Warning: Some of the video games listed below are not suitable for younger viewers. Please use caution and check each game’s ESRB ratings before allowing children to play them, especially those rated M for Mature. M-rated video games may contain content that is inappropriate for children and/or unlabeled content that exposes younger viewers to explicit messages and themes.
The horror genre is one of the more enduring for both new and experienced gamers alike. Some of the games on our best horror PC games list, for instance, have been out for several years already. But they continue to have high rates of playability and garner stellar reviews.
While this list is certainly not all-inclusive, here are some of the best horror games to play on the PC in 2018.
1. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard by Capcom
The first game on our list, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
, is a perfect example of enduring playability and popularity. The original of this series, created in 1996 for the first PlayStation, arguably invented the very genre of survival horror games.
Now, 20-plus years later and after several different sequels, Resident Evil 7 is back as the first-ever first-person perspective game in the series, redefining how you play and experience the game’s horror. The story melds the idea of the Resident Evil series zombie virus with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre type family of demented and infected killers.
You play as protagonist Ethan Winters, whose wife Mia went missing three years ago without a trace, and is thus presumed dead. Ethan quickly finds out that Mia, who he’s tracked to a rundown plantation deep in Louisiana, is changed and now part of the lovely Baker family.
To try to save her and yourself, you’ll not only need to fight and avoid the truly frightening family members, but you’ll also need to solve some intriguing puzzles along the way in Resident Evil 7
2. Outlast 2 by Red Barrels
Do you enjoy the idea of not being able to fight your way through a game while being scared out of your wits? Then Outlast 2
is for you. Beware, though, that you will
need to run and hide. A lot.
While it’s ostensibly the sequel to 2013’s version, this first-person survival psychological horror game takes place in the Arizona desert, specifically in the remote yet beautiful Supai region located within the Grand Canyon. In Outlast 2, you get tangential glimpses of that beauty but only at the height of its pitch-black darkness and through the lens of a camcorder’s greenish-glowing night vision.
You play as investigative journalist Blake Langermann who, along with fellow journalist and wife Lynn, arrives via helicopter to discover the truth behind the murder of a pregnant woman known only as Jane Doe. The Outlast 2 gameplay begins once the helicopter crashes and you must find Lynn, all while hiding from creepy, end-of-days cult villagers.
In Outlast 2
, you’ll see religious artifacts while also experiencing Blake’s disturbing hallucinations set in his childhood Catholic elementary school. The visuals throughout Outlast 2
are absolutely stunningly, yet terrifyingly, rendered.
3. Alien Isolation by Creative Assembly
For fans of the 1979 Ridley Scott classic sci-fi horror film Alien
, this game will feel very familiar. In trying to recreate the atmosphere of the film, the developers of Alien Isolation
seem like they were going for a loving tribute.
Designers added some nostalgic details such as that iconic, vision-obscuring fog and DOS-based computers “of the future.” The movie’s original cast also reprised their roles, providing voice overs for Alien Isolation, and making it the first time since the film’s release that they all worked together.
In this first-person, mixed-action and adventure horror game, you take on the role of Ripley’s daughter who is searching for her lost mother, 15 years after the events of and closely following the story of the original film (although maybe less smoothly).
And just like in the film, Alien Isolation
affords plenty of opportunities for encounters with the alien itself, also known as the xenomorph. If you’re a fan not only of the film but also of science fiction and outer space in general, then Alien Isolation
will be right up your alley.
4. Soma by Frictional Games
While Alien Isolation
takes place in space, first-person survival sci-fi horror game Soma
is set at the bottom of the ocean, specifically in a run-down, abandoned underwater research facility named PATHOS-II.
Soma explores the themes of consciousness and mind/body relationships. The game's atmosphere was inspired in part by the work of Philip K. Dick, the sci-fi writer whose novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was the source for the film Blade Runner.
As you explore both outside and inside the labyrinth-like stations in Soma, you encounter and talk with malfunctioning robots who speak to you as if they’re people. Some of them help you learn about where to go (and what happened to them) while others are seemingly in distress.
In Soma, you end up quickly figuring out that in order to progress further and into certain areas, you’ll need to make choices that affect the very lives (or consciousness) of the robots.
The gameplay and storytelling in Soma are psychologically thrilling as well as disconcerting. And the visuals - complete with leaking pipes, flickering lights, organic machinery, and oozing black sludge - are genuinely interesting.
5. Amnesia: The Dark Descent by Frictional Games
Amnesia: The Dark Descent, another game from developer Frictional Games, was released a few years before Soma. Like Soma, it’s a first-person survival and adventure horror game without combat.
Readers of horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft will recognize his influence in the story and plot of Amnesia: The Dark Descent
, which explores the idea of sanity through the character of Daniel who tries to stay sane while traversing a dark and foreboding (natch) castle.
Your character of Daniel is a young Londoner who, in 1839, awakens sans memory on the floor of the scarily empty, yet most definitely not quiet, Brennenburg Castle. As Daniel, you soon discover that you wrote a note to yourself in the past telling you that you’ve purposely erased your own memory and need to find and kill Alexander, the castle’s baron.
Traveling through the seemingly endless expanse of rooms in Amnesia: The Dark Descent,
you’ll find that while the darkness provides safety and cover from monsters and other terrifying “shadows” hunting you, it nonetheless degrades your sanity levels. Choose wisely between the light and darkness.
