The world of gaming offers a huge list of haunting and immersive experiences that will leave you questioning your sanity. The Amnesia series is a good example of that, setting high standards for nerve-wracking horror titles. Very few games can instill the fear of the unknown in your heart like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and this list explores the titles that go shoulder-to-shoulder with it.
Dive into the futuristic nightmares of Observer or unravel the dark mysteries of Fran Bow. Explore the depths of the ocean in SOMA or navigate a cursed village in Siren. These psychological horror games will transport you to different realms, immersing you in their chilling atmospheres and unforgettable narratives.
Silent Hill 1 is a classic survival horror video game series that was originally released on the PlayStation 1 in 1999. It has since become a cult favorite among horror game fans. The title is recognized for its atmospheric environment, psychological horror aspects, and unsettling sound design.
The game takes place in the fictitious town of Silent Hill, which is enveloped in fog and infested by strange monsters. The gameplay is frequently stressful and nerve-racking, with players on the watch for danger lurking around every corner.
Silent Hill 2 follows the story of James Sunderland who travels to the fictional town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his deceased wife. The town is shrouded in fog, and as James navigates through it, he encounters a variety of supernatural creatures and uncovers the dark secrets of the town.
Both games deal with the themes of guilt, grief, and trauma contributing to the games’ disturbing atmosphere, making it a fully immersive horror experience. Since the game is over two-decades-old, the graphics might be dated, of course, but it is a must-play for any horror fan.
This game contains some of the scariest scenes in any horror game. Outlast takes place in an abandoned psychiatric institution in the mountains of Colorado, and you play as Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist. The hospital is overrun with deranged individuals, and you must navigate the dark and frightening surroundings to discover the facility’s terrible secrets. The tale is pretty fascinating, which makes you want to discover the mystery behind this facility.
Outlast has a tense and unsettling ambience with darkly lit hallways and frightening ambient sounds that keep players on edge. The usage of jump scares in the game is also effective, with the player never knowing when they would come across one.
However, you are entirely defenseless, and your only companions are your camera torch and a limited supply of batteries. Even for a 10-year-old game, it doesn’t look horrible, and if you like jump scares, Outlast is a great pick. You can also play Outlast 2, which is a good experience but couldn’t live up to its predecessor.
Layers of Fear
Layers of Fear, developed by the Bloober Team and released in 2016, follows the story of a troubled painter as he explores a mansion filled with supernatural occurrences and disturbing imagery.
The game focuses on atmospheric horror, psychological exploration, and puzzle-solving. With its immersive storytelling and intense atmosphere, it offers a captivating yet chilling experience. Central to the experience is the exploration of the protagonist’s psyche. The narrative unfolds gradually, revealing fragments of the painter’s troubled past and the events that led to his current state.
What sets Layers of Fear apart is its emphasis on atmospheric horror. As players navigate through the eerie corridors and dimly lit rooms of the mansion, they encounter supernatural occurrences, distorted realities, and disturbing imagery. The game creates a sense of unease and tension, using sound design, lighting, and environmental cues to unsettle the player’s senses. Plus, it has plenty of jump scares!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Before playing Amnesia: The Bunker, you should experience its predecessor, which is widely regarded as one of the finest horror games ever. Created by Frictional Games, it is set in a dark and gloomy castle where the player must explore the surroundings, solve riddles, and evade adversaries in order to survive.
The focus of Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a psychological dread. You begin the game as Daniel, waking up in a bathtub in a dark and foreign castle. You have no recollection of how you arrived or what you are doing. As you explore the castle, you must discover information about your history and the unusual events that occurred there.
The game’s dark and ominous backdrop evokes a real sense of dread, and the enemies are more frightening than scary- they symbolize the player’s personal concerns and fears. The enemies in the game might emerge at any time, keeping the player on edge. The plot is intricate and thought-provoking, delving into subjects such as sanity, memory, and the nature of reality.
Doki Doki Literature Club
In a sense, this game is truly a “psychological horror”. It is deliberately misleading with cute anime characters but soon takes a dark, disturbing turn. Doki Doki Literature Club is a psychological horror visual novel developed by Team Salvato.
The game is set in a high school where you join a literature club. The club is made up of four girls: Sayori, Natsuki, Yuri, and Monika. You can interact with the girls by writing poems and choosing dialogue options. As you progress through the game, you begin to uncover dark secrets about the girls and the literature club. The game takes a dark turn when Monika, the club president, begins to manipulate you and the other girls.
