[Top 10] Best Horror RPGs to Play Today

Best Horror RPG
Horror RPGs often put us up against monstrosities we could never dream of, like this flying hairball.

What Are The Best RPGs with Horror elements?

Horror RPGs are becoming more and more popular in video game culture - there's something about the medium that is perfect for immersing people in terrifying tales of monsters, mystery, and mayhem. The thing I admire most about games like this is how they can still be terrifying when I can fight back against the monsters. You'd think that I'd be less spooked with a gun or a sword in my hand, but you'd be wrong. Here are the top 10 horror RPGs to start playing right now.

10. BioShock 2 (PC, macOS, Playstation, Xbox)

BioShock 2 Trailer

While this game is a little bit older than some of the others on this list, it still deserves its place amongst horror RPG royalty. BioShock 2 takes us back to Rapture, the underwater city that stunned and delighted fans in the series' first installment. Players get to experience a different side of Rapture this time around, taking the role of Subject Delta, a Big Daddy searching for the Little Sister that he's bonded to. You'll fight your way through hordes of psychotic Splicers and battle new, terrifying enemies as you navigate Andrew Ryan's crumbling utopia.

BioShock 2 improved upon many of the mechanics and narrative arcs from the first game, and I personally like the combat mechanics much more. There isn't anything more satisfying than smacking a Splicer across the face with the massive drill attached to your arm. The graphics are also noticeably better - the Little Sisters firmly crossed the threshold from creepy gremlin to cute (but still creepy) little companion.

Technically, the BioShock series leans more in the horror game direction than it does the RPG direction, but the plasmid mechanics and upgrade system do echo RPG standards. Plasmids allow you a small amount of customization, letting you keep the loadout that suits your style of play the best. Choices are also a fairly large part of the game's narrative, giving the player a little bit more control over Subject Delta's story. But if you're looking for a little more RPG in your horror RPGs, keep reading.

2. Call of Cthulhu (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)


Call of Cthulhu Official Trailer

Tabletop RPG fans might recognize this title - developer Cyanide did indeed adapt the popular tabletop game into a beautiful horror RPG. The game follows Edward Pierce, a quintessential Lovecraftian character - he's a veteran turned private eye that has been self-medicating his PTSD and nightmares with sleeping pills and alcohol. As you do. He's been hired to look into the mysterious death of an entire family in a strange little seaside town called Darkwater. Players will explore this creepy town, battling mutated creatures and Lovecraftian horrors as they unravel the mystery. 

Horror RPG fans will probably be pretty familiar with Lovecraftian horror by this point, and of course Call of Cthulhu delivers. The game's gritty noir themes and beautiful art style satisfy everything that a Lovecraft fan could ever want. Additionally, this game has more RPG elements than the last one on the list, with a more complex choice system that leads the player to one of the game's four possible endings. However, the character of Edward Pierce is less customizable than most traditional RPG player characters. 

8. Prey (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Prey Official Launch Trailer

Who needed a little space in their horror RPG? Look no further than Prey. This game takes place in an alternate universe where the space race was accelerated, leading to incredible advancements in space travel and technology. Players step into the role of Morgan Yu, a scientist who wakes up onboard the space station Talos I. The game is mostly comprised of a mixture of stealth and FPS elements as Morgan fights for their life in the near-abandoned space station against terrifying aliens that can mimic everyday objects. Nothing and no one is safe...

Prey has a lot of similarities to BioShock and as such, the RPG elements are pretty limited. You can choose Morgan's gender and a few of their attributes, but there is significantly less customization than other traditional RPGs.

What the game lacks in customization it makes up for in atmosphere - the big difference between Prey and predecessors such as BioShock is that it is filled with masterful jump scares. Things as simple as picking up a coffee cup could trigger a fright, giving the entire game a tense, electric atmosphere. Narratively, choices matter - the game has "tons of little permutations" of endings, based on interactions with other characters and various other choices. 

7. Remnant: From the Ashes (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Remnant: From the Ashes Gameplay Trailer

Remnant: From the Ashes takes place in an apocalyptic future universe that has been destroyed by an interdimensional creature known as The Root. Players wander a series of interdimensional realms that contain a wide variety of creatures and monsters. Discover a long-dead civilization ruled by an undead king, a hive mind that has taken over an entire planet, and satyrs locked in a bitter civil war. How will your choices shape this weird and horrible universe?

