Top 10 Horror Games With the Best Storylines

Horror Games with good story
That is Creepy

A horror game is so much more frightening than a horror movie - why is that? A film is a passive experience - we watch on as hapless victims make all the wrong turns and end up on the wrong end of a maniac’s machete or a predator’s proboscis and we experience their grisly demise with a certain level of detachment.

A game, however, is so much more personal. The player is no longer simply watching as some poor peon creeps through a dank basement; they are seeing the darkened halls with their own eyes, they are taking each creaking step with their own feet. What follows is a list of horror games whose commitment to intricate storylines will leave the player with a lingering sense of unease long after they have logged off. 

10. Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Amnesia Gameplay

Players step into the shoes of Daniel, a former archaeologist with a terrible secret. Conveniently, Daniel has completely forgotten just what exactly that secret is along with where he is and how he came to be there - hence the game’s title. Creep through castle halls and subterranean sanctums in search of the answers Daniel thinks he wants. There are no epic battles in Amnesia, only flights for survival. Daniel is up against forces older and stronger than him. When the nightmares stalking Brennenburg castle descend upon the player, Daniel’s life and sanity will depend upon his ability to find a good hiding place. What makes Amnesia so truly terrifying is a primal instinct that we all share as old as darkness; fear of the unknown. The game uses what you do not yet know - in Daniel’s case, everything - to make you project your worst fears into each corner. Each shakily written letter you uncover pressed between the page of an ancient grimoire, every message scrawled in red across the wall of a defunct laboratory, they come together to paint a picture of events so heinous that Daniel chose to inflict himself with amnesia rather than live with the memories on his conscience. 

Enjoying a relaxing soak at Spa Brennenburg.

An encounter best avoided at all costs.

9. Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines

Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines 

After a long night out and more than a few cocktails, you find yourself alone in a seedy hotel room with a glamorous stranger. “I want to show you something” the stranger coos, but instead of unhooking a bra or unbuttoning a fly, they sink their fangs into your throat. You spend the final seconds of your life in the predator’s embrace, gazing at the stained wallpaper of that hotel room as the creature empties your veins. Moments after your death, you awake. This is the opening scene of VTM:B, a game hailed by many as a triumph of immersion and player choice mechanics. The player takes on the role of a newly sired vampire trying to survive in the cutthroat society of the undead. Begin by selecting your character from one of 7 vampiric clans, each with their own unique abilities and limitations. Clan choice will affect how the player character makes their way through the world and how the world will, in turn, react to the character. Will you use seduction or strength to get your way? Does your bloodsucker rub elbows with blue bloods in clubs and ballrooms alike or do they skulk in sewers and cemeteries feeding on rats? The characters that populate this twisted vision of L.A. are really what brings the whole game to (un)life. From their first night forward, players are embroiled in conspiracies and conflicts. A dangerous web of tenuous alliances and frenemies lies before the player character and any missteps will bring them that much closer to their second, final death.

A beauty.

A beast.

8. Soma

<Soma gameplay>

Frictional Games’ Soma follows the story of Simon Jarrett, a young man who submits himself to an experimental brain scan in order to relieve the lingering effects of a traumatic injury. The second the scan is administered, Simon wakes to find he is no longer in a dingy doctor’s office; he is trapped at the bottom of the Atlantic in a decaying research facility - PATHOS-II. The player must journey across the ocean floor in search of humanity’s ultimate salvation and the answer to the question: what does it mean to be human? In the spirit of Amnesia, players will find little in the way of offensive capabilities during their time on PATHOS-II.  Simon, it would seem, is much more of a puzzle solver than a fighter. When biomechanical horrors block his path, he has little choice but to hide until they lose interest in him and wander away. Enemy encounters are satisfyingly horrifying and players with a fear of deep ocean creatures in particular will be wetting themselves. What makes soma a great game though isn’t the puzzle solving or the ability to cower in fear in the wake of fish-zombie-robots. What makes Soma truly stick in the mind of the player like a glob of structure gel imbedded in the chest cavity of a reanimated corpse is the questions it asks about the fundamental nature of human identity. PATHOS-II is populated almost entirely by appliances that seem to experience the world as people. These tragic contraptions each house a digital copy of a long dead human’s consciousness, including memories and quirks. In the style of Black Mirror and Westworld, the game goes on to query players about the blurred lines between mind and body, man and machine, perception and reality. How many pieces of a human can you remove, alter, copy, and replace before they cease to be human?

Date with a robogirl.

Marine menace.

7. Bendy and the Ink Machine

Take on the role of Henry, a former animator revisiting the studio where he and his partner, the mysterious Joey Drew, created an iconic series of motion picture cartoons. As Henry delves deeper into the studio, it becomes apparent that something deeply unsettling is going on. Joey Drew Studios is both deeply creepy and aesthetically satisfying. Players will travel through an environment crafted to resemble an old style cartoon. Engage puzzles and avoid ink dribbling abominations to put an end to the corruption Henry unwittingly enabled and unleashed. Accompany Henry to discover the terrible lengths some creators will go to bring their art to life. The further into the studio Henry travels, the darker (and inkier) the situation becomes. He will discover the unsettling secrets underlying the success of the omnipresent Bendy.

As you can see, Bendy is a breakthrough hit.

Yes, thats insparational.

