Fright Factor: Rounding Up Today’s Best Horror Games

A modified version of this feature originally appeared in issue #294 of Game Informer magazine.

Halloween is here, which means now is the perfect time to brush up on some horror. Luckily, the past decade delivered a surge of quality spooky games on modern consoles. The genre has gone through ups and downs, but it’s also had its share of novelties. We’ve seen a swelling of combat-free first-person horror experiences, psychological terrors that tackle existential themes, and multiplayer horror influenced by slasher films.

Horror manifests itself in video games in several ways, like limiting players with scarce resources, or frightening them with jump scares. With so many titles to choose from, it can be difficult to know which are worth checking out, so we’ve made a list of recent scary games you won’t regret playing. This roundup will aid you in finding the right game for the perfect occasion, whether you’re looking for a good scare, a thrill ride, or an ominous storyline.

Note: This list pertains exclusively to horror games that are compatible with current generation consoles such as newer titles, HD collections, and remasters.

Jump Scares

Jump scares – despite their overuse – can be incredibly effective in making you leap out of your seat. It’s one of the oldest horror tropes around, seen in several popular horror game franchises from Resident Evil to Silent Hill. Here are some recent games that use them effectively.

Fright Factor: Rounding Up Today's Best Horror Games

Observer
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Taking place in a rundown apartment complex overrun with both monsters and psychological terrors, Observer tasks you with finding your missing son and unraveling a corporate conspiracy. Despite its strong leanings toward science fiction, Observer is nonetheless a horrific experience filled with effective jump scares. You play as a specialized police officer with cybernetic augmentations who enters the minds of others to recreate crime scenes. It’s a clever take on cyberpunk, where you directly explore the horrors of the mind and take on the traumas of others in trippy hallucinations.

Fright Factor: Rounding Up Today's Best Horror Games

Outlast 2
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Set in rural Arizona, Red Barrels’ Outlast 2 puts you in the shoes of a journalist looking for his wife who was kidnapped by a vicious cult. A majority of the game unfolds in the dark, as you look through your night vision camera to see. You roam through one isolated town to the next, finding plenty of supernatural forces that sneak behind you at a moment’s notice or machete-wielding cultists that pop around corners. Outlast 2 offers one terror after the next, making it an intense experience.

Fright Factor: Rounding Up Today's Best Horror Games

Resident Evil 7
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

As one of the most revered and longstand- ing horror-game franchises, Resident Evil’s newest entry was met with big expectations. While continuing many series traditions, it successfully sets itself apart with a first- person perspective, a Southern setting, and the ability to play in VR. Resident Evil 7 excels in its brooding atmosphere, tense boss fights, and skin-crawling jump scares such as a chainsaw-wielding enemy appearing without warning, or hundreds of tiny spiders falling onto your arms.

Slasher Showdowns

One of the most memorable scenes from slasher films are when the enemy is on the hunt for a helpless victim. Your heartbeat quickens and you hold your breath as you watch. Certain games bring this horror to life, by pitting you against other friends in multiplayer matches as you take turns being the hunter and the hunted. Multiplayer horror is scarce, but when done right, it can be a delightfully terrifying experience.

Fright Factor: Rounding Up Today's Best Horror Games

Dead By Daylight
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Behaviour Interactive’s Dead By Daylight is an asymmetrical multiplayer game that has one player as the killer and four others who attempt to stay alive. The victims search around the map for generators to power the exits. If they manage to power them all up, they can escape – unless the killer stops them. The disfigured murderer stalking the victims can set bear traps and even become invisible, making them incredibly powerful. Dead By Daylight is largely a game of quick thinking to outsmart your deadly opponent.

Fright Factor: Rounding Up Today's Best Horror Games

Friday the 13th
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Story-driven Spooks

Horror is a polarizing genre when it comes to storytelling, and finding a well-told narrative can be tough. With studios like Giant Sparrow and Supermassive crafting fascinating worlds and characters, however, they manage to show us that scary stories can still be engaging. If you’re looking for a choice-driven or movie-like experience that keeps you on the edge of your seat, these titles are worth your time.

Fright Factor: Rounding Up Today's Best Horror Games

Until Dawn
Platform: PlayStation 4

Taking heavy influence from the ‘80s slasher film genre, Until Dawn is about a group of teens who face unimaginable terrors while staying at a cabin in the woods. As the kids get split up and killed off, you get to play as each teen in separate sequences, which gives off an interactive horror movie vibe. Your story unfolds uniquely depending on your choices, and certain decisions have a butterfly effect, creating unexpected consequences down the line. Who lives and dies depends on you, making this a thrilling ride best played with a group of friends.

Fright Factor: Rounding Up Today's Best Horror Games

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Platform: PlayStation 4, PC

This adventure game from developer The Astronauts has you explore the rural countryside to unravel a mystery about a young boy, Ethan, who unleashed a supernatural monster from another dimension. Playing as a paranormal investigator, you spend time searching different areas for clues and notes that help you piece together the story of what happened to Ethan. Although slow-paced, the narrative is compelling enough to keep you hooked as you uncover the truth.

Fright Factor: Rounding Up Today's Best Horror Games

What Remains of Edith Finch
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

One of the best adventure games of the year thus far, Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch tells a morbid, tragic, and at times heartwarming story about a family plagued by a curse. Playing as Edith, the last remaining Finch, you return home to discover what happened to your ancestors who faced untimely deaths. With its intricate attention to detail, vignette storytelling, and characters who feel alive despite their passing, What Remains of Edith Finch is a haunting tale that will stick with you long after it’s over.

Continue reading on the next page to learn about horror games with psychological horror and gore…

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