Another horror game that’s not what you would call conventional, Fatal Frame II has become a cult classic and often agreed upon as the best in the franchise. A slightly more accessible game than its predecessor, it tasks you with taking photographs of ghosts, which should be enough to sell you all on its own.
While the passage of time has dulled the effectiveness of some of its scares, Fatal Frame II still constantly fosters a sense of unease and an almost unwillingness to look through the camera to see which nightmares await you next.
29. The Suffering
Developer: Surreal Software Publisher: Midway Games
Not quite so much an out-an-out horror with scares a minute, The Suffering favours action by tasking you with killing some of the most deformed and unforgettable creatures ever depicted in a video game. It’s been almost a decade and a half and the needle eye guys still creep into our nightmares.
You play as Torque: a criminal locked up in Abbot State Penitentiary when all manner of supernatural madness is unleashed. With a healthy supply of weaponry and Torque able to call upon his inner demons for a more powerful form, The Suffering is more of a body horror and one that still holds up well to this day.
28. The Thing
Developer: Computer Artworks Publisher: Black Label Games/Konami
The definition of a cult classic, The Thing is one of the most beloved movie adaptations for a reason: it picks up exactly where John Carpenter left off with you encountering the Things and all the paranoia that they bring among your squadmates.
The Thing should really be looked back on as a majorly innovative and pioneering horror game. Featuring multiple perspectives, utilising the fear of your squad to change the way they perform, and also your friends possibly being infected with the Thing, it’s a testing and stressful horror that we wouldn’t mind being remade.
27. Silent Hill 3
Developer: Team Silent/Konami Publisher: Konami
It was always going to be hard for Konami to follow Silent Hill 2 and the third entry in the series doesn’t take a huge amount of risks to deviate from what was previously so successful. It’s still completely malevolent and full of imagery that would likely make even the guys at Troma wince.
You play as Heather Mason, the daughter of the protagonist from the first game, as she becomes embroiled in the machinations of a cult. Silent Hill 3 leans into its aesthetic more than its prequels with a constant monochrome sheen to the game, giving it a gritty style that somehow makes it that bit more gruesome.
26. Resident Evil 4
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom
You may baulk at Resident Evil 4 being so low (or even this high, depending on how you feel about its change in direction) on our list. With it favouring action over the survival elements of the first three games, it’s more of a tense affair than the straightforward bed-wetting we’ve been accustomed to from the Resident Evil franchise, though they can put the Regeneradors back wherever they came from, thanks.
You play as Leon, who is sent on a mission to a village in Spain to recover the president’s daughter. It’s clearly not going to be easy as picking her up in a Ford Focus and driving off into the sunset — that becomes pretty clear when the first villager sprouts tentacles out of the neckhole you just created with your shotgun.
25. Until Dawn
Developer: Supermassive Games Publisher: SIE
A horror game so successful that Sony commissioned Supermassive to take on more projects than they could feasibly handle, Until Dawn takes the tried and tested formula of old slashers and gives it a shot of 21st century cynicism right in the arm. If you loved Scream, there’s a good chance you’ll also appreciate Until Dawn.
One of the most “hands-off” entries on this list, Until Dawn focuses on crafting a customisable narrative and making tough decisions more than it does gameplay. There’s still real tension to be had, though, even if you aren’t directly in control of everything. If one of the game’s many obnoxious characters dies, that’s it: they’re gone for good. With stakes like those as well as some gorgeous visuals, it’s no wonder that Until Dawn is one of the PS4’s best exclusives.
Developer: Acid Wizard Studio Publisher: Acid Wizard Studio
It takes something really special to make a top-down game feel terrifying, especially when you can’t see all the little details of the things that go bump in the night. Thanks to a hauntingly muted aesthetic and some truly twisted design, Darkwood manages to create more scares than other games with many more times the budget.
A survival game with an open approach to how you play, Darkwood features a suitably dark and mysterious storyline that twists depending on how you approach other survivors. At day, you must scavenge all you can before the night comes, which, well, is not for the faint of heart. Thanks to some deeply unnerving audio and a mostly “show don’t tell” ethos, Darkwood is a lo-fi horror that’s high on giving you a heart attack.
A little girl in a yellow jacket aboard a ship full of warped passengers. That’s the long and short of it with Little Nightmares, and while the experience itself is a short one, it’s a journey that you won’t be able to shake for far longer.
Mechanically a puzzle platformer, Little Nightmares pits you as Six as she seeks to evade the clutches of barely human creatures, whose designs are memorable enough to keep pushing you on to see what’s next. Aardman meets Tim Burton as aberrations chase you down, you feeling utterly helpless to defend yourself before the true nature of the ship is revealed in grotesque fashion.
“It’s utterly distinctive, gripping, and darker than it lets on, but it’s over much too soon, whether that’s a fault of the pacing or myself just becoming too immersed in the squalor. Even if it is going to grab you by the throat for just a few hours, Little Nightmares is one game you won’t want to shake free from.”
Developer: Playdead Publisher: Playdead
Speaking of defenceless children, Playdead have certainly carved out a niche for themselves with INSIDE and the earlier LIMBO. While Limbo itself is a tense and challenging affair, INSIDE’s fuller world and more robust visuals bring its horrors to life. It’s not a jumpscare factory, rather that the game has a pervasive sense of dread that never really dissipates.
Much like Little Nightmares, itself arguably inspired by Playdead’s output, INSIDE tasks you with completing some less-than-obvious puzzles to escape capture and to unfurl its slow but steady world building. However, INSIDE differentiates itself by allowing the player to take control of the “drones” who are victims of inhuman experiments. It’s a seriously grim game, evidenced by the first time you watch a young boy being forcefully drowned.
Taking places in Taiwan during the reign of an oppressive government, Detention isn’t really like the other horror games on this list. Not only does it double act as a thoroughly unsettling horror experience as well as a heartbreaking parable of the region at that time, it’s also considerably lo-fi compared to its peers. You don’t need a detailed 3D monster to jump through a window at you to feel ill at ease.
With a typhoon approaching her school, a young girl must venture her way around its creepy halls to save her friends while fending off the monsters that lurk. Hiding is the obvious ploy, but some of the monsters just want an offering to leave you alone. While it’s probably not the scariest game here, its varied puzzles and fascinating subject matter make Detention one of the most unique.