Rahul is a video game addict. Some of his favorite games are "Red Dead Redemption 2" and "The Witcher 3."
What Are Some Great Horror Games Available on PC?
Everyone dreads getting spooked, but we keep coming back for more. There's a reason why the horror genre is so popular. Who doesn't love a good rush of adrenaline?
While silver and small screens are graced with grandiose horror entries all the time (Us, Hereditary, American Horror Story), AAA horror games have disappeared in recent times. Unfortunately, the gaming industry is slowly pivoting away from single-player stories in favor of live-service games.
While co-op and multiplayer horror titles are a dime a dozen, finding single-player experiences has become a challenge. Fret not. I have got your fix.
In my effort to put together a list of great horror games on PC, I have ensured that there is something for everyone. Let's take a look.
1. Resident Evil Series
The Resident Evil series, barring a few entries, has been pretty solid so far in terms of genuine scares. Unlike the usual tropey horror games, the series hinges its scare tactics on the slow introduction to its messed-up world.
Shifting the focus away from the action is one of the best things Capcom (the publisher) has done in recent years for the franchise. While the 5th and 6th entries of the Resident Evil series leaned more towards action, the latest iterations of the franchise have rightfully shifted their focus back to the cosmic horror. Resultantly, Village and Biohazard (the two latest entries) have been well-received by critics and fans alike.
If you've caught up with its recent entries, maybe give the RE 2 and 3 remakes a shot as well. The cut content from the above remakes might be a dealbreaker for some, though.
Entries you should skip:
- Resident Evil 6 - The game leans more on QTEs and cutscenes, ditching its horror roots.
- Resident Evil 5 - There is a lot to like about Resident Evil 5, but it's not a true horror game. Then again, if you love action-adventure titles, Resident Evil 5 should be a good bet.
2. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Though a few other games from the Amnesia series were released after this masterpiece, none could mess with our minds as freely as Dark Descent did. Even the recently released Amnesia: Rebirth, despite its technical advantages, loses steam after the prologue.
Descent, on the other hand, gradually builds up dread and horror in its treacherous, clammy castle. You play as Daniel, a man suffering from dementia, who finds himself in a dark, age-old castle with no idea how he arrived there. The only way out is by navigating its haunted hallways. Since there is no way to defend, sneaking past the monstrous creatures and hoping they don't notice you are the only ways to progress further. If they see you, run for your life and find somewhere to hide. If your luck runs out, which it will many times, embrace the Inevitable with grace and start over again.
Be forewarned; Dark Descent is not an easy game to churn through. Even though it’s not that long by today's standards, play it in moderation. Conjure up the courage bit by bit.
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Frictional Games, the creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, hit the jackpot once again with Soma. Toppling the likes of The Descent is no easy fit, but they outdid themselves with this brilliant masterpiece.
The lack of action might make this underwater horror game seem like a walking simulator like Gone Home, but you'll soon find out that its underwater facilities offer much more than a casual stroll from one corridor to another.
Much of the exploration revolves around gathering clues, listening to voice notes, solving puzzles, and piecing everything together. The conclusion, most of the time, is horrifying, but the satisfaction of doing a sleuth's work is satisfying at the same time.
My only gripe is its monsters that are used for jumpscares. In a game about abandoned underground stations, the horrors of the unknown are enough to make one shudder in fear. Apparently, Frictional Games wasn't ready to let go of the traditional horror tropes yet.
4. Outlast Series
Gone are those days when I used to get scared easily. Somewhere in the midst of remakes, remasters, and revival of iconic franchises, developers have lost the appetite to create groundbreaking experiences. Can you really blame them, though? One can only come up with so many ideas to scare one's pants off before things get monotonous and repetitive.
At this point, I think I have seen it all; serial killers, psychos, personality disorders; you name it. So when I started playing Outlast, I was rightfully skeptical. To my fortunate (unfortunate?) surprise, Outlast turned out to be one of the most nightmare-inducing games I have ever played. It scarred me in a way nothing else had ever done.
