The Top Best Horror Games to Play in the Dark: A 2023 Guide

As the sun sets and darkness envelops the room, there’s no better time to dive into the world of horror gaming. In this 2023 guide, we spotlight the most chilling and thrilling horror games that are best experienced with the lights off. From survival horror masterpieces that redefine fear to psychological thrillers that will haunt your dreams, indie gems with low-budget but high-impact scares, cooperative frights you can share with friends, and timeless classics that still terrify, this guide has something for every horror aficionado.

Key Takeaways

  • Survival horror games like ‘Darkwood’ and the ‘Outlast’ series push the boundaries of fear with their punishingly atmospheric and intense gameplay.
  • Psychological horror games, including ‘Detention’ and ‘Amnesia’, offer a deep dive into darkness and despair, challenging the player’s mind as much as their nerves.
  • Indie horror titles such as ‘Little Nightmares II’ and ‘Layers of Fear: Legacy’ prove that creativity and terror aren’t limited by budget, delivering unforgettable scares.
  • Multiplayer and VR horror games like ‘Dead by Daylight’ and those available for the Meta Quest 2 offer new ways to experience fear, with shared scares or immersive frights.
  • Revisiting classic horror games such as ‘Eternal Darkness’ and ‘Resident Evil Revelations’ reminds us that true horror withstands the test of time, remaining as terrifying as ever.

Survival Horror Masterpieces: Games That Redefine Fear

Survival Horror Masterpieces: Games That Redefine Fear

Darkwood: A Punishingly Atmospheric Adventure

Immerse yourself in the eerie woodlands of Darkwood, a game that has been lauded for its ability to instill a deep sense of dread and unease. The game’s top-down perspective enhances the horror, as it forces players to rely on their hearing and imagination to anticipate the terrors that lurk just out of sight. With its complex narrative and unforgiving gameplay, Darkwood offers a uniquely challenging experience that horror aficionados should not miss.

The game’s mechanics are designed to make you feel vulnerable, with limited resources and a world that changes layout every time you play. Survival in Darkwood requires strategic thinking and careful management of the following:

  • Scavenged resources
  • Safehouse fortifications
  • Stealth and combat decisions

Darkwood’s atmosphere is thick with tension, and its storytelling is as compelling as it is cryptic. The game doesn’t hold your hand, pushing you to piece together the story from environmental clues and NPC interactions.

While Darkwood may not have the widespread recognition of some mainstream titles, it stands out as a masterpiece in the realm of top-down horror games. Its commitment to a punishing yet rewarding gameplay experience makes it a must-play for those who dare to brave its dark, twisted world.

Layers of Fear: A Hauntingly Beautiful Psychological Journey

Dive into the twisted world of Layers of Fear, where every step is a psychological battle against the unknown. This game is not just about the scares; it’s an artistic exploration of a troubled mind. As you navigate the eerie corridors of a seemingly alive mansion, the environment shifts and warps in response to your movements, creating a uniquely unsettling experience.

The true essence of horror in Layers of Fear is its ability to surprise and keep players on edge. Even when you think you’ve grasped the pattern, the game throws a curveball that shatters your expectations.

While the game excels in atmospheric tension, some players have noted technical issues such as low frame rates and occasional glitches. Despite these hiccups, the game’s immersive storytelling and innovative scare tactics have earned it a solid reputation among horror enthusiasts.

Here’s a quick glance at the game’s reception:

Platform Meta Store Rating
Switch 4.1
PS4 4.1
Xbox One 4.1
PC 4.1

For those brave enough to face their fears, Layers of Fear offers a journey that’s as haunting as it is beautiful. Just remember, in this game, the biggest threat isn’t lurking in the shadows—it’s hiding in the corners of your own mind.

Outlast Series: The Pinnacle of Survival Horror

The Outlast series has cemented its place in the annals of horror gaming with its unrelenting tension and chilling atmosphere. The original Outlast: Bundle of Terror set a new standard for indie survival horror, thrusting players into the depths of a derelict asylum with nothing but a camera to guide them. Its sequel, Outlast 2, continues the terrifying tradition, placing you in the shoes of investigative journalists navigating a nightmarish rural America.

