When it comes to horror, no form of media really scares as well as video games. The interactive aspect of the genre means that players have to face their fear head-on, jump scares feel real, and the person in control can be immersed in the terrifying world developers create.
These titles flip the script of the usual "power fantasy" video games give players, instead making the protagonist feel vulnerable and exposed. If done right, they frighten even the most grizzled veterans, creating unforgettable memories that can keep gamers up all night. Some do this better than others, so we want to highlight the best of the best — here are The 10 Scariest Horror Games of the Last Decade.
10 Slender: The Eight Pages
Developer: Parsec Productions
Publisher: Parsec Productions
On the surface, Slender: The Eight Pages shouldn't be scary. It's free to play indie title with a low graphical output based on a creepypasta that reached meme status in the early 2010s. In this game, players take control of an unnamed person who finds themselves in the middle of a forest late at night. With only a flashlight, they must traverse the wooded area and find eight pages in the area, all while Slenderman follows them.
There's a feeling of dread the longer you play, and the suspense when you know Slenderman is around is effective. This is a simple game that's executed in a fantastic way, and the price tag makes it even better.
9 Dead Space 2
Developer: Visceral Games
The Dead Space franchise seems to be tainted these days, mostly because of the action-centric focus of the third game, but before that, EA had a legitimately frightening space-horror title that felt fresh during the last generation. In this title, players take control of Isaac Clarke —a former ship engineer turned alien killer in the first game — as he takes on another Necromorph outbreak on a ship orbiting the Saturn moon, Titan.
Building off the original title, Dead Space 2 explores the psychological trauma Clarke endured during the events of the first game and creates something that's truly suspenseful, and scary while dashing in enough action to keep players from turning their console off completely.
8 Resident Evil 2 Remake
In this title, players step in the shoes of officer Leon S. Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield, dring a zombie outbreak in Raccoon City. The real treat of this game is the two storylines players can choose from. Both Leon and Claire have different subplots and even items — which was a major selling point in 1998.
Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels
In many ways, Outlast solidified how to make a good horror game. Releasing in a time when horror titles were creeping more and more into the action-era, Outlast stripped all forms of self-defense, making players feel vulnerable and hopeless. Instead of fighting back against hoards of enemies, players are forced to rely on stealth, hiding, and keeping away from light to survive as they navigate what appeared to be an abandoned psychiatric hospital.
For an indie title, Outlast feels straight out of the AAA scene with a high level of polish and tight controls. That's probably because the team behind the game, Red Barrels, is made up of industry veterans who worked on Prince of Persia, Uncharted, and even Assassin's Creed.
6 Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Developer: Frictional Games
Publisher: Frictional Games
When a young man awakes in a castle with no memory of who he is or how he got there, he must traverse the hallways all while confronting his past. This game is all about immersion, and with that, the game messes with the player's ability to determine what is real, and what is an illusion. This creates an uncomfortable feeling for gamers who step into this world, but that's only exemplified with the helplessness of the protagonist. This isn't a game where players can fight back.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a hard game to describe, as it's made to mess with the player. But it's done in such an effective way, that even after you turn it off, the game sticks with you.
5 Layers Of Fear
Developer: Bloober Team
Layers of Fear doesn't put players in many fight-or-flight situations like many games on this list, instead, it consistently puts the players in uncomfortable situations as they learn more about the psychologically disturbed, alcoholic painter they play as.
This game relies heavily on jump scares, but the puzzle-solving aspects of the game are top-notch. However, the story is what's really worth exploring, as our protagonist isn't really all that good of a person.
4 Until Dawn
Developer: Supermassive Game
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Fans of slasher movies like Friday The 13th will adore Until Dawn. As a group of teenagers go to a cottage in memory of their lost friends, things go sideways. Not just because of the serial killer stalking them and picking them off one by one, but because the decisions players make can create conflict amongst the friends, and it could cost lives.
This PlayStation 4 exclusive is a masterclass in storytelling and character development, and any self-respecting fan of the genre should check this out ASAP.
Developer: Kojima Productions
You can't actually download P.T. anymore, but that just makes the Playable Teaser for a now-canceled Silent Hill game that much more fantastic. Overall, there's not much to it. An unknown character (later revealed to be Norman Reedus) wakes up in a dark room. When he opens the door to leave, he realizes he's inside a house. Throughout this experience, players circle through the house, with new experiences occurring around every corner.
It's a shame a rift between Hideo Kojima and Konami resulted in this title getting canned because, for a teaser or trailer, P.T is quality.
2 Alien: Isolation
Developer: Creative Assembly, Feral Interactive
Alien: Isolation is the perfect example of how to make a high-quality horror game based on an existing franchise. In this game, players take control of Amanda Ripley as she searches for her missing mother, who just so happens to be the legendary Ellen Ripley from the films. This leads her to an abandoned ship colony, with only a handful of humans left alive, and one Alien.
What makes this game so powerful is the feeling that you're never safe. Amanda is completely vulnerable, and while you can scare the monster away, it will always come back. This creates an atmosphere that's stressful, scary, and unnerving.
1 Resident Evil 7 VR
Resident Evil 7 VR is a masterclass in horror. Placing players in the shoes of Ethan Winters, whose wife has gone missing. This leads him to a rundown plantation that's home to a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-like family of cannibals. Completely ditching the franchises old lore, Resident Evil 7 is more intimate and horror-like as players don't fight off waves of zombies, rather real people.
Whoever decided to put this game in VR is equal parts genius and horrible. It's such a perfect fit — the game is in first person, after all — but the level of immersion that VR brings is almost overwhelming. But that's a good thing.