When it comes to PC horror gaming, there is no shortage of titles for you to play when the moon is high and the lights are dimmed. The best PC horror games offer an unending list filled with indie-developed terrors and AAA fright fests of varying qualities.
With the limited time we all have to put into playing this ever-growing library of horror games, it’s best to focus on those that come highly rated. To keep you from scrolling through pages of games until your mind fractures and you’re left muttering some chant that’s sure to summon the Great Old One, we’ve put together this list of the best PC horror titles.
First and third-person shooters, RPGs, point-and-click games — they’re all here. You know what isn’t here? Duplicates from the same series. We want your library to have variety, so we’ve chosen the best from a series and have given it the spotlight.
Developer: Monolith Productions Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games
Combining survival horror with a fast-paced first-person shooter isn’t an easy formula to perfect, but Monolith Productions was able to come very close with F.E.A.R. If you needed any additional proof that ghost girls are the scariest thing ever, just turn to this action-packed shooter.
Short for First Encounter Assault Recon, F.E.A.R. sends players into a supernaturally charged world as the nameless superhuman Point Man. Throughout much of the game, you’re battling against telepathic soldiers, which isn’t that scary.
However, Monolith crafted a hybrid horror-shooter by introducing Alma, the little girl that pops up at inopportune moments to give you quite the fright.
When not immersing you in firefights or throwing jumpscares in your face, F.E.A.R. toys with your mind with disturbing imagery and a good use of psychological horror.
14. Visage (2018)
Developer: SadSquare Studio Publisher: SadSquare Studio
Though still in development as of this writing, SadSquare released the first chapter of this spiritual successor to P.T. as part of an early access period. While it may be hard to gauge the full game based on one chapter, what has been released is that good to warrant being on this list. Think of it as a deeper version of P.T., but with the promise of being completed in the near future.
Within a centuries-old abode that’s ripe with a dark and bloody past, you’re tasked with reliving brutal killings to piece together a gruesome history. That means coming face to face with the ghosts that lurk in the shadows.
Visage uses every trick in the survival horror book to turn a seemingly innocent home into a literal house of horrors. The premise is eerie and will make you question the very place you call your home.
The specter design is pretty phenomenal, the jump scares are plenty, and SadSquare succeeded in creating a familiar but horrifying atmosphere through dynamic lighting and sound design.
Keep in mind, this is only a 1.25 hour-long early access chapter. Just imagine what frights await in later chapters, scheduled to release in 2019.
13. Lobotomy Corporation (2016)
Developer: Project Moon Publisher: Project Moon
What would happen if you combined Cabin in the Woods, the SCP Foundation, and Fallout Shelter? You’d get the chaos that is Lobotomy Corporation, a rogue-lite simulation game teaming with dozens of different monsters.
As an administrator of Lobotomy Corporation, you’re tasked with managing the Abnormalities that are being used as a new energy source. It’s a zany concept, but it works in the quirky world of Lobotomy Corporation.
There is a lot to maintaining order, especially as you collect more monstrous Abnormalities. Lobotomy Corporation has a steep learning curve, but the fun of understanding and interacting with your collection of monsters will keep you engaged as you work through the many mechanics.
With so many Abnormalities in your lab, disasters are inevitable, and that’s where the real fun strikes. Picture the Raider attacks in Fallout Shelter, just a lot more involved. With the rogue’s gallery of monsters in Lobotomy Corporation, you’ll feel like you’re still facing new challenges well into your time with this shambolic game.
For a game to succeed largely on its narrative, it must remain engaging from start to finish. Thanks to a haunting atmosphere, a chilling soundtrack, and great storytelling, Paratropic doesn’t need to rely on beautiful environments and deep gameplay. It’s an ugly game, but there is something about the pixelated characters and world that works with Paratopic’s elements of horror.
Paratropic features three intersecting stories with their own horrific themes. It’s difficult to get into each of them without spoiling some of the finer moments of the game’s plot, so we’ll just say that each one is just as twisted as the next.
It’s not a long game by any means and can take just under an hour to complete, but the experience is one that all horror fans should afford themselves.
11. Dusk (2018)
Developer: David Szymanski Publisher: New Blood Interactive
Even in the current generation of gaming, something doesn’t have to look pretty to be good. Dusk is a prime example with its early-90s textures, character models, and animations. What it lacks in visual polish it more than makes up for in gameplay and lore.
Like the early shooters it’s modeled after, Dusk charges players with scrambling through labyrinthine levels in search of an exit. Along the way, they’ll tackle swarms of baddies, including cult members, chainsaw-wielding brutes, and unique bosses. Thankfully, players are armed to the teeth with pistols, dual-wield shotguns, crossbows, and so much more.
