In the past few years, horror culture in the creative arts has skyrocketed. Fans of numerous iconic series across film, TV, and gaming have been treated immensely with new content, reboots, remasters, and more. With more powerful consoles and updates being made constantly, the gaming industry is inundated with fresh horror projects to keep players occupied and terrified.
Whilst the line between console exclusives and multi-platform titles thins, it’s a great time to be an Xbox gamer. The continuous reprisal of classics getting the remaster treatment, the influx of new and innovative indie projects, and the ongoing evolution of respected series make horror gaming an exciting genre to keep an eye on.
8 Little Nightmares 2
With Little Nightmares 2 on the Xbox Series X/S, this side-scrolling puzzle sequel looks and plays better than ever. This short but sweet journey is set in the gorgeously crafted vision of a bleak world called the Pale City.
As with its predecessor, players control pint-sized characters by the names of Mono and Six as they explore the unaccommodatingly nightmarish city and try to survive. Fans of slow-burning horror and frantic boss set pieces that require perfectly executed jumps and many leaps of faith will find plenty to love about this deceptively frightening horror.
7 Resident Evil Village
The eighth official entry into the adored and influential series, Resident Evil Village makes the series remain firmly at the top of the mainstream horror gaming hierarchy. As if things weren’t wild enough for poor Ethan Winters, the protagonist of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, now he must find his missing daughter, Rosemary.
Set in a starkly different environment from any other game in the series, players explore a Victorian-style land, filled with fantastical beasts of mythical legend. Unusual memes aside regarding the game's domineering antagonist Lady Dimitrescu, this ever-present villain is far from being as receptive as many would’ve liked.
6 Dark Pictures Anthology: House Of Ashes
Though many horror games evoke terror by giving players control over their every move, House of Ashes makes you dread the outcome of each decision. In the subgenre of interactive cinematic games, this follow-up to titles Man of Medan and Little Hope hits a high point in the mini-series.
Players are taken to Iraq during its 2003 invasion and are focused on teaming up despite indifference, as a number of soldiers became lost in a vampire-infested temple. Like similar titles such as Until Dawn and Heavy Rain, House of Ashes has multiple playable characters and over thirty potential endings, implemented by your decisions in combat and moral dilemma.
5 The Medium
By far one of the eeriest games on this list, The Medium is a truly singular experience. Though there is a blatant stylistic influence in the mechanics of the slow-and-steady moving, third-person Silent Hill series, The Medium is still massively original. Set in Poland in the late '90s, players control Marianne, a woman who can communicate with spirits.
It’s up to her to investigate one of her visions, which involves the killing of a young girl. The gameplay mixes traditional horror exploration with a dynamic twist of puzzles, often relying on players to control mirrored split-screen gameplay to advance and escape antagonists.
The most life-ruining kind of horror is the type that makes everyday appliances appear scary. In the case of Simulacra, you’ll be reluctant to use your mobile phone in the unfortunate event that a demonic, cult-built AI begins to stalk you. This one-of-a-kind game sees players play through a smartphone interface, the phone being a lost item you have discovered.
The more you investigate, firstly discovering that the phone belongs to a woman called Anna, the more the narrative takes eery turns for the worst. With creative jump-scares, effective pacing, and plausible dialogue from an array of characters, Simulacra is an essential horror experience for those that love to be surprised.
3 A Plague Tale: Innocence
Though A Plague Tale: Innocence consists of each of the elements of outright horror – namely rats, disease, widespread death, and intimidating, forceful antagonists – this first chapter wasn't marketed solely as a horror game, but this doesn't mean it doesn't have its moments.
Playing as 15-year-old Amicia, players are tasked with sustaining the safety of her sick brother, evading soldiers and plague-infected rats on their escape. Though not overtly focused on scaring players with conventional, unexpected jumps, the detailed immersion of a 14th century France rife with disease is enough to give anyone a classic survival horror experience.
A true modern classic in the horror genre of gaming, Outlast is unapologetically ruthless and relentless in the trauma that it invokes. Set in an abandoned mental asylum, players are tasked with investigating the disused center to unearth mysterious rumors regarding the state of the institution.
Armed with nothing but your wits and a battery-reliant night vision camera, Outlast plunges you into horrifying encounters with mutated human experiments, roaming cannibals, violent murderers, and everybody else that you wouldn't want to bump into in a dark alleyway. A ground-breaking, sophisticated horror masterpiece with near flawless execution.
1 Alien: Isolation
In space, no one can hear you scream… but your neighbors sure can if you’re playing alone at home. This 2014 adaptation of the classic movie series is just as filled to the brim with terrifying content as its source material.
Whether it’s pacing the suspiciously empty corridors of the Sevastopol space station or hiding, breath-held in a locker from the predatory expert Xenomorph, Alien: Isolation puts a firm grip on you and doesn’t let go. Critically acclaimed and continuously reprised for new consoles since its seventh generation release, this survival horror is one of the essential cinematic horror gaming experiences.
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