10 Great Horror Games That Aren’t Scary

Horror Games That Aren’t Scary

If you are anything like me, you might find that you are a much bigger fan of the overall horror aesthetic than you are of actual horror. I play horror games, but I have to be in the right sort of mood. However, I am pretty much always ready for a nice dark gothic aesthetic in a video game, or some twisted world design. So, without further ado here are ten awesome games that are very horror adjacent, but not necessarily scary games. 

10. Zero Escape: The Nonary Games

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games Gameplay

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games is technically two games in a collection, though they both share more or less the same concept. You have been kidnapped by a mysterious figure known only as “Zero” and brought to an unknown location. A device has been strapped to your wrist displaying a number, and allowing you access to specific doors. It will be up to you and the other people that have been kidnapped to solve puzzles and try to escape. 

What makes Zero Escape: The Nonary Games so great is it’s got this very almost Saw vibe to it. You don’t know who put you there or why, and it might even have been one of the other people you are there with. All you know is you are playing a game for your life, and have to get out. It’s definitely a horror situation, but it’s not scary at all (though it does have it’s twisted moments). The whole series are great games overall. 

9. Gone Home 

Gone Home Gameplay

Gone Home is at its heart a mystery game. You take on the role of Kate, who has just returned home from a year abroad to her family’s new home in Oregon. She finds the house deserted, much of her family's belongings still in moving boxes and a note from her sister asking her to investigate what happened there. It falls to you to unravel the story here, and find out what happened, where everyone went, and why. 

What makes Gone Home such a great addition to this list is that it’s never really scary. It plays with the ambiance of walking around a silent, empty house, and leaves your brain to conjure up things to be scared of. As you investigate what happened, you will also begin to become increasingly fearful for the well being of your sister, unsure if she is alright or not. It’s anxiety ridden, but ultimately not scary. This one is definitely one to check out though, as it’s an absolute joy from start to finish. 

8. Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal Gameplay

Doom Eternal isn't’ a major departure from the entire series, and with the exception of the third entry in the series, they would all fit comfortably on this list. As per usual, you take on the role of the Doom Marine, as he fights through hordes of demons to save humanity. Though it’s not a series you’d usually play for the story, this one actually does have a mildly interesting story as we discover more about the Doom Marine’s backstory, and more about the various worlds that exist outside of our own. 

What makes Doom Eternal so good is that it doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is, an over the top gorefest. It’s an upgrade in every way from the last Doom game. It’s gore is more outrageous, it’s’ shootouts and weapons are more ridiculous, and the world design is more varied and exciting. It’s not a game that is likely to scare you, but it’s certainly set in a twisted horror-inspired world. 

7. We Happy Few

We Happy Few Gameplay

We Happy Few is a beautifully twisted game. Throughout the story you take on the role of multiple characters, as they each pursue their own personal quests. The game takes place in an alternate timeline version of England, centred around the city of Wellington Wells. In this timeline, due to a horrible event that occurred in the past, the entire population began ingesting a hallucinogenic drug called “Joy” that allows them to forget the past and live in a permanent euphoric state. Unfortunately some people begin gaining an immunity to Joy, and become “downers'' people that have become tremendously depressed and often dangerously insane due to remembering the terrible events of the past. These “downers'' are exiled from the city, to live or die outside in the largely lawless space outside the city. 

We Happy Few is slow to give you information on what happened in the past, and how England got to the point it is at during the events of the game. You learn things about the world slowly, but the pacing allows you to digest every little tidbit you get. It’s great because it’s incredibly original, and beautifully dark without actually being scary. The concept is horrifying, and the world that you are playing through is definitely nightmare fuel; but you are going to come away more unsettled than actually scared. 

6. Carrion

Carrion Gameplay

Carrion is a fun example of a game that probably would be scary if not for the fact that you are playing the role of the monster in the story. In Carrion you play a horrific blob with teeth that escapes containment and embarks upon a murderous adventure through the facility it was being kept in, killing and consuming anyone it comes across. It also gradually will find other organisms in containment and consume them to gain more powers to use in its quest to escape. 

What makes Carrion so great is it takes what would have been a fairly formulaic horror game and turns it on it’s head by casting you as the horrific monster. Do you have some deep and interesting reason for what you are doing? Not really. You’re a horrific monster and you are slaughtering everyone purely because they are in your way, and maybe because you are hungry. It’s silly gorey fun, and I hope that more games like this come out. 

