Horror Games for PC
PC is one of the best platforms for horror games. Not only do you get a huge variety of games to choose from thanks to platforms like Steam and itch.io, but playing on PC is just the best way to experience horror. You’re up close to your monitor, your headphones are on, and the lights are off. It can’t get much better than that. If you’re looking for something to scare the pants off of you, here are the best horror games for PC.
It’s been over six years at this point, but few games have come close to delivering as many scares as Alien: Isolation does. If you’ve seen the first two Alien movies, Isolation will seem familiar, but it does such a great job at translating the tension of running from an alien that can hide in the vents to a video game. It’s a great throwback to a classic horror franchise, but it manages to be a great entry all on its own.
Resident Evil was stumbling there for a while but returned to its horror roots in Resident Evil 7. Taking place after the events of Resident Evil 6 (which you don’t actually have to play to enjoy this entry), you’re tasked with figuring out what happened at the Baker household. It’s filled with atmosphere, and while there are clear tie-ins to the franchise, it feels like the dawning of a new age for it all.
Any horror games fan will tell you to check out Amnesia: The Dark Descent. This 2010 title by Frictional Games tasks you with exploring a gothic manor filled with monsters, evil experiments, and mysticism you can’t even begin to understand. What makes this game stand out, though, is the lack of weapons and the darkness mechanic. As you sit in the dark, you grow more unstable, making the game even more horrifying as you play.
While there were a few smaller entries in the Amnesia series after The Dark Descent, including the experimental A Machine for Pigs, the true direct sequel is Amnesia: Rebirth, which came out in 2020. It raises the stakes on pretty much everything introduced in the first game; it has better graphics, a much larger world, and a huge, world-shattering story to sink your teeth into. It doesn’t have quite the same dark, grungy charm as The Dark Descent, but it’s more emotional and beautiful.
Frictional Games takes another spot on our list with SOMA, which almost like a futuristic, transhumanist take on The Dark Descent. You’re tasked with trying to escape an underwater science facility, but almost everybody is dead, and the machines seem to be alive. Along the way, you’ll uncover a secret that may either save or doom the future of humanity.
Putting Doki Doki Literature Club on our best horror games for PC list is technically already a spoiler, but the less you know going into this seemingly upbeat visual novel, the better. You join the titular Literature Club at school and have to form relationships with some of the members. Then, things take a turn.
Red Candle Games made something special with Detention, an atmospheric horror game set in 1960s Taiwan. To escape your mysteriously empty school, you must wander around solving puzzles and trying to avoid all the monsters that seem to lurk around every corner. Detention takes a point of view not often seen in games, and those not familiar with the history of Taiwan will learn a lot while being unnerved.
If you want more fun and gore in your horror, you might want to check out Carrion. This platformer makes you the monster, with you having to escape the lab that imprisoned you. Take out the scientists that experimented on you and grow your move set along the way.
Pathologic 2 is as masterful as it is confounding. In this open-world horror RPG, you must save your hometown from a plague, but whether people want your help is another story. Not only must you discover what happened, but you need to survive. Form a reputation, don’t starve, and don’t get too overwhelmed by all the bizarre imagery.
Oxenfree is a supernatural adventure game that is both creepy and tear-jerking. You play Alex, who is with friends at an island party, but it all goes horribly wrong. You must find your friends, repair relationships, and discover the truth under the surface of the island. You get a great horror experience, but also a beautiful story with amazing 1980s-inspired visuals.
If survival horror is more your style, why not go for what might be the ultimate survival horror experience on PC? In The Forest, your plane crashes on an island filled with cannibal mutants, and you have to survive. If you like starting from scratch — building, exploring, making weapons, eating — then this is a game to check out.
Bloober Team has become synonymous with horror these days thanks to Observer, Blair Witch, and the upcoming The Medium. It made a huge splash in this space with Layers of Fear in 2016. You play a painter who’s trying to create his magnum opus, but you’re stuck in a mansion and must find secrets from your past. It’s disturbing, creepy, and atmospheric — everything you could want in a horror game.
Playdead astounded everybody with Limbo, the dark platform puzzle title, but outdid itself with the follow-up, Inside. You play a child forced to wander through a dystopian landscape filled with mutated animals, monsters, and mysterious scientists. It doesn’t come together neatly in the end, but it presents one of the most disturbing finales of any game in recent memory.
Fans of horror movies and multiplayer games should check out Dead by Daylight. Each round in this 4v1 title puts you in the role of a survivor who must escape or the killer who has to try and stop them. It takes a lot of inspiration from horror movies, not including all the DLC packs that allow you to play as Pyramid Head, Leatherface, Michael Myers, and more.
It was tough to choose between Alan Wake and Control for this list, but we thought we’d go back to the beginning here. Alan Wake is Remedy’s 2010 horror-action title inspired by the works of Stephen King, The Twilight Zone, and House of Leaves. It may be a little janky these days, but it is worth playing due to some fun combat scenes, its cheesy tone, and how it sets up a surreal universe.
Phasmophobia came out of nowhere in 2020 and has since become one of Steam’s top-selling games. This early access game allows you to jump in teams of up to four players and investigate a haunted place with your ghost-hunting tools. Solve the mystery, exorcise the spirit, and leave unscathed — or die trying.
Play horror games the correct way
OK, you can truly play horror games however you want, but there are few better ways to do it than on a PC. Sure, there are a lot of great horror games on Xbox. Still, the best horror games for PC take advantage of everything the platform has to offer, including audio design that can lure you in (if you have one of the best PC gaming headsets) and great visuals. Having so many platforms on PC also means you have a large collection to choose from. Unfortunately, we had to keep our list limited, so feel free to explore Steam or itch.io for other titles.
However, if you’re looking to get started, you can’t do better than Alien: Isolation. The horror game from Creative Assembly takes everything that made the first Alien film work and translated it into video game form. You have to lurk around a spaceship while trying to avoid the deadly Xenomorph, which can hide in vents and in the walls. It builds so much tension, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat.
If you want something more subdued, I’d recommend SOMA. There are a bunch of Frictional Games titles on this list (hey, it’s made some incredible horror games), but SOMA is a creepy sci-fi title that tackles a lot of profound subjects. It also has a special mode that allows you to get through the story without worrying so much about the monsters, which is great for players who don’t like many scares.
Finally, if you want to play one of the most talked-about games from 2020, check out Phasmophobia. This indie multiplayer game is still in early access, but it’s a great way to get scared with friends. You join a ghost-hunting squad and have to get rid of the ghosts or die trying.
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This post was written by Carli Velocci and was first posted to WindowsCentral
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