When you want to get fully immersed in a scary story, nothing fits the bill like one of the best horror games. When you take control of the main character in a terrifying situation, it’s an experience that not even the most frightening book, movie or TV show can replicate. Horror games tap into some of our primal fears — death, destruction, darkness — and somehow make the experience fun. Horror games can actually be cathartic, since they let us conquer the things that scare us.
With that in mind, Tom’s Guide has gathered a list of the 15 best horror games that you can play on modern platforms. (We opted for current systems rather than a “best of all time” list, since we figured you may want to actually play some of these without a retro console collection, or an emulator.) From first-person shooters, to adventure games, to straight-up survival/horror experiences, there’s something here for everyone — even people who don’t typically enjoy horror games. You never know which one might bite.
Alan Wake Remastered
If Stephen King ever created a video game, it’d look and feel an awful lot like Alan Wake. (The first line in the game is a Stephen King quote, in case you were wondering whether the homage was intentional.) Crime novelist Alan Wake takes his wife on a romantic retreat in the Pacific Northwest — and awakens one morning to find that a week has passed, and his wife has disappeared. As Alan investigates, he’s pursued by shadowy creatures from his own dark imagination. Alan Wake is a nearly perfect mix of combat, exploration and unpredictable story twists. Alan Wake Remastered makes the game look and feel quite a bit better on newer systems.
Alien is the perfect sci-fi/horror movie. It’s quiet, intense, and terrifying. Not only is the central story completely plausible, but it builds a compelling world through well-placed background detail and offhand remarks. Alien: Isolation is the horror sequel the movie deserved, but never quite got. (Aliens was an action film, Alien 3 was boring, and we don’t talk about Alien Resurrection.) Playing as Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, you have a chance to discover the truth behind your mother’s ill-fated voyage on the Nostromo — but you’ll have to sneak through a ship full of hostile crewmen and escape from another deadly xenomorph.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Amnesia: The Dark Descent was one of the games that kickstarted the indie horror resurgence that’s still going on today. A young Englishman named Daniel awakens in a Germanic castle, with precious few hints about how he got there — and even fewer about the shadowy creatures that stalk its halls. The gameplay is remarkably simple: Walk from place to place and solve simple puzzles as you go. What makes Amnesia terrifying is the interplay of light and shadow, and how you can never be certain whether you’re being stalked in the castle’s oppressive Gothic environs.
BioShock isn’t a pure horror game, as it’s a first-person shooter first and foremost. You play as a durable protagonist wielding a small arsenal of weapons and special powers. But there’s definitely something scary about exploring the eerie underwater city of Rapture. Initially conceived as a kind of Objectivist paradise, Rapture has since fallen into disrepair, and its once-thriving streets now teem with mutant splicers and gargantuan, mechanistic Big Daddies. Playing as Jack, you’ll unearth Rapture’s mysteries — and the answers you find are unsettling, with everything from body horror to societal collapse on display. Would you kindly check this one out?
Just about every FromSoftware game has horror elements, from the haunted castles of Dark Souls, to the otherworldly demons in Elden Ring. However, Bloodborne is probably the closest thing the company has ever put out to a full-on horror game. In this action/RPG, you’ll create a Hunter and guide him or her through the cursed city of Yharnam. A strange moon rises in the sky, and all manner of werewolves, ghouls and Lovecraftian nightmares hearken to its call. Bloodborne’s enemy and level design are genuinely creepy, with dead eyes and skewed limbs on almost every foe. But the real horror comes from the game’s lurking sense of dread, especially since you’ll die frequently and risk losing all of your valuable Blood Echoes.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night may be the biggest reach on this list, but hear us out. While this side-scrolling action/RPG is too bright, breezy and colorful to be a full-blown horror game, the aesthetics are about as Gothic as they come. You play as Miriam: a demon hunter who explores a huge, imposing castle all by herself, fending off all manner of demons and monsters along the way. If “young woman alone in a scary 19th-century castle” doesn’t scream “Gothic horror,” we don’t know what does. With plenty of creepy foes to fight and weird allies to befriend, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night should appeal to horror aficionados and side-scroller fans alike.
Dead by Daylight
While most horror games are single-player experiences, Dead by Daylight demonstrates that it can be just as scary to play against other people. Dead by Daylight is an asymmetrical multiplayer game, where four “survivor” players do their best to outwit a fifth “killer” player. If you’ve ever seen a slasher film, you probably know where this is going. The killer can annihilate the survivors with relative ease, but the survivors can leverage stealth and teamwork to escape. With procedurally generated levels and a different outcome in every session, Dead by Daylight is fun and scary in equal measure — just like a good slasher film should be.
