[Top 15] Best Indie Horror Games To Play Today

Best Indie Horror Games
Is the eye contact making anyone else uncomfortable?

Indie is where it’s at...

For horror gaming fans, a good triple-A game is a rare and precious find.

Sure, RE Village has just been released to good-enough reviews. But apart from that part in the game (you know the one, the really effective publicity for vasectomies), it really isn’t all that scary. And even the above-average quality of most of the game is more of an exception than the rule.

It’s not like a major studio has never produced a good horror game. The first four silent hill games are some of the best horror content you can find in any medium, possibly ever. Resident Evil 4 has left its mark on almost every third-person shooter to ever come out, the list goes on.

But it is a well-known truth that for every magnificent game like Alien: Isolation, there’s a Dead Space 3. 

For every tense and immersive RE7, there are at least four action games with dim lighting that are all too proud to call themselves “horror”.

For every massively underrated Evil Within 2, there’s a… Well, there’s an Evil Within 1.

The indie scene, however, has, for the last few years, been bursting at the seams with amazing and profound titles that induce the kind of butt-clenching panic and existential dread that weirdos like me love. 

Maybe it’s that horror thrives when it’s allowed to live at the fringes of conventional. Maybe independent developers have the opportunity to experiment with the weird and the taboo in a way simply not available in the mainstream. Maybe conjuring horror is easier when nothing’s scarier than living on the brink of poverty without any job reassurance.  

I really can’t say what makes independent horror games so great, and frankly, that’s not my job! What is my job, however, is showing you the top 15 best indie horror games you can play today.

Spoiler-free, of course. The fun’s in the surprise.  

15. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC / Mac / PS4)

Amnesia: The Dark Descent - Trailer.

Amnesia is a first-person horror game that focuses on exploration. The game removes any combat elements in order to make the player feel truly powerless.

In the game, you play as Daniel, a man that wakes up in a dark corridor with a severe case of dyslexia… Sorry, amnesia.

As Daniel starts his descent into darkness (listen, Frictional Games’ names are really on the nose, what you gonna do about it?) he will slowly start to uncover the truth about himself, and about the thing that’s chasing him.    

Amnesia one: the amnesiaing might not be your cup of tea, that’s fine, it’s not my favorite game either. But one would be remiss to ignore its influence on horror gaming.

The game re-discovered the subtle approach to horror that had been missing from the mix for so long, and its broadcast by a million lets players turned it into a cultural touchstone. It even helped bring indie horror gaming scene as a whole was into the spotlight.

Amnesia is a nightmarish ride. It’s tense in a way that never lets up, and, if nothing else, it’s worth a play for its influence on the medium alone.

14. Little Nightmares (PC / PS4 / XBOX One / Nintendo Switch)

Little Nightmares - Deep Below the Waves Trailer.

Little Nightmares is a horror platformer that ditches the conventional hyper-realistic, face-eating, 4k monsters for a more stylized Lemony Snicket-y look.

In Little Nightmares, you are six, a small child in a yellow raincoat that has been abducted into a ship called “the Maw”. Armed with only your bravery and your wits, you must escape the horrors that await in every dark corner. But as you make your way through, there might be another horror waiting in your insides.    

Everything about Little Nightmares works to create a different kind of horror, the kind you felt as a child trading scary stories around a campfire. Every bit of design works to the game’s advantage, making the experience a solid, entertaining ride straight out of a pop-up book.

Stylized as it might be, the game isn’t lacking in the tension department, as it does a wonderful job of putting you into the mindset of a small child faced against grotesque monsters. 

The game is short but memorable, the level design is truly extraordinary and the puzzles are always engaging. If you’re hungry for a different kind of horror experience, then this is the game you have to play.  

13. Happy's Humble Burger Barn (PC)

Harpy's Hamble Bunger Bonger.

Happy’s Humble Burger Barn drops you in a car in the middle of the night and it tells you to go to your work as the manager of a small burger joint. The whole thing is adorned with the graphics of a classic PS1 game, and it creates a deeply unsettling and engaging atmosphere from the get-go.

