[Top 15] Horror Games That Aren't Scary

Just because it's not scary doesn't mean it's not gross sometimes...

There are a lot of people out there who, while loving various types of video games, don’t venture into horror as a genre. Not that there’s any reason to blame them for that; more often than not, many horror games, like other mediums of the horror genre, tend to lean into jumpscares and shock value as their main method of scaring players.

While that’s an unfortunate issue within horror as a genre, not all hope is lost for individuals who prefer to avoid those types of scares. The horror genre is a wide umbrella, and under its cover are various subgenres that, while still being considered horror, don’t simply rely on jumpscares and shock value as a crutch to scare their players. There are many games out there that fall under these various subgenres, creating games that are considered horror, but not necessarily scary.

Today, we ask you to join us as we list the top fifteen games that may be horror, but aren’t really scary.


15. Don't Starve Together (Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

 Don't Starve Together 2021 Gameplay Trailer. Start at 0:02

Don't Starve Together is the multiplayer companion to the well received 2013 game, Don’t Starve. The plot primarily begins with a New England scientist named Wilson, who is offered secret knowledge by an unknown entity that has seen him struggle through many failed chemistry experiments. This entity is not benevolent, however; after creating a machine per request of the entity, Wilson and other characters of the story are all pulled through a portal to a parallel realm called the Constant.

While in the Constant in Don't Starve Together, up to six players try to survive amongst the harsh world of the parallel realm. Working together, they combine resources, set up shelter, and as the game’s title suggests, try not to starve together. The game also has a fear feature, where shadow monsters will manifest if the player-characters get too scared and they will have to subsequently fend the creatures off. Even though Don’t Starve Together is, at its core, a horror survival game, it’s more unsettling in its content than scary. Plus, as it’s a multiplayer game — it’s hard to get scared when you have your friends alongside you to help you out!

Y’know, outside of the horror of being trapped in a parallel demon universe, this seems sort of cozy!


14. Stray (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, macOS)

Stray Launch Trailer. Start at 0:04

Have you ever wondered what would happen to cats in the aftermath of a robot takeover? If you have, Stray is definitely a game that takes that idea and runs with it. In Stray, players control a cat who has fallen to the bottom of a chasm, discovering an underground city. While there are no humans around, their former robotic servants called Companions still roam the area, having gained sentience and built their own society within the remains of the city.

Players control their cat-character as they travel with a small drone called B-12, hoping to find a way back to the surface. They, with a group of Companions dedicated to finding a way to the surface as well, traverse the underground city, avoiding the mutated bacteria called Zurks and security drones called Sentinels that serve no purpose other than to kill the player.

While the game does take place in a dystopian society in the aftermath of a disaster that wiped out humanity from the face of the planet, a classic horror trope, the game is not reliant on classic horror tropes to scare the player. A lot of the horror is more in the story aspect that players discover as they continue through the game, alongside the avoidance of enemies that they are defenseless against. But remember you’re a cute cat, and you should be fine — many of the NPC Companions across the underground city will even pet you if you interact with them!

“One bowl of milk, please, bartender!”


13. OMORI (macOS, Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4)

OMORI Trailer. Start at 0:00

Based on director Omocat’s webcomic series, OMORI is a role-playing game that has players control Sunny, a mute teenage boy, and his dream counterpart, Omori, with a group of friends as they explore both realms to discover Sunny’s fears and long lost secrets. Inspired by traditional Japanese role-playing games, OMORI has several quests and puzzles for players to solve as they progress through the story. Battles use a turn-based format, with characters’ status effects being based on a rock-paper-scissors style system, where some emotions are strong or weak against others.

OMORI features multiple endings, all dependent on the choices of the player as they progress through the game’s story. These endings all have basis in Sunny’s personal issues, ones that can be explored through the player’s interactions with the world and other characters around them. While OMORI does not feature jumpscares or general shock horror, it is a psychological horror game, with major themes of depression, anxiety, and suicide throughout the story. 

