tried it with all the major overhaul mods. None of them do it, they all seem to fix one major aspect really well but leave another completely broken. It’s one of those games I try again every 18 months or so, but I finally gave up last year. Much prefer the third.

    • snowgim says:

      Yeah STALKER is amazing, though I do thing SoC is still better than CoP. Clear Sky has some pretty interesting stuff in it too, but it’s definitely the least good of the three. SoC is a game that find myself wanting to play through every year or so, in fact, I’m overdue for this year. :P
      And you should play it to the end, it’s a very sudden and kind of anti-climactic end, but it’s definitely worth seeing the last few areas. (Though to get to the proper final end you have to get an item near the start of the game which can easily be missed).

      So many terrifying moments in Stalker, and most of them are unscripted.
      The thing I like most, which I haven’t really seen in other games, is the way you feel when you have to go into the underground facilities. Because you don’t want to, you know it’s going to be terrible in there. And because it’s kind of open world that makes it feel like more of a choice to go in. Your not really forced there linearly, so you have to conciously decide to overcome your fears and step into the darkness on your own. And there’s no gameyness stopping you from just running out again screaming if you can’t handle it, that’s totally an option.

      Also the areas around the underground facilities are pretty creepy, so it’s often a relief to finally get inside. But then it isn’t. It really isn’t.

  6. Kabukiman74 says:

    Ok, it’s old, but one game that still defines horror for me would be “The Legacy”. Shame it’s missing here.

  7. arienette says:

    Deadly Premonition!

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    Andy_Panthro says:

    Given the sort of games that made the list, I’m almost surprised that Dark Souls didn’t make it. It certainly has a lot of elements of horror about it, and it was so many people’s favourite game over the past few years. I’m playing through it at the moment, and there are several areas which are very creepy (as are some of the characters you meet).

    • laotze says:

      At some point we have to just assign Dark Souls to a genre and imprison it there, lest it come to dominate every “best of” list every written.

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        Andy_Panthro says:

        Perhaps “Souls-like”, just as Rogue once defined a genre (albeit one that is increasingly broad).

      • Unsheep says:

        The Dark Souls games already belong to a specific genre: Fantasy action-RPG. They include most of the things we associate with a typical Fantasy game: skeletons, zombie-like things, dragons, magic & melee combat, evil animals, etc. Even the combat is very reminiscent of games like Rune and Severance (Blade of Darkness).

        • laotze says:

          Superficially, maybe. But from a gameplay and world design perspective I’d argue it has a hell of a lot more in common with a Metroidvania than a prototypical action RPG like a Diablo or Secret of Mana. In terms of mechanical combat precision its closest kin is probably something like Ninja Gaiden. And in terms of mythology I can’t imagine arguing that it’s “typical” of the fantasy genre, sharing more tropes with post-apocalyptic settings and Greek tragedies than with your typical Lord of the Rings brainchild or Squenix flavor.

          All that to reiterate the pretty uncontroversial statement that, yeah, Dark Souls is actually pretty tough to nail down to a conventional genre. If there’s one thing we should all be able to definitively agree on about that game, it’s that it’s pretty unique, whatever you think about its merits.

    • killias2 says:

      If Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne were on the PC, I’d consider them competitors for this kind of list. Dark Souls 1 and 2, however, just aren’t Horror enough to me.

      • laotze says:

        Turning left first out of Firelink Shrine instead of right is pretty horrifying.

    • Unsheep says:

      I’m sorry but I don’t see how the Souls games are scary or creepy. To me they are like any other Fantasy game with skeletons, zombie-things and dragons. You simply hack away at things until they stop moving.

      • laotze says:

        There are many genuinely terrifying games where you can just “hack away at things until they stop moving.” Most of the games on this list, in fact. It’s also a weird criticism to level against Dark Souls since most new players expressly cannot do this and immediately find themselves axemurdered by seemingly immortal graveyard skeletons.

