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Best horror games: the scariest games to play right now

Best horror games: Amanda Ripley from Alien Isolation on a blue background
(Image credit: Future/Sega)

Looking for the best horror games? Then you’re in the right place. From jump-scare-filled first-person adventures to story-focused games and action-packed survival titles, there's heaps of variety with the genre, and we’ve rounded up its best offerings right here.

Horror games are maybe not as popular as they were in the mid-2000s, when indie developers created hits like Five Nights at Freddy’s and Slenderman, but these and other games from that time period still hold up well. Longstanding series such as Resident Evil and Dead Space remain popular, with some of these games even receiving modern makeovers to entice new and old fans alike. 

If you generally enjoy any tale of the unknown, of monsters beyond our imagining, video games are a great medium to let you experience it in ways no other medium can. Horror is neither just zombies and ghosts, nor is it teenagers shouting “hello?” into the darkness, but we have games offering this and much more on this very list. Let’s get scary and look at some of the best modern horror games available right now.

Best horror games

House of Ashes character holding up a torch in a cave, throwing light onto a statue

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes

Into the depths

Reasons to buy

+
Characters feel fleshed out
+
Multiple choices add tension
+
Impressive visuals

Reasons to avoid

-
Some technical issues

Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC

House of Ashes is the latest entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology from Supermassive Games. Like Until Dawn and Man of Medan, House of Ashes is a choice-based survival horror that sees you trying to keep the main characters alive (which isn't as easy as it sounds).

The game centers around Special Forces in the Iraq War who stumble across a buried Sumerian temple that houses some unsavory, vampire-like creatures. While it's perhaps less frightening than Until Dawn and Man of Medan - though the creatures themselves are extremely unsettling - its characters look better and feel more fleshed out than in Supermassive's other titles. You may have to forgive some technical issues, however.

The Medium protagonist Marianne exploring a a room and the same scene in a parallel dimension

The Medium (Image credit: Bloober Team)
It all starts with a dead girl

Reasons to buy

+
Doesn’t rely on jumpscares
+
Score elevates atmosphere
+
Terrifying and unique adversary
+
Gripping story with plenty of twists

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be hard to keep track of story
-
Loses pacing near the end
-
May be too linear for some

Platforms: Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PS5 and PC – it’s also on Xbox Game Pass

Some people can’t deal with jump scares, but they do enjoy the slow, creeping dread of psychological horror – this is where The Medium is right at home.

You play as, you’ve guessed it,  a medium called Marianne who lives between the ‘real’ world and the spirit world. As Marianne you travel to an abandoned hotel, looking to find the answers behind visions of a dead girl. What follows is a story with plenty of twists and unsettling characters, bolstered by an atmospheric score that work together to form a classic and clever horror game.

The Medium is not a long game, clocking up around 11 hours of play, but this game packs a lot of good stuff – its performances are solid, and the gameplay mechanic of switching worlds makes for an interesting gameplay experience and has earned it its place on our best Xbox Series X games list.

In our The Medium review we gave the game a solid four and a half stars, calling it “smarter than your average horror game” for the way it “does a brilliant job of slowly building an atmosphere that has you on edge throughout". 

Two Until Dawn characters restrained to a post by the hands

Until Dawn (Image credit: Supermassive Games)

Until Dawn

A teen slasher

Reasons to buy

+
Multiple choices add tension
+
A teen slash movie come to life
+
Excellent 90s aethestic 

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite short
-
Keeping everyone alive is challenging

Platforms: PS4

We've all watched a teen slasher movie at some point (it's hard to escape them) but it's a genre that's surprisingly uncommon in the gaming world. Probably because it'd be so hard to get it right.

Fortunately, Supermassive Games' Until Dawn is a game that succeeds in combining slasher movie tropes with the video game format.

This PS4 exclusive game follows a group of teenagers going on a trip to a remote cabin in the mountains where, shockingly, there's a frightening presence interested in picking them off one by one. This is one of the best horror games because if you’ve ever watched a film like Scream, you know this kind of setting, and it’s exciting to play through it yourself.

