Top 10 Scariest Video Games


Most video games allow you to play as an unstoppable killing machine that can mow down dozens of puny enemies with ease. Horror games, however, are different; they tend to feature weak heroes that must simply try to survive with limited resources. Nothing makes a game scarier than a feeling of extreme vulnerability; although terrifying sights and sounds, spooky atmospheres and disturbing stories can certainly contribute as well.

This list features games that excel in all of those categories. For maximum effect, be sure to play them at 3AM with the lights out:

10. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Eternal Darkness tells an epic story that spans over 2000 years, as a dozen different characters try to stop an ancient and evil power from conquering the world. Along the way they’ll explore dark temples and creepy old houses, and encounter a variety of nightmarish creatures.

While the scope of the story and the game’s chilling atmosphere are impressive, Eternal Darkness’ most famous feature is its sanity effects; as your character encounters horrifying sights their sanity starts to decay, and that leads to weird things. You’ll see blood on the walls or enemies that aren’t really there, or the game will mess with you more directly by changing the volume on your TV or pretending to erase your save game file. If you’re not a huge video game fan, just trust us on this: there’s nothing that will shock a gamer more than the prospect of an accidentally deleted save game.

9. Dead Space

Dead Space is, as the name implies, set in space, where word on the street is that no one can hear you scream. You’ll be playing it in your basement though, so try to keep the noise down or anyone who lives with you will think you’re a wimp.

To be more specific, the game is set on a giant mining ship that has sent out a distress signal and you’re part of the rescue team that’s been ordered to investigate. You soon discover that every crewmember has mutated into a violent monster.  When most of your team is killed it’s up to you to rescue the dark and claustrophobic ship while aliens jump out at you from every corner. It’s tense, bleak and immersive, thanks to a superbly designed setting and some truly creepy audio.

8. F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. is only number eight on this list, but it’s number one on our upcoming article about least creative game names. The title is an awkward acronym for “First Encounter Assault Recon,” a special ops branch of the US Army that deals with paranormal threats. You play as a new member of this team during an investigation into a facility where research into telepathic powers has gone wrong.

Heavily inspired by Japanese horror films, F.E.A.R. drops a creepy little girl into the middle of an otherwise standard first person shooter. She spends the game toying with you, popping up every now and then to taunt you or force you to experience unpleasant hallucinations. Wondering when she’ll show up next keeps you on your toes, to the point where it becomes draining to play for more than a couple of hours at a time. The contrast between being able to gun down most opponents with ease, only to be left helpless in the face of a little girl, is remarkably effective.

7. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Dark Corners of the Earth is inspired by the work of famous horror writer H.P. Lovecraft and it faithfully recreates several of his most famous settings and creatures. You play as a private detective who’s been given the job of finding a missing person in the shadowy town of Innsmouth, an investigation that soon turns into an encounter with evil cultists, sea monsters and several ancient horrors.

To make matters worse, you’re forced to sneak through most of the game; enemies can easily overwhelm you if you’re spotted. And, much like in Eternal Darkness, you need to maintain your hero’s sanity. Expose him to too much horror and he’ll start to hallucinate, suffer from schizophrenia, and even kill himself. Nothing makes a game more nerve-wracking than being forced to listen to your character babble about how he has no hope of surviving.

6. Condemned: Criminal Origins

Condemned has you playing as a crime scene investigator who’s been framed for a double murder. You try to prove his innocence by tracking down the serial killer who was really responsible, a process that involves a mixture of crime scene analysis and beating homeless people to death with rusty pipes.

Don’t worry, they had it coming; they all turned into violent psychopaths for no apparent reason, which is another mystery you have to solve. And that’s part of what makes Condemned so scary- the brutal, hand to hand combat is genuinely unsettling. Factor in some tense exploration of dark and dreary abandoned buildings and all together you have a rather disturbing experience. Oh, and Condemned also managed to give us a lifelong fear of mannequins; watch the video clip to see what we mean.

5. Penumbra: Black Plague

No, this isn’t a game about the actual black plague. That would just be depressing. Instead, you’re exploring a ruined research facility where all the staff have either been killed or turned into zombie-like creatures that are looking to make a meal out of you.