Horror games don’t have to be all running and hiding; sometimes, you want to stare the otherworldly Lovecraftian horrors square in the jaw, then shoot them with a plasma cutter. If that’s the case, Dead Space is the game you’re looking for. Engineer Isaac Clarke investigates a distress call from the starship Ishimura, only to find that its crew complement has transformed into grotesque, spindly limbed monstrosities. Not only will you get to shoot them, one gangly appendage at a time, but you’ll also unravel a pretty decent sci-fi/horror story while you’re at it. A Dead Space remake is also in the works.
There aren’t a ton of horror/FPS hybrids, and that alone makes F.E.A.R. worth a look. In this genre-mixing adventure, you play as a member of the First Encounter Assault Recon team: an expert soldier who deals with paranormal phenomena. The phenomenon in question is a scary little girl named Alma, who can play with your perceptions as you explore the game’s twelve sprawling levels. Alma is a suitably scary antagonist, and the game switches gears frequently enough to stay interesting. Sometimes you’ll be wandering through blood-soaked corridors; others, you’ll be having intense firefights with super-soldiers. There’s also an agreeable bullet-time mechanic, which helps with the game’s high difficulty curve.
The Last of Us Part I
The Last of Us Part I is the remake that no one asked for, or needed. But now that it’s here, it’s pretty good. This shot-for-shot remake of The Last of Us on PS3 follows Joel and Ellie: two survivors in the post-apocalyptic United States. In this world, a fungal plague has killed most of humanity, and transformed some of the survivors into terrifying zombies. The game offers plenty of intense scares, particularly when you have to navigate subterranean ruins and sneak your way past the hordes of zombified “clickers" that inhabit them. But there’s also a heartfelt, human story at the center, which should be the case with any good horror yarn.
If your horror tastes skew more toward “creepy” than “horrifying,” Little Nightmares might be a good bet. This side-scroller boasts a distinctive art style, evocative of common childhood fears. Misshapen people, disembodied limbs and insatiable hunger are all present and accounted for, and the game presents its whole disconcerting story with almost no text or dialogue. In terms of gameplay, Little Nightmares has some puzzles and platforming, but simply soaking in the unsettling atmosphere is the big draw here. The game’s sequel, Little Nightmares II, builds on many of the same themes, in case the first one doesn’t scare you off.
Although horror games usually discourage combat, most of them at least give you the opportunity to fight your way out of a desperate situation. Not so in Outlast, where your choices are to run, hide or die. As photojournalist Miles Upshur, you must travel deep into the heart of the Mount Massive Asylum and document the horrors that induced psychosis in its inmates. Your camera is often your only source of light, and batteries are scarce. Few games make you feel quite as helpless as Outlast — or as relieved, once you finally sneak your way past the murderous patients who lurk around every corner.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evils 4, 5 and 6, whatever their other merits, were not actually that scary. Instead of claustrophobic environments and intricate puzzles, they focused on gunplay and big, loud, cinematic storylines. Resident Evil 7 got back to the series’ roots, by focusing the action on a rundown, Deep South plantation, inhabited by a dysfunctional, murderous family. The game’s first-person perspective helps you feel even closer to the action, which has some surprising ties to the existing Resident Evil lore later on.
If you’ve ever watched a slasher film and thought, “I could live through that,” Until Dawn lets you put your theory to the test. This PS4-exclusive adventure game lets you take control of eight obnoxious-but-endearing teenagers as they attempt to survive a weekend at a remote cabin. You know the drill: There’s a tragic backstory, a psychotic killer stalking them and their own petty high school drama to spice things up. The gameplay is simple, but Until Dawn lets you make tons of important decisions that can radically affect who lives and who dies.
The Walking Dead: Season One
If you’ve read The Walking Dead comic book series, then you know it’s about much more than a zombie apocalypse. It’s also about how humans build communities, and what makes those communities either thrive or collapse. The Walking Dead: Season One, from defunct adventure game maker Telltale, lets you play out your own adventure in that intriguing world. As disgraced history professor Lee Everett, you’ll have to recruit a small band of survivors and help them work together. Finding shelter, distributing food and fighting off zombies are all big parts of the story — as is forging a relationship with Clementine, a little girl who could represent a brighter future.