The series is notorious for its ability to induce a palpable sense of dread, with many players claiming it requires nerves of steel to endure the games’ relentless scares. The Outlast Trials, the latest addition, introduces a cooperative experience, allowing players to face the horrors together.

The graphics and fear factor of The Outlast Trials are particularly noteworthy, even in its early-access stage, promising a harrowing journey where teamwork is key, but survival is not guaranteed for all.

Here’s a quick look at the Outlast series’ impact:

  • Originality: Indie horror redefined with a fresh perspective.
  • Gameplay: Intense survival mechanics with a focus on evasion and stealth.
  • Atmosphere: Deeply immersive environments that keep players on edge.
  • Co-op Play: The Outlast Trials adds a new dimension with cooperative play.

Whether you’re a seasoned horror aficionado or a newcomer to the genre, the Outlast series offers an experience that is as unforgettable as it is terrifying.

Psychological Thrillers: Mind-Bending Games That Will Haunt You

Psychological Thrillers: Mind-Bending Games That Will Haunt You

Detention: A Chilling Tale Rooted in East Asian Folklore

In the realm of psychological horror, Detention stands out as a poignant exploration of historical trauma and cultural superstitions. Set against the backdrop of 1960s Taiwan during the White Terror period, the game weaves a narrative that is as educational as it is terrifying. Players navigate a desolate school, encountering spirits and unraveling a story steeped in East Asian folklore.

The game’s ability to blend real-world history with supernatural elements creates an immersive experience that resonates with players long after the credits roll. Detention’s atmospheric tension is heightened by its art style and sound design, which pay homage to the era and setting.

Detention is not just a game; it’s a journey through a dark chapter of history, a cultural lesson wrapped in a ghost story.

While the gameplay may be considered by some as slightly lacklustre, the plot’s descent into madness and the game’s dedication to subverting expectations for a scare are commendable. It’s a title that, despite any gameplay shortcomings, delivers an unforgettable horror experience.

Amnesia Series: A Descent into Darkness and Despair

The Amnesia series, developed by Frictional Games, is a beacon of the survival horror genre, offering an experience that is as immersive as it is terrifying. Players are plunged into a world where memory is fleeting and darkness is a constant companion. The gameplay emphasizes exploration, puzzle-solving, and avoiding the horrors that lurk in the shadows rather than confronting them.

The essence of Amnesia lies in its ability to manipulate the player’s sense of reality, creating an atmosphere thick with tension and uncertainty.

With titles like ‘Amnesia: The Dark Descent’ leading the charge, the series has become synonymous with psychological horror. The game’s interactive environment, which benefits from the precision of a keyboard and mouse, allows for a nuanced and tactile experience as players drag, drop, and combine items to navigate through the nightmare.

Here’s a quick glance at the game’s key details:

Platform(s) Release Date Developer Genre
Multiple, including PS4, Nintendo Switch, Android, Xbox One, Windows, macOS September 8, 2010 Frictional Games Survival Horror, Indie, Adventure, Action, Puzzle

Alien Isolation: A Terrifyingly Realistic Encounter with Fear

In the realm of horror gaming, Alien: Isolation stands out as a beacon of terror, masterfully capturing the essence of dread that fans of the genre crave. The game’s ability to evoke a palpable sense of fear is unparalleled, making it a must-play for those who dare to challenge the darkness.

  • Atmosphere: The game’s environment is a character in itself, oozing with tension and foreboding.
  • Gameplay: A relentless alien adversary ensures that players are always on edge.
  • Sound Design: Every creak and whisper amplifies the horror, immersing players in a nightmare.

Alien: Isolation is not just a game; it’s an experience that tests the limits of your courage. With each step, the game tightens its grip, leaving you breathless and on the brink of panic. It’s a journey through the corridors of fear that will linger long after the screen goes dark.

