The Top 15 Indie Horror Games for PC

Indie Horror Games for PC
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They say your problems are all in your head. But that's the danger here, isn't it?

Independent developers put their hearts and souls and all their spooks and creeps into these games, and it shows by the great reception the gaming community has had with them. Some of these utilize a pixelated style and some of them are in vivid 3d, but one thing remains the same: They’re all experiences you won’t soon forget.

15. >observer_

Observer Gameplay Demo - GAME Watch

After the nanophage, a cyber-transmitted plague that threatened to wipe out the entire human population, humanity is hanging onto its last thin limbs as human consciousness and AI technology become a mix of crime and secrets. Daniel Lazarski, a special member of the Polish police force known as an Observer, gets a call from his estranged son, and now he must find Adam before he does anything dangerous.

>Observer_ is a game that will make your head turn around inside of itself. It’s complex, the story is fluid and filled with plenty of twists and turns for a horror mystery, and to top it all off? The staff had 30 or less members during development of the game. With that in mind, it’s still undoubtedly cool how Bloober Team managed to make such a polished, solid game with little to no outside help.

One of the features as an Observer is that Lazarski can tap into the memories of the dead through cyber technology, literally reliving their memories and last moments to make a creepy, somber atmosphere during the gameplay. What I really like about this game is the intense world that Bloober Team has created, and how many details are in just about everything. It’s refreshing too to be in the future instead of the past, and this particular future is very, very possible. It’s also nice to get out of American settings every once in a while. >Observer_ just feels nice, plays nice, and looks nice all around.

I know these are just prosthetics and dummies, but do they seriously have to be hung from the cieling?! Talk about creepy. This setting is what you have to look forward to in >Observer_.

Lazarski talks to the android landlord inside the apartment complex, no doubt seeking his son.

14. Little Nightmares

10 Cute & Creepy Minutes of Little Nightmares Gameplay - Gamescom 2016

Deep in the belly of a ship known only as the Maw, a little girl no taller than a chair leg awakens and realizes that she is insatiably hungry. She needs to escape, but will the monsters all around let her? Not unless she’s clever.

This puzzle-platforming horror game is downright nail-bitingly scary. The chase scenes, the grotesque looking enemies, the very environment that is filled with Japanese folklore and folded up enemies is just scary with a capital S. What I really like about this game is the soundtrack and the memorable enemy design, and the clever way that Tarsier Studios has transformed the side-scrolling platformer with a vivid storyline and great 3d graphics. It translates very well into the 21st century.

One downside however is that the base game is a little short. It makes up for it with the DLC that’s available now, but for the two or three hours worth of gameplay you get … it could have given us a little more time to really explore the Maw without the fear of being caught in between different levels of the sinking ship. The unique feature of this game is that your character, a little girl in a raincoat, is absolutely tiny compared to her surroundings. It makes for a challenge inside of an open room to sneak and hide from your behemoth enemies, and you’ve really got to just say ‘oh to hell with it’ and run sometimes. If you like platformers, stories without words, and great visuals, definitely check this game out.

Six makes a narrow escape off a bookshelf from the long-armed janitor, but she’s not safe yet.

Run, Six! Or else those passengers are going to eat you in one bite!

13. Inside

Inside Official Launch Trailer

Run. Don’t look back, and don’t stop running. A boy in a red sweater is attempting to get through a bleak and grey world where the undead are controlled and sluggish, but armed guards, vicious dogs, and unfriendly sea animals are determined to stop him.

This is another side scrolling platformer horror game, which likely had a resurgence when Little Nightmares was released. Nonetheless, it also focuses on silent story aspects, puzzles, a little bit of dodging combat, and a whole lot of ‘what?’ The atmosphere is bathed in grey and black and the addition of the lone red sweater gives you a true feeling of loneliness.

You don’t know if you’re playing the good guy or not in Inside, and the motivations the player character has are … dubious, at best. Questionable for sure. It really is an experience you have to have for yourself, so I suggest bracing yourself for a lot of chase scenes while you play. But it’s worth it, what with the setting, the music, and the simplistic graphics.

The unnamed boy hides from a sentinel behind a pillar inside a derelict workshop.

Look out! Those police dogs will be after the child any minute now.

12. Detention

返校Detention - Gameplay Trailer

In 1960, Taiwan had a violent upheaval of government officials known as the ‘White Terror,’ and many innocents were imprisoned or killed for harboring propaganda.You’re playing as students Wei Tung Ching and Fang Ray Shin, whose objectives are simple: Survive in a school filled with the undead.

