Xbox Game Pass remains the best deal in gaming, and the competition for that title really isn’t even that close. While there’s rarely a bad time to be a Game Pass subscriber (even when Xbox’s own first-party offerings start looking a little thin), anyone looking to dive into some horror games this time of year should feel especially excited to have an Xbox Game Pass subscription.
After all, one of the biggest “problems” with some of the best modern horror games is the fact that they can be a little intimidating. Those looking for some spooky games may start to wonder if it’s worth investing $60 or even $70 in a title that they may not be able to finish. Even if you’re a hardened horror gamer, it can sometimes be annoying to sift through a seemingly endless array of horror gaming options just to find that one title that’s right for you. If you have a Game Pass subscription, though, both the price of the horror hunt experience, and the number of games you have to work your way through, become much more manageable.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a few Xbox Game Pass horror games that are well worth your monthly subscription fee and a few hours of your time.
7 Days to Die
Though actually a survival game (with a few other genres mixed in for variety), 7 Days to Die’s zombie apocalypse setting lends itself to a surprising number of genuinely effective scares.
A countless number of other games have tasked us with surviving the zombie-fuelled end of the world, but 7 Days to Die is just a little bit different from everything else out there. By emphasizing resource management, base building, and select RPG mechanics, this game asks you to do so much more than kill a few zombies in order to see the next day. It’s also a fantastic multiplayer horror experience.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
A Plague Tale: Innocence is one of a few games on this list that kind of challenge the limits of the horror genre label. Ultimately, I think you’ll have a hard time arguing against the game’s credentials once you actually play this absolute gem. After all, few things are scarier than having to survive a small army of plague-filled rats with little more than a torch by your side.
A Plague Tale features one of the best horror atmospheres I’ve ever seen in a game. Death, decay, and hopelessness can be found in every corner of this game’s world. If the terrifying swarms of rats don’t get you, the feeling that there isn’t much hope in fighting them off anymore certainly will.
Alice: Madness Returns
2011’s Alice: Madness Returns really is one of the most overlooked horror games ever made. Granted, this title’s somewhat bizarre license and almost Zelda-like adventure gameplay make it surprisingly easy to dismiss it as a curiosity. There are few games out there that offer quite what this one does, so there isn’t a lot you can easily compare it to when you’re trying to recommend it.
While this title will rarely “scare” you, Alice is the kind of horror game that will appeal to anyone who prefers their horror experiences to dive deeply into the surreal. It’s a dark fantasy adventure that boasts some of the most incredible environmental design concepts you’ll ever see in such a title. Even when this game gets dark (and it can get very dark), it remains stunningly beautiful in a truly weird way.
Alan Wake: American Nightmare
It must be said that this Alan Wake DLC was not exactly what fans of the original game were looking for. Rather than directly continuing the main game’s story in a more straightforward way, American Nightmare offers a strange kind of spin-off adventure that utilizes time loop mechanics. That last aspect of the game (as well as the DLC’s emphasis on familiar mechanics) led some to label it as “repetitive.”
While there are certainly some repetitive elements in this game, American Nightmare is best thought of as an interactive (and extended) version of a Twilight Zone episode. It’s an entertaining (if uneven) continuation of those Stephen King-like vibes that elevated Alan Wake in the first place. If you’re looking for a brief horror fix on Game Pass, it’s one of your best options.
I’ve heard quite a few people argue that Alien: Isolation is the absolute scariest game ever made and…well, I’ll always have a hard time arguing against them. At the very least, I feel confident saying that this is as scary as an Alien game can possibly be.
Isolation understands that the scariest thing about the original Alien film wasn’t just the Xenomorph itself. Granted, most horror films would benefit from featuring one of the most terrifying creature designs ever crafted by an expert team, but the thing that really made that movie scary was its use of claustrophobia and…well, isolation. You’ll get to know both of those feelings well as you attempt to survive an expertly paced series of missed calls against a monster that actually gets smarter as you play. This is the kind of game that can make you hold your breath for extended periods of time simply because you’ve convinced yourself that the monster on-screen can somehow hear you.
Dead by Daylight
Horror multiplayer games really shouldn’t work. After all, so much horror relies on the feeling of being alone and helpless. How can you invoke that feeling when you’re surrounded by friends and allies?
What makes Dead by Daylight work, though, is the way that it forces you to behave like the “dumb teens” in a horror film. It turns out that many of us will make bad decisions and even leave our friends behind when we’re being chased by a supernatural slasher who laughs at your odds advantage as they impale you on a meat hook. As we’ve previously discussed, this game really is also gradually morphing into the slasher hall of fame in the best ways possible.
Dead Space/Dead Space 2
Dead Space and Dead Space 2 may be the greatest survival horror games ever made. While both games obviously owe a lot to the Resident Evil franchise (specifically, Resident Evil 4), the first two Dead Space games mastered ideas that even modern Resident Evil titles are still trying to properly incorporate.
