For a few years, it looked as though the horror genre was dead in the world of console gaming. Many major franchises, like Resident Evil and Dead Space, ditched their survival-horror roots in favor of action-oriented experiences, and it seemed as though the best horror experiences were staying exclusive to PC.
However, the horror genre has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in recent years, with a number of developers stepping up to the plate to deliver quality and genuinely scary experiences for fans. While the pickings were slim at first, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have managed to build impressive libraries of horror games, with these 10 standing out as the scariest.
is one of the most criminally underplayed horror games in recent years, but it stands as one of the absolute scariest available for PS4 and Xbox One. Alien: Isolation is a first-person survival-horror game with an emphasis on stealth, as protagonist Amanda Ripley attempts to survive on the Sevastopol space station. As though the creepy, red-eyed androids weren’t enough, Ripley also has to deal with a deadly, invincible Xenomorph that freely roams the station, unrestricted by predetermined paths like most enemies in video games.
After Techland’s well-received Dead Island, the studio followed it up with a more polished open world zombie game called Dying Light. Dying Light‘s emphasis on parkour and quick movement through its environments helps it stand apart, as players can get creative when fleeing from the undead masses. Dying Light is scariest when night falls in-game, as enemies become much more aggressive and deadlier, forcing players to run for their lives and seek shelter if they hope to survive until morning.
Layers of Fear
Developed by the relatively unknown Bloober Team, Layers of Fear was a surprise horror hit when it released in the winter of 2016. In the game, players take on the role of a painter trying to complete his masterpiece, only to be haunted by hallucinations and other creepy apparitions. Using psychological horror to great effect, Layers of Fear earned praise at the time of its release for its freaky atmosphere and genuine ability to scare players.
Speaking of Bloober Team, the studio is starting to establish itself as a reliable source of quality horror games, as seen by its most recent game, . Observer blends common elements of the horror genre with a gritty cyberpunk setting, resulting in one of the most visually unique games on this list. As cybernetically-enhanced detective Daniel Lazarski, players explore a rundown apartment building inhabited by all sorts of strange people in their quest to solve their son’s murder. Like Bloober Team’s previous effort, Observer is full of visual hallucinations meant to mess with players’ minds, as well as an engaging story that goes in some rather unexpected directions.
While either Outlast game could go on this list, we’ve got to give the nod to Outlast 2, which released to positive reviews earlier this year. Like in the first game, players are completely helpless in Outlast 2, unable to engage enemies in any kind of combat whatsoever. This creates a great deal of tension as players attempt to explore the game world, all the while avoiding violent, crazed cultists led by the charismatic preacher Sullivan Knoth. Besides the obvious physical threats, protagonist Blake Langermann also has to deal with disturbing hallucinations and flashbacks to his traumatic childhood, all of which lead up to a jaw-dropping ending that is sure to linger in players’ minds long after the credits roll.
Hideo Kojima’s mini-horror masterpiece has been hailed by some as one of the scariest video game experiences to date. In the game, players are forced to repeatedly travel through a looping hallway that constantly changes, taunting players with terrifying apparitions and disturbing imagery. P.T.‘s claustrophobic atmosphere and outright terrifying gameplay caught the attention of horror gaming fans on PS4, and it’s certainly a game worth checking out.
Unfortunately, trying P.T. for oneself may be easier said than done. The game was meant to be a teaser for project, and after that game was canned, the publisher controversially removed it from the PlayStation Store. If that wasn’t bad enough, P.T. can’t even be re-downloaded by those that have already had the game installed at one point without using third party software.
Resident Evil HD Remaster
As though the original tour of the zombie-infested Spencer Estate wasn’t scary enough, Capcom decided to ratchet up the terror even further with the REmake. Over a decade after the Resident Evil remake had GameCube owners sleeping with the lights on, Capcom gave the game an HD makeover and improved controls on PS4 and Xbox One to make it a more accessible experience.
Resident Evil HD Remaster is by far the best version of the game, and gives fans a chance to relive some of the franchise’s scariest moments. From encountering the disfigured, near-invincible Lisa Trevor to being chased by super-fast zombies called Crimson Heads, Resident Evil HD Remaster has no shortage of scares that still hold up to this day.
Resident Evil 7
Resident Evil HD Remaster gives horror aficionados a chance to revisit the franchise’s earlier day on PS4 and Xbox One, but the most recent entry, Resident Evil 7, is actually built from the ground-up for current-generation hardware. Resident Evil 7 launched back in January to rave reviews, with many hailing the horrific tale of the Baker family as a successful return to the franchise’s survival-horror roots. With plenty of jump scares, a tense atmosphere, PlayStation VR support, and shock imagery galore, Resident Evil 7 is easily one of the scariest games on PS4 and Xbox One.
After Frictional Games finished its work on the Amnesia franchise, it turned its attention from Gothic horror to sci-fi horror with SOMA. Releasing to strong reviews in 2015, SOMA plays similarly to Amnesia, with players encouraged to avoid the grotesque monstrosities they encounter in the underwater lab where the game takes place. Praised for its chilling atmosphere and stronger narrative than Frictional Games’ previous works, SOMA is quickly becoming a classic of the genre.
The Evil Within
Shinji Mikami, the creator of the Resident Evil franchise, took a break from directing horror games for awhile, instead focusing on action-oriented titles. In 2014, Mikami returned to his horror roots with , a game that plays similarly to Resident Evil 4, but with a bigger focus on psychological horror elements. While some criticized The Evil Within‘s technical issues, others recognized it for its raw ability to scare by bombarding players with some of the most disturbing monsters gaming has seen to date.
The PS4 and Xbox One have been around for nearly four years now, but their game libraries still have plenty of room to grow. As it pertains to scary games, horror fans have a lot of potentially great titles to look forward to, including the remake and Days Gone, along with smaller-scale projects like Hello Neighbor. With the genre’s persistent popularity, there should be plenty more scary games on PS4 and Xbox One in the years to come.