Don’t let that cute, confused face fool you, you don’t know what that creature is capable of…


12. Darkest Dungeon (Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One)

Darkest Dungeon Official Release Trailer. Start at 0:00

After inheriting a large estate from your ancestor, players have come to the realization that their inheritance may not have been done in good faith. While most people inherit large manors and get to live out their wildest dreams with a good chunk of money to their name, players of Darkest Dungeon will face the reality that their ancestor, in all their wisdom, had excavated into the depths of the catacombs under their home, unleashing a number of horrific creatures and corruption into the real world. Players, along with a party of adventurers they have recruited, must fight against these monsters, and rid them of the earth before it’s too late.

Darkest Dungeon is a roguelike role-playing game, acting like a dungeon crawler as players and their party delve deeper into the catacombs as they fight against various monsters. The game features an Affliction system, where players and their party are affected by various stressors, such as traveling through the catacombs without a light source or witnessing the death of someone in their party. As their stress increases, the behavior of the characters change, going so far as to act out without or against the player’s input. While Darkest Dungeon does have various horror elements in the game’s art style and story, its gameplay elements lean more heavily towards typical role-playing roguelikes, making the horror elements less intense and, to many, less scary.

I know it’s a little spooky, but isn’t that creature design SO cool?!


11. Sally Face (Windows, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Sally Face Official Trailer. Start at 0:01

Sal Fisher is a young man with a prosthetic face, currently on death row for murdering the residents of Addison Apartments, an apartment complex in the small town of Nockfell. Throughout conversations with his therapist, players venture through Sal’s memories of his life at Addison Apartments and in Nockfell, starting from when he first moved in to the time of the murders. Throughout these memories, players will discover the truth of what happened…or, at least, the stories that Sal claims are the truth.

Sally Face is an interesting game, because while it is a psychological horror point-and-click style game, a lot of the horror is complemented by the ongoing mystery throughout the story. While, yes, the game does include some spooky visuals, and a lot of horror gameplay elements, it doesn’t feel quite scary so much as it does unsettling. This is aided by the story itself… I mean, you’re playing a convicted murderer on death row, you don’t expect it to be all sunshine and rainbows, do you?

…Yeah, no, I can’t explain this either.


10. Killer Frequency (Meta Quest 2, Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

Killer Frequency Launch Trailer. Start at 0:03

If you’re a fan of the eighties neon vibe, have a soft spot for classic slashers, or have a dream of becoming a radio show host, Killer Frequency has all of that and more in store for you. Players control Forrest Nash, a washed-up radio show host, who has recently relocated to the small town of Gallows Creek to become a late night radio show host. On the onset of attacks by a serial killer formerly thought to be dead, Forrest becomes the impromptu dispatcher of the town while the town’s last police officer leaves for the city to get help. Through solving a series of puzzles and using the environment around the studio for clues, players will be able to help — or hurt — the citizens of Gallows Creek, all while trying to solve the mystery of how The Whistling Man has come back after all these years… and why.

Another horror game that, while being a horror game, doesn’t really feel like one, Killer Frequency doesn’t take itself seriously, using campy comedy to make the horror of the story feel less intense. Forrest’s fierce charisma and dry humor works in stark contrast with the horrific events happening in and around the small town. The game’s puzzles are also creative, having players use various parts of their environment to help the people of Gallows Creek survive the night.

“So what if I’m procrastinating helping people? I’m COPING!”


9. Firework (Windows, macOS, Linux)

Firework Trailer. Start at 0:08

After a fire disrupts a funeral, police officers in a small mountain town in China are forced to reopen a cold case of a massacre that plagued the town years prior. Players control rookie police officer Lin Lixun, who is involved in the re-investigation by chance, and learn quickly that maybe these murders weren’t all they seemed to be in the first place. By solving puzzles and progressing through the story, players will be forced to ask themselves if the massacre was an elaborate murder or the work of a supernatural phenomenon.

While Firework is a horror game, the horror is not something that leaves players scared. Rather, the game’s horror is intertwined with grief and loss, and how things are inevitable to end. With a combination of the mystery and Lin Lixun’s own life set up against each other, contrasting and comparing themselves to one-another, Firework is a thoughtful, meaningful horror game that spins multiple storylines together for a unique and unforgettable experience.