Indie Horror Gems: Low-Budget, High-Impact Scares

Indie Horror Gems: Low-Budget, High-Impact Scares

Little Nightmares II: A Darkly Whimsical World of Terrors

Stepping into the shoes of Mono, players are plunged into a world distorted by mystery. Little Nightmares II builds upon its predecessor’s foundation with a blend of suspense and adventure that captivates from the outset. The game’s strengths lie in its engaging pacing and the diversity of its level design, which together create an experience that’s as visually stunning as it is performance-driven.

Despite the occasional imprecision inherent to its genre and some segments that lean towards trial-and-error gameplay, Little Nightmares II stands out as a sequel that not only meets but exceeds expectations. The game’s ability to maintain a gripping atmosphere throughout is a testament to its well-crafted horror elements.

Little Nightmares II is a testament to the power of atmospheric horror in video games. Its ability to immerse players in its eerie world is unmatched, making it a must-play title for fans of the genre.

For those seeking a chilling experience on the Nintendo Switch, Little Nightmares II is a prime choice, earning a solid score on various review platforms. Its release on the 11th of February 2021 marked a significant addition to the library of horror games available on the console.

Layers of Fear: Legacy – A Masterpiece Reimagined

Layers of Fear: Legacy invites players into the twisted world of a mad painter, where the line between art and horror blurs with every step. This reimagined version of the original game elevates the psychological horror experience, leveraging the Switch’s unique capabilities to immerse players in a truly unsettling environment. The creativity in its scares is unparalleled, ensuring that even the most seasoned horror aficionados will find themselves caught off guard.

While the game is a masterpiece of atmospheric tension, it’s not without its technical hiccups. Players have reported occasional low frame rates and glitches, but these minor issues pale in comparison to the game’s overall impact. For those brave enough to endure, the game offers a rich tapestry of terror that is as compelling as it is chilling.

The essence of horror in Layers of Fear: Legacy is not found in monstrous entities or gory battles, but in the haunting exploration of a psyche unraveling. It’s a journey through the corridors of a mind where reality is as fragile as the canvas of an unfinished painting.

For newcomers to the series or veterans looking to revisit the nightmare, here are a few tips to enhance your playthrough:

  • Embrace the unpredictability; expect the environment to change with every camera pan.
  • VR isn’t necessary, but it adds an extra layer of immersion.
  • Remember, it’s an explorative experience—there’s no need for combat strategies.
  • Pay attention to the narrative; the story is decent, with twists that reward analysis.

Despite its few shortcomings, Layers of Fear: Legacy stands as a testament to the power of psychological horror in video games. It’s a journey that will linger in your thoughts long after you’ve put the controller down.

The Best Psychological Indie Horrors to Challenge Your Sanity

Indie horror games have carved out a niche for themselves, offering experiences that are as mentally taxing as they are terrifying. Amnesia: The Bunker stands out as a title not for the faint of heart, with its ability to evoke a sense of dread that lingers long after the game is over. These games often feature innovative mechanics, such as manipulating movement with a mouse, that add a layer of immersion and challenge.

The indie scene is rife with titles that will test your mettle. Games like Bloodwash and Stay out of the House may not have the budget of their AAA counterparts, but they deliver scares that rival any big studio production. The tension in these games is palpable, and for those who have braved the likes of Outlast or Alien Isolation, the indie offerings are a worthy next step.

Indie horror games excel in delivering a unique blend of psychological terror and gameplay that can leave even the most seasoned horror aficionados with nerves of steel feeling unsettled.

Here’s a quick list of indie horrors that should be on your radar:

  • Amnesia: The Bunker – A descent into darkness that will test your sanity.
  • Bloodwash – A grimy, pulse-pounding experience.
  • Stay out of the House – A game that redefines ‘home invasion’.

These games are not just about jump scares; they’re about creating a haunting atmosphere that stays with you, challenging your perceptions and pushing the boundaries of what horror can be.