It's up to you to make decisions for the characters in the game which means whether or not they live or die is entirely down to you. Make the wrong decision and your favorite could meet a very grizzly end. Until Dawn is a great horror game because, although it'll genuinely scare you, you get a sense it's having a lot of fun doing it.

Large hands creeping up from under a bed in Little Nightmares

Little Nightmares (Image credit: Tarsier Studios)

Little Nightmares

Escape The Maw

Reasons to buy

+
Unique art style 
+
Terrifying world and characters
+
Clever puzzles

Reasons to avoid

-
Platforming is often clunky

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia and PS4

Little Nightmares is a great example of a game that manages to inspire fear and disgust without using traditional blood and gore.

The game puts you in control of a young girl called Six and has you navigate a frightening world that's far too big for her, populated by a wide array of giant and grotesque creatures.

You don't have to fight these creatures, you just have to sneak around world and hide to get past them in what is absolutely a platforming puzzle game. 

But Little Nightmares is a great horror game in that it perfectly creates a feeling of helplessness while making it clear that you're capable of escaping. It takes familiar and domestic areas of the home that should be comforting and turns them on their head by making them repulsive and unsafe. If you like this one, make sure to check out the sequel below.

Little Nightmares 2 protagonist Mono trying to sneak past a creature

Little Nightmares 2 (Image credit: Bandai Namco)
Little Big Panic

Reasons to buy

+
A stunningly-realized, terrifying world
+
Clever puzzle design
+
Each new locale is more harrowing than the last

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of precision hurts platforming
-
Clunky combat
-
May be too grimdark for some

Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Google Stadia and PC

Joining Little Nightmares on our list of the best horror games, the sequel Little Nightmares 2 is another unique and atmospheric game which actually improves on many aspects of the original. 

In Little Nightmares 2 you play as a little boy named Mono, who joins forces with Six, the protagonist of the original game, to survive the terrifying Pale City. Like the original, this is a puzzle platformer that inspires fear and gets your heart racing in new and creative ways and its disturbing visuals and creepy atmosphere are likely to stay with you long after you put the controller down.

In our review we gave Little Nightmares 2 four and a half stars, calling it a “dingy delight” that finally delivers on the “petrifying potential” of the original.

The Evil Within 2 character looking towards a large eye in the sky floating above a building

The Evil Within 2 (Image credit: Tango Gameworks)

The Evil Within 2

A great horror game evolved

Reasons to buy

+
Unsettling adversaries 
+
Solid storytelling
+
Explore at your own pace 

Reasons to avoid

-
Newcomers may be lost with the story

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One and PC

The Evil Within series comes from the mind behind Resident Evil, Shinji Mikami  –  and if that doesn't give you reason enough to pick it up, we're not sure what will. This is a third-person survival horror that'll pull you into a nightmarish world populated by grotesque and frightening enemies. 

A sequel, The Evil Within 2, screamed onto shelves in 2017 in time for Halloween, with lead Sebastian Castanellos once again taking on dark powers beyond his understanding in the warped reality of STEM.

In some ways, it's regular horror fare: a seemingly idyllic town, dark supernatural forces, and a lost little girl to up the ante. But the way it blends classic horror stalking with more modern action elements – with a real sense of powerlessness to fuel the ongoing terror – makes this a must-play for fans of the genre.

View of the serial killer in Dead by Daylight from behind

Dead by Daylight (Image credit: Behaviour Interactive)

Dead by Daylight

Tap into your killer instinct

Reasons to buy

+
Straightforward premise
+
Good variety of characters
+
Licensed killers available to buy

Reasons to avoid

-
Can become repetitive
-
Buggy at times

Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC and Stadia (Android and iOS too but the experience isn't the same)

Dead By Daylight stands out in this list by being a horror multiplayer experience: one where a single player takes on the role of a savage serial killer while four others flee for their lives.

It's a thrilling twist on usual PvP combat, with a host of original characters each with their own advantages in play as either a Survivor or Killer. There are plenty of tricks and strategies to execute in each map, with a character progression system that should keep you coming back.

