8 of the most nerve-wracking horror video games to play

These games will make you feel like something is hiding in the shadows.
Dead Space, courtesy of EA Games
Dead Space, courtesy of EA Games /

With summer approaching, now feels like a good time to hunker down on those days that are way too hot to go outside and play a new horror video game. We might as well start prepping for the Halloween season, right?

Obviously, these aren't all of the terrifying horror games out there. I didn't include some popular ones, like Outlast and The Evil Within, because I haven't played them yet. But out of the many horror games I have checked out over the years, these are the ones that really stick out to me the most.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017)

General consensus points to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard as not only the scariest Resident Evil game but also one of the scariest horror games of all time. I loved this game—the ambiance, the storyline, the oddities, and all of the glorious, disturbing, and horrific moments, from Jack to Marguerite. After the previous entries veered off into more action-horror territory, Biohazard was a stark and harrowing return to survival horror.

Resident Evil 2 (2019)

I've never played the original Resident Evil 2, so my only experience is with the 2019 remake. I loved it, but the game terrified me even more than Biohazard. Why? A simple reason: Mr. X. I know many fans find him laughable or can use mods to edit their experience, but I've always found stalker mechanics to be the most frightening in video games.

Mr. X, in particular, because you can hear his heavy footsteps coming toward you, and it's nerve-wracking. And he follows you for most of the game, so it's not like you can get through a few scripted portions and then carry on, like with Biohazard and Resident Evil 3's Nemesis.

Silent Hill 2 (2001)

You can't really talk about horror video games without one of the most iconic franchises of all time, with Silent Hill 2 considered one of the best of the best. A remake is currently in the works, so now feels like a great time to revisit this one and remember why it was so scary.

Alien: Isolation (2014)

Set within the same universe as the iconic Alien franchise, Alien: Isolation is an exercise in tension-building as one of the most dread-inducing video games I've ever played. Sort of like Resident Evil 2, you can feel the constant creeping unease that comes with being watched and stalked by a nightmarish presence.

Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location (2016)

This entry into the popular franchise might not be the most outright scary, but it has deeply psychological scares and some of the most frightening stories and lore in the franchise. It's a fan favorite for a good reason!

Dead Space (2023)

A remake of the original 2008 video game, Dead Space is largely considered one of 2023's best games and the definitive version of the game as it cleans up a lot of the more annoying or tedious moments from the original. Isaac Clarke is back on his mission to investigate the mining ship known as USG Ishimura, but as fans know, his mission soon goes terribly wrong.

The Callisto Protocol (2022)

The Callisto Protocol received mixed-to-negative reviews upon its release, but I ended up liking this game a lot and found it quite frightening. While maybe not as scary as some other entries on this list, The Callisto Protocol is an immersive, story-driven experience with great visuals.

Set 300 years in the future, the game follows protagonist Jacob Lee as he tries to escape from a prison where the inmates are transforming into horrifying monsters. I didn't play this game at launch, so I can't speak to the state it was first available in, but I didn't run into any bugs when I played it just a few months ago. I'll fully admit that The Callisto Protocol doesn't really introduce anything "new" to the genre and isn't as good as the Dead Space remake, but it executes a familiar premise really well.

Until Dawn (2015)

I didn't actually find Until Dawn that scary apart from a few jump scares, but it plays out like an excellent and atmospheric horror movie, completely with great cinematics. If you're new to horror games like I was when I played this one for the first time, this is a great game to ease you into the genre and a damn good one at that.

Those who end up liking it can check out Supermassive Games' other horror games in The Dark Pictures Anthology and keep an eye out for the planned Until Dawn remaster coming to PS5.

dark. Next. Best horror movies still to come in 2024. Best horror movies still to come in 2024