As John Carpenter once said, “Horror is a reaction, it’s not a genre.” It’s a sentiment shared by American writer Douglas E. Winter, who described it as an emotion. If you’ve ever played the best PS4 horror games, you may know what they mean. The constant tension, the increased heart rate, the occasional jump scare that threatens to send your controller flying. Those are what define horror.
So when we compiled this list of the best PlayStation 4 horror games, that’s precisely what we looked for. Do you find being scared out of your wits entertaining? Then you’ll want to add all of these games to your hard drive. Delete LittleBigPlanet or Slime Rancher or any of those other happy-go-lucky fluffy games and make room for hundreds of gigabytes of scares.
We did our best to include only PS4 exclusives, but that would require ignoring truly phenomenal horror games, so pardon any multi-platform titles.
Developer: Superflat Games Publisher: Superflat Games
Horror doesn’t have to look good to be scary: We were frightened for years by PSOne graphics. Lone Survivor even further solidifies this point, surprisingly on a console that can handle polished and textured environments. The psychological horror adventure has players escaping a diseased city infested with ravenous, mindless inhabitants that stand in the way of your path to freedom.
Lone Survivor allows you to decide how you’ll handle your escape. Will you aid survivors or try to make it alone? Are you concerned about your physical health or will you push the unnamed protagonist to his limits? There are many different ways to play through this quirky horror title, and each playthrough is a unique experience.
The PS4 edition is an extended cut, with new story details, more areas to scour, and more.
19. Remothered: Tormented Fathers
Developer: Stormind Games Publisher: Darril Arts
How can you really terrify players with your game? By making them feel like they’re part of the narrative. Stormind Games did precisely that in an unpredictable experience that toys with your mind and has you teetering on the line between good and evil. There are many strong points in Remothered, but the soundtrack by Final Fantasy, Halo, and Metal Gear Solid composer Nobuko Toda and Luca Balboni shines and elevates the tension.
As Rosemary Reed, players set out to help in the investigation of Celeste, a girl that had gone missing. Tormented Fathers is the first part of a three-chapter story, and it’s a strong start. Obsession is a common theme and murder is around every corner as you try to survive the dynamic gameplay. Will you take your pursuer head-on or try to find a place to hide until they’re gone?
If you survive through the horrors of Tormented Fathers, you’ll have to wait patiently for the continuation, Going Porcelain, releasing in 2020.
18. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Developer: The Astronauts Publisher: The Astronauts
Red Creek Valley, WI sounds like the kind of sleepy rural town where something mysterious and supernatural would unfold. Kind of like Twin Peaks and Brightfalls. In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, that’s exactly what happens in the Wisconsin town when paranormal investigator Paul Prospero responds to a fan letter from 12-year-old Ethan Carter.
When he arrives, he finds himself having to investigate the disappearance of his young fan and uncover the dark secret of Ethan’s family. At the heart of it is an evil supernatural entity known only as the Sleeper, the driving force behind Ethan’s disappearance and Prospero’s paranormal horror adventure.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter relies heavily on exploration through the open world to drive the narrative. It’s up to the player to determine where to go next to unravel more of Ethan’s story, and those that are less astute may find themselves wandering around, searching for the next spectre to move the narrative forward.
The horror is subtle, so don’t expect a ton of jump scares. Instead, The Astronauts suck you in with even pacing and frequent creepy moments.
Developer: Techland Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Dodging zombies at night is bad enough. Dying Light ups the ante with a mutated aberration that’s smart, fast, and on the hunt for fresh meat. When you’re not cowering in the shadows, hiding from the Volatile until daybreak, you’re exploring the vast region of Harran, using parkour to move throughout the fictional city, keeping to rooftops to avoid running into a horde of undead.
While the story is passable at best, maneuvering throughout the quarantine zone will keep your heart racing. One wrong step can land you right in the middle of a group of bloodthirsty zombies. Your only hope in surviving the infected city is a diverse arsenal of craftable items and upgradeable weapons.
Dying Light is a vast improvement over Techland’s prior attempt at zombie thrills, Dead Island. Faster pacing, more detailed environments, and higher stakes help create a more memorable and far more terrifying horror game for the PS4.
Do you have what it takes to survive being stalked by a deranged killer or are you better suited as the hunter, stalking your prey in a confined environment? Dead by Daylight lets you try your hand at either scenario in an online environment. Playing with up to five people, you can either jump into the role of the hapless victim trying to start a series of generators to escape or take control of a murderous Killer equipped with unique skills and deadly weapons.
While you may think it’s more fun to play as the Killer, Behaviour Interactive put enough time and effort into the Survivors so that the “cat and mouse” gameplay is fun regardless of which side you’re on. Of course, Killers have a bit more to tinker with, but even Survivors can start rounds with gadgets and supplies to gain an edge over their pursuer.
