Immersion. It’s the cornerstone of every great horror game. If the player isn’t immersed in the terrors that surround them, they won’t feel the intended fear and the whole thing can fall flat. To truly engage players, developers used to have to rely solely on atmosphere, sound design, lighting, and effective in-game mechanics. Thanks to the scariest VR horror games, there’s another layer that quite literally draws them into the experience.
Virtual reality is the cheese to the horror macaroni. They go together so perfectly that you have to wonder why every new horror title doesn’t come with VR compatibility. To showcase just how well VR and horror pair, we’ve compiled this breakdown of the best VR horror games.
If it’s a fright you’re looking for, slip into a pair of virtual reality glasses and get lost in worlds filled with terrors sure to haunt your dreams. This list includes VR horror games for PSVR, Oculus, Quest and Vive.
We all love a good haunted house. The creaking floorboards, the over-abundance of cobwebs and creepy crawlies, the well-timed lightning strikes and rumbles of thunder – they all blend together to transport us to a world of the deranged and the supernatural. Unfortunately, our access to these attractions is typically limited to a 30-day stretch in Autumn. Affected: The Manor aims to remove that limitation by sending players into a digital spookhouse using the power of virtual reality.
Affected: The Manor isn’t a game, per se, and more like an interactive haunted attraction. There are no puzzles to solve or deranged killers to defeat, so progression is a breeze. However, you will have to overcome your own fears. Choose one of two routes to see what horrors await in this sprawling manor and try to make it to the end.
Affected: The Manor started as a demo for the Oculus Rift DK1 and was built upon to feature new audio and lighting mechanics that enhance the scares and help deliver a memorable horror VR experience.
For having such a delightful name, Arizona Sunshine is actually really gory and piled with rotting corpses. The zombie-shooter is a worthwhile entry in any virtual reality library, if not just for the ability to pop zombie heads in full-VR glory.
The gameplay may not be as in-depth as VR titles like Pavlov, but that doesn’t take away from the meat of the experience – killing zombies. As you cross the Arizona desertscape using artificial free-roaming, you’ll scour abandoned cars and empty buildings for supplies, bullets, and your escape from this virtual reality hell.
Arizona Sunshine is relentless with its waves of shamblers, but putting them down doesn’t get old. Equipped with an arsenal of dual-wield pistols, submachine guns, grenades, sniper rifles, and shotguns, you’ll be leaving behind piles of bodies to rot in the desert sun.
18. Alien: Isolation (MotherVR)
Developer: Creative Assembly Publisher: Sega VR Platform(s): Oculus
If ever there was a game that needed virtual reality compatibility, it was Alien: Isolation. Though it didn’t have it at launch, the MotherVR mod (get it?) created by Zack Fannon rectifies what feels like a glaring oversight, especially since Isolation was demoed on the Oculus Rift’s second development kit.
The slow pacing of Alien: Isolation makes it a great candidate for best VR game, and the MotherVR mod makes promising use of the core gameplay. Exploration throughout Sevastopol is enhanced through virtual reality, giving you more of an opportunity to take in the incredible level of detail Creative Assembly put into the space station.
It’s not all leisurely strolls through a desolate structure, however. When the xenomorph shows up, you may start to regret the VR. Not because it ruins the experience, but because nobody wants to be that close to the inner jaws of the galactic killer.
MotherVR may make some of the animations a little wonky, but it’s an overall smooth experience that makes hiding from the deadly xenomorph quite a bit more intense.
17. A Chair in a Room: Greenwater
Developer: Wolf & Wood Interactive, Ltd. Publisher: Wolf & Wood Interactive, Ltd. VR Platform(s): Vive
What comes to mind when you think of religious killings, corruption, and immorality? Probably a top-rated virtual reality horror experience, right? A Chair in a Room comes with heavy themes, which help drive a pretty deep narrative that starts in The Greenwater Institute. As Patient 6079, you’re plagued with twisted visions, likely linked to the past you can no longer remember.
A Chair in a Room is divided up into six relatively short but effective chapters. Players will be sent spiraling into the horrors of Patient 6079’s past as they explore a world ripe with detailed environments and rich storytelling. If you’re in the mood for an in-your-face horror title, you may not appreciate A Chair in a Room’s more subtle approach to the genre.
The VR gameplay only serves to further immerse players in the ramshackled towns, derelict motels, and swamps of the Deep South.
16. The Forest
Developer: Endnight Games Publisher: Endnight Games VR Platform(s): Vive, Oculus
From the horrifying plane crash to that first time you run into cannibalistic natives, The Forest’s gameplay is tenser than ever with a virtual reality headset. The vibrant landscapes of the peninsula come to life, especially as the sun sets and the deadly inhabitants emerge in droves.