Horror Games to Play with Friends: Co-Op Frights and VR Scares

Horror Games to Play with Friends: Co-Op Frights and VR Scares

Dead by Daylight: A Multiplayer Game of Cat and Mouse

In the shadowy realm of Dead by Daylight, players are thrust into a heart-pounding game of hide-and-seek that pits four survivors against one relentless killer. The choice to play as a survivor, working with others to outsmart the killer and escape, or to embody the killer, using strategy and power to capture your prey, provides a dynamic experience with each match.

With a variety of original and iconic serial killers, the game offers a rich tapestry of horror for fans of the genre. Each character comes with their own unique abilities, making the gameplay fresh and unpredictable.

The game supports multiple platforms, ensuring that whether you’re on PC, console, or mobile, the terror follows. Here’s a quick rundown of the platforms:

  • PC
  • PS4
  • PS5
  • Xbox One
  • Xbox Series X/S
  • Stadia
  • Switch
  • Mobile

Released in 2016 by Behaviour Interactive, Dead by Daylight has evolved with new content and updates, keeping the gameplay terrifyingly engaging. Whether you’re manipulating movement with a mouse as a killer or frantically fixing generators as a survivor, the game’s mechanics are designed to immerse you in a world where every decision could be your last.

Best Horror Co-Op Games for a Shared Shriek

When the lights go out and the eerie silence of the night sets in, there’s no better way to ramp up the terror than with a horror co-op game. The camaraderie of friends can transform any chilling scenario into an unforgettable adventure. Whether it’s the strategic teamwork in Lethal Company or the heart-pounding chases in Dead By Daylight, these games are designed to test your collective nerve.

The best horror experiences often come from the unexpected. In co-op mode, unpredictability is heightened as players must rely on each other’s reactions to survive.

The use of a keyboard and mouse in these games enhances the experience, providing precise control and quick reactions that are crucial in high-stress situations. Here’s a quick rundown of some top picks for co-op horror games that are sure to give you and your friends a shared shriek:

  • Lethal Company: Team up to face undead hordes and strive for survival.
  • Hunt: Showdown: Combine your wits and weapons against a supernatural menace.
  • Phasmophobia: Communicate and collaborate to identify and document ghostly presences.
  • Dead By Daylight: Outsmart the killer in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
  • Sons of the Forest: Work together to endure the terrors of a haunted wilderness.

The Top VR Horror Games for the Meta Quest 2

The Meta Quest 2, formerly known as the Oculus Quest 2, has revolutionized the horror gaming experience. Horror games in virtual reality are an entirely different beast, offering an unparalleled level of immersion that makes every heartbeat and cautious step feel all too real.

For those brave enough to step into these virtual nightmares, here’s a list of top-rated VR horror games that are sure to send shivers down your spine:

  • Lies Beneath – A survival horror game that has garnered near-perfect review scores since its release in March 2020.
  • Drop Dead: The Cabin – With a solid Meta Store rating of 4.0, it’s a sequel that fans are eager to see ported to the Meta Quest 2.
  • The Twilight Zone – A game that stands out with its unique mechanics and a Meta Store rating of 3.7, offering a distinctively unnerving experience.

The enhanced immersion of the Meta Quest 2 makes each step a daunting challenge, as players confront the horrors lurking in the shadows.

Whether you’re a seasoned horror enthusiast or new to the genre, these games are sure to provide a thrilling and memorable experience. Just remember, in the world of VR horror, there’s no room to hide.

Classics Revisited: Timeless Horror Games That Still Terrify

Classics Revisited: Timeless Horror Games That Still Terrify

Eternal Darkness: A Legacy of Psychological Horror

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a game that stands out for its innovative approach to the horror genre. This horror story spans generations, requiring players to navigate through a blood-soaked history. The game cleverly integrates spell conjuring, puzzle-solving, and combat against supernatural entities.

The game’s unique ‘Sanity Meter’ mechanic is a highlight, where the character’s grip on reality wavers as they encounter more horrors. This can lead to hallucinations that not only affect the character but also play mind games with the player, blurring the lines between game and reality.

Eternal Darkness was so ahead of its time, it’s often cited as one of the best horror games ever, even by those who aren’t fans of the genre.