        Anyhow, Dark Souls is considered creepy for tonal reasons, horrific elements of the game world, and in a more meta sense the feeling of dread it can instill in players. Not because it’s ever “scary” in the jump-scare sense of demons jumping out of a cupboard at you, but because the awareness that around every corner is a malevolent being just waiting to fuck you up should you make the slightest mistake. And no matter how good you get at cutting down Giant Skeleton Dogs, the constant tension that comes from knowing how easily they can emerge from the blackness tear you apart never quite goes away.

  9. Anthile says:

    Never understood why people thought Stalker was scary. There’s some horror elements to it but describing it as a horror game seems highly misleading. Might as well put Dark Souls on that list, or X(-)com.
    If you put Stalker and System Shock 2 there then leaving out Thief looks really odd. Scratches is a thoroughly average adventure game. Black Mirror I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream and even Gabriel Knight are much more effective.
    Deadly Premonition being absent is a travesty.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Totally disagree about Stalker, Call of Pripyat is scary as hell, even next to “pure” horror titles.

      But I agree Thief belongs above a lot of these titles. Even for the majority of the game which wasn’t really horror, it presented stealth in such an unnerving way that even incompetent guards felt pretty damn scary.

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      Styxie says:

      The tunnel sequence near the start of the first game is properly pants filling. It really does stand out to me as being one of the scariest experiences I’ve had in a game. Looking back on Stalker series they don’t seem like a horror games as a whole, but certain one off missions were you have to travel into underground research areas are really intimidating the first time you play them, but everything else that happens out in the world isn’t at all frightening – at most the open world is unnerving.

      The indoor missions stand out particularly because they’re a great mix of monsters, anomalies, monsters which look like anomalies and ambient sound effect which could be anything. It becomes really difficult to progress through some areas because you just don’t want to find out what’s in the next room, and that fear of the unknown sticks with you throughout the whole sequence. It also gave me some weird moments where you’re really thankful to be back out in the zone, because fuck whatever that was down there. It’s dead now and I’m never going back inside again.

      • Anguy says:

        Just listen to the goddamn soundtrack it’s nothing but endless creepy ambience for over an hour! Never been so frightened in a game as in those goddamn underground labs and bunkers.

        Funny thing is, I totally want to play it again after reading all this about it, haven’t played it in ages!

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s probably not right to describe the Stalker games as “horror games”, per se. There’s a lot else going on. But the setting is familiar enough for the ways in which it’s just…wrong… to really prey on you, the combat is lethal enough and the monsters and anomalies dangerous enough (and not at all always obvious) that you’re constantly on edge, and then when you’re deep in some bunker and there are invisible mutants trying to kill you and weird distorted voices and…it can be really intensely freaky. It’s not an all the time thing. When you get better at the game you can get entirely different feelings when you, say, manage to ambush a bandit patrol in the Garbage and loot a bunch of precious supplies, or take on a military base and come out standing. But for those moments, I absolutely buy Call of Pripyat as #1 (though personally I’ve only played Shadow of Chernobyl and a bit of Clear Sky. Need to just abandon the idea of finishing Clear Sky, I think, and move on to CoP.).

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Sanitarium, the Trilby games, the Penumbra games, The Walking Dead games… lots of obvious omissions in the non-shooty/stabby genre of horror games.

    • F33bs says:

      STALKER not scary? Come on. It’s one of the few games that manages to weave almost every flavor of horror — dread, atmosphere, jumpscares — into a game that’s really about exploration and combat. Other games may have more refined horror experiences, but STALKER is the most naturally horrifying game out there, and nothing really prepares you for it.

    • UncleLou says:

      Stalker is pretty much the scariest game on the list, imo (of those I played, which is the vast majority) – together with Silent Hill 2, maybe. I also found System Shock 2 scary as hell, and Scratches as well, although it’s not a good game, imo.

      I am not sure I’d class Deadly Premonition as horror, though. It’s mostly a comedy game, with the horror bits being undeliberately funny.