Taking from Taiwanese culture and supernatural lore, Detention is beautifully crafted. Red Candle Games is a Taiwan based game company, and the different rules for each supernatural encounter combined with a very real time period under martial law makes Detention a game worth playing twice to ensure you find every bit of the story that you can.

The graphics are hand drawn and the side-scrolling point and click makes for tense atmospheres and eerie and bizarre school interiors. And it also features English subtitles, so you can play and have a literary experience as well as a stunning visual one. It’s always a great and unique chance to explore another culture’s spooks and ghouls, and Detention is chock-full of them. This 2D game is well worth the money you’re gonna pay for it, I promise.

Fang Ray Shin stumbles into the nurse’s office, but there’s no one there.

Is that … blood? How did it get in the river? Talk about creepy.

11. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade: Seuna’s Sacrifice - Official Trailer | PS4

Senua’s traveled into Helheim to save the soul of her deceased lover, but will this trial prove too much for this viking warrioress and will she be lost to Helheim forever? There’s only one way to find out.

Senua’s story is one of obsession, hallucination, and darkness before the dawn. Fiction and reality are sewn so tightly together that it’s incredibly difficult to tell which is which. Senua’s grief, her guilt, and her internalized Darkness literally attacks her in Hellblade in the form of ragged, decaying monstrous hallucinations. Senua’s success depends on how well she deals with the internal and always critical narrator’s voice, how well she does in combat, and how much she must struggle to accept her dark past and not let the Darkness use it against her.

This game is a good look into a symptom much like schizophrenia. Hallucinations and internal voices are commonplace when you are having an episode, and that is mostly what Senua hears during her trek through Helheim. The Gods are watching her sacrifice, and they are willing to reward her for her losses. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice graphics, interesting setting and storyline, and female centered protagonist combine to make a beautiful game with a solid plot and linear gameplay. The only downside is that it’s something you really have to experience once in one or two goes, since the story will have you hooked right away.

A burning tree with hanging bodies to enforce upon Senua of the horrors of Hel.

Her blades are swift and her fury, moreso. Senua’s sword rips through an enemy, killing it in the process.

10. Notes of Obsession

Notes of Obsession official trailer

A creepy music box. Strange runes. And a monster stalking the halls of this terrifyingly suburban household. Harriet must defend herself, while sneaking around her own home in order to find the runes - Which only appear when the music box is played.

Notes of Obsession is a game that takes a look into the deteriorating psyche of a suburban mother. That’s the most I can say about Notes of Obsession without giving the entire plotline away, but once again, you are meant to sneak around your own house while avoiding a monster with gouged out eyes. The gameplay mechanics are pretty standard save for one thing: The addition of the music box.

Having to hide and crank the key in order to get the next rune to progress through the plot is nerve wracking, and the eerie, delicate tune doesn’t help any! The dark atmosphere, the quick AI, and the slowly dying noise of the music box still makes my skin crawl no matter how many times I watch someone play this game. Notes of Obsession is a pretty short game too, so you should be able to beat it in a few tries if you’re unlucky (like me.) The atmosphere and the graphics are what make this game great, along with another form of wordless storytelling.

That elephant wasn't always looking at you ... was it?

Harriet finds a rune on her bookshelf. Is that figurine made in her likeness, I wonder?

9. Layers of Fear

Layers of Fear Teaser Trailer

After returning home from a court hearing determining the custody rights of his daughter, an unnamed painter sets out to finish his masterpiece, the one that will make his life in shambles come back together again. But along the way, something otherworldly tries to stop him.

Layers of Fear is a game that doubles as an art piece. Yes, it’s centered around art and has everything to do with the technical aspects of art - painting styles, different artists the painter looked up to, styles he tried to emulate - but in itself, the design and the story, it’s nothing short of artistic. It’s vivid and dark all at the same time, and it’s a somber atmosphere mixed in with a lingering sense of dread. It’s the monster you see from the corner of your eye that vanishes whenever you turn to look at it.

It’s also another account of a man who has very heavy onset schizophrenia, and the effect that drinking and psychosis had on his art, his family, and of course, himself. There are three different endings to the game, and achieving them all requires some exploring around a slowly crumbling house. It’s scary, it’s beautiful, and most of all, it’s an experience you’re sure to never forget.