The game is not for the faint of heart. Its horror comes from its psychological elements, such as character manipulation and mind games. The game often breaks the fourth wall and interacts with you in a number of ways. It is equal parts unique and disturbing.
Until Dawn is an interactive survival horror game released in 2015 by Supermassive Games. The game is set in the secluded highlands of Western Canada, where a group of eight friends has gathered for a weekend getaway in a secret cabin.
The eight companions get trapped on the mountain, with a mysterious killer on the loose. You control each of the eight characters throughout the game, making decisions that affect the plot and the fate of the characters.
Until Dawn is a genuine story-driven horror and is one of the best psychological horror games out there. Your judgement will eventually determine the destiny of the group, which is already a terrifying concept – but regardless of the decisions they make, an unexpected narrative twist transforms the game from a basic thriller into one that effectively addresses subjects such as grief and mental health.
You can get this game if you seek a story-driven psychological horror. You may also play The Quarry, which was created by the same team and released in 2022.
In Fran Bow, you take on the role of Fran, a little girl who sees her parents’ horrible murder and is then sent to a mental facility.
Fran Bow is more than just “horror”; it covers topics of mental illness, trauma, and the power of creativity. Throughout the game, you travel to a dark and twisted environment, solving puzzles and interacting with strange individuals all while learning about Fran’s tragic background.
Fran Bow’s art style is creepy and mysterious. The hand-drawn visuals create a haunting and otherworldly environment that perfectly complements the game’s unsettling narrative. The game’s sound design and soundtrack also play a crucial role in building tension and a sense of dread. It’s a simple narrative point-and-click game, but it will definitely scratch your itch for psychological horror.
Project Siren’s survival horror video game series Siren was released by Sony Entertainment. Siren, which was originally launched in 2003 for the PlayStation 2 (exclusive), provides a unique and terrifying experience for horror game fans.
Siren is set in the remote town of Hanuda, where you are stuck in a mysterious and terrifying setting. The town is cursed, and its residents are transformed into monstrous monsters known as “Shibito.” Players must explore the surroundings, solve riddles, and avoid the Shibito while learning the curse’s terrible mysteries.
It has an innovative “sight-jacking” gameplay mechanic that allows players to see through the eyes of both the protagonist and the Shibito. It adds a level of tension and strategic decision-making as you plan your actions carefully to survive.
The game’s atmospheric presentation contributes greatly to its horror elements. The dark and eerie environments coupled with haunting sound design create a palpable sense of dread and isolation. The narrative is complex and non-linear, told through multiple interconnected scenarios that gradually reveal the intricate web of supernatural occurrences in Hanuda.
Observer is a first-person cyberpunk horror game in 2017. It is a one-of-a-kind immersive horror experience that blends aspects of detective games, cyberpunk aesthetics, and psychological horror to produce a wonderfully intriguing experience.
The game is set in a dystopian future in which humans are continually linked to a virtual environment via brain implants. You take on the role of Daniel Lazarski, an Observer – a special police officer who can hack into people’s thoughts to acquire information. Daniel is charged with looking into a string of deaths that appear to be linked to a shadowy business known as Chiron.
The narrative of Observer is twisted and convoluted, with frightening visuals and mind-bending scenes that test the player’s understanding of reality. The horror components in the game are not centered on jump scares, but rather on the gradual buildup of suspense and the sense of being continually observed.
The game combines detective work with stealth. To find clues and advance the plot, players must explore murder scenes, acquire evidence, and hack into people’s thoughts.
SOMA is a horror game set in an underwater research facility called PATHOS-II, where the player assumes the role of Simon Jarrett, a man who has been involved in a fatal car accident.
Simon awakens in the year 2104, with his consciousness transferred into a robotic body. As he explores PATHOS-II, Simon discovers that the facility is overrun by hostile machines and creatures, and he must navigate through the complex to find a way to escape.
The game’s narrative is dark, complex, and well-crafted with twists and turns that will keep you engaged and invested in the outcome. The game’s atmosphere is also incredibly immersive. The underwater setting creates a sense of isolation and claustrophobia, and the game’s sound design and visuals create a haunting and unsettling environment.