Much like the original, Outlast 2 continues walking down the same trademarked horror route; only this time they dial up the crazy up to eleven. At times, it's a bit too overwhelming, even more so than the first game.
Are these two games pleasant to play through? No! Will I recommend it? Hell yeah!
As of the time of writing, Outlast Trails, a co-op horror game is in the works. Here is hoping that playing with others helps with the dread and anxiety a bit.
5. Little Nightmares Series
Part brilliant, part exhaustingly vexing, the Little Nightmares series is a unique spin on the horror genre. You play as Six, a tiny raincoated character who finds himself in a world inhabited by menacing giants. There is something harrowing about playing a minuscule character in a world ruled by deformed, degenerate giants—something you'll have to experience first-hand. With nothing but the advantage of being tiny and unnoticeable on your side, you must devise ways to sneak past these monsters without being noticed. And get noticed you will.
This sadistic game is deliberately designed to have you in the crosshairs more times than you'd like. When you get caught, there is nothing else to do but run and hope they lose track of you.
While most of the horror movies, shows, and games are perched on the fear of the unknown—the greatest fear humans have known, at least according to H.P. Lovecraft—Little Nightmares series bucks the trend. In most of the encounters, you're already forewarned about the monstrosity ahead. Knowing what lies ahead and still having to go ahead and face it ignites a different type of fear. Go ahead. Give this one of the best horror games on PC a shot.
6. Silent Hill Series
The Silent Hill's background score and ambiance are some of the best I have ever witnessed in a horror game. Serene yet haunting, the score is a forewarning of horrific psychological torture this game is about to put you through.
Despite being a slow-burn adventure, the dread and paranoia never let up in Silent Hill. You're bound to lose a part of your peace and sanity in its smoggy towns. Not all of the games, however, take place in haunted towns. Silent Hill 4, for instance, takes place in a squalid apartment—a place serving as a hub for entering and exiting all the motley dimensions.
If you've never played the series before, it can be difficult to get into the lore at once. Start playing from 1st entry till the 4th as they are the best of the lot. The rest of them are mediocre but serviceable. Skip Book of Memories and Downpour as they veer away from the traditional Silent Hill experience.
No new Silent Hill game is in development as of this moment as Konami, the publisher with the rights to this franchise, shifts its focus from single-player stories to free-to-play and games as a service model. Such a shame. Here is hoping that the series is revived someday.
7. Alien Isolation
If anything, the Covid lockdown taught us that isolation can be a self-tormenting slammer. We desperately wanted to go back into the world and mingle with others during those times.
it's quite the other way around in Alien Isolation. You're not quite alone in the game, but you'd wish you were. Aboard an adrift spaceship with an alien roaming around the ship, you'd never want to come across that creature. The task is simple; get out of the mess while avoiding getting mauled by the gigantic alien.
Taking place 15 years after the original Alien movie—a masterpiece you should watch before delving into the game—most of the game is in line with the lore and the settings. If you loved Alien, the movie, the game has more scares in the store for you.
Even though the storyline could have been a lot better, the slow build-up of horror and disparity more than makes up for it. In any case, the story is just a shorthand for the relentless psychological and mental pressure the game puts on you.
8. The Evil Within 2
When the original game was released in 2014, it lacked the x-factor despite having all the ingredients of a great horror game. A direct continuation to The Evil Within, the sequel builds upon the premise set up by the first game, improving in almost all the areas.
Unlike many other horror games where everything is neatly scripted, The Evil Within 2 eschews the antiquated formula in favor of something more free-flowing and fresh. In The Evil Within 2, you're free to explore at your own pace without any hand-holding.
Forced back into the same treacherous world of 'STEM' our protagonist escaped years ago, he finds himself back to square one. This time around, though, the stakes are higher as his daughter is stuck in the same world. This surreal dimension will connect all the dots for him, hopefully.
If you haven't played the first game, don't worry. Though the sequel is a direct continuation of the first one, the story doesn't run deep enough to warrant a playthrough of a mediocre game. You'll get the gist of the story in a few hours anyway.
Take your time. Explore every nook and cranny. If you're lucky, you won't get pummeled to death every few minutes (you most likley will).