Wow, what a beautiful art style! I hope nothing horrific has happened!


8. Barotrauma (Windows, macOS, Linux)

Barotrauma Overview Trailer. Start at 0:00

Functioning through various rounds of gameplay, Barotrauma is a survival horror submarine simulator where players role-play as crew members aboard a submarine traversing the oceans of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. These oceans are hostile and inhospitable, and throughout each round, players are constantly faced with various hazards, including parasitic outbreaks and traitors controlled by other players. Amongst other variables, such as oxygen levels, power, and weapons, players must work together with their fellow crewmates to stay alive throughout any given round.

Barotrauma is interesting, as while it is a horror game by nature, the scariness created by this horror is mitigated by the other happenings of the gameplay. Most of the horror comes from juggling many plates at a time as players play though either single- or multiplayer modes to survive as long as they can throughout any given round. Even though the game’s visuals and some of the gameplay modes may be scary to some extent, by-and-large, Barotrauma isn’t that scary as much as it may be unsettling and stressful (in a fun way).

Now, I’m no scientist, but I don’t think you should be that close to that creature’s mouth… 


7. Little Misfortune (Linux, macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch)

Little Misfortune Official Trailer. Start at 0:00

Life imitates art, but does art imitate death? Little Misfortune offers players the ability to play with choice, controlling a naive eight-year-old girl named Misfortune as she is guided through her day by the game’s narrator, who is called Mr Voice. Mr Voice claims that today is Misfortune’s last day alive, but if she plays a game with him, then she will win the prize of eternal happiness. Throughout the game’s story, players are offered multiple decisions for Misfortune to make, where there are no incorrect answers, only consequences for your actions.

Little Misfortune is by no means a scary game. Once again, like many other games on this list, it’s more on the side of unsettling and unnerving with copious amounts of dark shock humor, but never does the story does not try to scare the player outright. With a cute art style, incredible voice acting, and many choices that make for unique gameplay opportunities for anyone who plays it, Little Misfortune is certainly a fun experience for players who wish to see what it really means for your actions to have consequences.

As a former little girl, I can confirm this is normal behavior.


6. Remnant: From the Ashes (Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

Remnant: From the Ashes Official Launch Trailer. Start at 0:02

On a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been taken over by an interdimensional being called the Root, players control a customized character of their own to traverse the landscape of the devastated land to put an end to the Root’s control. While the game’s world map is randomly generated upon starting the game, the game’s story itself is set, allowing players to explore the science fiction world offered by Remnant: From the Ashes.

Remnant: From the Ashes’s horror elements mainly stem from the setting and monsters that players are up against. However, like other games on this list, the game doesn’t rely on scaring the player to make a compelling story; ultimately functioning as an action role-playing game, players can rest assured that the scariest part of this game is being underprepared to face a big boss.

“Hey, come around here often?”


5. CARRION (Linux, macOS, Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Amazon Luna, PlayStation 5)

CARRION 'Become the Monster' Launch Trailer. Start at 0:02

For some gamers, the main thing that turns them away from the horror genre is the fact that they are being hunted by grotesque monsters of unknowable origins. Wouldn’t it be more fun to be the monster? CARRION answers this question with a resounding yes, allowing players to control a massive crimson tentacle creature with no discernable form as they breach containment from the facility holding them captive.

As players progress through the various levels of the facility, stalking and killing the scientists that have been studying the creature and the security officers trying to stop it, they find ways to upgrade themselves to become more powerful and unstoppable. These upgrades are in the form of aspects of the creature’s genetic code that the scientists removed in order to subdue it, such as the genetic code to make it larger or give it the ability to dash. While CARRION is a horror game, the scares aren’t meant for the player — I mean, it’s hard to be scared when you’re the one terrorizing everyone else, right?

Where does it start? Where does it END?!