While battling off cannibals is a large part of your survival experience, you’re also tasked with gathering food and other supplies to survive the elements long enough to find your son and escape the island
The Forest is quite an extensive game to play in VR and its non-linearity can be intimidating, but the longer you play, the more you grow accustomed to it.
When you get used to the gameplay is when you can really feel how much virtual reality amplifies the horrors of The Forest. There are a few missteps in the translation to VR, but they don’t take away from the terror of hearing a cannibal’s distant cry through your headset.
“Any issues I had with The Forest didn’t stop it from becoming the definitive survival experience on console in my eyes, however. If you’re yet to try the game on PC, its PS4 version is a surprisingly sleek and arguably just as rewarding time-sinker that won’t even make you feel bad for being a terrible parent. Sorry, Timmy, I am one with the trees now.”
Developer: SpectreVision/Ubisoft Montreal Publisher: Ubisoft VR Platform(s): Vive, Oculus, PSVR
You’d be surprised just how unsettling your own home can be. Raymond and his family find out first-hand in Transference, an immersive psychological thriller.
Players control each of the three family members as they try to piece back together their troubled familial unit. Each member has their own corrupted vision of one another, which leads to Transference’s darkest moments. There aren’t many outright scares, but you’ll start to feel uneasy the deeper you get into each character’s mind.
Transference is a twisted experience that’s brought to life with striking visuals that help drive the narrative. Live-action actors help the story feel more real, even as reality starts to bend and the familiar setting of a suburban home deteriorates and becomes uncomfortable.
Gameplay is primarily based on exploration and solving puzzles, making Transference an ideal virtual reality game, especially to those new to the medium.
It really was only a matter of time until Five Nights at Freddy’s crossed into virtual reality territory. The core concept was built for that kind of immersion. Though Help Wanted features a non-VR mode, with an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset is how the game really should be played.
Instead of the usual Five Nights at Freddy’s format, Help Wanted is a collection of mini-games that best utilize virtual reality. You’re no longer trapped inside of a security office as Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza requires maintenance and animatronic troubleshooting. Unfortunately, your terrifying friends from previous entries are still lurking about, waiting to stuff you into a suit of metal coils and rods.
Each mini-game will force you to face your fears and try to avoid the likes of Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, Foxy, The Mangle, and so many more of Freddy’s friends. Progress through each game, collect neat rewards at the Prize Counter, and try to survive in this quirky spin-off of the classic VR Five Nights at Freddy’s series.
The Paranormal Activity film series may be divisive, but the title is pretty widely accepted as one of the scariest VR horror games out there.
Set in the same universe as the film series, The Lost Soul takes place in an innocuous suburban home that hides a potentially deadly secret. Through your VR headset, you’ll be immediately immersed in the mystery of the otherwise plain-looking abode. To amplify that immersion, the typical HUD is removed and no direction is given.
Gameplay is set around exploration and discovery. The more you uncover, the more you’ll unravel the haunted past. As you may know from the Paranormal Activity movies, that also means you’ll be stirring up restless spirits that are sure to give you a fright. Through your explorations, the home becomes more active until it’s akin to a chaotic haunted attraction.
Surviving Paranormal Activity means relying on nothing more than your flashlight and ability to hide. A proprietary Scare Randomizer means you’ll never know what’s coming from one playthrough to the next, and each scare will have you questioning whether you want to move forward.
Developer: Honor Code, Inc. Publisher: Honor Code, Inc. VR Platform(s): Vive, Oculus
How would you like to feel like you’re exploring the dark depths of the Pacific Ocean with no hope of returning to the surface? That notion is terrifying on its own, but Narcosis tacks on additional layers of horror like deadly marine life and dim lighting to create a horrifying scenario.
Trapped in an oceanic nightmare, you’re tasked with trying to escape to the surface before the oxygen of your high-tech dive suit runs out.
Working against you are the stresses of being lost on the ocean floor, which increase stress and panic and chips away at your oxygen supply quicker. Not everything is as it seems as your own mind will start to fracture and work against you, further exacerbating your fears.
Narcosis is a slow-paced experience focused on exploration. Enhancing the psychological thrills is a soundtrack scored by Akira Yamaoka, the composer behind the haunting score of the Silent Hill series. It’s the kind of VR experience that will crawl beneath your skin and stay with you long after you’ve removed your headset.
11. The Brookhaven Experiment
Developer: Phosphor Games Publisher: Phosphor Games VR Platform(s): Vive, Oculus, PSVR
Some VR horror games don’t have to rely on deep exploration and crafty puzzles to pull the player in.