It may sound easy to compare Dusk to games like Quake and Doom, but the similarities are shallow. Set in a word inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Dusk’s environments (as textureless as they can be) are more in line with the horror genre. You won’t be jumping out of your seat with fright, but the fast-paced shooter was undoubtedly built with horror fans in mind.
10. Alan Wake (2010/2012)
Developer: Remedy Entertainment Publisher: Remedy Entertainment
On the still waters of Cauldron Lake, Alan Wake and his wife Alice arrive for a peaceful escape from the city. Their serene retreat is literally thrust into darkness when Alan realizes it was all a ploy to break his writer’s block. In the wake of a mysterious and devastating force that blows through Bright Falls emerges The Taken and the start of Alan Wake’s most horrific tale yet.
Alan Wake succeeds on many levels, from both a narrative and gameplay standpoint. The story can get a little wonky in the last act, but it plays well into the psychological horror that Remedy has spread throughout Bright Falls.
Wake’s foes, The Taken, are reminiscent of the Deadites of Evil Dead lore. They retain glimpses of their former selves used to torment the writer (and, by proxy, the player), and it’s arguably the best part of the entire game.
Alan Wake feels like a classic horror story and is reminiscent of the old-school Twin Peaks.
9. The Last Door (2013)
Developer: The Game Kitchen Publisher: The Game Kitchen
Sometimes, the best PC horror games aren’t those that throw everything at its audience. Jump scares are good for causing controllers to go flying across the room, but it’s the psychological horror that sticks with players. They’ll be lying down at night and the lingering subtlety of the mental scare will keep them from enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep.
That’s what you can expect from the point-and-click adventure The Last Door.
Inspired by the works of horror greats Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, The Last Door toys with its players. Slow-paced gameplay and an abundance of puzzles will keep you engaged through this pixelated adventure. Gameplay may be simple, but it works in unraveling the mystery of The Last Door.
A crafty use of sound and ambient music will keep you on edge as you get sucked into the spooky atmosphere while attempting to uncover the truth behind Anthony Beechworth’s suicide.
8. Doki Doki Literature Club! (2017)
Developer: Team Salvato Publisher: Team Salvato
There is no way you’ll look at this game and think it fits anywhere on this list, but that’s part of the charm of the bright and colorful experience that is Doki Doki Literature Club!
It does take a little while to get to the game’s more disturbing moments, but the slow build-up only makes the latter parts of the game that much better. You may even long for the cheerier interactions that weren’t laced with horrifying imagery.
Doki Doki is more of a visual novel, but decisions players make throughout do affect the outcome of the story and lead to one of three possible endings. This is especially effective in drawing the player in as characters grow more twisted and unstable and the game undergoes a complete shift in tone.
Don’t let the pink hearts and cutesy title fool you. Beneath the adorable exterior is an experience that will leave you feeling uncomfortable.
7. Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 (2014)
Developer: Scott Cawthon Publisher: Scott Cawthon
Five Nights at Freddy’s is special. When you really break down the gameplay, it’s nothing more than an elaborate “Screamer.” What makes it work so well isn’t the simplistic point-and-click mechanics, but the lore that’s vastly expanded in the sequel.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 follows the basic gameplay of its predecessor. You’ll be checking cameras and closing vents in a panic all while conserving limited power over the course of a night. Slip up and Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria will be in the market for new night security personnel.
Where the original’s story was pretty straightforward and merely hinted at a larger lore, the sequel really dives into it. Through pixelated minigames, players are introduced to something sinister in the world of Freddy Fazbear.
It’s still not 100% clear what’s happening in the haunting pizzeria, but Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 set the stage and hadn’t yet drained the idea pool Cawthon pulled from for the series.
6. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)
Developer: Frictional Games Publisher: Frictional Games
After having to run from the horrors of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you’ll wish you could forget all about it and return to nights of restful sleep. Right off the bat, Frictional Games ups the tension by making the protagonist unable to defend himself. Then, it thrusts players into a twisted world filled with monsters and other unspeakable horrors.
As Daniel, an amnesiac young man who wakes up in Brennenburg Castle of Prussia, players have to uncover his memories and the truth behind the “shadow” that’s hunting him.
Making things worse is Daniel’s crippling fear of the dark, which ties into the game’s best mechanic. Along with maintaining Daniel’s health, players have to focus on his sanity. The more it deteriorates, the more he’ll hallucinate – and that’s when things get really fun.
The castle is the perfect atmosphere for Daniel’s misadventures, filled with many dark corners and winding hallways for evil to lurk in. Frictional actually made the game fully open source in 2020.