4. Back 4 Blood (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)

Back 4 Blood Launch Trailer. Start at 0:03

A year into the aftermath of a parasite known as “the Devil Worm” creating most of humanity into vicious undead mutants called The Ridden, a group of survivors of this apocalypse become known as “Cleaners”. Their purpose is to protect Fort Hope, a settlement in Pennsylvania, from The Ridden. In primary game modes, players can choose one of the twelve Cleaners in the game to control on a four-person team, each character with their own unique perks to aid in various gameplay strategies.

Back 4 Blood is a first-person shooter that functions primarily with the purpose of strategy, with a card system that can impact various gameplay features and make the game customizable to the player’s preferred playstyle. While the game is in a horror setting with horror creatures trying to kill them, the horror of the game is overridden by the action and strategy aspects of trying to protect Fort Hope and the settlement inside.

They’re playing a VERY intense game of baseball!


3. Aliens: Fireteam Elite (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch)

Aliens: Fireteam Elite Pre-order Trailer. Start at 0:02

Aliens: Fireteam Elite takes place over twenty years after the events of the original Alien film trilogy, acting as a standalone sequel of the series. In the game, players control a Colonial Marine, whose job is to answer distress calls while aboard a spaceship called the UAS Endeavor. The game starts with players responding to one of these distress calls, where they learn that the Katanga refinery station, thought to have been destroyed, had been up and running all along, performing experiments on Xenomorphs. After discovering the “Pathogen”, a mutagenic substance from the planet LV-895 that Katanga orbits, players and their team must venture onto the planet to find answers as to what’s really been happening.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite, while being based on a horror movie trilogy, has gameplay that focuses on action rather than survival horror. Other than the creepy visuals and character models of the monsters, as well as the unsettling nature of the game’s storyline, players are more likely to have fun blowing up the heads of Xenomorphs than they are to be scared of the creatures in the first place.

“Back! BACK, I SAY!”


2. LISA: The Painful (Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch)

LISA Gameplay Trailer. Start at 0:08

In a post-apocalyptic future sits a town called Olathe, which has been afflicted by a catastrophic event only known as “The Flash” that has killed all women and left society no way to reproduce. To numb the pain left after this traumatic event, many people in Olathe have turned to a drug called Joy that, while causing its users to feel nothing, eventually mutates them into creatures known as Joy Mutants. Players control Brad Armstrong, a middle-aged man, and a group of his friends as they venture to find Brad’s missing adoptive daughter and the last woman on Earth, Buddy. Throughout the game’s story, players are forced to make decisions that will have permanent and lasting effects on themself and their party members.

LISA: The Painful is a turn-based 2D role-playing game, with players fighting against various obstacles to find Buddy and bring her home. The story is dark in its content, but is very comedic in its delivery, making a push-and-pull of emotions for players. For a post-apocalyptic future with mutated creatures trying to kill you across the wastelands, LISA: The Painful is not so much considered scary as it is disturbing or unsettling.

Better hope you have a good grip on that, Brad!


1. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (MS-DOS, Mac OS, Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android)

 I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Trailer. Start at 0:12

Based on the short story of the same name by Harlan Ellison, the 1995 point-and-click game I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream takes place on dystopian Earth in the aftermath of a global war beyond human comprehension. A supercomputer that calls itself AM has taken over, killing all of humanity except for five people that it has now tortured for over a century for its own amusement. The game has players control these five tortured souls, forced to find a way to overcome the fatal flaws that AM has been using to torture them and finally fight against the supercomputer’s control. Depending on the player’s actions, the game has seven total endings, most of which lead the player-character into a truly horrific non-death that leaves them a soft jelly being with no mouth.

Existential horror is one that leaves us uncomfortable, feeding on the human fear of the unknown and unknowable as the vehicle of its horror elements. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is fantastic at doing this, leaving players feeling helpless against AM’s artificial intelligence and cruel, torturous games. But that’s the point — you must fight past your helplessness and fears in order to fight against AM, lest you be forced to go through another century of torture.

I’m gonna be honest, I don’t think any one of those five can read whatever is on that pillar…

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In between my adventures across Hyrule and Skyrim, I have dedicated my creative spirit to writing within and about the worlds I inhabit on screen and in real life.
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Resident Evil 4 Remake
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD, The Sims 4

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