  10. laotze says:

    Aw, no love for The Lurking Horror? To this day no game has managed to instill me with as much dread as that Lovecraft-through-Zork textual romp. Not even its (more expansive and arguably superior) spiritual sequel Anchorhead. The moment when you finally found out what happened to all the missing students…
    *Shivers uncontrollably*

  11. Sin Vega says:

    Oh, also I’d say AvP deserves an honourable mention. It’s full of jump scares, sure, but the real horror is the anticipation of them, and seeing the monsters move in the distance as much as when they surprise you.

    And it’s no less scary playing as the alien, when you’re equal parts hunter and hunted.

    And and and the facehuggers never stop being horrifying. However many hours I spent mastering the game, blowing away hundreds of aliens and learning to run rings around the predators, getting caught by a facehugger still made me screech and leap in my chair, without fail. Not the jump scare, but the sheer invasive horror of it. If anything, they inverted the jump scare, as while the scritch scritch scritch noise of a facehugger was scary, the really sickening moment of fear was when it suddenly stopped.

  12. Mezmorki says:

    I thought Doom 3 was pretty freaking scary. The crying demon babies, the scripted things leaping in your face. I was terrified to open doors. I was terrified to turn on my flashlight. I was even more terrified to turn it off. Science labs were all together too scary. A wave of mortification swept over me each time I got on an elevator. And why do all the elevators go down? How we can go any lower? And deeper? Eventually I just stopped playing … I was too terrified to go on after one too many elevators down, one too many crying baby demon-things. One to many times having to turn-off my flashlight.

    • malkav11 says:

      I didn’t find Doom 3 that scary most of the time – it clearly has pretensions in that direction but its monster-closety nature is a little too predictable for that. But there’s an extended sequence midway through where you come to a new area and there’s hints of bad stuff lurking but there’s no actual combat for what seems like ages and that had me horribly on edge the whole time. Because you -know- that can’t last, but you can’t be sure when that switch is going to flip.

    • Blackrook says:

      At least one of the Doom’s would of been on my list, plus Alone in the dark.
      But I haven’t play anything scary for about 15 years.

      But the scariest game of all time I can think of would be ‘My Little Pony ONLINE’
      I’ve heard of people being committed after inadvertently downloading and playing it.
      They are now locked in padded rooms painted black muttering ‘the pink, no no not the pink’

  13. caff says:

    Very glad to see Stalker COP sitting at the top. It’s generally downright moody, but there were several sections that scared the living bejeezus out of me to such an extent I couldn’t face loading it up again.

  14. grover says:

    These lists have been very unadventurous and un-RPS so far. This one is thrilling though. Well done!!

  15. gio_gio613 says:

    Cube Runner You should try thins to.

  16. rgbarton says:

    No offense though I think its a bit of a shame that you didn’t list Outlast or at least give it an honorable mention

  17. technoir says:

    Some recommendations for those who aren’t afraid (dohoho) of text games with parsers: Anchorhead by Michael Gentry, Shade by Andrew Plotkin, Shrapnel by Adam Cadre and Slouching Towards Bedlam by Daniel Ravipinto and Star Foster.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      Anchorhead and Shade are in the honourable mentions for one of the picks – Shrapnel and Bedlam probably should have been!

      • technoir says:

        Ah, okay. I didn’t mean to imply they were missing, I was just reminded of them when I saw My Father’s Long, Long Legs on the list and thought I’d share.

        Anyone still remember Black Crown, by the way? It would have been a no-brainer for this list if it hadn’t been nuked by its publisher (a glimple of the true horror of game development under capitalism, I suppose).

  18. RedViv says:

    I am very, very pleased with the top spot. CoP has the kind of horror, of terror, that so very few games try to evoke. The Project Zero (Fatal Frame in AWFUL COLONIAL) games do a similar thing, where your instrument to overcome the terrors is really only very useful if handled with extreme care. Nuts and bolts against Anomalies or the right equipment to sneak by unseen terrors here, just a girl with a camera that can catch ghosts if you do it right there. Most of the time your truly awful adversary stays unseen, and it’s usually only in a situation where your death is quite certain already that they might reveal themselves in full terrifying glory.