Black Plague is ostensibly an adventure game, as you progress by exploring and solving a variety of puzzles. Unfortunately, it’s tough to crack riddles when you’re worried by the prospect of a monster jumping out and ripping your face off. You can fight back, but you’re weak, so  you’re better off avoiding conflict. Luckily, there aren’t a lot of monsters, but that’s actually part of what makes Black Plague so scary. There are just enough enemies to keep the tension running high while you explore the mysterious setting, and you know that if you’ve been safe for a while then there’s trouble coming soon.

4. Siren: Blood Curse

Siren tells the story of an American TV crew that’s come to Japan to do a report on a legendary “missing village.” They discover it, but they also discover that it’s full of bloodthirsty zombies. Think of it as a Discovery Channel show gone horribly wrong.

You control several different characters over the course of the game, and they range from “guy who can use a gun but can’t find much ammo” to “unarmed little girl.” Therefore, you’ll spend most of your time skulking around and trying to avoid monsters. And believe us, you’ll want to avoid them. Siren features some of the most gruesome creatures we’ve ever seen in a video game. To make matters worse, you get to see through their eyes: whenever a monster closes in on you you’ll get a glimpse of their perspective, which is especially terrifying when they’re looking straight at your hiding place. Or when they’re eating your face.

3. Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly

Fatal Frame 2 is a game starring two little girls (do we even have to tell you it was made in Japan?) who get lost in a forest and find themselves trapped in a foggy village populated only by angry ghosts. Playing as a vulnerable child is a daunting prospect, but unlike Siren you at least get a weapon to fight back. No, it’s not a vacuum cleaner or a proton pack; you’re equipped with an ancient and powerful… uh, camera. Crap.

OK, so it’s a special kind of camera that can kill ghosts. Unfortunately, it’s only effective at close range (apparently the ghost slaying telephoto lens hasn’t been invented yet). So you’ve got to get personal with the deceased in order to take them down, and you better not run out of film in the process or you’ll be in serious trouble. Combined with a weird Japanese ghost story and a very creepy setting, Fatal Frame 2 is easily the most frightening camera based games out there.

2. Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Everything we said about Penumbra also applies to Amnesia (the two games were made by the same developer). There’s just one key difference: you can’t fight. At all. When monsters show up your only option is to run away in fear, hide in the shadows, and pray they don’t find you.

Story wise, you play as an amnesiac (bet you didn’t see that coming) who’s woken up in a dark castle. All you remember is that you’re being chased by something; it’s up to the player to explore the castle and figure out what’s going on. It sounds simple enough, at least until you discover that the castle is one of the scariest game environments ever created. Every dark corner and closed door might have a monster lurking behind it, and that’s a terrifying prospect for a player that has no means of defending themselves. Oh, and did we mention that your character is going insane?

1. Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2 is the thinking man’s horror game, which means you’ll be scratching your head as you attempt to unravel the plot, at least when you’re not busy screaming in terror. The hero of the game has come to the foggy titular town at the behest of a letter he received from his supposedly dead wife. He discovers a woman that looks just like her, yet she claims to have never met him. He also discovers a lot of monsters.

The town of Silent Hill is spooky in its own right, but there’s psychological horror at work here too. The enemies are designed to reflect the main character’s fears and flaws: for example, deformed nurses with skimpy clothes and suggestive poses represent our hero’s sexual repression and objectification of women. This leads to some very weird foes, as well as one of the most shocking scenes in video game history: a monstrous stand-in for all of our protagonist’s sins decides to get, um, forcibly intimate with some of the more feminine creatures. Moments like that are what makes Silent Hill 2 a landmark in both the horror game genre and our nightmares.

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  1. Honestly, Amnesia (the whole series) and Sanitarium are the scariest games ever. By far.

  2. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is the scariest game I’ve ever played, hands down. That game scares the living shit out of me every time. Resident Evil 2 is definitely a commendable choice for number 1 though.

  3. SH2 is an awesome choice for #1. Too bad they’ve ruined Silent Hill series with the new games..
    I’d choose Siren 1&2 over Blood Curse. Yes, the gameplay is harder, but the atmosphere and story is out of this world.

