Animation and video games have always been pushing the boundaries of live-action storytelling. This is most evident with video games and those belonging to its most engaging genre: horror. Horror games for decades have been defined by gripping gameplay elements that heighten the senses and make players more susceptible to the effects of various horror themes.
Hardcore horror gamers may suggest that single player is the only way to truly experience the genre. After all, there are countless YouTubers who have amassed quite a fortune just by overreacting to horror games proving Andy Warhol’s prediction on 15 minutes of fame.
However, we believe, multiplayer games take horror to the next level. The engagement that multiplayer horror games offer, brings the horror element to life as you unravel mysteries, inadvertently unleash monsters and eventually find a way to vanquish the threat or simply escape. Here are some multiplayer horror masterpieces that would scare you out of your skin even with a dozen people around you.
15. Resident Evil 5
Release Year: 2009 | Platforms: PS 3/4, Xbox 360/One, Nintendo Switch, Android, Microsoft Windows, Nvidia Shield TV
Compared to the film series, Resident Evil 5 may be a masterpiece, but as far as the game series is concerned, it might as well be the runt of the litter. Make no mistake, Resident Evil 5 delivers well on action, but the survival horror elements leave a lot to be desired, compared to what previous titles had offered. Nonetheless, the co-op element is the highlight of this Capcom classic. The entire campaign can be played in co-op mode and that is where the action element makes up for the departure from the series’ quintessential survival elements.
Resident Evil 5 also has a mercenary mode which you can unlock after completing the main game. This mode allows timer-based gameplay where you face waves of zombie hordes.
14. Left 4 Dead 2
Release Year: 2008 (First Game) | Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Mac OS
There is an ancient saying, ‘he, who is tired of Valve, is tired of life.’ The company is yet to release a game that hasn’t had gamers in complete awe. The Left 4 Dead series is a glorious example of how Valve creates classic masterpieces especially when it comes to FPS games. These games defined the co-op survival horror genre and gave the zombie genre an edge that the Resident Evil Games never had.
The co-op campaign mode in the second iteration of the game has features which largely improve upon the original title’s already great gameplay. Left 4 Dead 2 also features a pvp mode where two teams of 4 are pitted against each other as one team plays as the humans and the other, the ravaging zombies.
13. The Forest
Release Year: 2018 | Platforms: PS4, Microsoft Windows
Endnight Games’ The Forest is a survival horror RPG that is suited for every type of gameplay. You can play this game solo and endear impossible odds or rally as many friends as you can muster and make this a wholesome horror campaign. Although the game recommends a maximum of 8 players for a seamless and engaging playthrough, you’ll find that this game offers very little safety even in great numbers.
The Forest starts just like most classic horror games – with a plane crash. You are then expected to fight off countless hordes of cannibals, wolves and sharks to find your kidnapped son. If you are brave enough to set off on this venture, the game will show you why it truly does take a whole village to do so.
12. Hunt: Showdown
Release Year: 2019(Windows/Xbox) 2020 (PS4) | Platforms: PS 4/5, Xbox One/ Series X|S, Microsoft Windows
While dodging and surviving is extremely thrilling, nothing beats hunting down and killing any monster sorry enough to cross your path. Hunt: Showdown is an engaging horror FPS that borrows heavily from stories like Van Helsing. You play as a bounty hunter that has to hunt down four monsters by using the latest in monster hunting technology that was available in the year 1895.
The game can be played both solo and in co-op mode. The co-op mode comes with a twist that makes the game twice as exciting. It is not mandatory for multiple players to go after the targets together. You can spend the entire game thwarting other players’ efforts and try getting the bounty for yourself.
Release Year: 2023 | Platform: Microsoft Windows, Linux, MacOS
Undertow Games’ ambitious horror release this year is an excellent 2D game with some realistic and thoroughly engaging gameplay. On the surface it is an underwater sci-fi game, but at its core it is a sub simulator that is going to give you a run for your money.
While doing all of the submarine stuff like crafting, crew management, navigation, etc., you also have to deal with the monsters that the game procedurally generates. Of course, then there is the co-op stuff. The game allows up to 16 players who can man the submarine and co-ordinate to navigate through the game. Some of you might think all this seems out of this world. It is actually, since the game is set on Jupiter’s moon Europa.
10. Dying Light Series
Release Year: 2015/2022 | Platforms: Xbox One/ Series X|S, PS 4/5, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch
Those of you that are familiar with Dead Island will draw many comparisons with the Dying Light titles. But this series introduced some remarkable zombie FPS elements that defined the genre. The multiplayer is obviously the highlight of both Dying light games despite the engaging co-op mode. The competitive mode is sure to keep gamers engaged for hours on end and at the edge of their seats. There is also the ‘be the zombie’ mode, where you get to play as a zombie looking to terrorize other players.
