Horror is one of the most popular gaming genres these days, as the actual world isn’t terrifying enough. Aside from AAA blockbusters like Resident Evil, indie developers are also producing some terrifying games. Some of the best horror comes from a very personal place, and because these independent games aren’t restricted by commercial expectations, they may push limits and get twisted in unexpected ways. Here are some excellent choices for your spooky PC this Halloween.
This game is even more astounding considering it began as a student project at Southern Methodist University’s Guildhall. Kraven Manor appears to be a standard “stuck in a haunted home” scenario at first appearance. However, you quickly realize that there is an unfinished scale model of the house inside, and that by finding rooms, you may add them to the model and dynamically change the layout of the real estate. It’s a brilliant gimmick that the team makes the most of because nothing is ever as it appears.
One of the most fascinating aspects of video games is their potential to induce various states of awareness. World of Horror, developed by Pawel Komiski in Poland, employs retro aesthetics to create a frightening experience. In the game, you explore the Japanese town of Shiokawa while fighting Lovecraftian creatures bent on bringing the world to an end. From the monochrome graphics to the enormous diversity of circumstances you can experience, this game has a strange and alien vibe to it. And every decision feels weighty and even catastrophic.
This evocative side-scrolling adventure does a fantastic job of immersing you in its universe. Your characters, a couple of students at a rural high school deep in the mountains, find themselves stuck after the bridge washes out in Taiwan in the 1960s, when the country is under martial law. The other students and faculty have all vanished, leaving only ghosts to warn that something truly horrible has occurred. This one is a must-play due to its great, subtle plot and flawless mechanics.
Few games have ever managed to conjure up an atmosphere of otherworldly fear quite like Ice Pick Lodge’s unusual survival horror experience. In Pathologic 2, you arrive in an unidentified town to discover that you’ve been accused of murder. But that’s the least of your worries, as a vicious epidemic is sweeping the streets, weird blood is oozing from the ground, and a slew of people need your help. Oh, and you only have 12 days to figure it all out before something catastrophic occurs. Pathologic 2 is a must-play for horror aficionados, despite being obtuse, awkward, and strange.
One of the essential tactics of horror is hiding terror behind innocuous objects, and cult 2017 hit Doki Doki Literature Club does it masterfully. On the surface, this appears to be a typical Japanese dating simulator, complete with bouncy girls to flirt with and bright anime artwork. But things rapidly go wrong when one of the females commits herself, and the game returns you to the title screen, corrupting all of your save files. Returning to Doki Doki Literature Club leads to a psychological nightmare that culminates in one of the deadliest game twists ever.
The 2017 platform game by Tarsier Studios features one of the most well-thought-out graphics of any game on this list. Six, a young girl in a yellow raincoat, is trapped underwater in a massive metal building and must find a way out while battling the strange life forms that share your confinement. Six and the player realize that there’s more going on in the Maw than meets the eye at first look, and hunger is a constant element throughout her escapades.
A first-person perspective, or occasionally a close third-person perspective, is used in the vast majority of horror games to maximize immersion. It’s a significant achievement for a game to choose a zoomed-out top-down view while still delivering goosebumps. Darkwood takes you on a journey through a rural area of Poland that is being engulfed by a mysterious forest. You can scavenge resources and communicate with NPCs in randomly created areas, but when night falls, you must seal your hideout and fend off hordes of animals ravenous for your blood. It’s tight, eerie, and endlessly replayable.
Konami’s cancellation of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro’s collaboration, with all we saw of it being the teaser demo P.T., was one of the worst disappointments in modern horror gaming. But SadSquare, a Canadian studio, decided to seize the opportunity and began development on Visage in 2015, a first-person horror game that drew inspiration from the ambiance and turned it into something unique. You must solve puzzles and hide from paranormal beings that murder you instantaneously in this game set in a plain 1980s suburban home. It’s a fantastic debut effort from a brand-new studio that is absolutely terrifying.
Horror is effective because it pushes us past the barriers we set in our life, forcing us to confront things we would rather avoid. IMSCARED by Ivan Zanotti performs the same thing with your computer. While the primary gameplay of first-person exploration and jumpscares isn’t groundbreaking, the way IMSCARED interacts with you outside of it is. White Face, the game’s adversary, lives on your computer as malicious malware that “crashes” the game to your desktop, opens browser windows, plays videos, and more. Only games are capable of blurring lines in this manner.
There isn’t a list of indie horror games that doesn’t include Frictional’s genre-defying 2010 release. You awaken as Daniel inside the ominous Castle Brennenburg with only one memory: you are being pursued. The darkness is your biggest enemy, as an eldritch, sinister presence stalks around. The atmosphere in this game is unrivaled; by focusing on minimum interactions and avoiding fighting entirely, you feel legitimately terrified by the events taking place around you. Add in a finely crafted sanity mechanic, in which spending too much time in the dark begins to warp Daniel’s views, and you’ve got yourself a game that will give you nightmares for weeks.