Dead by Daylight is a pretty straightforward multiplayer experience that doesn’t overcomplicate with multiple game modes and an overabundance of options and features. There is also no denying it was made specifically with horror fans in mind as it features DLC characters Michael Myers (Halloween), Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and Ash Williams (Evil Dead).
15. Friday the 13th: The Game
Developer: Illfonic & Black Tower Studios Publisher: Gun Media
When it launched, Friday the 13th was a completely different kind of horror. Rampant with glitches and servers that refused to let anyone play, it simply wasn’t fun. After what must have been a few dozen patches later, Gun Media was able to turn things around and deliver a Friday the 13th game that felt at home within the franchise.
To get the best horror experience, you’ll need to play as one of the camp counselors in the online multiplayer. You’ll be immersed in the series thanks to impeccable use of the original score, the distant screams of fellow counselors, and slow-but-steady pacing.
While your main goal is to avoid Jason at all costs, you also need to scour familiar locations (including the Jarvis residence and Camp Crystal Lake) to either repair a car or boat, call the police or organize with other players to kill Jason. Otherwise, it’s a 20 minute game of hide-and-seek during which Jason Voorhees has access to a host of abilities that make him the perfect supernatural killer.
The Evil Within was one of the scariest games of 2014, so it only makes sense that Tango Gameworks would follow up with one of the scariest game of 2017. With the promise of being reunited with his allegedly deceased daughter, Sebastian Castellanos plugs back into STEM for a trippy journey down horror lane.
Rather than rehash what worked with The Evil Within, the follow-up is a more expansive game with a partially open world and far more baddies to run away from. Of the many horrors you’ll face, Anima, the singing ghost lady, is definitely among the most unsettling. This is one of many games on this list of the best PS4 horror games that benefits from great use of atmosphere and sound design, and Anima drives that point pretty hard.
The Evil Within 2 amps up the psychological terrors, ensuring gamers are never quite sure if what they’re seeing can kill them. In most scenarios, the likelihood is pretty high.
“It may have made some design concessions that could dissuade fans of the original, but The Evil Within 2 is a far more engrossing nightmare that you won’t want to wake up from.”
13. Until Dawn
Developer: Supermassive Games Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
From the creators of LittleBigPlanet and Start the Party! Save the World comes Until Dawn, a survival horror game set in the Blackwood Mountains. That’s quite the tone shift for Supermassive Games, but the developer has little issue finding a home in the horror genre.
Until Dawn is heavy on quick-time events, but the even pacing and intriguing story makes that pretty easy to overlook. Its greatest feat is the “butterfly effect” system, where every choice has a consequence later on down the road. Sure, it’s not the newest concept, but it’s quite a bit more complex in Until Dawn than it has been in many other games.
Supermassive Games’ romp in the icy mountains has everything you’d expect from a true-to-form survival horror title. There’s plenty of gore, mysterious characters, jump scares, over the top death scenes, and an unexpected twist that completely changes the game.
12. Alien: Isolation
Developer: The Creative Assembly Publisher: Sega
There’s a clattering in the vents above you, maybe a scream down the desolate hallways that lie ahead. As you approach your next objective, murderous androids or a deadly band of survivors stand in your way. This is life aboard Sevastopol Station for Amanda Ripley, and it’s all exacerbated by the presence of the greatest terror of all – a lanky xenomorph on the hunt for blood.
Alien: Isolation recaptures the tense pacing of Ridley Scott’s original sci-fi horror and is the first game in the franchise to trade immense firepower for gadgets and noisemakers. A pulse rifle won’t help you here as the xeno is an indestructible force, which only further enhances the scares of Creative Assembly’s entry in the Alien series.
Isolation puts stealth over combat and showcases the talents of Ellen Ripley’s engineer daughter in a worthwhile experience that, while technically also released on the PS3, saw its greatest potential in its PS4 version.
11. Layers of Fear
Developer: Bloober Team Publisher: Bloober Team
Fear, much like art, can be complex. It’s not always about things jumping out at you and grotesque monsters lurking down tight hallways. There’s a psychological element to it that Bloober Team SA excels at focusing on in Layers of Fear. Players will get lost in a surprisingly deep story as they explore a world of art framed by the tortured mind of a broken artist just looking to paint his greatest creation.
Much like how Eternal Darkness used character sanity to fake out and terrify the player, Layers of Fear uses a dynamic world that can change with each turn of the camera. In the heart of a Victorian-era mansion, you’ll encounter unsettling imagery the closer the painter gets to succumbing to madness. In many ways, this is far more effective than monsters and ghouls and helps make Layers of Fear a must-play horror title.