For the horror junkies out there, you can also unlock or download characters from Saw, A Nightmare on Elm Street, or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Not only is Dead by Daylight one of our favorite horror games, but it's also one of the best crossplay games right now too.

A group of young people sitting on a sail boat

Man of Medan (Image credit: Supermassive Games)

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan

All aboard

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive visuals
+
Multiple choices add tension
+
Creepy setting 
+
Good jumpscares

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite short
-
Story has some major flawed

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One and PC

Another one from Supermassive Games, the developer behind Until Dawn, and the first in its Dark Anthology series. Man of Medan is a choice-based horror drama that follows a group of young adults who undergo an underwater diving expedition in the South Pacific Ocean. But things take a turn and the group ends up on a ghost ship where their nightmares come to life - but things aren't quite as simple as that.

In Man of Medan, your choices impact who lives and who dies. You can save everyone but you can also get everyone killed. What we love most about Man of Medan is that Supermassive Games leaned into the success of Until Dawn streams, introducing a Shared Story and Movie Night mode which allows players to take part in the interactive horror with friends.

A person combusting into red light in The Persistence

The Persistence (Image credit: Firesprite)

The Persistence

One of the best VR horror games

Reasons to buy

+
An innovative take on VR
+
Immersive sound design
+
Unsettling environment

Reasons to avoid

-
VR roots obvious when playing flat screen 

Platforms: PS4 (PSVR), PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Switch and PC (also with VR support)

Few mediums are as perfectly suited to horror as VR. The full-body immersion and restrictive viewing angles mean you're never quite sure what's around you, and make jump scares or surreal monsters all that more affecting.

The Persistence is a smart VR horror rogue-like set in a monster-ridden spaceship. Your vessel has been pulled into the orbit of a black hole, and its interference is constantly jumbling up the layout of the ship, using procedurally generated levels to ensure you never know what's going to be around each corner.

To top it all off, every time you die you're transferred into a new clone of yourself – which would be handy if the other clones weren't turning into massive misshapen monsters looking to murder you. An innovative take on VR gaming that isn't afraid to, you know, make you afraid. Though, it's worth noting, you can play The Persistance without VR 

Make sure to check out our roundup of the best horror VR games so more virtual reality scares. 

Dead Space's Isaac pointing his cutter weapon at a monster

Dead Space (Image credit: Visceral Games)

The Dead Space series

No one can hear you scream in space

Reasons to buy

+
Compelling story
+
Good pacing
+
Believable visuals

Reasons to avoid

-
Dead Space 3 isn't as good as the first two

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3 and PC – also on Xbox Game Pass

Dead Space, published by EA and developed by Visceral Games, is among the contemporary classic horror games. The story, first set on an abandoned space vessel (duh), takes terrifying twists and turns – most of which involve zombified aliens waiting around said turns.

Following the formula established by Ridley Scott's classic 'Alien' certainly helped – besides, the first Alien game to pull it off didn't release for another few years.

All in all, Dead Space was one of the pioneering horror games of the modern era, inspiring a renaissance in the genre that hasn't yet died down. That comes down to some simple tenants: a compelling story, believable visuals and proper pacing. The games are a bit difficult to get to for anyone who doesn’t own a later generation console or Xbox Game Pass, but fear not – work on a Dead Space remake is underway.

And while we recommend the first game for the purest horror experience, you're bound to get a kick out of its two mainline sequels too.

Resident Evil 7: Two men approaching a house

Resident Evil 7 (Image credit: Capcom)

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Resident Evil gets its mojo back

Reasons to buy

+
Truly, viscerally scary
+
Haunted house setting is gleefully disgusting
+
Excellent voice acting
+
Great in VR too

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow movement

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia, Amazon Luna and PS4 (and PSVR)

Resident Evil 7 was a breath of fresh air for an increasingly stale series, bringing in a modern understanding of both horror movies and games while managing to retain that very distinct Resident Evil feel. 

Moving the perspective from third to first person also made the fear feel closer and more immediate, while leading the way to include a genuinely frightening VR experience to the game. 