The game is just barely under an hour, and there’s not much that can be said about it without spoiling it, except that it creates and maintains a deep feeling of dread and uneasiness with astonishing results.

The game can be downloaded off of Itch.io for free (but really, tip your developers) and it’s a wonderful and surreal experience that builds to a truly effective final twist.  

12. The Light Keeps Us Safe (PC)

The Light Keeps Us Safe Announcement Trailer.

The Light Keeps us safe is set in a post-apocalypse overrun by machines. After hiding in a bunker while the world was falling, you now have to venture into a hostile world. 

Light is the core concept on which the game is based. It is your only weapon against the robots that roam the world, and your only key to the puzzles of the game. 

Sometimes a great concept is worth a shot even if the execution is flawed. This might be one of such times.

The Light Keeps Us Safe doesn’t have the best reviews on the Steam store, and it is true that its hide-from-the-monsters mechanic is more than a bit overdone by this point, but the core idea is worth exploring even in spite of its flaws.

The game is very cheap too, meaning that even if you don’t like it you aren’t losing all that much.

If you are looking for a solid Sci-fi horror story in a game that tries something new, The Light Keeps Us Safe should definitively be on your radar.

11. The Forest (PC / PS4)

The Forest Trailer

The Forest is a first-person survival horror game with an emphasis on the survival part. The game uses well-known mechanics to fans of the survival genre, such as crafting, food and water meters, and base-building. All of this enhances the feeling of fighting off an evil army on a deserted island. 

When I first heard of the forest I was skeptical. It seemed to me that any game that used Minecraftesque systems would not be an effective horror vehicle. Boy was I wrong.

The forest tells a dark and fascinating tale, the survival elements elevate any-and-all threats and the moment-to-moment gameplay only serves to pull you closer and closer into the story. 

Not only that, The Forest has some of the best enemy AI in recent memory. Some of the creatures you encounter will cautiously ambush you, or run off to call for backup, or try to lure you into revealing the location of your home base.

You might have been unnerved by a game’s enemy before, but when the monsters are this smart and relentless, the feeling of hopelessness really cannot be overcome. 

If you’ve ever wondered how well you’d survive the plot of Cannibal Holocaust then get ready to find out. Just know that you might not like the answer.      

10. Outlast (PC / Mac / PS4 / XBOX One / PS5 / XBOX Series X / Nintendo Switch)

Outlast - Official Trailer.

If the Dark Descent is one of the titles that helped bring indie horror into the spotlight, then Outlast is the other.

The game takes place in the Mount Massive Asylum, where you’ll only be armed with a night-vision camera with fickle battery life and tasked with uncovering the dark secrets that lurk underneath. 

Pretty soon you’ll find yourself over your head as you’re hunted by beastly monsters and in chase of a story way bigger than you could have ever imagined.   

Outlast is a masterclass in the run-and-hide approach to horror, the game feels constantly nerve-wracking, making you always be in a state of high alert.

The other great thing Outlast has going for itself is the game’s rich and thought-out lore, which has since been expanded in two sequels. But nothing beats the original.

Outlast is a fantastic ride that will keep you engaged from beginning to end. It’s also a classic and a staple of the genre, definitely worth your time if constant stress and panic is your idea of a good time.

9. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs  (PC / Mac / PS4)

Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs - Teaser.

A Machine for Pigs is the direct sequel to The Dark Descent, but other than the main character suffering from the titular arthritis, the stories are completely independent of each other.

The game takes place in London, 1899. After waking up from a long and tortuous fever and without any recollection of his life other than his name, the protagonist embarks on a journey of exploration and discovery, guided by the voices of his children.    

Waking up with amnesia and slowly discovering a horrible secret as you make your way deeper into a world of horrors is something of a formula for the amnesia games by now, and the second entry in the amnesia series is admittedly a little lighter in scares than its predecessor.