This entry into our list has the most RPG elements thus far - you create your own character to play through the story, and there's an upgrade system for weapons and armour that lets you customize your loadouts perfectly to your style of play.

The game plays much like a Souls game and is known for its difficulty. You're not just limited to melee weapons, however - your character has access to guns, and can carry one large gun and a smaller sidearm. The world is randomly generated, even though the story elements remain constant. The story mode can also be played in a multiplayer capacity, which greatly increases this game's replayability.

6. System Shock: Enhanced Edition (PC)

Welcome to Citadel Station, a high-tech space station owned by a company called the TriOptimum Corporation. You've been in a coma for a while, and when you wake up... you're the only one left alive. Fight your way through mutants, cyborgs, and hostile robots and do battle against a sinister AI that wants to take over Earth.

I know what you're thinking - "What is a PC game from 1994 doing on this list?" System Shock is a unique and beautiful ancestor of games like Deus Ex, BioShock, Resident Evil, Half-Life, and many others, and it deserves its place among horror RPG royalty.

System Shock is one of the first games to ever feature a concept known as "emergent gameplay" - a style of gaming that allows a player to explore environments and make decisions to further the plot in their own time, rather than being forced to do things in a particular order as with level-based games. This style of gameplay is incredibly common in today's video games, but it all began with this little number here.

Getting your hands on an original copy of System Shock might be difficult, but don't worry - Night Dive Studios acquired most of the rights to the franchise in 2012 and released System Shock: Enhanced Edition in 2015. This is the actual game - they rebuilt it from the original code to run on modern machines, increasing the resolution and improving some of the technical aspects while leaving plot and gameplay entirely untouched.

5. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (PC)

Vampire: The Masquerade Official Trailer

The bad news? You've been murdered. The good news? Someone brought you back as a vampire. Welcome to the dark side of LA, where creatures of darkness walk the streets. Someone has discovered a strange relic that could end all vampires, and even though you haven't been one for very long, it's up to you to save vampirekind.

Yet another entry into the list that is based on a tabletop RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines lets you make your very own fantasy vampire. You select a clan based on your play style and allot attribute points into skills, vampire abilities, and traits. You can even choose between playing in first-person and third-person views.

As for the horror aspects, there are definitely some blood and guts in this game, but most of the horror comes from the moral decisions that you must make along the way. Much like its TTRPG ancestor, Vampire: The Masquerade deals heavily with themes of insanity, morality, and humanity, and Bloodlines is no different.

4. Darkwood (PC, macOS, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

Darkwood Official Release Gameplay Trailer

Welcome to Darkwood, a strange forest that is slowly consuming your homeland. You, along with other survivors, have become trapped inside this dark otherworld. And you'd probably be fine, without the plague that's slowly turning surviving humans into monsters and mutants.

Darkwood runs on a unique day/night cycle - during the day, you can explore the forest and search for supplies. At night, you have to hunker down and fight for your life against all the monstrosities out for your blood. Your decisions relating to the NPCs around you directly influence the way the game progresses, with multiple different endings.

In terms of character customization, Darkwood is a bit lacking, but the other RPG elements make up for it.

3. Vampyr (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

Vampyr Official Launch Trailer

When Jonathan Reid became a doctor, he swore to do no harm. When he became a vampire, that got a little more complicated. Vampyr follows Reid as he attempts to balance being a vampire and being a doctor, using his vampire abilities and reputation to feed without getting caught.

The horror elements of this RPG are more in the realm of moral dilemmas and the need to murder the people you're meant to protect. I like the spin on a horror game that makes it into your character's own personal hell. Of course, character customization is lacking because you are playing the role of Jonathan Reid, but you still get to control his skill progression and make decisions to progress the game.

2. Salt and Sanctuary (PC, macOS, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

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I divide my time between playing games at unholy hours of the night and writing about them; occasionally I allot moments for sleep and refueling.
Gamer Since: 2008
Favorite Genre: FPS
Currently Playing: Kholat, Prey, Graveyard Keeper, Stardew Valley
Top 3 Favorite Games:BioShock 2, Civilization IV, Plague Inc: Evolved

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