9. Dead Space 3
Release Year: 2013 | Xbox 360/Cloud Gaming, PS 3, Microsoft Windows
Dead Space 3 is a great addition to the action horror genre and much like both its predecessors has a pretty good story. You can enjoy the game solo or in co-op mode. The latter of course come with a lot of features that make up for some missing gameplay elements in the solo campaign. This game nails it in terms of ambiance and it’s a treat to play with a buddy.
8. Dread Hunger
Release Year: 2022 | Platform: Microsoft Windows
This survival horror co-op game is bound to give you chills. Set in the vast unforgiving frigid arctic north, this eight-player game has tons of elements that you need to manage to survive. This also includes the ship you get stranded in at the start of the game. Yes, you get to captain a ship in Dread Hunger, but it’s easier said than done. To get the vessel shipshape and Bristol fashion or something close enough, you need to hunt for materials in the cold wastes of the Arctic.
If wolves and polar bears weren’t enough of a trouble in your quest, the game also allows two players to have dark magical powers and use them against their own teammates. Then of course, there are the typical snow monsters to make your first trip to the Arctic an absolutely miserable one.
7. F.E.A.R 3
Release Year: 2011 | Xbox 360, PS 3, Microsoft Windows
Stylized as F.3.A.R, this is the last title in Day1 Studios’ psychological horror franchise and arguably the best one. This is also the only game in the main series to have multiplayer. The main storyline with four different co-op modes to suit your tastes.
The F.E.A.R franchise is among the very few games that get both the horror and action elements right. The psychological thriller element makes this a great choice for co-op gameplay. This is also the only game in the popular franchise to have more than one ending.
Release Year: 2005 | Platforms: Xbox, PS 2, Microsoft Windows
Much like the game’s title, its existence has been obscure. This is surprising, considering how important this game is to the survival horror genre. Much like every other horror game at the time, Obscure borrows heavily from the Silent Hill games, but with neat touches that improved upon gameplay elements that felt lackluster in Konami’s classic franchise.
However, Obscure’s greatest feat as a survival horror game is the fact that it was the first one to have a multiplayer option. The game featured a well-designed co-op mode which can be experienced on a single split screen. The gameplay experience is also better in the co-op mode. This is truly remarkable considering how online games with survival or horror elements were well over a decade away.
5. The Outlast Trials
Release Year: 2023 | Platform: Microsoft Windows
Red Barrels’ Outlast series features some of the best horror games ever made. The entire series incorporates psychological horror along with some incredible storytelling. The gameplay emphasises on stealth and survival elements which are well-thought out and incorporate some clever elements like the use of a camcorder to see in the dark.
If anything was ever lacking in the franchise, it was a multiplayer option. That is exactly what The Outlast Trials title offers, and boy did they deliver! This game is a great example of how to transition from single player to multiplayer without losing the game’s original ethos. The game has some features which are best experienced with a friend.
4. Ghost Watchers
Release Year: Early Access (Initial Release 2018) | Platform: Microsoft Windows
Ghost Watchers is a well-crafted horror co-op game that combines mystery and horror elements with co-op gameplay. Despite still being in early access, this game has all the making of a horror classic. The premise of the game is to investigate haunted mansions and capture ghosts. While this game is almost a serious take on Ghost Busters at this point, it is the co-op horror gameplay that makes up for some missing aspects which could be added soon.
Release Year: Early Access (Initial Release 2020) | Platform: Microsoft Windows
Kinetic Games’ ambitious horror game looks to invoke exactly what the title means, an intense fear of ghosts. This co-op horror game distinguishes itself with the fact that players aren’t meant to fight the spectral beings, but just identify and dodge them. Of course the ghosts don’t have any such limitations, their goal is to chase you down and devour whatever it is they feel like devouring.
Phasmophobia has a wide range of ghosts, just in case one horrid spirit type didn’t satisfy your urge to be scared to the bone. Gameplay elements include aspects such as the now popular sanity meter, EMF meters and all the good stuff.
Release Year: 2017 | Platforms: Microsoft Windows, GeForce Now
This is a game that delivers by living up to its title. Deceit follows popular escape room themes but with a twist. Two of the players are infected and their goal contrary to that of other players is to consume blood bags to unleash the monster within and kill the compatriots to escape. So, what might start out as a simple puzzle soon turns into one of the most intense horror games which test your social skills and the bond you share with other players.
The motive for the non-infected players is to find the infected through various means, all of which involve social decisions which could alienate players. Too bad the game does not have the Kurt Russell’s Petri dish and hot wire test.
1. Sign of Silence
Release Year: 2020| Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
While the title may sound like the soothing Simon and Garfunkel classic, the game is anything but that. The town of Danville where the events of Sign of Silence unfold may seem harmless at first. But, as you venture further, you find that that the resident cultists and monsters are less than welcoming. As you figure out which one is the better of two evils, you explore more about the venues of escape. In all this, the only solace is that you have your friends with you in your misadventure.