PC is the evil lab where new horror games are grown and tested. Some of the greatest modern horror games are word-of-mouth hits and some of the most popular horror games of the last decade began as PC exclusives.
To that end, we’ve selected the top 12 horror games you can play on PC right now. While some of these aren’t exclusive to PC, they either got their start on the platform or live and breathe there. Some of these are horror classics that have influenced countless imitators, while others are still hidden gems that deserve to keep you up at night. Here are our picks for the 12 best horror games on PC.
IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare is the only game on this list that breaks through its .exe boundaries and carries the scares into the real world. As you creep through IMSCARED’s low-res environments, finding keys and attempting to escape the nightmare you’re currently in, an entity known as White Face stalks your every move.
Once caught, White Face triggers a crash back to your desktop and in its wake, a folder containing a text document appears on screen, taunting your failure. It plays with your mind in other ways too: your browser might suddenly open, landing on a spooky YouTube video; elsewhere, HTML web documents appear in another folder, showing a map and the supposed exit to the area you’re in, but can you trust it? It even goes as far as requiring you to delete in-game documents to progress through certain moments. Much like Eternal Darkness, IMSCARED brings its unique style of horror outside of itself – a truly cursed game. – Jesse Gomez
11. The Cat Lady
Less than a minute into The Cat Lady, you find out the main character, a lonely 40-year old woman named Susan Ashworth, has committed suicide. Soon after, she reawakens in a mysterious world, only to be greeted by someone called The Queen of Maggots who instructs her to remove five ‘parasites’ from the world so that she may finally find peace.
The Cat Lady, despite its complex themes around mental health and serious tone, is surprisingly simple to play. You’ll explore twisted and bizarre environments, collect various items to solve puzzles and guide Susan’s decisions via dialogue choices with other characters. But beyond its traditional point-and-click adventure trappings is an affecting story, rooted in an authentic struggle of a woman who no longer wants to live. – Jesse Gomez
10. Dead By Daylight
Dead By Daylight launched in 2016 as a meager but well-meaning asymmetrical slasher horror game where various bumbling teenagers avoided gnarly eviscerations from archetypal slasher movie villains. By 2021, it’s become the Smash Bros. of horror games, bringing in iconic killer characters like Freddy Kreuger and Michael Myers to legendary horror game villains like Resident Evil’s Nemesis and Silent Hill’s Pyramid Head. Dead By Daylight continues to evolve on its premise, routinely adding new characters, features, and more to its rock-solid foundation. One thing remains constant, though: it’s just as fun to play the game as a group of seemingly helpless survivors in one round as it is to play as a huge, powerful, horror movie monster in the next. – Brian Altano
9. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of the older games on this list, but it’s here for good reason: its gameplay mechanics helped spur a rebirth (no pun intended with Amnesia’s recent sequel) of the survival horror genre that had drifted into action game territory.
Amnesia starts off with the protagonist, Daniel, waking up alone in a dark castle, Brennenburg. He has no memory of how he got there (hence the name), and as he explores his surroundings, he realizes there’s a shadow stalking him. Wandering about the castle are other creatures that will give chase if they spot you. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if you could fight back, but you can’t. Your only defense is to run and often hide in the dark – a stark contrast to more action-oriented horror games like Resident Evil 5 which had come out the year before.
But here’s the kicker: stay in the dark too long and you’ll lose your mind. It’s not the first game to have a “sanity meter” (Eternal Darkness says hello), but its implementation in Amnesia is pretty ingenious. You’ll need to balance the game’s use of light to see what the hell you’re even doing with hiding in the darkness to avoid monsters, the same darkness that is slowly driving you insane.
Amnesia’s sequels and follow-ups all build upon The Dark Descent’s mechanics in smart ways, and other developers have taken notice. The Dark Descent still holds up today, even if the controls and interface are a little rough on consoles, so if you’re in the mood to sit in the dark for 10 hours, take a trip to Brennenburg. Just don’t stay in the dark too long. – Jobert Atienza
8. World of Horror
Fans of Junji Ito and/or H.P. Lovecraft will want to look into adding World of Horror to their list of scary games to play this October. This “1-Bit” horror game feels like you just stumbled upon a series of eerie and extremely detailed drawings on MS Paint.
Set in Shiokawa, Japan, players are tasked with stopping the apocalypse by exploring various locations and fighting monsters inspired by Japanese horror manga and urban legends. It is, of course, a horror game, but World of Horror also adds elements from the roguelite and RPG genres.
World of Horror’s grasp of tension, perfectly paired soundtrack and overall challenge make it a must-play on PC. – Taylor Lyles
Few games have successfully captured a sense of overwhelming bleakness and foreboding like the STALKER trilogy does. Whether you’re racing to the site of the world's worst nuclear incident deep within Chernobyl or discovering the secrets hidden within the decrepit city of Pripyat, this living, breathing world is ready to sap the life from your body. So if going toe-to-toe against spirits deep underground, or zombified foes who were once your companions and bloodsucking mutants sound like your kind of thing, it’s time to pay a visit to the Chernobyl exclusion zone. – Jesse Gomez
6. Five Nights at Freddy’s
There was always something inherently creepy about being in a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant as a kid, a dimly lit, rat themed birthday party center with sad pizza, a mostly broken arcade room, and a giant animatronic animal band that would shut down in between songs to stare into the souls of children with giant, dead-eyed looks. Five Nights at Freddy’s is an entire game about the fleeting joy and haunted magic of a seemingly lifeless collection of animatronic pizza restaurant mascots who suddenly spring to life and become horrifying nightmares, although instead of being a kid at a birthday party, you’re an employee tasked with watching the restaurant after dark and surviving the night yourself.