  4. I stopped agreeing with this article by the time I saw Amnesia at #2. The game’s an overrated borefest.

  5. Gamexpert10099 on

    Punembra Nightmares is the scariest,it could scare you to death!Really!Don’t play it! It once scared a
    35 years old man!

  6. RE 4 had some scary moments, the part where you play as Ashley and you can’t attack for instance. Also the sack-head chainsaw man and the chainsaw wielding Bela Sisters (their blood curdling screams could freeze my piss).
    Alone in the dark the new nightmare for ps1 was a really creepy game as well, that old blind lady in the bed gave me the heebie jeebies.
    Silent Hill 2 had a truly creepy storyline. Watching the video in the hotel room sent a shiver down my spine. The parts with the suicidal lady Angela? are very sad and creepy too.

  7. Amnesia – The Dark Descent is the scariest game I have ever played. It should have been on the No.1 spot with Silent Hills 2.

    • hey bros…mabe they should make a totally new list for that we are in 2013 and there are many new horrible games with cutting edge details!!

  8. i haven’t really played many horror games, but now im playing amnesia and it is once of the most brain destroying things ive ever done … but im gonna finish it … eventually … when i get my sanity back 😉

    • Is that right what you say!? I want to play this game rightnow, to discover the harm that destroys the psych!!!

  9. YourdreEMCOMETRU on

    Amnesia: The Dark Descent takes number one I think. There were alot of people who chose not to continue.

    In my opinion the top 5 scariest games are…

    5. Silent Hill 2
    4. Doom 3
    3. Resident Evil 4
    2. Fatal Frame 2
    1. Amnesia: The Dark Descent

    F.E.A.R. was also good. but the combat made the fear go away in a sense.

    • F.E.A.R is an action FPS game without puzzles to resolve,I think the real horror game must have confiusing missions like finding somthing lost in a horrific citadel or searching for hidden keys,traces that makes you wait for a panic moment behind the walls and underground…

    • Resident Evil 4 is not scary. Ok maybe some parts are freaky but I’ve played it too many times for it to be scary.

      • Sorry that may not be understandable. I’ve played Resident Evil 4 waay to many times to the point where it’s not scary.

  10. I think Hello Kitty III: The Final Rainbow is pretty scary. I thought I would never be able to clean my stain that was put on the back of my pants!!!!!! jk…… But seriously like the list havent really played any of these but still really nice list!

    • should be scared watching Mr Bean wearing the dead chicken on his head.have you saw his old films?!

  11. Well, SH2 is practically the best horror game ever, however I’d have to say SH3 is actually scarier. Though Pyramid Head is scary. Also Amnesia is pretty scary and so is Condemned. This is still one of the best horror lists I’ve ever seen. I own and play every game on this list.

  12. To everyone who thinks SH2 shouldnt be #1, think if you would have done this your first time playing

    1 play in the middle of the night
    2 lights off
    3 nobody in the room but you
    4 no music
    5 play with turtlebeach or greater head phones
    6 dont sleep

    • try doing all these things when you meet the wich!! in L4Dead 2, and then you will pray to sleep without nightmares!

        • My friend, you are right L4D isn’t scary, but I was talking only about the damned witch in this game. I always try to avoid it to escape from troubles. she sucks your life with her bloody long freaking nails!! she is so furious,brutal and mad like hell!!!

  13. Guys. cheers everybody! all videos and pictures in the games of this list are nice. And they seems to be very exciting even your comments attract me to play some of them!!
    Actualy I have played a horde of action survival games.But most of them didn’t scared me at all.
    the only old game wich attracted me was Half Life 1. its very old but for the year 2000 it was like a nightmare because it had a strange story about the huge labs underground.
    for this time mabe I will try to play somthing like Amnesia or Penumbra…

    • Scariest thing ever. Connect your computer to nice speakers, or super nice noise blocking headphones. Play at night in the middle of a dark room. Never sleep again.

  14. I’m kind of a new gamer. My bf made me play Silent Hill 2. I’m not finished as we are long distance and I’m too scared to play it without him!