These paintings can stay in the artist’s gallery, thank you very much. Especially the one drenched in blood.

His painting is halfway done, but what will it become?

8. Cry of Fear

Cry of Fear - Memories Cinematic Trailer

Simon Henriksson awakens after he’s left behind in a car accident in a dingy alleyway, with little memory of what happened or what he’s doing there. The town quickly goes to Hell in the most literal sense, as grotesque, mutilated monsters begin to chase Simon in an attempt to kill him.

This game started off as a GMOD (Gary’s Mod) map but it gained so much popularity that it branched off and became its own standalone game. Published in 2012, it had cutting edge graphics for its time and an expansive storyline that still holds up today.

Spanning for eight chapters, this game’s difficulty level depends on how well you ration your armor and what fights you pick and choose to play out. Simon’s journey is one that you want to see him complete and the mystery of the grotesque, mauled monsters and where they came from is a unique and rarely well done idea. It also features a multiplayer mode where you’re cops going through the overrun city.

The ending though, you have to see for yourself. So go on and play it today if you want - It’s free on Steam!

A policeman tries to revive his fallen partner while another one keeps an eye on their surroundings.

The moonlit train isn't stopping to take any more passengers.

7. Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home Game Official Trailer 2017

After the disappearance of the protagonist Tim’s wife, his lifestyle was never truly the same. One night he awakens in a strange place, and now he must navigate twisting hallways to escape with his life.

Another Thai-based horror game, this one’s been praised for scaring you without needing excessive blood and gore. The story and the stealth alongside the visuals and the Thai folklore make this game just plain old terrifying! Tim’s situation is believable and his search for Jane is done entirely out of love, even when he’s fleeing for his life inside of a place that’s quite literally a hellscape. We want him to succeed, and that success depends entirely on us - the players.

The demo is out on Steam too if you want to try before you buy, and if your PC can run it, definitely give it a shot.

The ghost that stalks you is not happy with the flashlight on her face.

Well that’s just inconsiderate. Who left the bloodstain on the floor and didn’t bother mopping it up?

6. FAITH

FAITH - Pixel Horror Indie Game Trailer

On September 21, 1996, the Martin family’s daughter underwent an exorcism in her home in rural Connecticut. However, so strong was the demon that only two priests survived to tell the tale … Until now.

FAITH is styled like an old ATARI or DOS game, and the barely audible dialogue and slow movement of the player character really makes the atmosphere of your woodland surroundings feel spooky. Making a game made out of pixels like this and making it scary is no easy feat. The demons are much faster, and you have to drive them off, or die a very bloody death. Exploring feels rewarding, the combat is a little frustrating (just like the old days for sure), and the audio overall gives you a freaky vibe.

That’s what this game does best - It plays with audio and visual cues to make a vaguely preacher-shaped blue blob feel scary. I still don’t know how they did that! This game is available on itch.io for under 5$ if you want a scare and a difficult few fights, and I highly recommend you give it a look. It’s rather genius, honestly. 

The priest stands before the now ruined Martin house, cross in hand.

Never ever ever ever EVER trust basements. This priest is braver than I am.

5. Midnight Scenes

‘Midnight Scenes’ Trailer. A Short Game By Octavi Navarro

As Claire Barnes is on her way home, she encounters an obstacle in the road and must do everything in her power to be rid of it if she wants to get home. But little does Barnes know, the obstacle is not what it seems to be.

This point and click adventure horror game is finely detailed with pixelated graphics and a story reminiscent of the television series The Twilight Zone. Barnes’ trek to go home is full of the obscure, strange, and downright demented. The lack of color makes it also feel like a Twilight Zone special, and Octavi’s storytelling is right on point with the powers that be and all they represent.

What happened to this stretch of the highway? Where are the residents of this once booming town? Barnes is terribly alone, and it only adds to the tension and mystery. You can click on just about everything as expected in a point and click, and doing so feels rewarding. You want to see all of her dialogue to understand how she feels and what she thinks about her surroundings. Octavi Navarro knows what she’s doing, so I can’t wait to witness more of her amazing storytelling. ( https://pixelshuh.itch.io/midnight-scenes-the-highway )

A fallen down telephone pole stops Barnes’ trek home.

This cheery painting inside of a nearby farmhouse is definitely NOT haunted.

4. Darkwood

Darkwood Official Release Gameplay Trailer

Deep in the woods of the Soviet Bloc, a survivor is armed with his flashlight, and a gun. Roaming free during the day to find supplies is fine, but at night … you might wanna lock the doors.