With its rich narrative and psychological depth, Eternal Darkness remains a masterpiece that continues to influence horror games today.

Shadow Man: A Dark and Atmospheric Cult Classic

Revisiting Shadow Man is like stepping into a time capsule of horror gaming. Its remastered version has reignited interest in this cult classic, reminding players of its unique blend of voodoo mythology and dark, atmospheric environments. The game’s initial challenge may be off-putting for some, but those who persevere are rewarded with a richly layered experience.

Shadow Man’s journey is not just about the scares; it’s a deep dive into a world where the supernatural and the corporeal intertwine in unexpected ways.

While the game’s opening may be its weakest point, it’s crucial to push through. Once past the initial hurdles, players find themselves engrossed in a game that’s both amazing and terrifying. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:

  • A haunting soundtrack that sets the eerie mood
  • Complex puzzles that challenge your wit
  • An engaging story that unfolds with each new level
  • A variety of enemies that keep you on your toes

Shadow Man stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of horror games that prioritize atmosphere and storytelling over jump scares.

Resident Evil Revelations: A Return to the Series’ Horror Roots

The Resident Evil Revelations Collection is a testament to the enduring legacy of the series, offering both the original and its sequel, Revelations 2, in a single package. While the sequel is provided as a download code in the physical edition, both games deliver a gripping over-the-shoulder experience that fans of the genre will appreciate.

The essence of survival horror is encapsulated in these titles, with a focus on atmospheric tension and classic gameplay mechanics. Resident Evil Revelations, in particular, sees players stepping into the shoes of Jill Valentine as she explores the eerie confines of an abandoned cruise ship.

For those looking to share the terror, Revelations 2’s co-op mode is an ideal choice. It’s recommended to bring a friend along, not just for the company, but to share the burden of fear. The collection is available on the eShop, and for those interested in a physical copy, it’s priced at $24.80 on Amazon (US).


As we’ve journeyed through the dimly lit corridors of the best horror games to play in the dark, it’s clear that the genre offers a diverse array of experiences designed to test your nerves. From the psychological twists of titles like ‘Layers of Fear’ and ‘Amnesia’ to the survival challenges of ‘Darkwood’ and the intense atmosphere of ‘Alien Isolation’, each game on our list promises to deliver chills and thrills in its own unique way. Whether you’re looking for a game to play on your Switch, VR headset, or traditional PC setup, there’s something out there to satisfy your craving for fear. Remember, the true horror aficionado knows that it’s not just about jump scares or high difficulty levels, but the slow build of tension and smart storytelling that makes a horror game truly memorable. So turn off the lights, grab your controller or mouse, and prepare to dive into some of the most terrifying gaming experiences of 2023. Just don’t blame us when you’re too scared to sleep with the lights off tonight!

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Darkwood stand out in the horror genre?

Darkwood is known for its punishing survival mechanics and atmospheric tension. Its multiple endings and crafting system offer a challenging and immersive horror experience that is highly recommended by fans.

Is Layers of Fear worth playing for horror fans?

Absolutely, Layers of Fear is praised for its hauntingly beautiful art and psychological horror elements that create a deeply unsettling journey. It’s a favorite among horror enthusiasts for its storytelling and atmosphere.

Why are the Outlast games considered a pinnacle of survival horror?

The Outlast series is renowned for its intense gameplay, terrifying encounters, and the feeling of vulnerability it instills in players. Its high production values and effective scares make it a standout in the survival horror genre.

What are some highly rated horror games on the Nintendo Switch?

Little Nightmares II and Layers of Fear: Legacy are among the highly rated horror games on the Nintendo Switch, known for their unique art styles and engaging horror narratives.

Can you recommend any psychological horror games?

The Amnesia series and Detention are excellent choices for psychological horror. These games are celebrated for their ability to create a sense of dread and unease through story and gameplay rather than relying solely on visuals.

What are some of the best VR horror games available?

For VR enthusiasts, games like those available for the Meta Quest 2 offer an intense and immersive horror experience. Titles like Alien Isolation are known to provide realistic fear encounters that are a must-try for horror game fans.