14 of the Scariest Games to Play During Spooky Season, As Picked by the Screama Teama

Spooky Scary Vidya Games that send shivers down our spines.

As the SPOOKY SEASON approaches, gamers may be looking for the ultimate Halloween Horror List to begin adding new favorites to their must-plays for this iconic holiday season. However, with a massive amount of horror titles available, I tasked the Prima Teama to give me their favorite scary games to play through during the season, or even the game that terrified them the most in their adolescent years. Below, you’ll find every option available, with some old-school games mixed in with new-school flair.

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Patrick Souza – Left 4 Dead 2

I’m sure I speak for many when I say that Left 4 Dead 2 is still one of the best zombie games ever made, if not the actual best. Back 4 Blood wasn’t bad, but it never made me scream or laugh (sometimes both at the same time) like its spiritual predecessor did and still does. Few things can top that rush from getting (literally) jump scared by a Hunter while distracted or being brutally pounded to death by a Charger because your friends have even worse aim than you.

The Director (the game’s AI) is genius enough to make a run feel fresh regardless of how many times you’ve done that map, so replaying levels always brings something new. With a loyal community and updates still happening regularly, L4D2 is still a top pick if you feel like getting some quality scares. Especially if you have the Shrek Tank mod installed. Nothing’s scarier than angry Shrek defending his swamp.

Scare Factor: 8 out of 10

Madison Benson – Dark Deception

Admittedly, I’m not an avid horror fan, and you won’t find me playing these games too often in my free time. One of my few experiences with horror games is Dark Deception, which has your typical run-of-the-mill jump scares all over the place. When it comes to things that spook me, jump scares are the way to go, so I tend to avoid them. While psychological horror is usually my go-to, I occasionally return to this if I want something to scare the heck out of me. The first chapter alone is enough to keep me up at night, let alone the rest.

Scare Factor: 7 out of 10

Ule Lopez – Silent Hill 2

Horror isn’t just a medium to incite fear. It also can be a fantastic way to tell a beautiful story that explores the player’s darkest and most deep inner thoughts and emotions. Silent Hill 2 is proof that horror doesn’t need to be anything fancy just to scare and uses the medium to tell a more meaningful story through subtext, tactful representation, and symbolism. This game has inspired generations upon generations of horror games in its wake and hopefully, it can continue to inspire more as they come.

Scare Factor: 8 out of 10

Priscilla Wells – Sleuth (DOS)

I don’t play too many spooky games. It’s not that I don’t like them, but my preferred genre keeps me incredibly busy. So, I had to sit and ponder it for a short while. And then it hit me. A game from my childhood that gave me the creeps.

Sleuth, originally released in 1983 is a text-based game in which the player has to solve a murder mystery. As you explore the multiple rooms in the home, the murderer will become increasingly aware of your investigation. The anxiety will begin to overwhelm you as you race to find the clues to solve who committed the murder, and what the murder weapon was. If you fail to do so, you will be told that the murderer is in the same room as you, and then ultimately meet your untimely demise.  Despite the very limited graphics of the DOS era, the game still manages to create an uneasy atmosphere which was enough to get my young heart beating, and the sense of dread still lives with me to this day.

Scare Factor: 7 out of 10

Shaun Cichacki – Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Over the years, I’ve played through and conquered many a scary game. Resident Evil, while more action-packed, has been haunting players for years, and it felt like a breeze to make it through (yes, even Resident Evil 7 in VR). None, however, have had a lasting impact on me nearly as much as Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The first time I picked this game up, I made it about 15 minutes in before slamming my laptop shut and throwing my headphones clear off my head, thanks in part to its masterful sound design and generally oppressive atmosphere.

I finally made my way through Amnesia fully for the first time just last year, and needless to say, it has aged like a fine wine. It is still one of the most horrifyingly tense and terrifying games that I have had the (dis)pleasure of experiencing, but I know my wife had the enjoyment of watching me squirm during the infamous Cellar section of the game.

Scare Factor: 10 out of 10

Jason Roberts – Hotline Miami

If we were rating the games on a gore factor, Hotline Miami would be a 10/10. It’s a wonderfully fast-paced slasher game that takes place in an alternate universe where Russia won the Cold War. You play a mask-donning vigilante who takes orders from a mysterious caller who loves dialing*67. The orders? Kill every Russian at the target location, and ask no questions.

Yeah, you’re definitely not playing a good guy in the game. But if you’re willing to toss morals away for relentless surges of dopamine while you torpedo through levels and bop along to one of the greatest OSTs of all time, then Hotline Miami is the game for you. Plan for a few jumpscares from coked-up gang members zooming at you with a baseball bat. Oh, and lots of blood.

Scare Factor: 4 out of 10

Meg Bethany Koepp – Yume Nikki

My favorite scary game is Yume Nikki. It’s not a traditional horror game per se, but I first played it as a kid and it scared the hell out of me, so it’s my version of Outlast or Amnesia. The thought of being stuck in a dream world loop was terrifying to my lil’ 10-year-old brain, and after playing through it the first time, I had nightmares for weeks.

I’ve also got to give an honorable mention to P.T. (RIP). Though the demo was terrifying when it was first released, it just makes me sad now knowing what could have been. Press F to pay respects. Even though it was a short demo, the buzz around it and the way the community came together to solve its secrets remains one of my favorite gaming memories ever.

Scare Factor: 8 out of 10

Brandon Morgan – Fallout 3

More specifically, The Dunwich Building. As a teen in high school, I spent countless hours exploring the Capital Wasteland, but I only entered The Dunwich Building once—once was enough. It wasn’t the numerous ghouls that terrified the younger me but the atmosphere itself. I always felt as if something stranger was watching my every movement.