  15. where is Left 4 dead 2. mabe it is not a scary game but it’s bloody like hell and full of chaos and thrill

  16. Great list, though i only played silent hill 2, fatal frame 2, dead space 2 and extraction only, and siren the original, i was about 8 when i first played the demo scary but still a demo and only two half playable levels, and silent hill 2 i played at 7 with my cousin, we were a little too young to understand it, but we always played just to get a kick and I’ll always remember those acid throwing monsters but now that I’m 15 i get the new ones a lot better.
    some scary games I’ve played would be the suffering 1 & 2 because of some grisly disturbing looking monsters alot of gory violence a dark disturbing story and you get to transform into a monster which is pretty described as a hallucination (“people have seen Torque kill monsters with his bare hands”) and monsters all around the poorly lightened environment, hiding in the shadows. Later resident evils and older ones I guess because of the appearance of the zombies from rooms that you can’t see good and in the older ones the violence is extremely graphic and sometimes even looking realistic and that is enough just for a horror game and i started those games again at 7 and those dogs scarred the hell out of me and i also hated those tarantulas.

  17. Silent hill and amnesia good choice for being 1 and 2 but i prefer amnesia because, when you finish silent hill you finish but when you finish amnesia then there is the gaming community putting in endless custom stories to play. Amnesia wouldn’t get old because of the custom stories. BUT, where is resident evil cause that’s where it basically started.

    • Resident Evil is basically a ripoff of Alone in the Dark imho. So, no, it def didn’t start there.

  18. I’ve played several horror games in the past. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is no joke. It will reduce you to crying in a corner within 15 minutes of playing. I would consider it tied with Silent Hill 2 for the title of the scariest video game.

  19. emily_weirdnez on

    i was scrolling down expecting silent hill on the list, and there it is. number 1. but where is resident evil?

  20. Amnesia is waaaay scarier than silent hill 2 lolz…I was at the point of shaking and not being able to keep a firm grip on my mouse by the time i got out of the prison. I do commend you for not putting freaking Bioshock on this list…Bioshock is NOT SCARY!

  21. Nightmare House 2.

    its a half life episode 2 mod that is frankly terrifying. lots of areas that set you up to have the **** scared out of you lol

  22. another good one….Nightmare House 2.

    its a half life episode 2 mod….but very scary moments. the game has a way of setting you up for the situations that seriously can scare the **** out of you lol


  24. Well, Condemned sounds interesting. But I started playing 3D computer games back in the early 90s, so I am rather prejudiced in that all new games seem to me utterly boring, bloated balderdash. It would be nice if this list contained release dates so people would know better what’s promising and what’s probably a BLOATED balderdash.
    Personally I would recommend Blood – the advanced episodes can get F’d up rather quick. And those spiders were almost unbearable, I wanted to stab my 13″ CRT 🙂
    Another game with terrifying moments is Thief: the dark project.
    Why no mention of Undying? I reckon it was a cult game in the last decade.
    Still haven’t got to System Shock / Bioshock (I’m a workaholic). My back catalog must be approaching a gigabyte!

  25. What about Obscure: Aftermath? What about Resident Evil 4? What about The Darkness? SAW? Vampire’s Rain?

  26. Condemed should have been higher. I know 3 full grown men that jumed the first time the manikens moved forward

  27. Bioshock is more psychological horror and atmospheric tension, which is still a form of horror. Though I do agree with it not being in the top ten. Still a freaky game.

  28. Great choice for #1 and #2!

    For those of you who say Resident Evil 4 should be on the list, that’s not even scary! And Bioshock is not even horror.

  29. Great list but missed some of the best, like doom 3 and resident evil 3, good to see fear on the list , thats one scary game

  30. Nailed the Silent Hill 2. I like that there’s a lot of psychological horror games on here. Not just gore.

  31. I was surprised not seeing any Doom or Bioshock games. Although Silent Hill 2 being at #1 is a great choice!

  32. silent hill 2 scary ?? pfft. i could only play ‘project zero’ (the first one) for 45 minutes at the most. and they seem to have a problem with f.e.a.r. because of the name not the game. that was a great scary game in more ways that usual (for an FPS)

  33. not bad, but one i think you missed was The Suffering…really creepy in my opinion, and i would say Dead Space should be higher

  34. Dino crisis and reident evil 4 are a couple of good scary games, both make you throw your game controller at the sceen when you play them alone in the dark.