With a great story and tight gameplay, Resident Evil 7 was the addition to the horror series we all wanted and feared we wouldn't get. The success of the game, along with the recent remakes of earlier titles in the series, is enough to make us think Capcom will be giving us scares for a good while yet.

Boy trying to avoid detection by two adults in a building

Inside (Image credit: Playdead)

Inside

You'll never forget what lurks inside Inside

Reasons to buy

+
Great platforming action
+
Unsettling, unique atmosphere
+
Brain-bending puzzles

Reasons to avoid

-
Short

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC, Xbox One, iOS and Mac

The minds behind Limbo gave us a game that wasn’t so much about horror, but more about unease. They had used the image of a small child in an unfamiliar and hostile place before in order to make our skin crawl, but Inside goes a step further.

This is a game that is as visually haunting as it is viscerally unpleasant, as tense as it is intriguing. Here, you have to solve puzzles and sneak your way past anything that could mean you harm, something this game has in common with the Little Nightmares series. If you like playing from a child’s perspective and enjoy the mystery of the unknown, this is a game for you.

First-person view of the player shooting at the Alien

Alien: Isolation (Image credit: Sega)

Alien: Isolation

Terrifying and unforgettable

Reasons to buy

+
Claustrophic environments 
+
Non-stop tension
+
Captures film's essence

Reasons to avoid

-
Alien AI can be annoying
-
Facial animations are a bit janky

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 and PC – also on Xbox Game Pass

Of the countless games to use this precious creative license over the years, developer Creative Assembly is the first to actually create a game that lives up to it. The game takes place 15 years following the events of the 1979 Ridley Scott film, putting players into the space boots of Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda Ripley.

Taking on a first-person perspective and squaring you off with a single xenomorph hunting you across a vast space station in darkness, Isolation nails what it felt like watching the film for the first time. The vibe makes it so deserving of the title of one of the best horror games, and Isolation feels as if you're playing through the movie.

Throw in the excruciatingly-clever artificial intelligence afforded to the alien, along with an absolutely gripping virtual reality experiment, and you have the trappings of a modern horror classic.

First person, night vision view of a man holding a machete

Outlast 2 (Image credit: Red Barrels)

Outlast series

Turning horror on its head

Reasons to buy

+
Gripping story
+
Sound design adds to tension
+
Unsettling environments

Reasons to avoid

-
Characters don't feel fully fleshed out

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC

Outlast and Outlast 2, developed by Red Barrels Studio, are now must-plays in the horror genre. Both games put players in control of investigative journalists but while the first is set in an asylum for the insane, the sequel takes place in the much more open location of a dilapidated rural part of Northern Arizona. 

What helps make the Outlast games, well, last is that they follow a cardinal rule of horror games: don't empower your players too much, otherwise it's no longer a horror game.

Offering a refreshing break from zombies and aliens, Outlast and its sequel are fine games to play if you want a longer – and arguably scarier – break from your average gun-toting jump scare-fest.

Left 4 Dead 2 character fighting off mutated zombie

Left 4 Dead 2 (Image credit: Valve)

Left 4 Dead 2

The best co-op horror game

Reasons to buy

+
Great replayability 
+
Plenty of modes
+
Lots of fun to play

Reasons to avoid

-
Feels a bit dated now 
-
Poor narrative and pacing

Platforms: Xbox 360 and PC

While Left 4 Dead came first, the sequel saw Valve nail the vision of its original creators, Turtle Rock Studios. Set in a world overrun by zombies, the game follows four characters in their mission to survive through several cooperative and competitive online modes, which – in conjunction with mods on PC – makes for a veritable ton of replayability.

Many game developers have tried to emulate the formula with games such as Back 4 Blood and World War Z.

The game was originally banned in Australia due to its graphic content: a de facto seal of approval, if you will. The ban has since been lifted, and so lovers of hardcore horror games are sure to rejoice in its gross, lengthy scenes of devastation and destruction worldwide.

A row of animatronic animals smiling at the viewer unpleasantly

Five Nights at Freddy's (Image credit: Scott Cawthon)

Five Nights at Freddy's

Fancy a slice?