The Brookhaven Experiment proves it can just be about surviving waves upon waves of horrifying monsters. The survival shooter gives you the tools needed to survive the end of the world, which involves taking out grotesque monsters big and small.
Armed to the teeth with an unlockable arsenal selected between each wave, you’ll take on hordes of monsters coming at you from all angles. You’ll constantly be spinning to keep your enemies from sneaking up behind you, which culminates in a tense shooter that’s more about making you panic than outright scaring you.
Monster variety seems to pull inspiration from popular horror titles and helps keep The Brookhaven Experiment from getting stale over the five-hour campaign. To keep the experience going, there’s also a Survival Mode to test your firearm skills.
10. The Inpatient
Developer: Supermassive Games Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment VR Platform(s): PSVR
The second of two virtual reality spinoffs from Until Dawn, The Inpatient takes a different route and establishes itself as a psychological horror title.
Set 60 years before the events of Until Dawn, The Inpatient puts players in control of an amnesiac patient trapped in the Blackwood Sanatorium.
You’ll interact with patients and hospital staff that very much belong in the isolated sanitarium, making a series of dialogue choices to keep the story going.
While the “Butterfly Effect” isn’t as in-depth as it was in Until Dawn, dialogue choices do have consequences. Much like the game it’s based on, Supermassive Games’ slow-paced VR horror experience takes an interesting turn partway through that ties the two titles together nicely.
Exploring the sanatorium and the Blackwood Mountains is a tense experience that becomes increasingly unnerving as the truth of what’s unfolding comes to light. Use of low lighting, shadows, and environments wrought with ambient sounds will keep you on edge in this clever and worthwhile nod to Until Dawn.
Coat the floor with the blood of your undead enemies in Killing Floor: Incursion.
Based on the Killing Floor series, Incursion is a story-based VR experience that pits you against hordes of squishy meatbags just waiting to be dismembered, maimed, and beheaded. Using pistols, shotguns, axes, swords, and more, you’ll battle through the creations of the Horzine Corporation, fighting off horrors that only a mysterious corporation could create.
Incursion is a fast-paced shooter that takes players to a host of environments perfect for any of the best VR horror games. Dilapidated farmhouses, dark catacombs, and the once-clean halls of the Horzine Corporation’s labs serve as your battlegrounds through the five-stage campaign. Fight the horde with a friend or prove yourself as a solo action hero.
A variety of enemy types turn into geysers of blood as you slash and shoot your way through this engaging VR horror adventure.
Developer: White Door Games Publisher: White Door Games VR Platform(s): Vive, Oculus
No two playthroughs are the same in this procedurally generated VR horror adventure.
When it comes to horror, that’s the best way to keep players on the edge of their seats. It can be too easy to become familiar with a survival horror game, which diminishes your fear. That’s not the case with the claustrophobic dungeon of Dreadhalls.
Equipped with a lantern and a limited supply of oil, you’ll navigate the winding halls of Dreadhalls, hoping to not run into the horrors that lurk within. Stealth is the only tool at your disposal and the only means of avoiding the creatures thirsting for your flesh and blood.
Enhancing the looming frights are positional audio cues that warn you of incoming monsters and keep your heart racing.
7. Here They Lie
Developer: Tangentlemen/SIE Santa Monica Studios Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment VR Platform(s): PSVR
Desolate streets, claustrophobic alleys, and run-down buildings are the settings of this atmospheric VR horror experience.
As you navigate the nightmarish world, you’ll run into the strange and horrifying inhabitants who force you to make moral decisions that could mean life or death.
Disturbing imagery will leave you feeling uneasy the further along you get in this story-driven title. Despite very simple gameplay, effective use of dreary colors and twisted imagery keep you engaged from start to finish. Survive to the end and you’ll be treated to a complex story with a dark overarching theme.
That, or you’ll be driven completely mad on your search for answers about the mysterious Woman in Yellow in one of the most overlooked VR horror games around.
6. Layers of Fear: Solitude
Developer: Aspyr Media, Inc. Publisher: Aspyr Media, Inc. VR Platform(s): Daydream
If you’ve been waiting for the best way to play Layers of Fear, Solitude is absolutely it.
Redesigned for the virtual reality experience, Layers of Fear puts the paintbrush in your hands as the disturbed painter struggling to complete his magnum opus. The deeper he gets in his own creation, the more twisted his world becomes.