5. Darkwood (2017)
Developer: Acid Wizard Studio Publisher: Acid Wizard Studio
At first glance, Darkwood may not look like much. The top-down gameplay could be misconstrued as a game that won’t offer much in the way of depth. Quite the contrary, however, as Darkwood features a fleshed out story, a cast of NPCs with differing personalities, and plenty of gameplay elements that help make this an essential survival horror PC game.
Darkwood is set in a bleak, isolated forest in the Soviet Bloc that’s become a nesting ground for banshees, monstrous centipedes, mutated human spiders, shadow people, and other horrors. Players explore the semi-open world, scavenging supplies used to craft weapons and support items or build barricades to keep the creatures of the night at bay until the sun rises.
Darkwood’s gameplay is surprisingly in-depth and helps create a well-rounded experience that’s about more than just terrifying the player. Which, by the way, the game will do. The top-down camera angle makes jumpscares rare, but the lighting and sound design are fantastic at creating a moody and haunting atmosphere.
4. Outlast 2 (2017)
Developer: Red Barrels Publisher: Red Barrels
It’s not easy to decide between Outlast 2 and its predecessor, but the sequel edges ahead with a greater variety of environments and a stronger focus on psychological frights.
After the first Outlast terrified gamers, Red Barrels knew it didn’t have to alter the gameplay much to achieve the same effect in Outlast 2. Players still travel by the battery-powered night vision of a camcorder, only this time they’re not sneaking through the halls of Mount Massive Asylum.
After crash landing in a backwoods region of Arizona’s Coconino County, investigative journalist Blake has to find an escape from deranged cultists and debilitating hallucinations.
Outlast 2 thrives on jump scares and is relentless in throwing everything it has at those brave enough to play. As you may remember from the original, everything is much scarier in the green glow of night vision.
“Boasting a soundtrack that would give heebie jeebies, an unrelenting pace, and a mystery that moves thing forwards while never seeming peripheral, Outlast 2 is simply one of the most absorbing rides in gaming. It dares you to look away, to give in and watch a documentary about red pandas, but if you can look the reaper in the eye and steel your stomach, prepare to be absolutely blown away.”
The fast-paced zombie shooter is a solid experience from beginning to end, even though it doesn’t change much from one chapter to the next. Battling against hordes of the undead with friends or strangers rarely gets old, especially across the varied environments of all 13 playable campaigns (DLC campaigns included).
Though Left 4 Dead 2 can whiz past you at lightning speed, there is still plenty of time for horror. The fast infected aren’t scary when you know where they are, but it’s those scripted moments where they swarm from every direction that get your heart pumping. It’s also impossible to deny that the sound cues for the Witch will haunt you to the core.
Despite being more of a non-stop shooter, Left 4 Dead 2 is a solid horror title with high replay value.
After crash landing on a deserted island, players must survive the elements and find an escape. Players gather supplies, build shelter, and craft a survival guide full of support items and weapons with the help of welcoming natives. The friendly locals are happy to lend a hand in getting protagonist Eric Leblanc off their tropical paradise and home to the mainland.
Just kidding. The natives are restless and the only thing they care about is removing Eric’s flesh from his bones. While the core gameplay is as we just described, players won’t find the cannibalistic and mutated natives to be much help. In fact, they really slow down the journey home.
The Forest is a survival game at heart, but the cannibals instill a heavy dose of horror. If they’re not outright attacking, they’re lingering in the distance, as if watching and waiting for the perfect time to strike. And strike they will, regardless of what walls, traps, and hazards may stand in their way.
While the humanoid mutants terrify with their shrieks and shrills, it’s the multi-limbed monstrosities that roam the island that will leave players shaking.
A zombie shuffles around the corner, lunging at you with gnarly teeth, a bloodied frame, and guttural groan. You move to run away and realize too late that behind your undead attacker is a licker listening for the slightest indication of your presence. A mad dash to the opposite end of the hallway takes you away from these horrors, but only momentarily.
Just as you’re about to escape, the door swings open and the hulking frame of Mr. X peers through.
This is what it’s like to play through Resident Evil 2, Capcom’s relentless complete overhaul of the 1998 classic. The 2019 reboot shares many story elements and several locations with the original, but that’s where the parallels stop.
If you remember being scared by Resident Evil 2 more than 20 years ago, the 2019 iteration will have you cowering in save rooms. Capcom’s grasp on sound and lighting design makes the familiar police department even more forbidding than ever.
Resident Evil 2 is undeniably the scariest in the series and one of the best PC horror games you can find. The development team didn’t fall into the trap of forgetting the essence of the source material and instead elevated it to make players dread every step they take in Raccoon City.
“Resident Evil 2 is, quite simply, one of the best remakes of all-time. Capcom have nailed their new vision of a classic just like they did back in 2002 by modernising a decades old game to feel like something completely fresh.”
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