5. Little Nightmares

Little Nightmares Gameplay

In Little Nightmares you step into the yellow raincoat of Six, a young girl that wakes up in an underwater vessel called “the maw”. With no idea of how you got there, and starving, Six has to try to find her way through the vessel’s interior. The maw’s main inhabitants are giant as compared to Six, and in general mean her harm. Six will have to rely on stealth and her wits to escape the maw with her life. 

What makes Little Nightmares  so great is that it approaches what would definitely be terrifying but in a fun Tim Burton-esque sort of way. It’s dark, but charming. You aren’t going to be scared, but you will have a lot of fun. 

4. Metro: Exodus

Metro: Exodus Gameplay

Metro: Exodus is the most recent entry in the Metro series, and it has a lot in common with its predecessors. Once again you take on the role of Artyom, a soldier living in a society in the metro tunnels under Moscow post a nuclear war that rendered a great deal of the surface world uninhabitable. After the events of the previous game, Artyom becomes obsessed with the idea that there are other people out there, and eventually leaves the metro in search of other survivors on the surface. The game takes you across Russia and Kazakhstan from frozen hills to scorching deserts. 

While the Metro series has had its share of horror, Metro: Exodus has so much happen outside that it’s far less scary. There are scary moments in bunkers and such, but most of the game takes place out in the open air and without the claustrophobic metro tunnels, it’s not nearly as scary. You might jump once or twice, but for the most part you are just going to be having fun exploring the twisted and irradiated world set before you. 

3. Days Gone

Days Gone Gameplay

Days Gone takes place after a viral outbreak that has caused the near extinction of the human race. The infected become hyper aggressive monsters called “freakers” that are not quite zombies, due to not actually being dead. You take on the role of Deacon, a drifter that takes odd jobs with the survivor camps in exchange for supplies. As you might expect though, a series of events begins that forces him right into the middle of events that threaten to completely change the lives of everyone in the area and possibly the world. 

Days Gone walks the line, because it does have the odd scary moment. The theme is certainly scary, especially when you find yourself being chased by several hundred freakers bent on killing and eating you. That being said though, actual scary moments are rare and you are likely going to spend a lot more time mowing down freakers by the score, than you are going to spend sneaking around in fear. Especially after you get a hold of a few good guns. 

2. Vampyre

Vampyre Gameplay

Vampyre has a great premise for a horror-themed game. You are Johnathan Reid, a brilliant surgeon that is turned into a vampire after returning home to London from WW1. He must adapt to his newfound bloodthirst, whilst also trying to solve the mystery of who turned him and why. The story will thrust you into the center of a city struggling against the Spanish Flu epidemic, whilst also more quietly being brought to its knees by something more supernatural. It will be up to Johnathan to discover what is happening in the shadows of his home, and save it from a catastrophe of biblical proportions. 

What makes Vampyre so great is that every second of it is dripping with a gothic horror atmosphere. The map is a dark Victorian playground, and every second spent traversing it is a joy. However despite all that, it never truly gets scary. Monsters stalk the streets of London, but so do you. 

1. Bloodborne

Bloodborne Gameplay

Bloodborne is one of many fantastic games to come out of FromSoftware, and my personal favourite. In it, you find yourself kidnapped and brought to the fictional city of Yharnam, a beautifully twisted marriage of Victorian architecture, and lovecraftian terrors. Yharnam is a city obsessed with blood, with an entire church built around it. It’s residents live on top of an ancient city that fell eons ago, and even further own sleeps an ancient being whose blood has wondrous powers. However as with all lovecraftian tales, those wondrous properties come with a price. The city’s reliance on this eldritch blood causes a “beast plague” that turns an ever increasing number of it’s residents into feral monsters. You arrive in the city as it finally completely descends into madness. Yharnam will not survive the night, but will you?

What makes Bloodborne so great is it’s seamless mixture of Lovecraft’s mythos with a world that feels like a Victorian gothic novel given form. Yharnam manages to be darkly breathtaking in a way that is hard to explain to someone that hasn’t experienced it. This game is a joy for the senses and solid challenge to defeat. It’s not scary, but it’s soaked in horror themes from start to finish. There is no one I wouldn’t recommend this gothic masterpiece to. 

Also Be Sure To Read:

I've been gaming since before I could walk, starting my long gaming career playing Wolfenstein on my father's lap. I love stories and action, and geeking out about it with you fine people.
Gamer Since: 1998
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: We Happy Few, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Jedi: Fallen Order
Top 3 Favorite Games:Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine , The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Dragon Age II

More Top Stories