    If you do get a chance, people, try out Project Zero. These games will never leave you. You can set your PS2 on fire, bathe the disc in holy water, but the voices and sounds will remain in your head for quite a few dark and lonely nights.

  19. subedii says:

    Good to see The Evil Within have a strong showing. I feel like it got a bit of a raw deal because of its initial performance issues, and attempts to pigeonhole it unnecessarily. The DLC was also pretty awesome, and surprisingly, did a lot to expand on the plotline of the original in a meaningful way. Where Sebastien is the cop who happens to be caught up in events, it turns out Kidman is the actual main character and the only one who’s got some idea of just what the heck is going on.

    Also very surprised to see Scratches make the list. In a good way. It’s always been a bit of a cult favourite of mine.

    That said, I’d have definitely put Dead Space 1 in place of 2. DS1 in some ways felt like a minor successor to System Shock 2, and it was important that it had a sense of place and exploration (yes it was level based, but really so was SS2 to a large degree), where DS2 was largely linear. I also feel it lost something by trying to make the protagonist “a character” instead of just an everyman engineer trying to survive, and cipher for the player. Instead they gave him a character and a voice, and honestly, it was just kind of dull.

    I also don’t think the changes to the zero-G mechanics were improvements as such, and actually detracted in that enemies couldn’t track and leap after you anymore (so what few were present were static and projectile based).

    • Christo4 says:

      I agree on ds1 would be better. To me, ds2 felt much more like action than horror compared to the first one.

  20. plugav says:

    It seems Bloodlines is cursed – everyone who’s ever written about it for RPS is dead.*

    * To us.**

    ** Not really.

  21. forddent says:

    Pleased to see Pathologic on this list–that game fills me with creeping dread in a way that no other game has ever managed to do–I’ve played lots of games that are tense, but none have ground me down in the way Pathologic does. I have spent an absolutely heinous amount of money on the Kickstarter/post-Kickstarter fundraising for the remake and I cannot fucking wait to see how it turns out.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      I’m in the exact same boat as you. I probably wouldn’t call Pathologic “horror”, but there is no genre label for “an unbearable sense of existential dread in a hopeless situation simulator”. It’s almost never scary, yet constantly horrifying.

      IcePick’s The Void is perhaps a more pure horror game, and definitely worth trying.

  22. ariston says:

    Thief belongs on the list – the original Thief, of course. The cathedral level gave me nightmares, the sound the undead make when they spot you… I once jumped out of a window to my death just to get away from them.

    • Hart says:

      See, I would actually say thief 3 is a better fit for this list. Thief one and two are some of the best games ever made, completely overshadowing thief 3 in almost every way… EXCEPT for the scares. Thief 3 had a ton of optional missions that were all horrifying, and those missions (pagan sewers, underwater necropolis, plagued boat, *shudders* the orphanage) honestly are it’s saving grace, and the only things worth playing it through for. If I played through thief one or two again, it wouldn’t be for the scares.

      • Henas says:

        Shalebridge Cradle…

        The first half of that level is fantastically creepy. And I mean really, who the hell combines an orphanage AND an insane asylum.

        The Thief games rank up there as some of the most terrifying for me, mainly due to the vulnerability of Garret. You couldn’t fight off the monsters and supplies (holy water, fire arrows) were limited so you were forced to sneak by them, knowing that they remained shambling along somewhere behind you…

      • ariston says:

        You have a point. Overall, I’d still go with Thief 1, but maybe because it had the advantage of being there first. The orphanage in Thief 3 is pure horror, that’s true.

  23. kud13 says:

    I honestly don’t recall THAT much horror in CoP. SoC was waaaay better at doing the scares, with the X-Labs.

    CoP had the one terrifying moment for me, and that was early in the game, being caught out in the dark with a bloodsucker, trying to make my way back to the ship after sunset. The bloodsucker kill animations in CoP were superbly done, I’ll agree, but I’m not sure it’s enough to push CoP as “scarier” over SoC. To me, SoC was the “horror S.T.A.L.K.E.R”, while CoP was the “RPG S.T.A.L.K.E.R”. CS was just something weird, felt more Diablo-like than anything in its tone.