9. The Medium
The story revolves around Marianne, a 20-something who has an uncanny gift (curse) of seeing the realm of spirits. In her quest to find out more about the haunting of a resort, she decides to pay a visit.
Since the story is unarguably the best part of The Medium, this is as far as I am going in terms of plot. Simply put; the twisty, treacherous storyline will keep you guessing till the end.
As she explores one realm, she is simultaneously exploring the shadow realm—something you as a gamer will witness through split-screen. Don't worry. It's not a co-op game. Since both the world are running parallel to each other, your actions will always lead to reactions in both worlds simultaneously. But you'll not always see it on the screen as the split-screen is only a fleeting reoccurrence throughout the game.
There is a common gripe that the puzzles of The Medium are fairly simple. To be candid, I love the lack of Portal-esque puzzles in a horror game, which leads to a well-paced storyline.
Compared with the rest of the entries, The Medium doesn’t offer much when it comes to replayability, but it still is a bang for your buck. If you're looking for a good narrative-driven horror game on PC, The Medium should be a good bet.
10. Dead Space Series
The sad demise of this iconic series still hurts to this day. Renowned for its narrative-driven, neatly-packed games, Visceral Games was shut down by EA after Dead Space 3, the latest entry into the franchise, failed to make them a boatload of money. While the series never was financially viable, at least by EA's lofty standards, there is no denying that it's one of the best horror series to land on consoles and PC.
You play as Isaac Clarke, a system engineer, who's sent to space to figure out the reason behind the malfunctioning of one of the ships. All hell breaks loose as soon as he arrives with his motley crew. The nightmarish creatures attack the ship, kill most of his compatriots, and leave Isaac barely hanging on to his life. Separated from the rest of the survivors, Isaac must get out unscathed.
That's the story for the first entry. The second and the third ones continue the thread, taking Isaac on new harrowing adventures as he risks everything for the greater good.
If you love slow-paced horror where the paranoia builds up to the tipping point, the Dead Space series is a perfect fit. While the introduction of co-op in the third installment tamed the fear factor a little, it's still a nightmare-inducing affair.
11. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series
Despite being over a decade old at the time of writing, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series remains popular to this date, thanks to an active modding scene refusing to let this post-apocalyptic series die.
The series takes place after the Chernobyl disaster, which left the land uninhabitable. The wasteland is now home to radiation, ramshackle buildings, deformed monsters, and a few opportunists risking their lives to make a fortune in "The Zone".
One of the series' strongest suits is its unscripted events transpiring in the world, even when you're not around to witness it. Unlike many other games where all the attention is on you, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. makes you feel minuscule and irrelevant. Even when you choose not to accompany your comrades on a mission, they'll still go through with it (most of the time). There'll be times when you'll come across fights amongst different factions, perhaps in a bid to assert dominance over the other or just because they felt like blasting out the other faction. It's none of your business. And since ammo is in short supply, it's best if you let them be and keep moving.
The living, breathing world of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Is hard to emulate, and not for the lack of trying. Games like Chernobylite and Metro Series have tried to capture the magic and succeeded to some degree, but S.T.A.L.K.E.R. will always remain the most revered post-apocalyptic RPG.
I have a hard time finishing games these days, thanks to the latest fad of creating bigger open-world games with tonnes of filler content. Developed by Remedy Entertainment, Control, thankfully, never outstays its welcome. With its exquisite amalgamation of third-person shooting and magic, wandering around its maze-esque map and discovering new ways to progress further never feels stretched.
The whole game is designed like a puzzle where you have to put together all the pieces, which sometimes gets vexing to the point of not wanting to play any further. I have to admit that some of its missions are so poorly designed that if it weren't for guides and playthroughs, I would never have made it through them.
Unfortunately, Remedy falters a bit in the story-telling department as well, despite a strong start. Somewhere along its dark hallways, you're bound to lose track of the story. Though that’s not to say that Control is not worthy of your time.
If you're willing to overlook its insipid storyline and some poorly designed challenges, Control is quite a blast to play.
Did I miss out on any other good horror games available on PC? Let me know in the comments section.