6. The Evil Within by Tango Gameworks
Dubbed by some as an “old school” horror game, The Evil Within
is a third-person survival game that was actually directed by the creator of the Resident Evil
series (see above).
Unlike several of the games mentioned previously, you’ll need to engage in combat in The Evil Within, battling nasties while also knowing when to run, hide, and scavenge supplies.
The game’s protagonist is the awesomely named Detective Sebastian Castellanos, who is sent to investigate a gruesome multiple homicide at the anachronistically named Beacon Mental Hospital. Quickly separated from his two partners, Sebastian must run from a hideous, chainsaw-wielding maniac called “The Sadist.”
In The Evil Within
, Sebastian encounters an assortment of frightening creatures and enemies known as “The Haunted,” which he can destroy using a variety of weapons. The actions that you select for Sebastian in The Evil Within
will dictate which locations and scenarios that he transports to next - giving you some measure of control over gameplay.
7. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth by Headfirst Productions
Released more than 12 years ago, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
is nonetheless a perennial favorite. This first-person survival game is based on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos from the eponymous short story and from his novella The Shadow over Innsmouth
In Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, you’ll find interesting characters, a cool and creepy atmosphere, and an imaginative story even if the acting may be a bit wooden in places.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners opens in 1915, when police detective Jack Walters is called to a siege at a rundown mansion in Boston. While investigating, Walters finds himself trapped inside the house. After inadvertently activating an alien portal, he passes out and wakes up next in Arkham Asylum, where he’s been committed for insanity. More than six years later, Walters is released without a recollection of his time there.
The gameplay in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners
picks up there, where playing as Walters you must find a missing person in the town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts. During your investigations, you experience terrible visions from your past as an amnesiac, while solving puzzles and having to fight off a variety of present-day enemies who include “Deep Ones” and creepy cultists.
8. Little Nightmares by Tarsier Studios
If you’re looking for something completely different than any of the above, then Tarsier Studios' Little Nightmares
might be for you. A puzzle-platform horror adventure game, Little Nightmares
is the only game on our list that features a young girl as the tenacious protagonist.
This raincoat-wearing, tiny hero named Six is trapped in a mysterious ship called, not unironically, the Maw, which caters to the whims of grotesque, powerful, and much larger creatures (adults).
In Little Nightmares, Six must play the ultimate game of hide and seek to outsmart, evade, and eventually escape from the cartoony, yet ugly and sinister, adults. She cannot fight them as there’s no combat mode, but she knows where they are at all times so she can run past them.
The environment within Little Nightmares
resembles a surreal dollhouse-type environment reflecting a child’s view of a scary adult world. While the game touches on disturbing and nightmarish themes of children in danger from evil adults, Little Nightmares
also empowers the protagonist to defeat them and emerge victorious.
9. Faith by Airdorf Games
Feeling nostalgic for the 1980s, Atari, and pixelation? Then Faith
is here to answer your prayers. This low-resolution pixel indie, occult horror game is surprisingly disturbing and scary given the lack of complex visuals.
The story, direction, and sound in Faith help create the tension. Not only is it easily accessible at only a few hours of playtime, but it’s also available for free download.
Faith tells the story of a priest named John Ward who, one year later, returns to the Connecticut home of the Martin family whose daughter Amy’s exorcism in 1986 went awry. One of only two survivors from the original exorcism, the priest travels through the woods while searching for the Martin home, using a crucifix as his sole weapon.
You’ll need it to dispel the scampering Chupacabra: the primary enemy in the forest. He’s kind of cute from a distance but terrifying up close. In Faith
, your gameplay is divided between the woods and the house.
10. We Happy Few by Compulsion Games
Truth is indeed stranger than fiction, and part of what makes We Happy Few
a scary game is that its imagined dystopian setting isn’t quite so difficult to imagine today. We Happy Few,
so named for Shakespeare’s Henry V
rousing St. Crispin’s Day speech,
is a first-person action, adventure, and survival game set in a 1960s retro-futuristic, psychedelic, and fictional city named Wellington Wells in an alternative England.
We Happy Few imagines a darker world in which the counterculture didn’t play out quite the way it did in real life. Its residents are delusionally happy people, distracting themselves with Joy, the drug of choice. Players must survive while society crumbles around them, and that society most definitely seems dystopian.
In fact, one of the main characters, Arthur, has the same job as Winston Smith from Orwell’s 1984, and there are distinct Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange feels to the stunning visuals and gameplay.
A prevalent theme in We Happy Few is that everyone lies and those who don’t will stick out like sore thumbs: something that won’t help you survive in Wellington Wells.
Enhancing your gaming experience
To immerse yourself fully in the world of horror, you may want to invest in a gaming headset
. A good headset will help you hear in-game sounds such as a creature’s creepy footsteps, or an enemy’s heavy breathing, or the sound of gunfire, more easily. In fact, it may mean the very difference between your in-game survival or demise.
Check out HP®’s variety of gaming PCs
and gaming accessories
. These are ready to help you tackle the most demanding requirements for the best horror games on the PC, including the best free horror games on Steam
- the popular platform that lets you download and install thousands of games and demos, watch videos, and much more.
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.
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