    In terms of my own mentions for “horror” (and I’m really not big into horror games): the original Legacy of Kain game, Blood Omen. The soundtrack in that game, as you wander the “gothic Zelda” dungeons, with the random screams being part of the score, and the prisoners whom you feed on begging for salvation… it continues to send shivers down my spine everytime I hear it.

  24. Hoschimensch says:

    Not one Thief game in this list? The Cradle, the Asylum, the Cathedral, the Lost City? Anyone?

    • Sarfrin says:

      I love the Thief games and they certainly had their scary moments, but I wouldn’t describe them as horror games at all.

      • Hoschimensch says:

        I think the best horror sections in games are these that occur in games that aren’t horror titles. When you get to a really scary section in Thief, Stalker or Vampire Bloodlines it has a much bigger impact on me. It is mostly suprising when you suddenly step into a scary level that you never expected like in Thief and there are horror elements that can’t be bypassed. If I play a normal horror game that says “I am scary all the time” then you will much quicker get comfortable with it and there are almost no horror games out there that kept me on the edge the whole playthrough. After a time you get how all the mechanics and scares work and so the horror fades but in Thief 3, when I entered the Cradle, it kept me on edge the whole 2 hours and I was scared as shit because nothing of this was any kind of familar to me.

  25. fish99 says:

    No Thief? :'(

  26. TheManko says:

    The sound design in the The Cradle and Return to the Cathedral is so good Thief should be among the top. Just existing in those maps induces terror, let alone trying to do what you’re supposed to do.

  27. vahnn says:

    I myself would have put System Shock 2 in the #1 spot, but I’m not upset that it was beaten by Call of Pripyat.

    Teleglitch’s inclusion in this list is puzzling.

  28. Eight Rooks says:

    A good list. Only a couple of Objectively, Scientifically Wrong inclusions; Dark Corners is laughable high camp with terrible controls. Manhunt tries quite hard but it’s a godawful “game” (seriously, how on earth can you be scared of it when the safe zones are practically highlighted on the floor, the AI is pitifully dumb and the enemies just give up and run away once you’ve crossed past certain level boundaries?). Amnesia is one silly jump scare after another devoid of any real artistry. Also, Resident Evil 6 is a vastly superior game to 4 in every respect, and yes, in terms of horror as well – the Rasklapanje is far, far more frightening than the Regenerator.

    Still, seriously, some quality and unexpected-yet-welcome picks. Nice to see Alan Wake on there – daft plot and terrible writing aside the atmosphere is terrific (it dwarfs Amnesia in this respect). F.E.A.R. and Silent Hill 2 as well – both games that consistently unnerve and upset me, that haunt me rather than scare me, even when I know every plot beat before it happens. And yes, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. CoP might not have been my pick for #1, but I can applaud its being up there – especially so with the Atmosfear mod.

    Consoles get Project Zero/Fatal Frame (though that seems to have turned into “unlock the bikinis/skimpy underwear!” of late) – Siren, too. The PS3 remake had me literally paralysed with terror at one point, yet unlike Amnesia, say, actually captivated by how achingly tragic it all felt, too. Kuon’s a good one if you can track it down on eBay or whatever (FROM Software doing Kwaidan, oh, Christ, just bring on the terror-induced heart attack now, okay?). And I’ve always had a soft spot for The Nameless Game on DS, dumb urban legend and lo-fi graphics aside.

  29. Awesomeclaw says:

    I played Dead Space 2 for a bit but thought that it veered wildly into self parody in the first scene. After that I couldn’t really take it seriously.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah having the first guy go “Hi I’m here to rescue y-BLRAAGHG” struck me as more of an “Evil Dead” take on things.

  30. Baal_Sagoth says:

    That’s a really good list! I really enjoy the implicit desciption of the horror genre. So, I really need to give Teleglitch and Knock, Knock another go. Got distracted. With Pathologic I might wait how the remake turns out.