Reasons to buy

+
A simple premise 
+
Terrifying jump scares
+
Unnerving atmosphere

Reasons to avoid

-
Short
-
Pretty challenging
-
You may never enter a pizza parlor again

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch iOS and Android – also on Xbox Game Pass

Five Nights at Freddy's is undoubtedly a different kind of horror game. With a premise that sees players “surviving” a night in a kid-themed pizza parlor, it's unlike almost anything else in the genre.

However, it's a surprisingly fun game to play, once you can get past the terrifying visage of an animatronic teddy bear guitarist coming to life in the dead of night. Generally, players combat these twisted, possessed figures with security cameras – what? Poltergeists don't like leaving evidence.

The game is the work of Scott Cawthon, an independent developer, who released it in 2014. Since then, there have been several more direct sequels and spinoff games made by the community. The Five Nights at Freddy’s fanbase is so large that this is one of the most popular horror franchises.

First person look at a dark room and a hand holding a ghost detecting device

SOMA (Image credit: Frictional Games)

SOMA

Scaring you into the future

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible audio design
+
Thought provoking
+
Brooding atmosphere

Reasons to avoid

-
Robots aren't hugely scary

Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One and Mac

SOMA, released in 2015 by Amnesia developer Frictional Games, is a thoughtful – and thought-provoking – game that could easily be considered an interactive film. Are you sensing a theme here at all?

The game contains neither zombies nor aliens, but instead a shift between 2015 and 2104, when humans have been wiped out by a comet and what's left of humanity must fight to survive underwater in an abandoned research facility gone rogue.

While SOMA may not be as outright scary as, say, Amnesia, it is still a fantastic game, thanks to its brooding atmosphere, surprisingly fresh subject matter (for horror games) and incredible audio design.

irst-person view at a hand holding a lantern, shining a light onto a figure in a dark room

Amnesia (Image credit: Frictional Games)

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

The pinnacle of horror

Reasons to buy

+
Makes you feel vulnerable
+
Clever puzzles
+
Terrifying monsters and sound effects

Reasons to avoid

-
Sanity meter and graphics are outdated

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Android, Xbox One, PC and Mac

Amnesia is one of the best survival horror series of all time, with the first game in the series, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, proving to be one of the most terrifying games we've ever played. 

Imagine, if you will, that you’re being chased by a monster and have no means of defending yourself. All you can do is run for your life, and at best, slam a few doors in its face to slow it down. Perhaps you can barricade yourself in if you’ve got the right tools, but essentially you know that if you’re caught, you’re dead. That’s the terrifying gist of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a game that also saps away at your player’s sanity if they’re exposed to darkness for too long. Good thing there’s plenty of light to shield you from the darkness, then. Oh wait… there isn’t.

Although Amnesia: The Dark Descent was first released for PC back in 2010, you can pick up the whole collection for current-gen consoles. The Amnesia Collection is made up of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, its Amnesia: Justine expansion and the sequel, A Machine for Pigs, but our favorite remains Dark Descent.

Claire Redfield fighting off a zombie with her hands

Resident Evil 2 remake (Image credit: Capcom)
A stone-cold classic cements its legacy

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning RE Engine Graphics
+
Masterful environment design
+
Heaps of replay value

Reasons to avoid

-
Voice acting falters at times
-
Trapped by original story

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC

Resident Evil 2 Remake is exactly what it says on the tin: it's a remake of the classic '90s horror Resident Evil 2. If you played the original, and didn't think it could get any better, then get ready to be proved wrong – one of the best horror games got even better. In fact, our full Resident Evil 2 Remake review called it a “stone-cold classic that just cemented its legacy”.

Resident Evil 2 Remake elevates the grandeur of the original game into a masterful modern survival horror experience. This wonderful remake is the epitome of mature modern horror, offering puzzles, zombies, heart-pumping action and a finely detailed environment that demands exploration.

And with a second playthrough available, offering a different character experience, it'll keep you terrified for hours.

Vic Hood
Vic Hood

Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.