6. Observer

Observer is a cyberpunk romp across a field of nightmares. Daniel Lazarski is an Observer - a futuristic blend of corporate mercenary, cyborg, and detective. See this world through Daniel’s eyes and follow clues through cluttered apartments and cluttered minds. In the style of recent Batman and Witcher series entries, this game involves a fair amount of detecting. Lazarski has several brain and body augmentations that allow him to see all sorts of cybernetic and digital traces. In addition to super observation abilities, Lazarski can plug himself into the minds of the living and the dead. This is where the game truly shines. Once Lazarski has entered the diseased mind of an itinerant junkie or the memories of a murder victim, the player’s perception of what is real and what isn’t is turned upside down. As he melds with more and more minds, the technology that makes Lazarski an Observer, begins causing him to question the nature of his own reality. 

Behold, the future of gaming.

What’s a dystopia without a little brainwashing?

5. Little Nightmares

Little Nightmares is a beautifully creepy jaunt through a ship filled with ravenous pig people. The game is truly a thrill to watch and the attention to detail put in by developers is nothing short of loving. Imagine a game like Abzu but the art director is Tim Burton and he’s having a bad trip. The story here is brilliant because of all the detail it leaves out. There are clues in the level designs and in the creatures that 6 encounters along the way, however, nothing is ever explicitly spelled out for the player. Great horror stories know that no monster, once fully revealed to the light, can ever be as terrifying as you imagine it to be in the dark. 

Some nightmarish meal prep.

There are some highly unsatisfied customers on this cruise. 

4. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

This entry is a bit more of a combination haunting ghost story and outright assault on all things sane. The game follows the exploits of Paul Prospero, another detective to add to our list but this guy makes use of psychic powers rather than cybernetic enhancements. The gameplay is focused on exploration and interacting with the environment. Should Paul stumble upon something grisly or macabre enough, he can make use of his psychic gifts and relive the final moments of anyone who died a suitably unpleasant death. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is well paced. What begins as an eerie tale about a missing boy and a sleepy town evolves to the point of breaking down the walls of reality and calling into question everything players thought they knew about what was going on. Not all of the memories Paul has been exploring as reliable and there is much more going on here than a missing persons case. 

So much blood to explore, so little time. 

Interview with a ghost. 

3. The Cat Lady

We are all familiar with the archetypical “cat lady.” She lives down the street with little human companionship. She’s nice enough though she tends to keeps to herself. It is a solitary, sometimes sad life and it is the life of Susan Ashworth, our protagonist. After hitting rock bottom and attempting suicide, Susan encounters the mysterious Queen of Maggots. Before she can find the peace of death, Susan must kill 5 evil humans for the Queen - from this point forward, things only get darker. The game is a side scroller with a focus on plot and dialogue choices. Various options for interacting with the environment and with other characters will affect the outcome of the game. With options for tweaking Susan’s background and multiple different endings for the game, the game is worth a replay if you’re in the mood for a double shot of darkness. The Cat Lady is perhaps the most relentlessly dark game on this list. The art is reminiscent of those Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books that traumatized a generation of American millennials. The characters are either hopeless and melancholy or absolutely psychotic. The game is a lovely romp through the shadows, though after staying there for too long, players may want to play something a little lighter to cleanse the palate - Kirby Star Allies, anyone?

It might not be the prettiest game, but, at least the cats are cute.

Well, they are talking it out.

2. Fran Bow

Fran Bow is a marvelously whimsical tale of madness, despair and the cruelty of fate. Fran is a clever 11 year old with a feline friend named Mr. Midnight and newly dismembered parents. Shortly after her bloody orphaning, Fran finds herself trapped in a depressing children’s asylum and separated from her darling Mr. Midnight! The game is a cute/creepy side scroller through several deranged worlds. Fran must collect items and solve puzzles as well as interact with a colorful cast of critters and creeps in order to progress. Fortunately for Fran she has a full prescription for Duotine - little red pills that, when taken, transport Fran into a twisted version of her familiar reality. There Fran can witness the horrors occurring on the other side of the veil and find clues where previously there were none. Fran’s world is as quirky as it is ghastly and this is its strength. It is an original take on the dark wonderland motif - emphasis on the dark. Things that appear innocuous - a tree, a child watching tv, a painting of a clown in a hallway - become warped and bloody once Fran takes her medicine.

A magical journey from whimsical….

…to the warped.

1. Resident Evil 7 

Ethan departs for a lovely vacation in the peaceful bayous of Louisiana after receiving a message from his wife, Mia, to meet him there. The only thing that seems amiss is the fact Mia has been missing and presumed dead for over 3 years - cue hillbilly cannibals and unnamable horror. While players do have some limited offensive capabilities, fights never lose that up-close-and-personal feeling required to create fear. There will be no assault weapons or grenades, no effortlessly mowing down hoards of the undead. Each battle is a brutal struggle for survival resplendent in its gore and viscera. This sense of being trapped in a decaying bayou manor lends a great texture to the atmosphere of the game. Spending so much time lost in a claustrophobic bayou manor with insane, flesh-starved creatures potentially lurking in every nook and corner will have players seeking wide open, bright spaces after they’ve shut down the game.

“Come on in. Stay for a bite to eat.”

Come on baby, wake grandma up..

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Eve has been a gamer ever since she got her first PC back in the year of 2000 and loves a good strategy game on a rainy day.
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