Gaming is an incredibly diverse and popular pastime and gives players the chance to escape the pressures of reality and slip into a unique fantasy realm. Spooky gaming blends the motifs seen in horror and gore and gives us the chance to experience these themes for ourselves. But, since this genre is so diverse, it can be hard to select some scary games that best suit your needs. As such, this piece will delve into the spooky gaming niche and list a range of exciting games to try for yourself.
1. Condemned: Criminal Origins
This eerie first-person game allows us to embody the character of Ethan Thomas, an agent who works within the FBI’s computer forensics service. Throughout Condemned: Criminal Origins, you will come across a series of terrifying enemies including a violent killer named the Match Maker. Alongside its gorey themes, this game is teeming with twists and turns, leaving the player completely unaware of what is going to happen next. By implementing a selection of immersive graphics and AI-generated gameplay, you will be forced to face your fears and step into the horrifying world of a deranged serial killer. This game has also been celebrated throughout the industry, winning awards at GameSpot and IGN’s ceremonies back in 2005. It’s the perfect go-to game for a spooky gaming session!
: Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Steam.
First released in 2015, Soma takes place in a selection of underwater aquaculture farms named PATHOS-II, creating a sense of isolation, entrapment, and spooky gaming from the very beginning. The protagonist, Simon Jarrett mysteriously wakes up in this facility after a brain scan, leading him to discover that PATHOS-II is actually the last outpost of humanity. Using a wealth of complex puzzles, the player must work to unlock more information about this place and defeat the monsters that reside there. These creatures are undoubtedly terrifying, but the developers did create a Safe Mode that would stop these enemies from killing you in the game. By implementing a chilling sense of loneliness and confinement, players are constantly kept on edge as they resolve the secrets that this game has to offer.
: Linux, OS X, PS4, Windows, Xbox One.
3. Dead Space 2
The second installment in the Dead Space franchise follows on from the former and allows players to complete the game from the perspective of Issac Clarke. As you explore the depths of Titan Space Station, you will come face to face with the Necromorphs, a fearful monster that has been created from a wealth of reanimated corpses. These creatures are focused on murder and present features from a range of lifeforms such as dogs, humans, and aliens, giving them a deeply terrifying and crude look. Dead Space 2 is a great option for gore fans, particularly when Clarke uses an ophthalmologist machine to insert certain data into his brain. This scene is praised for its unflinching approach to pain and provides viewers with an uncensored look into the main character’s descent into insanity. Dead Space is home to a variety of video games, TV shows, films, and comics, offering players the chance to sink their teeth into this award-winning franchise of spooky gaming and spooky watching.
: Playstation 3, Windows, Xbox 360.
4. Resident Evil
Resident Evil has been a much-loved spooky game since 1996 and has grown into a powerhouse within its respective genre. This franchise introduces us to the Umbrella Corporation, a looming company that is determined to develop dangerous viruses to use as biochemical weapons. These viruses cause humans to turn into gruesome zombies, placing the remaining human race at great risk. In the first game, Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Albert Wesker use their expertise to seek out other survivors. But this story is not as simple as it seems, taking common zombie motifs and making them anew. For example, players can use a selection of wooden plantation shutters to block out the zombies and prolong their lives a little longer. With 10 main games and a wealth of spinoffs, this is a great option for hardcore gamers who love nothing more than following a tremendous and expansive plot. This series has also branched into the world of film and TV, using famous actors such as Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez to bring this compelling story to life.
: Playstation, Wii, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One.
Taking on the role of investigative journalist Miles Upshur, Outlast takes players on a chilling journey through Mount Massive Asylum, which obviously has tremendously low Assisted Living Ratings. This institution is littered with homicidal patients, meaning that players often have to keep a low profile in order to avoid being attacked by these enemies. Equipped with a night-vision camcorder, Upshur is unable to attack these patients, giving the entire game an uncomfortable air of vulnerability. Although the game contains a lot of conventional jump scares and audio cues, it also requires players to think outside the box, inspiring them to make notes about the patients they come across. The Outlast series has expanded exponentially, producing a range of prequels and sequels, giving the player a real feel for this horrifying physiatric hospital. It also hosts a comic book series, ensuring that players can have more insight into this fan-favorite game
: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linus OS X, Nintendo Switch.