  31. Jane Doe says:

    Half the items on this list are bloody gore shooters that have as much to do with horror as the republican election campaign.

    Btw … what’s with all the silly top lists recently? Its getting … well, silly. Do you need clicks that bad?

    • GameOverMan says:

      I’d say that the Republican election campaign has a lot to do with horror.

  32. Jokerme says:

    Sylvio? Really? I won’t even cry about how Silent Hill 2 should have been the No1 by a long margin, but Sylvio? You might like it, but one of the best horror games ever made? Is it like there as a trap to see who actually read the whole list?

  33. dethtoll says:

    As usual, list is missing some critical titles while having some utterly baffling choices.

    • Hart says:

      At least this list isn’t just bashing me over the head with silent hill 2, resident evil, alone in the dark, etc… It’s nice to see plenty of newer titles on here; while it’s a little misleading to call this a ‘best horror games of all time’ list, at least it’s giving a game like ‘knock knock’ some praise instead of telling me exactly what I already know.

    • phlebas says:

      As usual, comments saying which choices a poster thinks are mistaken and articulating a reason why, or giving a case for including certain others, are welcome and interesting to read.

  34. Zack Wester says:

    Looked at the list And I will say two thing Horror games are not my cup of tea so I can´t say to mush about whats picked.
    But what I can say is that Im surprised that No Yume Nikki games are in it ether as in the list or as
    Honorable mentions(Yume Nikki, Yume 2kki, Ib, .flow(dot flow), Mad father(way to little exposer to that one),
    Any Yume Game I forgot.)

    • GameCat says:

      Desert Nightmare is probably the best RPG Maker horror game and I would totally put it on this list.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Ah man, you just made me so happy, reminding me that I’ve never played Yume 2kki or .flow. I freaking adored Yume Nikki, and I’d pretty much been saving them because it’s such a sparse genre and I don’t want to have exhausted its options. Then I forgot about it…

      Oh, don’t forget Witch’s House. That’s a good one, and super unnerving.

      I also really enjoyed Misao, but mostly because it constantly made me giggle. The scares were pretty damn predictable, but for some reason the timing was just hilarious. I’d often think “yeah, I’m gonna die if I do this” but then I’d be taken aback by how sudden and weird the visual result was, and I’d burst out laughing.

  35. FMAN71 says:

    I love the inclusion of Vampire The Masquerade. The haunted house level is amazing!

    Also, why no Doom 3? This is heresy!

  36. timur says:

    So, erm, is Pathologic at number 2 or is it System Shock 2? The long list says Shodan and the short list says Haruspex.

  37. oceanclub says:

    Ah, STALKER. A game whose atmosphere is so oppressive & terrifying that, scurrying the almost pitch-black with weird sounds all around, I’m relieved to stumble across a campfire, even if it’s surrounded by fascists.


  38. Pulstar says:

    Where’s OUTLAST?

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Outlast doesn’t seem to get much love or critical respect, possibly because it relies so much on jump scares and is a hodge podge of horror film cliches, but holy hell does it do jump scares better than any other game I’ve ever played. It also takes its mess of horror cliches and breathes new life into them (the whole “you can only see things through a night vision camera” gimmick had been done to death in movies by the time “Outlast” came along, but “Outlast” implements it better than most movies have). Barring a few annoying trial and error chase sequences, I thought it was a superbly crated game that, while not really doing anything original, did what it did better than most games in the genre.

      Really should have been on this list.

  39. Gordon Shock says:

    Though I disagree with the order of that list I have to say that my first encounter with a Controller is something that is forever tattooed in my memory. It is bested only by Anatoly Korenchkin transformation into a psy-reaver.

  40. Rince Wind says:

    So, yes…I think you forgot “I have no mouth and I must scream”, otherwise a pretty good list.