Dead Space is just the perfect blend of action, horror, and traditional survival elements (puzzles, resource management, etc.). Dead Space 2 arguably raises the bar with its improved level design and collection of all-time great horror gaming setpieces. As for Dead Space 3…well, I think that game sometimes gets a little more hate than it deserves, but it’s certainly a watered-down version of its predecessors in many of the ways that matter most. It’s a pretty good co-op action title if that’s what you’re looking for, though.
I recognize that I might die alone on my “Fallout 3 is a horror game” hill, and I’ve resigned myself to that fate. Regardless of whether or not you consider Fallout 3 a pure horror game, I can guarantee you that any horror fan will find something to enjoy in this incredible open-world RPG.
Fallout 3 is filled with nuclear wasteland terrors just waiting to be discovered. While some of those terrors involve the nightmarish nuclear wasteland scenario the game throws you in, others (like Dethclaws and a memorable haunted building) will surely please genre traditionalists. Fallout: New Vegas features some similarly scary sequences, though Fallout 3 is really an incredible reminder that the franchise has always embraced its spooky side.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
The argument over whether or not Hellblade is really a horror game sometimes overshadows the fact that this game features incredible moments of horror that more conventional examples of the genre wish they could top.
The horror of Hellblade can be found in the many ways the game so expertly and artistically captures the feeling of losing your mind while the world refuses to slow down and let you figure things out. It’s a freefall into madness that will leave you questioning your own ability to discern reality. It’s some kind of masterpiece.
Truth be told, it’s difficult to talk about Immorality (one of the best games of 2022). Actually, it’s almost impossible to talk about why this game is great without diving into the kind of spoilers that would ruin the brilliance of the experience. It’s certainly hard to talk about why Immorality is a horror game without doing the same.
Much like Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Immortality is a surrealist vision of horrors both all-too-real and surprisingly supernatural. This FMV puzzle game finds ways to lure you just a little further down the rabbit hole until you eventually realize that you’re fallen so far into the dark that you no longer know which way is out. It’s a thinking person’s horror game that you won’t be able to forget no matter how hard you try to get it out of your mind.
Expectations were high for Inside given the widespread (and sudden) success of Playdead’s previous game, Limbo. In some ways, I think that those expectations warped the initial conversations about what Inside does so well. While liking Limbo doesn’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy Inside (they’re very different experiences), anyone looking for a truly unique horror experience will certainly find something to love in this one.
Inside begins with a young boy trying to escape a mysterious facility, and it only gets weirder from there. While there are vague horror elements running throughout this title, Inside really plays its genre card during its amazing final moments when the true nature of this game is slowly revealed. I guarantee that you will not forget your time with this one.
Many immersive sim games (like BioShock, System Shock, and the Thief series, for example) rely on horror elements to some degree. However, I’d argue that 2017’s Prey is the apex of what kind of horror experience an immersive sim can really offer.
Immersive sim games make you consider nearly every element of your environment, and Prey excels at betraying that necessary sense of curiosity by making many aspects of your environment absolutely terrifying. While this game doesn’t quite reach the heights of the genre’s best offerings, Prey features some of the absolute best examples of sci-fi horror that you’ll ever have the misfortune of discovering for yourself. It’s a wonderful experience that a lot of genre fans missed out on for one reason or another.
State of Decay
If you love the idea of trying to survive the zombie apocalypse but need a little more action to go with all those basic survival mechanics, State of Decay is the game for you.
State of Decay is an open-world zombie survival game that caught quite a few people off-guard when it was released in 2013. While this game is more than a little rough around the edges, it’s remarkably easy to get caught up in its gameplay loop. Don’t ask me why trekking through zombie-filled woods in order to acquire minor supplies that slowly allow you to expand your base of operations is so entertaining, but State of Decay is still one of the best ways to scratch that zombie itch.
The Evil Within 2
Sometimes, you just want a good, slightly more traditional survival horror game. While The Evil Within 2’s large-world structure and slightly more modern gameplay elements make it more than a tribute to the survival horror games of old, this overlooked 2017 title really does feature the best elements of that genre’s golden age.
There are times when The Evil Within 2 feels like what the Resident Evil games would have eventually become if that franchise didn’t veer off into some wildly different creative directions. Granted, working your way through this title’s often uneven combat and stealth elements can be a slog, but it’s a pleasure to simply exist in this game’s brilliantly realized horror world. This title also features some of the most wonderful “WTF?!?!” moments you’ll find in a modern horror game.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
As much as I love Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, there’s a part of me that will always miss the horror elements that 2003’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein so brilliantly utilized. Thankfully, The Old Blood serves as a kind of elaborate tribute to that sometimes overlooked game.
This prequel expansion to The New Order sees you try to infiltrate Castle Wolfenstein during World War II. What follows is a glorious tribute to both the series’ past flirtations with the horror genre as well as a tribute to certain styles of classic horror movies. Granted, The Old Blood doesn’t reach the creative heights of The New Order (and fighting off the undead can get a little repetitive), but anyone looking to shoot their way through a small army of demons while losing themselves in a lush, Gothic atmosphere will be happy they spent a little time with this one.