Nothing gets your blood flowing like a good horror flick. Whether it’s jump scares, psychological toying or gruesome imagery, blood and gore instill a primitive fight-or-flight response in even the most seasoned of horror fans. However, even though horror movies seem to dominate the realm of terrifying fandoms, horror video games take it a step further by dropping consumers into the role of the protagonist. Ever wish you could be the star in your own real-life zombie movie?
Well, neither do we, but the immersion these games offer can make blood run cold better than even the most rabid of cult film phenomena. If they’re still not scary enough for you, feel feel to try them in virtual reality.
1. Resident Evil 2
You rarely praise a game for crappy camera presentation, but the second installment of Resident Evil on Playstation revolutionized terror in a whole new way. Awkward, annoying camera angles may have caused frustration, but not being able to see around a corner until you’ve already turned it makes for plenty of nose-to-nose encounters with the undead. The recent remake remedied this aspect but made up for it with plenty of jarring enemies to take on. Despite this, we’ll give an edge to the 1998 classic.
2. Alien: Isolation
Building a game around only one main enemy might seem impossible, but Alien: Isolation turned the lack of antagonistic supporting cast into a strength. You never know when the sci-fi horror icon will come slithering through to send you to your last checkpoint, but the stress is responsible for a large chunk of the game’s appeal. You’re never safe, whether it’s hiding in a locker or fiddling with the ship’s computer systems. The fear can get to the point of exhaustion, but that’s what sets it apart as an immersive horror experience.
3. Slender: The Arrival
While it might lack the viral obsession of the first Slender game, The Arrival turns a neat short-sighted concept into a full-blown fright night. Rather than wandering the same forest in fear of the blank-faced antagonist, the second edition pits players against an extended cast of Slenderman’s creepy crew. Don’t worry: They’re just as prone to suddenly pop up on the screen like their eerie predecessor, with plenty of screentime from the game’s towering namesake as well.
Possibly the greatest game that never was, the scrapped installment of the Silent Hill series set the internet ablaze with anticipation after releasing a short demo on PS4. The video above is actually a playthrough of the game in its entirety, and while only about 20 minutes long, it could definitely be regarded as the most horrific entry in the list. Sadly, the demo is no longer available following its cancellation, but watching the brief playthrough can act as a horror short in itself.
5. Dead Space
Each chapter of the Dead Space series can be more sickening than the last, but nothing beats the first glimpses of the disgusting space creatures in the first game. The necromorphs faced in the survival-horror classic may be some of the most disgusting creations in all facets of thriller media. It doesn’t make it any less gross that the go-to form of defeating these enemies is strategic dismemberment.
Read more: 10 of the goriest hororr video games
6. Silent Hill 2
You really can’t go wrong with any entry of the Silent Hill franchise (unless it’s one of the movies), but the second game makes a compelling argument as one of the strongest in the series. Introducing one of the most recognizable characters of gaming in Pyramid Head, each enemy represents a metaphorical meaning in relation to the protagonist. Plus, they’re all jaw-droppingly horrifying.
7. The Evil Within
Although sometimes lacking in the technical department, The Evil Within firmly grabbed the attention of the gaming world when it dropped in 2014. Borrowing Resident Evil’s knack for stripping the player of their means of defense, the game puts an emphasis on stealth, encouraging you to run and hide rather than blast through hordes of undead. Basically, it sometimes turns you into a helpless horror flick star who relies on their wit to defeat foes and get butchered more often than not.
There’s a good chance you won’t outlast this game in its entirety, pun intended. Taking the role of a journalist researching an abandoned asylum/government experimentation lab, Outlast isn’t stingy on the outlets of defeating enemies. Instead, it completely strips the player of any mode of defending themselves, making them completely helpless and at the mercy of the psychotic experiments housed in the hospital of horrors. Running and hiding may seem stressful and anxiety-inducing, and that’s because it is.
9. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
A favorite for viral YouTube “Let’s Play” channels, people most likely enjoy watching gameplay of Amnesia because it’s too scary to play themselves. The indie-horror darling is still getting attention almost a decade after its release, mostly due to brilliant visuals and sound design that perfects the art of immersion. Do you want a video game that will actually make you cry? Here it is, and we’re not joking.
10. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Adding a second Resident Evil title to this list goes to show the excellence of the series, but if not for the story elements, the seventh game could be its own standalone title. Putting one into a first-person perspective, players navigate the twists and turns of an actual haunted house while grappling with family of cannibalistic mutants who, despite the mass amounts of bullets fired into them, just seem to keep coming back. If you can catch up with the series’ sometimes overwhelming story arcs, this title is a horror classic.