P.T., otherwise known as Playable Teaser, is a first-person horror game that leads guests through a chillingly haunted home. The protagonist experiences a wealth of insufferable loops, forcing them to relive a series of violent deaths over and over again. As such, the player must solve a range of puzzles and riddles in order to move on to the next room in the house. Complete with bone-chilling noises, fake crash messages, and subtle Easter eggs, this is an ideal game for those who are eager to be tested and do not enjoy their plots being handed to them on a plate. Once you get to the end of this short game, you will be transported to the empty streets of Silent Hill, proving itself to be a playable teaser for the ground-breaking franchise. Filled with vast amounts of blood that not even the greatest area rug cleanings could fix, this is a detailed nod to this well-loved franchise and gives players the opportunity to experience its complexity in a short-form fashion. When P.T. was first released in 2014 on the PlayStation Store, it received a decent amount of praise. Yet, it was removed from the store after the series was canceled by executives, leading fans to re-create the game for themselves for a night of unique, spooky gaming.
: Playstation 4.
7. The Last of Us
The Last of Us has completely transformed the zombie trope, giving us a terrifying creature that has been completely overruled and ravaged by a vile fungus. Playing as Joel, the viewer must work alongside a teenage girl named Ellie to scavenge for food, weapons, and shelter in post-apocalyptic Texas. The most terrifying aspect of this game is its real-life implications with scientists now noting that wide-spread fungal infections are a possibility in our modern world, inspiring many of us to conduct more mold inspections at home. The Last of Us has also been praised for its more intimate aspects, including the strong bond between the two main characters as well as its breathtaking design of a war-torn fungal America. After the game was released in 2013, it received a ton of expansions, such as a sequel, a collection of tabletop games, and most notably, a TV adaptation. Zombies may be a common feature in spooky gaming, but The Last of Us seems to do something completely different, giving this common topic an entirely new lease of life.
: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation 5.
8. Alien: Isolation
Inspired by the 1979 film Alien, this game places players in the center of a maze-like space station. Set 15 years after the film, Alien: Isolation introduces us to Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen. Here, Amanda is determined to solve the disappearance of her mother but is taken by surprise when a familiar creature is seen to be roaming the corridors of Sevastopol. Just like her mother, Amanda Ripley is a deeply powerful protagonist, equipped with a plethora of high-powered weapons to help players defeat the threats that surround them. As you explore the hidden corners of this vast space station, you will fall in love with this main character, whilst also fearing the aliens that surround her. This game received a lot of praise, particularly for its emotional ending, spooky gaming environment, and clever use of AI tactics to increase the difficulty of the game. For example, the game also offers a Survivor Mode, where the player is asked to complete a series of intricate tasks under a strict time limit, whilst they also try the escape the alien. It is also incredibly dark and even requires players to fix a power generator in order to get a clear look at their surroundings. Thus, this is a fantastic option for lovers of the original film as well as avid spooking gaming lovers.
: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Linux, OS X, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS.
9. Dead Rising
Despite taking place in the somewhat charming Willamette Parkview Mall, Dead Rising takes the player through a tumultuous 72-hour period. During this time, the fictional city of Willamette becomes overrun by rabid zombies, and the main character, Frank West is forced to defend himself. As a freelance journalist, West was curious about the weird sightings that had recently occurred outside the mall but now relies on a series of obscure weapons to fight off his enemies. An interesting element of this game is its mission structure, with a new event occurring every hour. This not only gives the game a steady pace but also helps to immerse the player deeper into the plot of the game. The protagonist is also equipped with a traditional health bar, which can be restored by enjoying a meal at the mall’s local pizza restaurant, known as Seon’s Food & Stuff. But, be warned, a rotten or uncooked pizza can cause a decline in West’s health and lead him to be ineffective in defeating threats. Dead Rising is home to a range of sequels and spin-offs, exemplifying its proud stance in the horror game genre.
: iOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One.
F.E.A.R., also referred to as First Encounter Assault Recon is a psychological horror game that pushes players to their limits. This game follows F.E.A.R., a subsection of the US Army, who are tasked to keep out paranormal threats. However, when a psychic operative begins to experiment with cloning, one of F.E.A.R’s main team members, Point Man, begins to experience very vivid hallucinations. Thus, the player must showcase nerves of steel to get to the bottom of this creepy mystery. This game is heavily inspired by Japanese horror, allowing players to get up close and personal with an array of alarming villains including Scarecrow, Alma Wade, and Replica Assassin. A common element of this game is called Reflex Time and gives players the opportunity to slow down the surrounding scene, whilst still operating at real-time speed. Thus, the player can capture the world and get a better shot of the enemies that sit close by. Both the protagonist and the enemies can experience fire damage, which also adds to the thrill of the game. With a wealth of combat mechanics to play around with, this is a perfect game for those who are interested in military games but are still hungry for a supernatural twist in a spooky gaming session.
: Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Spooky gaming has seeped into the hearts and minds of its fans, leaving them reeling for more jump scares and thrills. If you are eager to learn more about this exciting genre, try out some of the games listed in this article and see if you are brave enough. If you don’t get too scared, you’ll have a great time!