The 13 best horror games on Steam, for Halloween
Updated on October 31st, to refresh games. Originally by Matt Thrower
It's that time of year again when every good gamer's thoughts stray to horror titles.
That's no surprise. Video games put you directly into the thick of the action. That gives them an immediacy and a sense of ownership that books and films can only dream of.
This sense of being there is an obvious springboard for traditional scares. Yet it's also a passage to things deeper and more unsettling. The thought that you, as the protagonist, might have done unspeakable things. Unspeakable things we might all do if we were pushed far enough.
You'll find the best games in both categories below. Along with some top traditional survival horror titles. What you won't find is much in the way of action gaming. It's fear, not monsters, that make a horror game.
DEVOUR is a great game to play, especially if you have someone to spooky with you. This is a co-op horror survival game where you and three of your friends can stay together, trying to stop possessed cultists before they ensure you are one of them. You have the option to play alone, but who wants to when it comes to scary horror survival?
The game itself feature creepy graphics, horrifying gameplay, and lots of running, screaming, and hiding.Download DEVOUR
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Amnesia traps you in a mechanical vice. You are defenceless against the disfigured things that stalk the game. To surive you must hide in dark places until they go away. Yet spending too long in the dark drives you insane. Until beetles start crawling across your screen and your breath stumbles out in ragged gasps.
Alone, in the dark, with headphones on I could only manage this in small doses. After fifteen minutes I'd have to turn on a lamp and text someone, just for the comfort of human contact.Download Amnesia: The Dark Descent
The well known game from Frictional, the developer of Amnesia, trades shocks for something subtler and more insidious. SOMA tries to make you question your very humanity.
It's set in an abandoned underwater station where something has gone catastrophically wrong. There, you keep bumping into robots who believe they're people. And other robots who want to rip your head off. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that the former kind are actually the scarier ones.Download SOMA
Lone Survivor: The Director's Cut
With its pixel art visuals and side-scrolling gameplay you could mistake Lone Survivor for a cheerful indie adventure game or an RPG. Big mistake.
Lone Survivor is one of the darkest alleys in the indie gaming revolution. Most of humanity have transformed into faceless, shambling things. Your avatar represents what could be the last person on earth. As food and other essentials dwindle, it's bleak beyond belief.Download Lone Survivor: The Director's Cut
The sequel to Outlast, Outlast 2 is set in the same universe as the first game, but with a host of different settings and characters, as well as a new journey to take you on. You are still playing as an investigative journalist, this time a cameraman, who has been thrown deep into a cult in the middle of nowhere, in attempts to discover their secrets.
This is all through the murder of a pregnant women who doesn't even have a known name, and with a world so corrupt and isolated, there is a lot of madness that can be found.Download Outlast 2
Layers of Fear 2
More of a psychological horror, Layers of Fear 2 has you playing as an actor, who is meant to listen to the enigmatic director of the film, but the world is not what it means, and that is where you find yourself doing some dastardly actions, all because of what you are being told to do.
The atmosphere in Layers of Fear 2 is creepy, the place setting is horrific, and there is a lot to explore when isolated out at sea.Download Layers of Fear 2
For gamers of a certain age, Alien was their seminal horror film. It took 35 years and any number of badly executed franchise titles before it got a proper video game treatment. But it was worth waiting for.
As the unbeatable, extraterrestrial terror pursues you through the game, you'll see echoes of the original film everywhere. Not just in the visual and sound design, but in the classic message that often, people are worse than the monsters chasing them.Download Alien: Isolation
System Shock 2
During its tutorial, System Shock 2 looks like a typical sci-fi shooter. It maintains that pretence right up until the start of your mission aboard the spaceship Von Braun.
There you'll face some of the most memorably wicked antagonists in all of gaming.
All your guns, training and cyber-modules are of little avail when they're starved of ammunition and spare parts. It's survival horror of the purest variety.
Don't let the age of the game put you off. However jagged the graphics might appear, the ragged sounds of cyborg mutants stalking you in the dark isn't something that dates.Download System Shock 2
This is the only game on this list which is, unquestionably, an out-and-out shooter. Other games have guns, sure, but they ration bullets like their own blood. F.E.A.R. gives you the usual arsenal of a small private army to port around and point at people.
What earns the game its spot is the antagonist. A small, delicate ghost of a girl who lacks a face and can tear apart a whole special forces squad with a mere thought. Suddenly, you feel you can justify the fact you're carrying all those guns.Download F.E.A.R.
Alan Wake feels like a fan's attempt to squeeze the entire horror canon into a single game. From gore to ghost stories. From Lovecraft to King. It's all here.
The result is predictably unweildy. It can feel bloated and there are some uneasy shifts between action thrills and psychological chills. But with so much content and so much imagination, it's a case of throwing it all at the wall and finding an awful lot sticks nicely.Download Alan Wake
Resident Evil 4
The Resident Evil franchise pretty much invented modern survival horror. But many of the older games in the series feel slow and clumsy by current standards.
Even the much-vaunted fourth outing suffers from tank controls and obscure camera angles. They're there to increase the scare in what's otherwise a standard action game (Blasphemy! - ed). Between them and the menagerie of repulsively parasitised foes, Resident Evil 4 still supports more than its fair share of shocks.Download Resident Evil 4
The premise of fighting an army of nasties built from mangled corpses is a good start for any horror game. What made Dead Space special is how you fought them. Lopping off different body parts might disable or merely enrage your foes. By the time you found out which, it was often too late.
Later games in this series crossed the line into full-blooded third person shooters. You can see the original heading in that direction. But the scarcity of resources leaves the game with one foot in classic survival horror.Download Dead Space
Poppy Playtime is a horror puzzle adventure game where toys in a factory have come to life, and are looking to destroy you. You need to survive, stay alive, and hack electrical circuits in order to defeat these strange toys from taking over. The factory they have been left in is long abandoned, but you are looking to uncover the truth in it all.Download Poppy Playtime