Few things can match a good video game when it comes to horror.
While horror films are all well and good, they don’t offer up the stakes of a video game. Games allow players to plunge into these terrifying worlds for themselves, making decisions and wandering desolate streets of their own accord. The ability games provide to place players in the position of horror protagonists allow them to up the horror ante, as frightful storylines slowly unveil themselves based on a user’s specific play style and process.
Xbox Game Pass offers up a stellar selection of horror titles, from simple, spooky journeys to full-blown nightmare fuel. If you’re looking to lose some sleep with your next game selection, consider trying out one of these excellent options.
7 Days to Die
The majority of horror games are a single-player experience, a decision that ups the scare factor and keeps players squirming. While 7 Days to Die is entirely playable alone, it also offers up multiplayer options, allowing users to go the apocalypse alone or invite a friend to join them on their zombie-plagued adventures. The survival and crafting elements of this game make it a standout amongst horror games, shifting up the formula and putting more control in players’ hands. While this does occasionally serve to make the game less scary, the blood moon that rises each 7th day rarely fails to send a shiver down one’s spine.
A creative masterpiece from the brilliant creators at Annapurna Interactive, Telling Lies is a very different breed of horror game. A thriller with rich narrative storytelling, the game is part puzzle, part mystery story, allowing the user to play detective as they work to sort out the truth behind hundreds of video clips. The non-linear storyline allows for a range of different approaches that rely heavily on your decisions as a player, and the slow-burning tension will keep you enthralled through it all.
Arguably the most terrifying game on this list, Visage offers up heaps of genuine nightmare fuel. A petrifying supernatural horror game, Visage encourages exploration and creative problem solving. The title, brought to us by newly-founded SadSquare Studio, incorporates frightening supernatural elements and a sanity meter, which dips with each startling paranormal occurrence or foray down a dark hallway. The game’s puzzle elements pair perfectly with its eerie tension, a combination that is sure to leave players thoroughly unsettled.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
The mind-bending story in Hellblade will stick with players for weeks following the game’s conclusion. This title is an award-winner for a reason: it pairs a brutal story with gorgeous visuals and addictive gameplay. The story revolves around psychosis and the idea that the hardest battles are fought in the mind, allowing for a unique and eerie gaming experience. You’ll never play anything else quite like Hellblade, so it’s definitely worth it to give this game a try.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
Stealth games make wonderful horror experiences, as they ramp up tension by requiring that players stay quiet and sneak their way through dangerous scenarios. This is how A Plague Tale: Innocence develops its suspense, as players work to distract enemies and slip away rather than engage. With the game’s sequel set to arrive later in 2022, it’s the perfect time to pick up this puzzle-based horror experience.
Another psychological horror that will make sleep a thing of the past, Outlast 2 builds upon the incredible formula of its predecessor to deliver near-constant anxiety to players. Another game is set to join the title and its sister later in 2022, making this game a particularly good fit for fans who may want to enjoy the entire series. Like the first Outlast game, Outlast 2 uses a found-footage style to tell its story. This disorienting storytelling method pairs perfectly with the title’s sneak-based gameplay, which largely requires players to avoid combat, using a camcorder’s night-vision ability to see and move around.
Dead by Daylight
A horror game with rare replayability, Dead by Daylight is a stellar multiplayer title that allows players to pit their survival skills against their friends. The game sets a single player up against four friends or online strangers as a horror movie plays out in real time on their screens. The solo player’s task is to hunt down and sacrifice each of the other players, relying on a variety of different skills and perks to accomplish their grim goal. It’s a must-play for fans of horror films.
Resident Evil: Biohazard
In a massive departure from the Resident Evil releases that preceded it, the Resident Evil franchise returned to its roots with Biohazard. The seventh entry into the main series of games is utterly terrifying, forcing players to survive a mysterious nightmare with far less resources than the game’s other recent releases offered up. This title leans far harder into its horror origins than most any other Resident Evil release, keeping tension high throughout its entire runtime.
Another survival horror offering with stealth at its core, Alien: Isolation is a chilling experience from start to finish. The game pits players against a single Xenomorph, providing them with scarce resources with which to avoid, outwit, and damage the daunting beast. The game leans hard on the 1970s appeal of the first Alien movie, ditching the more action-oriented pacing of later films in favor of the tense, gripping thrills the first film offered up.
It’s typically hard to make a first-person shooter fall into the horror genre, but Bethesda Softworks and Arkane Studios managed it with Prey. The 2017 title combines stealth and exploration with role-playing elements to make a highly entertaining experience that still offers up plenty of thrills. The addition of action elements will make this game less spine-chilling than many of its peers on this list, but Prey’s enemies are a beast unto themselves. It’s hard to beat the fear that accompanies a game that allows its spooky alien enemies to transform into everyday objects like chairs. It leaves players constantly unnerved, as they traverse through spaces that could have enemies lurking in literally any corner.