  35. The original Siren is better, the new one I think is kind of ridiculous, and the old one with it’s scroungy controls makes it a lot scarier because you spend your whole time screaming at you character to get him to stop bumping into goddamn walls while the SHIBITO are chasing you. By the way it’s shibito and not zombies, and there’s a specific reason for the wording there.

    Nice choice tho I like this list =D

  36. Great List. The only thing I would have added would be platforms. Some of these look awesome, and I’d love to know what they’re playable on. Revise/ addendum please?

      • Diego… Amnesia the dark descent is kuk mooi and link scary. But I really enjoy the game! But i still think that silent hill is the best scaryiest game yet! But amnesia is still amazing!

  37. I’ve only heard of #1 and only know “call of the ktulu” from a Metallica song, but was expecting a Resident Evil game on the list. I would put Turok 2 Seeds of Evil on my personal list of scariest games.

  38. A great list, haven’t heard some of these. Eternal Darkness, that one gave me the creeps especially during the sanity modes. Siren, that one also gave me the creeps.

    But from the above list I would say the best one in terms of being scary is Condemned. While it got good reviews back in 2005 when it was released, I think it’s a masterpiece and has stood up well. The story progression got some criticism but I think overall they did one heckuva job on it. The dark atmosphere, the sounds, the gameplay, absolutely scary

  39. So basically this is a list of games that I shouldn’t play. Bioshock scares the bejeesus out of me just fine…

  40. Dude, nice list. Good call on Silent Hill 2, being number 1. I always chose the Silent Hill series over Resident Evil, just more my preference. Silent Hill 1-4 were all great, after 4 they lost me. Oh and Akira Yamaoka, made some great music to compliment the eerieness of Silent Hill.

  41. Good choice on Silent Hill 2… but I will say that Silent Hill 1 was the scariest game on the series.

    • Bra silent hill the best scary game if Eva played. Silent hill home coming is amazing….. And so is silent hill downpour

  42. Some games that scared me.

    Bioshock, plenty of tense & scary moments, especially when you first encounter Big Daddy!

    Doom & Doom II, playing the original Doom at night with the lights out back in the early-mid 90s… that was enough to scare the begezes out of you. The first game that truly scared me.

    Doom 3, once again, dark & scary, although relying more on the leap out at you from nowhere scare tactic, still worked though.

    Resident Evil, playing the first RE at night was enough to just make you want to stay up all night and not risk nightmares.

    System Shock 2, the precursor to Bioshock, certainly influenced nearly every game on this list.

    Alan Wake, dark, moody, just downright creepy.

    7th Guest, another 90s game, think Myst, but with ghosts & even creepier.

      • TotallyEpic14 on

        Haven’t any of you played resident evil 1??? The lack of ammo was just scary… oh and did i mention the crimson heads i don’t think i did. If you forgot to burn or decapitate a regular zombie you were screwed as ammo was scarce … and oh one more thing you are in a the arklay mansion (go figure!)

    • Brent Friedman on

      I’m an OldGamer too and totally agree that the original Doom and Resident Evil games were genuinely frightening. Another oldie-but-goodie was Fatal Frame. Remember that one?

      There’s actually a cool new mobile game called Ghost Patrol that evokes some of the old FF magic, while adding an augmented reality twist with some of the creepiest sound design you’ll ever here.

      If you’re bored this Halloween or just wanna be spooked, check out Ghost Patrol and play it alone in the dark if you dare.

  43. darkknight9761 on

    This list was very good, I’ve played at least half of these games, I can see why Silent Hill is #1 (I own all the games in the series), but you forgot the granddaddy of them all; Resident Evil(#1 was the one that got me hooked on this genre of game) and it scared the crap out of me. Did you not include it because #1 was so much older than the ones on this list?

    • Yeah, I was trying to keep the list as modern as possible because most older horror games haven’t aged very well. The only thing about RE1 that scares me today is the voice acting.