You’ll flip through security cameras and other various devices while unsettling mechanical faces pop up sporadically or generally go bump in the night, but what makes it all so unique is that Five Nights at Freddy’s is one of the few horror games that most kids can play without enduring a lifetime of trauma. It’s rare to have a game series that can cater to both young and adult horror fans, mostly because it features a thing we can all agree on: animatronic animals are terrifying. – Brian Altano
Pathologic was ahead of its time when it was released way back in 2006. Set in a mysterious town beset by an unknown plague, Pathologic combines horror and mystery for a truly unique experience. Choose one of three player characters who must survive for 12 days while uncovering the mystery of the ‘sand plague.’
Each day, new quests will be available that will take characters one step closer to the truth. But be warned, because these quests will only be available on a specific day, and once it passes it’s gone for good.
Pathologic and its sequel Pathologic 2 truly excel at atmosphere. While jump scares are a bit few and far between, the overwhelming sense of dread will linger through your entire playthrough, and your time in Pathologic will burrow in your mind for much longer. – Matt Kim
Phasmophobia came onto the scene like a bat out of hell. Four players can join up as amateur ghost hunters, armed with tools like night-vision cameras, holy water, and radios. As an early access game, there are still plenty of technical kinks to work out, but the core premise works exceptionally well. Maybe that’s why so many Phasmophobia-likes have popped up on Steam in recent months.
You’ll wander through haunted homes and abandoned prisons, calling out for spirits from the beyond. Gather enough clues and you can try and successfully identify what kind of ghost is haunting that location. Deduce correctly for a nice payday.
As the clock ticks, the chances of running into a ghost increase, and so does the danger. Nothing beats that moment when you suddenly see your friend twist and contort from getting got by one of Phasmophobia’s many evil spirits as you all scramble to the exit for a hasty escape. – Matt Kim
3. Chilla’s Art Games
Chilla’s Art is the name of an indie dev team formed by two brothers in Japan. Since 2018, the duo has released over 15 micro horror games on Steam priced at just a couple of dollars. While these games might only be a few hours long, they pack a horrifying punch.
Every Chilla’s Art game is a unique experience but they’re typically played in the first-person and are centered around a mundane experience that quickly escalates into something terrible. One of the most well-known is The Convenience Store, where players take on the role of night-shift convenience store employee. As players go about their night, restocking items and checking inventory, creepy happenings such as strange customers, unexplained noises, and other horrifying encounters begin to intensify as the night goes on.
With so many Chilla’s Art Games to choose from it’s hard to recommend just one. But with such a low barrier to entry, pick a few and you’re guaranteed to have a good time. – Matt Kim
2. Puppet Combo
Babysitter Bloodbath, Power Drill Massacre, and The Night Ripper… No, these aren’t forgotten grindhouse films from the ’80s, but rather delightfully gory and downright terrifying games created by solo indie horror developer, Puppet Combo.
Via Patreon and itch-io, over 20 games in the past decade, all of which offer no shortage of intense and unforgiving moments. Whether you’re escaping from a serial killer while babysitting, taking part in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a psychotic nun in a boarding school (in the aptly named Nun Massacre) or controlling a park ranger on a cold and stormy night while something stalks them from afar, Puppet Combo wholeheartedly embraces its PS1-style, VHS horror roots in every game.
Dire situations, sleazy companions, and unrelenting killers make each and every one of Puppet Combo’s games an unforgettable nightmare. – Jesse Gomez
When Konami canceled Silent Hills in 2015, a slew of spiritual successors and games heavily influenced by the Silent Hills’ playable teaser came out. This includes Sad Square Studios’ first game, the psychological horror Visage.
Set in the 1980s, you play as Dwayne Anderson, a resident of a large home that is being tormented by the supernatural as he tries to find a way out of the house and learn more about what is causing all the paranormal activity in his home.
As you explore the mostly dark and quiet house, supernatural entities will taunt you by breaking light bulbs, turning on/off lights, and slamming doors. This constant barrage of sensory terror, combined with trying to maintain Dwayne’s sanity, makes Visage one of the more challenging horror games released in recent years. It’s a trial and error game, but your patience is rewarded with a fascinating story, and plenty of jump scares.
While it may not be Silent Hills, the legacy of Konami’s unreleased game courses through the veins of Visage while also maintaining its own identity. – Taylor Lyles
And there you have it! Those are our IGN’s top horror PC games. Disagree with the ranking? Think another entry should have been on the list? Let us know in the comments, and if you’re looking for more check out our list of the top 10 Metroidvanias and the best FPS campaigns of all time. And for everything else, stay tuned to IGN.