As it turns out, much of Fallout’s more mysterious lore is steeped in Lovecraftian influence, especially The Dunwich Horror. So, with that in mind, yeah, something more sinister was afoot in The Dunwich Building.

Scare Factor: 9 out of 10

Jordan Lemons – Ib

Having grown up in the age of “screamers” and jump scares, I believe true horror lies in the art of tension and atmosphere. There’s nothing like a lingering scare that continues to leave images of a monster hiding in the dark shadows of every corner you pass. Most of my favorite horror games happen to be indie adventure or RPG pixel horror games, which makes narrowing it down to a favorite very difficult. If I had to choose though, I’d go based on my nostalgia and roots, Ib. Ib is a simplistic adventure horror game where a young girl gets lost in a terrifying version of an art museum.

Filled with horrifying chase sequences, death traps behind every puzzle, and several options for different eerie and hopeless endings, this game will leave you stunned and double-checking the paintings in your house. With how long it’s been out, it’s seen several other reiterations and spinoffs by fans as well as updates to the original game itself with additional endings being added on later by the creator, kouri. Because it’s hard to choose from my absolute favorite horror games, here are some honorable mentions: Cat Lady, White Day, Corpse Party, Witch’s House, and Fatal Frame.

Scare Factor: 7 out of 10

Shawn Robinson – Amnesia: The Bunker

Never before have I been so terrified by a game, even with the lights on (yes, I’m a heathen). Amnesia: The Bunker features one of the scariest monsters in gaming, and feels like the first Amnesia entry where I start to understand the hype around it.

The way the monster will make its presence clear even when it can’t attack you invokes an immense sense of anxiety. Not to mention that a bunker is claustrophobic as all hell, especially with the sound of war raging above you. Even outside of the monster’s design, it’s just a well-crafted game in general.

Scare Factor: 9 out of 10

Grant Testa – Resident Evil 2 (Remake)

When it comes to the Halloween season, you simply can’t go wrong with Resident Evil. Even though there have been occasional missteps, the series has provided some of the best horror experiences ever created, not merely in games, but for any medium. Personally, I view the Resident Evil 2 Remake as the pinnacle of the series and survival horror gaming in general.

Although RE2 is relatively short, its dual protagonists, Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, lead two unique, compelling stories full of intrigue, excitement, and replayability, with new horrors lurking around every corner. From the beginning section at the iconic Raccoon Police Department to later locations (that I won’t spoil), Resident Evil 2 will keep you on your toes from start to finish, while simultaneously bringing you back for more. Despite the fact that the 2019 remake may not be the scariest game of all time, and isn’t even the most frightening of its franchise, RE2 is undoubtedly my favorite horror game of all time.

Scare Factor: 7 out of 10

Joe Greene – Slender: The Eight Pages

I last played Slender when it was first released in 2012, however, I just re-downloaded it to capture the above screenshot, and I can attest that it remains as terrifying as it was over a decade ago. In Slender, you navigate an ominous forest, attempting to collect eight pages. All the while, Slenderman grows increasingly agitated as you steal what he seems to view as his personal artwork.

Dated graphics, a chilling ambiance, and the looming sense of danger make it one of the most spine-chilling games available. The sound is by far the most unsettling aspect of Slender. With each page you collect, the ambient soundtrack becomes more menacing, mirroring Slenderman’s escalating rage. Try it if you dare

Scare Factor: 11 out of 10

Matt Vatankhah – Darkwood

When we think of “scariest games”, most people don’t imagine a top-down, low-res indie title to fit the bill, which just speaks to how well the team at Acid Wizard Studio understands “scary”. Darkwood is a survival horror on its surface; tasking you with gathering supplies and advancing its obscure plot by day, while holing up in a barely-secured house to survive each night. But the danger isn’t just what’s outside – it’s all around you, and it’s inescapable.

Darkwood has little-to-no jumpscares in it. Instead, the game uses its chilling audio and visual design to create a rollercoaster of atmospheric, persistent, almost suffocating terror and dread. Darkwood will trick you; ever-so-subtly moving objects that aren’t supposed to move, playing sounds to make you question if you’re alone or not, casting shadows that make every turn a mental struggle. Like spotty cell phone service in the middle of nowhere, you’ll feel momentary blips of absence where your sanity should be. Did that sound come from the game.. or somewhere else?

Scare Factor: 10 out of 10

Daphne Fama – Home Sweet Home

If you’re a fan of stealth games with a claustrophobic, skin-crawling atmosphere, Home Sweet Home might be the Halloween pick for you. This underrated horror gem is deeply influenced by Thai folklore and superstition, which is embedded in its monster design and world-building. But other aspects, like unrequited love and the horror of high school, are more universal experiences that anyone can appreciate.

The combination of fantastic storytelling and gameplay makes it my horror pick of the year. And its price tag of $15.99 USD on Steam doesn’t hurt either.

Scare Factor: 7 out of 10

As you can see, we’ve got a varied list of different games that you can jump into to kickstart Halloween the right way: by needing an extra pair of pants. While not every game on this list may be the most horrifying experience you’ve ever partaken in, a few may give you shivers down your spine. Get ready for the best season of the year with us and start your Halloween off on the right foot.

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Shaun Cichacki
As a fan of RPGs, Action & Retro titles, Shaun has been gaming since he was a young boy. With an overwhelming obsession involving Metal Gear Solid and Pizza Tower, you know you're in for a wild ride when it comes to things he's writing about.