Gamers knew going into 2017 that it would be a big year for the horror genre, and they were not disappointed. 2017 brought with it long-awaited releases in established horror franchises, plus it introduced fans of the genre to some chilling new IP. There was no shortage of new horror gaming experiences in 2017 as well, but with all the new titles released, some fans may have found it difficult to keep track of the horror games most worth their time.
2017 also saw a number of horror game duds, with the recently released Hello Neighbor standing out as the year's biggest disappointment for fans of the genre. There was a great deal of pre-release hype for the unique home invasion horror game, but Hello Neighbor's many technical shortcomings and poor gameplay design has resulted in it becoming one of the worst-reviewed games of the year.
For horror game fans looking to avoid the weak entries in the genre and just play the best stuff, we have put together our list of the five best horror games of 2017.
Darkwood has been available through early access for a number of years, but it finally enjoyed its full release in 2017. And as far as horror games go, Darkwood is one of the more unique games the genre has ever seen.
The game is set in a semi-open world that players explore in a top-down perspective, coming across a number of strange characters along the way. Interacting with these NPCs is a key element to the Darkwood experience, as is its chilling sound design, which uses foreboding music to craft an unnerving horror atmosphere.
4 Little Nightmares
When it comes to atmosphere, few horror games released in 2017 can hold a candle to Little Nightmares. While its puzzle-platforming gameplay didn't exactly take the world by storm, many critics and fans have praised the game for its disturbing themes and creepy character designs. Despite its spooky imagery, Little Nightmares also manages to be quite charming at times, as we pointed out in our Little Nightmares review.
2016's Layers of Fear was an effective horror game, but it also had plenty of flaws that kept it from reaching its full potential. Developer Bloober Team went back to the drawing board for its next game and has solidified itself as a studio to watch with Observer.
Observer blends the cyberpunk and horror genres together, creating an oppressive futuristic world that is reminiscent of Blade Runner and George Orwell's 1984. Observer effectively uses psychological horror to chill players to the bone, and delivers a compelling plot that will stick with them long after the credits roll. And with no shortage of shocking and disturbing imagery, Observer easily stands out as one of 2017's finest horror games.
2 Resident Evil 7
It's impossible to discuss horror games in 2017 without bringing up Capcom's Resident Evil 7. Releasing at the very beginning of the year, Resident Evil 7 successfully returned the franchise to its horror roots and delivered one of the best survival-horror games ever made in the process. Resident Evil 7 also deserves recognition for being one of the few virtual reality titles on the market that provides a full-fledged triple-A gaming experience.
1 The Evil Within 2
The Evil Within was a decent survival-horror game that attempted to replicate Resident Evil 4's style of gameplay, which it did to some degree of success. The Evil Within 2, meanwhile, completely outdoes its predecessor, providing a more coherent story and allowing players to explore a semi-open world full of deadly monsters. If a third game is made, here's hoping it builds on The Evil Within 2's improvements and delivers an even better survival-horror experience for fans of the franchise.
Besides the five great horror games listed here, 2017 delivered some other noteworthy horror experiences as well. Perhaps the most notable game we considered for the list but ended up leaving out is Outlast 2. The sequel to the hit 2013 survival-horror game Outlast, Outlast 2 was still one of the better horror games of the year, but a boring and unimaginative first half meant that it wasn't quite as well-rounded as the games we ultimately chose for the list. Even so, Outlast 2 is still worth checking out for fans of the horror genre.
It's a testament to how great 2017 was for the horror genre that a game like Outlast 2 didn't make the Top 5. However, 2018 looks like it could be even better for horror gaming fans, with Days Gone, Overkill's The Walking Dead, We Happy Few, and more on the way to fright and delight players. It remains to be seen if 2018 will indeed top 2017's offerings, but it's clear that horror fans have a lot to be excited about.