Layers of Fear is a perverted tale that tests your ability to separate reality from madness. Every room in the Victorian Mansion comes to life, altering their appearance to display new horrors and uncover the hidden secrets of the painter. Turn away for one second and you may find something completely different when you turn your head back.
Uncover the painter’s past and get sucked into the insanity of a fracturing mind in the VR iteration of Layers of Fear.
5. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
Developer: Supermassive Games Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment America VR Platform(s): PSVR
You probably wouldn’t expect an on-rails arcade shooter to spawn from the slow-paced horror of Until Dawn, but here we are with a VR version of such a game.
Rush of Blood throws out the pacing of Until Dawn for a roller coaster ride to hell. Across seven levels, you’ll fight off waves of relentless monsters. Environments are inspired by Until Dawn and feature many familiar elements along your twisted journey.
Rush of Blood is a VR horror-filled carnival ride, throwing frightening imagery at you from all angles. Though no “normal” characters return for the VR shooter, Rush of Blood expands upon Until Dawn’s glimpse into the fragility of the human mind. The result is a disturbing experience that’s enhanced and not bogged down by the arcade shooting gameplay.
When it comes to video games, The Walking Dead didn’t have the greatest batting average. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct and Overkill’s The Walking Dead failed to impress and offered generic zombie action.
Then came along Saints & Sinners, a virtual reality experience that really could have gone the way of its dull predecessors. But it didn’t. Skydance Interactive not only captured the emotional weight of living in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, it developed a suitable VR title that’s entertaining and a good test of what the medium can do.
Saints & Sinners made zombies scary again while still capturing the desperation of mankind in such a grueling and hopeless scenario. Whether you’re battling a horde of the undead or going up against human survivors, Saints & Sinners is relentless thanks to the tech of virtual reality. Becoming part of the undead world is more immersive than ever in this must-play zombie horror drama.
If ever you’re given the opportunity to explore a secret research base on one of Saturn’s moons, kindly decline the offer. As Red Matter shows, there’s only trouble waiting in the frosty expanse of space.
Driven by a deep and engaging story, Red Matter sends players to a distant moon to investigate a top-secret research project in the aftermath of a “Sci-Fi Cold War.” Things seem calm at first, but the desolate base hides secrets you’ll wish you never uncovered. Clues are scattered all over the base – you just need to know where and how to find them.
Red Matter is a heavily interactive experience that shows off the capabilities of virtual reality fairly well. The puzzles will require you to stop and think, and the beautifully rendered extraterrestrial environment is sure to leave you awestruck. Every stunning detail will pop right in front of your eyes, thanks to the VR tech and Vertical Robot’s dedication to building a rich environment.
Developer: Kinetic Games Publisher: Kinetic Games VR Platform(s): Valve Index, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive
If you’re paying attention to trends on Twitch, then you’ve likely seen Phasmophobia pop up quite a few times. Quite frankly, there’s a very good reason for this.
This horrifying VR experience pits players in the shoes of a paranormal investigator who takes on dangerous jobs for very little pay. Jumping from investigation to investigation, players utilize recognizable tools of the trade – including EMF meters and spirit boxes – to communicate with the deceased and banish the worst of them from our world.
The problem? Not every spirit is willing to go quietly. It’s a race against the clock as the team scrambles for evidence to determine what kind of specter they’re dealing with. The more they accomplish and the more accurate their guess is, the more money they’ll take home for upgraded gadgets.
There are a few ghost hunter simulators out there, but Phasmophobia takes the genre to a new level. Especially in virtual reality, the game is downright terrifying. The sound design is top-notch, the ghosts are spooky, and the atmosphere is just right.
Phasmophobia is exactly what people want to see when watching shows like Ghost Adventures. Minus the death, of course.
How badly do you want to be terrified by a video game? Resident Evil 7 is an effective horror title on its own, but when you play it through with a VR headset, you can’t help but be immersed in the atmosphere. Using a mix of eerie lighting and ambient sounds, Capcom doesn’t have to rely on jump scares to make players uneasy.
Sure, there are a few scattered about, but the real horrors of Resident Evil 7 involve anticipating what’s to come. The creaky Louisiana mansion is one of the more haunting environments in a Resident Evil title and Capcom used every shadow and loose floorboard to its advantage.
Playing Resident Evil 7 with the PSVR is just as smooth as without. There may be a small and infrequent dip in resolution, but it’s not enough to take you out of the experience. Having every sound coming through the headset in incredible clarity is enough to solidify Capcom among the horror kings of gaming, and also of VR horror games.
This is the most impressive return to form I’ve seen in a long time. With heart-pounding scares, clever puzzles, and formidable enemies; Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is one of the best horror titles I’ve ever played.
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