Darkwood is a top-down survival experience with plenty of hidden lore on who you are and why you are stranded in the woods. The horror is rapid and comes in the form of other humans and twisted monsters made out of darkness and malice. The woods are vast and empty, and survival isn’t guaranteed. If you’re quick with your wits however and clever with rationing your supplies, you may just make it out of the Darkwoods yet. The atmosphere between the day and night cycles changes drastically, too.

The addition of the day and night is like the flip of a switch: Fluid, terrifying, and all at once. Darkwood excels at the atmosphere it’s trying to create, and does so with a dark and twisted hand drawn animation style. Not often are top down games scary, but Darkwood is downright nerve wracking! It’ll have you flinching at sudden noises in your own household for sure.

A body … or an effigie?

A truck! Let’s hope he has gasoline for it.

3. SOMA

SOMA - Story Trailer

Simon Jarrett goes in for an experimental brain treatment scanner and blacks out, only to wake up in a rusted, waterlogged research lab. How did he get here? And more importantly, how does Simon get out?

SOMA’s atmosphere already had me hooked. Admittedly, I very much like the idea of science fiction taking place in the deep ocean trenches - Looking at you, Bioshock series! But SOMA is nothing like Bioshock, because Jarrett has no means of defense, and he doesn’t know how or why he woke up inside of a falling apart ocean base named PATHOS-II. The graphics are spooky, the sounds are even worse, and the overpowered, tar like enemies still give me chills. The theme overall however, is what it means to be alive.

It’s not obvious at first and while you go through the story you can begin to guess at what happened to Jarrett, but the twist in the middle of the story even threw me off. The sentient robots with human characteristics are written believably, so much so that I found myself empathizing with the legless machines that you find every so often. That is where SOMA succeeds the most - In the story, the theme it’s trying to convey, and in the morals it presents. It’s a game I won’t forget any time soon because of all that, and it’s worth playing a few times after the initial reaction.

PATHOS-II’s underwater setting is somehow eerie and beautiful all at once, especially when you’re exposed to the open ocean like this.

Old machinery sits amid a body that’s been there for … who knows how long.

2. DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark

DreadOut Keepers of the Dark Story Trailer

When a field trip goes horribly wrong, five Indonesian girls and their teacher must survive in a ghost town that very sincerely wants them all dead.

Playing as a schoolgirl and her peers and teacher, the perspective of this Indonesian stealth horror game shifts often, but manages to keep its characters and storyline together, an impressive feature for an independently published game. Linda is the main character, but watching her try to save her friends from fate’s gruesome hands leaves you tense at the keyboard.

This is the most popular and instant cult classic Indonesian horror game ever published and the amount of work put into the graphics, enemies, story, and character development ensure that DreadOut is more than worthy of its fame. Take a weekend for yourself to help Linda and her friends survive, you won’t regret it.

Linda looks up to see a ghost … or a classmate?!

Creepy mannequins in the woods? Noooo thank you.

1. Outlast 2

Outlast 2 Trailer

Just when we thought Blake Langermann’s life couldn’t get any worse than it was in the first Outlast, Outlast 2 really outdoes itself. After his reporter helicoper crash lands near the Havasupai territory with his wife inside it, Langermann has to brave the psychotic locals and bloodthirsty residents to save Lynn.

Outlast 2 wins the top spot for scariest indie game because the action is nonstop, the scares are brutal, the violence gore and bloodshed is stomach churning, and the pursuit of Sister Marta, the scythe wielding, raspy voiced nun who says that God wants your dirty soul is what really makes Outlast 2 terrifying. The game is solely stealth, with no combat options at all.

Be warned as always: Outlast 2 is filled with sexual violence and scenes so gory that they made me feel ill a few times. If your stomach is strong enough to handle all these biblical prophecies, crazed and bloodthirsty residents, a literal sub-city of sick and pus-filled villagers, then I commend you and your iron guts. Outlast 2 is a nonstop experience. Once you’re here for the ride … it never ends.

The imposing Church of Knoth in the dark moonlight.

Hide and seek with Sister Marta? I think I’ll pass.

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When you cross Hello Kitty and a love for pixel sandbox games with eldritch horror genres, you get me.
Gamer Since: 2005
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Top 3 Favorite Games:Alice: Madness Returns, Dragon Age: Origins, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
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