  41. Distec says:

    I feel like Condemned’s admittedly nonsense story and seeming absence of self-awareness actually worked in its favor. The whole thing had a disjointed, dream-like feel to it that kept me intrigued. As if, at the best of times, I probably only understood about 70% of what was going on at any given time. I wasn’t sure if the main character was crazy, possessed, or witnessing some legit demonic shit. By the time I ran into “Mr. Sticks” in a barn attic and realized Oh shit this ghost scare is actually hurting me oh god OH GOD I nearly soiled myself. And the supporting cast seem to oscillate between matter of factly acknowledging the weirdness and then forgetting it five minutes later. Like a David Lynch nightmare.

    The sequel completely squashed that curious ambiguity when they started throwing the cult crap front and center and butchered the Ethan’s character. But then I don’t know how much of the first game’s charm was intentional.

    It also makes a good companion piece for FEAR.

    • ariston says:

      I’d also say that Condemned works. It almost feels like a parallel universe kind of story. I never expected it to make sense, I just expected it to scare me. And it did, boy, did it ever.
      All the “unreal” aspects of the story and setting, married with the occasional glimpses of normality, only underlined the general feeling of being trapped in a psychotic nightmare. Which is maybe what the whole game is about, anyway.
      Wish I could replay this, I still have a copy (which was a bitch to obtain in Germany), but can’t get it to run on Win7.

  42. Cropduster says:

    Seeing Stalker take the top spot makes me feel so warm and fuzzy that I could just sit down by this bonfire and whip out my guitar. But I must say I found Shadow of Chernobyl to be much scarier and atmospheric. The zone has so much mystery to it in that first outing.

  43. Jerppa says:

    “My Fathers Long” is the most uncomfortable name for a horror game I’ve ever seen.

  44. Jalan says:

    Blood finally made a list! Not without poking at the sore spot regarding the source but still, it made a list!

    • epeternally says:

      I’m not sure it really belongs on this list, but at the same time I’m grateful to see it recognized as the fantastic game that it is. Even if the lack of source thing stings (god was the mouselook in Build awful, even with Bmouse it still feels way off).

      • Jalan says:

        What it doesn’t do by technical definition(s) of what’s expected in the horror genre is made up for by the fact that it’s an insane love letter to just about every horror fan. I’d argue for its inclusion on any horror game list based on that, even if it had to be plinked by asterisk to mention that it’s really just a FPS title that drowns you in horror references.

        Then again, I might be a bit biased since it’s my favorite Build engine title (beating out Shadow Warrior by a slight margin and only then due to the fact that I’m a huge horror nerd).

  45. malkav11 says:

    It’s worth noting that a lot of the console-only greats were released on systems that are capably emulated on PC – in particular Playstation, Playstation 2, and Wii. The first three Fatal Frames all have PS2 versions and 4 is a Wii project. I forget whether there are PC versions of all of the original Silent Hill games (1-4), which are all good to varying degrees although I think most people would agree 2 is the best, but they’re definitely all available on PS2. Siren and Siren 2 are creepy as hell and PS2 games, although I can only sort of recommend them as actual games to play, since they are balls hard, slow stealth games with literally unkillable enemies, little to no checkpointing, low view distances for the player (but not the enemies) due to fog, and the primary way you tell where enemies are and where they’re looking is by looking through their eyes, which is both disorienting and not something you can do while moving. As narratives, though, they’re pretty incredible. Kuon, as mentioned above, is also good. And there’s various lesser stuff – Rule of Rose, for example, is a pretty dreadful game but the horror is original and seriously disturbing.

    One game that did come out on PC that I personally found scary enough I never actually got very far? The Suffering. No idea if it holds up all the way through, or if the sequel’s any good, but those opening levels really ran me through the wringer.

    • epeternally says:

      I’ve been interested in Rule of Rose since it came out, but I’m thinking of watching a let’s play rather than playing it because I know that I won’t enjoy the gameplay one bit. Just feels like a bit of a cop-out to do that.

