There’s a snap in the air, shadows lengthen across the ground, and you’d better check under your bed before you fall asleep. The spooky season is upon us, and the writers of LTN want to share a few of our favorite scary games.
Dark, damp, and dreary, Bioshock perfectly blends unusual and uncomfortable. From the overall sense of dread Rapture provides, to the fascinating yet ruthless enemies, this masterpiece is freaky no matter how many times you enjoy it. – Tieranie Albright
It’s like being in your own mystery model-turned-slasher film all at once! The original SNES one was good, but its PlayStation remake is where it hit home for me. The complete randomization of where the killer, Scissorman, pops out gives it a lot of replay value, and the Dario Argento feel of the story and characters is just the spooky icing on the terrifying cake. – Eric “Flapjack” Ashley
There is no fear more real than that of the unknown, of not understanding, and of happenings beyond your control. These are all at the core of Oxenfree, making it a nerve-wracking and eerie game. – Stephanie Campoverde
On the surface, eversion looks like a cute, cheerful retro-style platformer, but don’t let that fool you—as the official website (now archived on the Wayback Machine) warns, it is “NOT INDICATED FOR CHILDREN OR THOSE OF A NERVOUS DISPOSITION.” The fun is in discovering what that means. – April-Lyn Caouette
Fatal Frame pits you as a helpless human armed only with a camera against deadly, revenge-seeking ghosts. To add to this helplessness, the game tells a harrowing murder mystery through masterful environmental storytelling in pacing, terrifying sound design, and tension-building camera tricks. – Jake Corn
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
There were many moments I considered never loading up Amnesia: The Dark Descent again. The more time you spend in the darkness, the more you start to hear and see things and the more aggressive the game’s undefeatable monster becomes. The game absorbed me and required focus and courage from me unlike any game I have experienced. – Drew Dixon
Dead Space creates the perfect atmosphere to bring you anxiety and terror during your experience. Not only are you trying to survive against terrifying necromorphs, but you also have moments where all you hear are Isaac Clarke’s grunts as you spacewalk on the outside of the half-destroyed USG Ishimura. The sound design is the star: whether hearing the sound of monsters in the air ducts or the absence of sound as you stare into the endless void of space, it creates an atmosphere of unadulterated dread. – Ryan Eighmey
The Last of Us
While The Last of Us has jump scares and many of the traditional survival-horror elements, it is the world that scared me the most. No hope, no safety, no superpowers, no heroes. Just your wits against the odds in a world that has crumbled beyond repair. – Cameron Franklin
Jenga is stressful enough on its own. Now imagine if, every time the tower collapses, someone dies. That’s the premise of Dread, an tabletop RPG system designed for horror campaigns. Instead of making skill rolls, make a pull from the tower… and don’t bump the table! – Lisa Eldred
The 7th Guest
If you liked Myst, but you want something campy and creepy for the season, you cannot go wrong with The 7th Guest. Point-and-click puzzles unlock the keys to a mansion filled with spooky, mid-90’s grainy FMV sequences. Creepy AND retro! – Patrick Gann
Exploring caves and dungeons can be very nerve-wracking. Exploring them in the dark is downright terrifying. The atmosphere, sound effects, and general creepiness always get me in Skyrim. – Drew Hood
Even amidst the breathtaking beauty of the lush and biologically diverse environment of Subnautica, I could never shake the eerie dread of knowing that I didn’t belong in the water. Worse still, the wildlife was quite happy to remind me of that fact. – David Jamison
Set in a world of murderous chefs, starving children, and gluttonous patrons, Little Nightmares provides polished puzzle platforming in a disturbingly unsettling atmosphere. But where does the true nightmare lie: in the rooms draped in shadow, filled with distorted and grunting characters, or in the mystery of what’s really happening and why they’re chasing you? In Little Nightmares, we see that terrifying creepiness can be more than just raincoat-deep. – Stephanie Skiles
Layers of Fear 2
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an actor, get paid to stay on a luxury ocean liner, and be in some of history’s most classic films? Then Layers of Fear 2 is the game for you! Although… there are a few caveats. The films are terrifying, the ocean liner is haunted and filled with creepy mannequins, and the director of your current acting gig is determined to rip apart your very being and psyche via macabre and horrifying visions so you can “fit” your role. – Jonathan Reedy
Being miles underwater in a derelict and abandoned research post is terrifying enough. The addition of the protagonist’s existential crisis pushes SOMA past the standard stealth and atmospheric horror into a game that had me questioning the nature of personhood. – Madeline Turnipseed
Want more? Check out these games that scared us out of our minds.
The header image is the marionette from We Were Here.
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