But what this game lacks in some of the mechanics that made the previous one a classic, it more than makes up for an amazing and profound story, accompanied by a much more nuanced approach to horror, making the game more memorable in the long run.

I could probably write an essay with all the themes that A Machine for Pigs touches in its eight-or-so-hour gameplay, and it absolutely nails them with artistry and precision. The topics it deals with are way outside of the traditional themes of a horror game (such as: aliens wanting to bite your face, zombies wanting to bite your face, mold people wanting–), but that only makes them all the more refreshing and effective.

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is an experience as heartfelt as it is terrifying, and it will stay with you for long after you’ve put the controller down.     

8. Observer: System Redux (PC / Mac / PS4 / XBOX One / PS5 / XBOX Series X / Nintendo Switch)

Observer System Redux - Launch Trailer.

Cyberpunk is a hard genre to do. It explores big philosophical questions and it puts them in contrast with personal stories. It’s a genre about how the world at large affects the individuals that live in it. It is easy to get lost in the aesthetics of the whole thing and miss the core of what it is.

Observer is a cyberpunk game, and it hits the nail on the head. 

You play the role of observer Daniel Lazarski, a detective with a cybernetic implant that lets you tap into the minds of victims in hope of finding their killer.

The game makes the most of its cyberpunk visuals to create a unique horror experience that fans of both genres will adore. Although the game can be a little overly reliant on jumpscares, it more than makes up for it with its atmosphere, story, and worldbuilding.     

This is the kind of horror that is made all the more frightening as you think about it. It is a masterful game that makes the most out of every one of its elements, and it’s just fun.

7. Doki Doki Literature Club! (PC / Mac)

Doki Doki Literature Club! Trailer.

Doki Doki Literature Club is a dating sim/visual novel. You move through a cast of anime girls to find love and progress through the story. It is also a mortifying ordeal of psychological horror that messes with your mind and your assumptions about what is safe in a game.

To reveal any more of the story would be a huge spoiler and it would ruin the twist that the whole thing is built upon. You probably already know how it goes, the game saw a tremendous amount of popularity when it was first released and it has been discussed to death on any number of platforms. 

Still, if you’ve made it this far without spoiling the game for yourself, I recommend playing this completely free, short, and fantastic game as soon as you can. Just don’t let your guard down too much.     

6. The works of Kitty Horrorshow (PC)

Kitty Horrorshow - Hornets.

Kitty Horrorshow is not a game, she is, however, an independent game developer that has been producing engaging and utterly terrifying pieces for quite a while now.

Horrorshow produces unique horror games, mostly without the use of jumpscares or death. Instead, she focuses on short and surreal stories. 

Her art style is low-res 3D, reminiscent of old PlayStation games, but the way in which she uses low polygon assets, lighting, and sound design make her games way more immersive than a lot of ultra-realistic titles.

Kitty Horrorshow has an Itch.io page where you can find a lot of free and a couple of inexpensive games. She also has a Patreon, where she releases exclusive games on a monthly basis.

When it comes to indie horror developers, the works of Kitty Horrorshow are unmissable.   

5. Detention (PC / Mac/ PS4 / Nintendo Switch / Android)

Detention Trailer.

Detention is a game influenced by its cultural context. The horror side-scroller is set in 1960 Taiwan, and it derives a huge part of its horror and story from Taiwanese culture.

The game focuses on two students trapped in their high school, which has suddenly been wrapped into a place they don’t recognize and overrun by evil spirits.

Detention is as tragic as it is horrifying, the game’s format and style give it a unique feel, and it packs some of the worst scares I’ve had in my life in its relatively short playtime.

4. Visage (PC / PS4 / XBOX One)

Visage Release Trailer.

Aah, P.T. gone but never forgotten. It was almost seven years ago that P.T. dropped unexpectedly in digital storefronts for the PS4, and it has been missed ever since it was dropped from stores shortly after.

