Horror novels can make you feel immersed in a scary story. Horror movies can terrify you with disturbing visuals. But if you really want to feel primal fear, a good horror game is often the way to go. Just in time for Halloween, the Tom’s Guide staff has gathered some of the best horror games ever made in a single list. Whether you want to shoot some zombies, solve spooky puzzles or simply survive against all odds, get ready to turn down the lights, draw the curtains and hope against hope for the reassuring light of dawn once again.
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. -Marshall Honorof
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. - Marshall Honorof
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. - Marshall Honorof
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. - Marshall Honorof
Credit: Red Barrels Inc.
As humans, we often find ourselves most afraid of what we do not understand. P.T. exploited this concept with a completely baffling looping hallway. Not only is your character haunted at random by a hostile ghost, but frustration sets in as you’re stuck repeating the same walk through a corridor, like a twisted version of Groundhog Day. Can you trigger the random events necessary to proceed without turning to the Internet for help? Oh, and what’s up with that terrifying fetus in the sink? The scariest part, though? If you delete P.T. off your PlayStation 4, you’ll never get it back, as publisher Konami deleted it from the servers after parting ways with director Hideo Kojima. — Henry T. Casey
Credit: 7780s Studio
A seemingly endless horde of deadly abominations attacking you with perfect timing is terrifying, but you know what's really unnerving? The loss of humanity, which tears at almost every character in The Last Of us, no matter how pure they are. While its heroes, Joel and Ellie, spend the game looking for ways to avoid those contaminated by a deadly fungal strain, the game’s true evil comes from the drama of those still alive turning on each other as their chances for survival fade. — Henry T. Casey
You're walking through a forest in the dead of night, the way ahead illuminated only by a flashlight (with limited battery life). The sound of your footsteps is uncomfortably loud, and something might be moving in the dark, but you can't quite tell what it is. Your imagination fills in the blanks and creates a spectacularly terrifying unseen peril. That's the genius of Slender: The Eight Pages, which forgoes bloody gore and grisly splatter for eerie suspense, a growing sense of dread and a search for cryptic pages. The scrawled messages you find only heighten your feelings of unease about a strange, pale, faceless figure dressed in black. — Mindy Weisberger
Credit: Parsec Productions