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.
The Best PS4 Horror Games
15. Friday the 13th: The Game (2017)
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 (2015)
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 (2014)
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 (2016)
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.