      • malkav11 says:

        I would. Because a) you really won’t like playing it, and b) a lot of what makes Rule of Rose work as horror does not require you to be the one holding the controller, unlike many horror games.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      The Suffering is generally vastly underrated because too many critics uphold the nonsensical idea that if you have any power or agency you can’t possibly be scared. All the more so with pulpy comic book stuff (one reason I’m honestly quite surprised to see Dead Space 2 on here). The first game, at least, was excellent – comic book melodrama, sure, but genuinely creepy with it, using its lurid excess to fuel its scares rather than just because naughty words are naughty. I don’t care if I have a gun: if a skinless, bisected corpse ropes down from the ceiling on, then tries to strangle me with its own intestines, I’m freaking out, thanks. The executioner character was one of the best “You’ll like it on the dark side, join ussssssssssss” characters I’ve ever come across. Props, too, for having a multiple-choice narrative that while it was simplistic actually worked pretty well – was he (the protagonist) actually innocent, or a monster? Entirely up to you, and it felt surprisingly natural either way.

      Shame they blew the sequel by rushing it to market, ramping up the difficulty, removing most of the checkpoints and introducing more bad comic-book story elements the game didn’t need, but eh. Can’t win ’em all.

  46. Tim James says:

    Thanks for correcting the lack of STALKER in the recent PC Gamer piece about this. I’d prefer the original game, since Call of Pripyat never quite reaches the surreal terror of the underground labs in Shadow of Chernobyl. But you’re definitely on the right track.

  47. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    This was a great list. It’s funny to see games I wouldn’t have thought of but make perfect sense. I will however echo the “no Oulast?” crowd if only because I’ve never been so terrified of random, harmless NPCs in a game. They were just so unpredictable and scary looking…

    I’m glad Alan Wake made the list. I love that game. It’s very flawed – especially the combat – and it took me quite some time to finish it, but it was unafraid of throwing all types of genres together, that I appreciated the immense effort. My favorite part: tearing up the stage with The Old Gods of Asgard. It was hilarious and amazing.

    • caff says:

      Interesting what you say about Alan Wake. I gave up after an hour or so as the game mechanics and style just didn’t appeal. Now I feel like I’ve missed something.

      • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

        None of my friends like it, and almost everywhere I turn people didn’t care for it. Perhaps give it a second chance. I completely understand why a lot of people don’t like it, but it really grabbed me despite the flaws.

        I think Adam did a great job of explaining why the game is memorable: Alan Wake as a character. I’d also add several of the supporting characters are just as fun.

        Also, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare alleviates my biggest complaint – the combat. That one is more on the comedy side of things, too.

  48. rockman29 says:

    Really cool list. I like that Silent Hill 2 is very high up there. Same with System Shock 2 and Stalker, great picks.

    Resident Evil 4 is an interesting pick, definitely one of those games that defies conventions and blends genres for sure. Definitely a great action game with a little spice of horror on top.

    Would’ve liked to see Resident Evil REmake on the list as well, really fantastic game, or maybe even one of Resident Evil 2 or Dino Crisis on there, though those last two probably aren’t very easy to purchase for PC at all lol.

  49. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    I’m surprised to see the original System Shock excluded – was it considered? It certainly make use of less horror tropes than the sequel, but I actually found it to be the scarier (and tighter) game.

    • phlebas says:

      I’m not sure about being a scarier game, but I was surprised not to see it in the ‘if you liked this, play…’ list. And I’m guessing the last bit of SS2 works better if you’ve played it first.

  50. PikaBot says:

    Of course I remember The Bit With The Ladder in FEAR, but for me the really memorable Alma moment was in the office building, when the sciency member of your team tells you to go on ahead while she investigates the scorched bloodstains that used to be a bunch of gene-soldiers before Alma got annoyed at them. If you look up at the balcony above, you can see Alma looking down and watching your conversation. When I left that room, I felt certain that I was leaving my teammates behind to die…and when that didn’t happen, I realized unhappily that it was because Alma had followed after me.

    Also, points to FEAR for the Jankowski thing. We’ll never know exactly what happened to him, but that fact in itself added to the atmosphere a ton.