For those of you not in the know-how. P.T. was a free game for the PS4 that took the world by storm, and with good reason, the game was terrifying. 

A first-person exploration experience, P.T. took place in a single house, and although the game was technically a puzzle game, the puzzles themselves were so obtuse that you were more likely to stumble upon the answer than you were to actually figure it out. 

All of this only added to the experience of terror. Not only were you weaponless, but also confused and aimless.

The game ended revealing that it was a playable teaser, P.T., for an upcoming silent hills game. 

Sadly, the game never saw the light of day, and even P.T. exists now only in backend ports and consoles that sell upwards of 600 dollars.

If you want to play P.T. today, or better yet, the game that P.T. could have been, you must look no further than Visage.

Visage’s inspiration from P.T. is quite obvious. The location, storyline, systems, and graphics all seem like they were lifted straight out of the teaser, making it a “spiritual sequel” in the truest sense.

Like P.T. the story of visage is cryptic and pretty much any revelation would be a spoiler, as uncovering the story bit by bit is the best part of the game.

Visage has been called “too scary to play” and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. If you do feel brave enough, however, then this game offers an unforgettable, if a little traumatic, experience.

3. Anatomy (PC)


Remember when I talked about Kitty Horrorshow? While pretty much all of her work is amazing in its own right, there’s definitively a title that stands out from the rest, and that title is Anatomy. 

Anatomy is a short horror experience where you explore a house in search of mysterious tapes that slowly reveal the plot. Anything more than that would be a spoiler, but just know that this is a game that you’re going to want to play more than once.

As the game’s tagline reads “every house is haunted”.

2. Darkwood (PC / Mac / PS4 / XBOX One / Nintendo Switch)

Darkwood Console Launch Trailer.

When someone talks about horror games, a top-down view is probably not what comes to mind. Neither are plentiful NPCs or mushroom collecting. 

Darkwood has all of that mixed with 2D graphics and an open world and it’s one of the scariest games out there, period.

The plot of the game is a little bit inscrutable, as per usual for the genre, but the way in which Darkwood delivers its frights and builds a deep, character-driven story is anything but expectable.

Some of the best indie horror games explore ideas that traditional wisdom says aren’t a good fit for horror, and Darkwood is a beautiful example.  

1. Soma (PC / Mac / PS4)

SOMA - Story Trailer.

Soma is a horror and science fiction game that leans a little more heavily to the latter. In Soma, you wake up in the midst of an installation deep underwater that has been overrun by robots.

But it isn’t the evil robots with glowing eyes that provide the real frights in Soma. A brilliant sound and level design make the quiet moments the more unsettling ones. 

The game is very scary on its own, but it might not be crap-your-pants scary like other games on the list. What makes Soma truly terrifying is the deep sense of existential dread and panic that it induces during its time.

Some of the best horror is the kind that seeks to expose the terrifying questions that come with the very nature of humanity. For the most part, no one is going to be chased by a huge fleshy monster, but the questions of our existence and consciousness will haunt most of us eventually.

The indie stage has been ripe with games that brilliantly explore big ideas through the viscerality of horror, and Soma might be the best example of this.

That is the best kind of game, after all, one that sticks with you for a long time. One that, in one way or another, changes how you look at the world.  

The great thing about independent games is that you’ll find a deep well of creativity and interesting ideas handled in a way you’ve probably haven’t seen before.

You think top-down can’t be scary? Think again. Do you want philosophical horror or monster-chasing-you-in-the-dark horror? How about both? Do you want to have to survive a horde of hyper-intelligent zombies? Or would you rather discover the darkness hiding behind your assumptions about love and romance?

Whatever your horrible itch is, there’s probably an indie game out there that can scratch it. 

Just make sure to play with the lights on, and close your door at night...

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The rumor goes that Andrew sprung fully formed from a glitch in the Gamecube version of Enter the Matrix. Which is probably why no one bought that game. He enjoys games, Dnd, and getting gremlins wet.
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Red Dead Redemption 2
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dead Space 2

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