40. The Light Keeps Us Safe
Welcome to a dark and desolate future in which terrifying machines stalk the land in search of the last light of humanity. The Light Keeps Us Safe is a survival horror hinged on stealth and evasion in which light is a dying commodity. Following an apocalyptic event, the sky has gone dark with food, water and power all a rapidly vanishing memory. You need to get to the surface and find out what is left of the world if you ever hope to survive.
It won’t be easy though, deadly traps and even deadly machines now inhabit the dark surface of the Earth. Only light can save you from certain doom so you’ll have to try and piece systems back together in this challenging survival game through a series of puzzles. Perpetually hunted this is no easy task but the pay off is your life. Nothing like an existential threat to really give you a kick up the backside and start problem-solving. Who knows, you might even figure out what’s going on.
Unless you’ve been cowering under a rock for years, you’ll have noticed that roguelikes are pretty in vogue right now. So it was only a matter of time until a horror game combined roguelike permadeath mechanics, making the prospect of dying even scarier. Enter Monstrum.
In Monstrum, you’re alone – or perhaps not quite alone – on an abandoned wreckage of a ship. Your main objective is to make it out of there, scouting out the exits and finding items that you need to reach it. But the ship design and its item locations change with every playthrough. Oh, and you’ll be pursued by one of three monsters that’s determined to never let you leave.
If you enjoy Monstrum, there’s also Monstrum 2 to anticipate some time in 2020, which should hopefully build on the great foundations of the first.
38. Close To The Sun
Comparisons between Close to the Sun and BioShock are inevitable, with their classic Art Deco styling, setting with a proximity to water and historical parallel universe. But while BioShock was no stranger to creepy and scary moments, Close to the Sun doubles down on the horror elements.
You play Rose Archer, a journalist on board an enormous ship called the Helios. A self-proclaimed haven for the world’s greatest scientific minds, it features whole laboratories and the likes of Nikola Tesla. But soon enough, science gets the better of them.
The ship becomes riddled with ‘temporal anomalies,’ bizarre forces borne from the energy the Helios emits. These can conveniently turn out the lights at will. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a knife-wielding maniac with a particular vendetta against you. And unlike BioShock, you can’t shoot enemies, instead hiding from them or fleeing when spotted.
37. Slender: The Arrival
It was inevitable that the infamous creepypasta would eventually make it into video game form. Slender: The Arrival takes everyone’s favourite tallboy beyond his experimental forst outing, The Eight Pages and into something more expansive.
Featuring a fully fleshed out story and improved visuals this latest take on the cult horror icon is more terrifying than fans could ever imagine. The woods is a lonely place and there’s no one around to hear your screams.
Like many modern first-person horror games, it takes somewhat of an Outlast approach switching between the character seeing events unfold in real-time and through their camera. it retains all the great atmosphere of the original adding more layers of creepiness as the story unfolds. There’s more to Slenderman than the meme it seems.
36. Among The Sleep
There’s something about a child’s imagination that is ripe for invoking fears of nighttime monsters. Among the Sleep has you play as a toddler exploring bizarre, creepy environments while pursued by a terrifying figure. By searching for objects that relate to your mother, you hope to leave the nightmarish world and be reunited with her.
Unsurprisingly, as a toddler you’re pretty defenceless. When the monster chases you, the best you can hope for is to hide or escape to another part of the level. And even running is easier said than done, with your little baby legs giving way if you try to run for too long.
Thankfully, you’ve at least got an ally in this dreamlike adventure – Teddy. Yes, Teddy is an actual teddy bear that can walk and talk, as well as temporarily emit light when you hug him to stave off the darkness. Among the Sleep is worth checking out for its commitment to a child’s perspective in delivering horror.
35. Uncanny Valley
Uncanny Valley is a pixel-art love letter to Silent Hill and the survival horror games that established the genre in the late ’90s. Blending a unique mix of puzzles and exploration with interspersed action it follows a mind-bending story of intrigue and deception.
You step into the shoes of Tom, a security guard at a remote facility – classic. After getting bored during his long night shifts he decides to start poking around a bit and see what he’s actually guarding. As you can imagine this doesn’t end well.
Featuring a unique consequence system, Uncanny Valley sets itself apart from the usual entries in the genre as something a little more nuanced. You can fail at most of the game’s challenges but don’t often see a game over screen. Instead, the game goes on and your character suffers the consequences of their mistakes as they move forward. And to think, you thought games were supposed to be about escapism, no second chances here.
34. Pathologic 2
If you like your survival horror to have an emphasis on the ‘survival,’ Pathologic 2 may be just what you’re looking for. This stubbornly unforgiving game will challenge and punish you at every turn as you try to last for twelve days in its deadly village.
You play a surgeon known as Haruspex, who returns to your hometown after several years away. If a foreboding letter from your father and surreal visions while en route weren’t bad enough, you’re immediately lynched upon arrival. And things only take a turn for the worse from there.
The town is beset by a vicious plague, and you desperately have to try and save as many as you can. Pathologic revels in darkness and its bizarre setting and story, which you’ll uncover more of if you survive long enough – you have to satiate your hunger, thirst and tiredness to keep on going. Good luck, you’ll need it!
33. SCP-087 (The Stairwell)
Many of the best indie horror games are born out of the internet’s best creepy pastas. In the case of The Stairwell, inspiration comes not from the hidden folklore living in the history books of the world wide web but instead from a community fictional project.
The SCP Foundation is a collection of fictional documents detailing a range of paranormal and threatening events, objects, places, and people. The Stairwell takes information around the SCP-087 entry as its starting point, developing an intense horror experience around a mysterious staircase haunted by creepy child voices and horrific apparitions.
32. the static speaks my name
Sometimes, what can make horror games particularly creepy is a more subtle and ambiguous approach to their story, leaving the player bewildered at times. This is a tactic which the static speaks my name uses to brilliant effect, letting you piece together the meaning of its setting and the bizarre things within it.
the static speaks my name takes place in your house, a home that you’ll soon discover is atypical to say the least. True to its name, there are televisions stacked together with nothing but static playing on them. The windows are boarded up and the house has some pretty weird forms of decoration alongside the TV units, including a room plastered in variations of a tropical painting.
Needless to say, there’s something not quite right with your protagonist and the house he inhabits. Though this isn’t the sort of horror game with jump scares and fights for your life, the static speaks my name leaves its mark on you with its creepy breed of psychological horror.
31. Blair Witch
It’s been two decades since The Blair Witch Project first graced our cinema screens with its now-iconic found footage style. While a trilogy of fairly obscure spin-off games was released shortly after to mixed reception, we’ve not seen nor heard much from the witch since. Enter Bloober Team, the well-seasoned indie horror developers to bring the classic screeching into the modern-day.
Set just a couple of years after the events of the original film, you play a police officer investigating the disappearance of a young boy in a forest. It won’t be any surprise to hear that this investigation uncovers a lot more than you were bargaining for, as Bloober employ their trademark psychological horror talents to mess with your head.
Thankfully, you’re not in it completely alone. Accompanying you on your terrifying mission is your trusty German Shepherd, Bullet. He’ll do his best to follow your commands and help you explore the forest – good boy!