While it’s understandable that most conversations about the best horror games ever tend to be dominated by franchises like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, the truth is that the popularity of the top end of the genre has long meant that some of the greatest horror games ever made still don’t get the love that they deserve.
Granted, there are often good reasons why some of the great “other” horror games tend not to receive mainstream love, but much like some of the greatest horror films ever, there are times when a few rough edges in horror game design can strangely enhance the feeling they’re supposed to provide. You sometimes have to work to really appreciate their greatness, which strangely makes the journey through them that much more memorable.
These are the 25 most underrated horror games ever.
25. Parasite Eve
The PS1 is arguably the best horror platform in gaming history, so it’s never really been surprising to hear a gamer of that era reveal that they’ve never actually played Parasite Eve. There were just so many other great horror games at that time vying for genre fans’ attention. It was very easy to miss even some of the best ones.
Yet’s, it’s always been at least a bit tragic to realize just how few people have ever really played this true horror masterpiece. Parasite Eve accentuates its body horror narrative with a brilliant RPG-like combat system and some of the best production values the PS1 has to offer. It’s a bold and wonderful dive into a weird world.
24. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Call of Cthulhu arguably peaks during an early sequence that sees you try to escape a mob of villagers who most certainly do not take kindly to strangers. It’s one of the most intense and creative openings in video game history.
Generally speaking, though, Call of Cthulhu offers one of the most compelling examples of Lovecraftian horror in gaming history. Its incredible blend of mystery and atmosphere manages to hook you despite the lingering fear you don’t want to see what’s around the corner.
23. Dino Crisis 2
The original Dino Crisis is rightfully recognized as one of the best and most memorable Resident Evil “knock-offs” of the PS1 era, but did you know that Dino Crisis 2 is actually one of the best horror-action games ever made?
This sequel’s surprising combo-based action combat mechanics combine the best of early 3D action with the shock value of the best survival horror games of that era. It’s a simply brilliant blend of concepts that deserves a modern remake even more than its phenomenal predecessor.
Yes, we did mention Darkwood in our list of scariest horror games ever made, but in case some of the people in the back didn’t hear us, let’s make it clear that this is still one of the most overlooked and amazing horror experiences of the last 15 years.
This intimate and intimidating horror game disrupts the sanctity of shelter by making your only refuge from the unspeakable horrors that roam this game’s world feel like both your only safe haven and the worst place you can be once the sun goes down. There’s really nothing quite like it.
21. Michigan: Report From Hell
Michigan: Report From Hell might genuinely be the worst horror game ever made, which is both an indictment of this experience and quite possibly the strongest recommendation I can give this game.
From its frustrating gameplay to its all-time bad voice acting and writing, you really do have to play this game to fully understand why it deserves to be ranked among the most memorable “B” horror experiences in any medium. Alternatively, you can watch someone else play this beautiful disaster and thank me later.
20. The Evil Within 2
Many people (myself included) were initially somewhat cold towards The Evil Within 2 and its often awkward blend of survival horror concepts, but to say that time has been kind to this 2017 game would be a massive understatement.
The Evil Within 2’s wonderful environment, engaging storyline, and generally creepy concepts help ensure that this game keeps finding new ways to keep you engaged with this epic adventure. Not all of its ideas work as well as others, but the whole proves to be greater than the sum of its parts.
19. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
While many modern horror game fans recognize the brilliance of Eternal Darkness, the fact that this game isn’t widely seen as one of the absolute best horror games ever made means that it is still very much underrated.
Eternal Darkness’ sanity mechanics rightfully steal the show in most retrospectives about this game, but the thing that elevates this title above even that incredible “gimmick” is the strength of its characters, lore, and centuries-long narrative. Oh, and it’s also incredibly scary.
18. Resident Evil Outbreak
Even if more people had bought into the idea of a multiplayer Resident Evil experience in 2003/2004, the fact of the matter is that the PS2’s limited online capabilities likely would have been enough to guarantee this game’s “novelty” status.
That’s truly a shame, though, because it turns out that sharing a classic RE adventure with other players is actually an incredible experience. Capcom needs to revitalize this concept for a modern age and allow more people than ever the chance to experience what was, at the very least, a great idea.
17. Rise of Nightmares
To be perfectly honest, the words “Kinect exclusive horror game” should probably tell you all you need to know about why a lot of people never even bothered to try to play Rise of Nightmares in the first place. Indeed, this game’s motion controls might just be its consistently worst quality.
Look beyond the platform, though, and you’ll find a more than solid throwback horror experience that experiments with enough new ideas to make this title’s already satisfying fundamental horror gameplay feel fresh. This over-the-top, almost arcade-like horror game deserved to find a wider audience.
16. Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare
At the time of Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare’s release, I remember many people dismissing the game as a forgettable RE-like survival horror title lost in an ocean of relatively similar experiences.
Years later, though, it’s much easier to not only appreciate this style of horror gameplay that is significantly more rare these days but the fact that this is one of the most outright intimidating horror games of its era. Brilliant visual and audio design concepts and incredible jump scares join forces to form arguably the best Alone in the Dark game ever.
15. Stories Untold
All of the installments in this anthology collection are worthy of a look in their own right, but the true star of this show is a little game called The House Abandon.
Essentially a throwback to the text-based horror adventure games of the 1980s, The House Abandon showcases why that era of design shouldn’t just be remembered as the best available technological option at the time. This minimalist horror game gets under your skin in ways that only the best horror novels can.
14. Condemned 2: Bloodshot
2005’s Condemned: Criminal Origins is starting to get some of the love that it deserves, but that horror classic’s 2008 follow-up remains criminally disrespected to this day.
While Bloodshot may not have as many memorable moments as its predecessor, it makes some intelligent improvements to the original Condemned that really allow you to appreciate the surprising depth of this title’s combat system and the way it makes even basic enemy encounters feel appropriately intimidating.
13. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
There are actually a few Silent Hill games that are surprisingly underrated in the grand scheme of things, but Shattered Memories has to be considered the most underrated overall Silent Hill experiences for the simple reason that it’s arguably the second-best Silent Hill game ever made.
This game’s brilliant narrative (which was written by Her Story creator Sam Barlow) pushes this franchise’s unique blend of psychological horror and story-based gameplay to its limits. It’s one of the most intelligent, surprising, and overall brilliant horror games ever made.
12. Clock Tower 3
The Clock Tower series has long struggled to find a wide audience despite its many innovations and unique stalker-based gameplay. If you had to pick just one game from this franchise to take a chance on, though, it would have to be Clock Tower 3.
By embracing a slightly more cinematic presentation style and incorporating a few key gameplay changes, Clock Tower 3 is able to effectively showcase the gothic atmospheres, nightmarish foes, and incredible scares that have long made this one of the most memorable and intimidating series in all of horror gaming.
11. Cry of Fear
Cry of Fear started off as a relatively humble Half-Life mod, but it wasn’t long before this game started to establish its own legacy as one of the most shocking and memorable PC horror experiences of the 2010s.
Cry of Fear blends Half-Life-style FPS gameplay with retro survival horror gameplay and wraps the whole thing up in a desolate European setting. The result is a surprisingly playable horror game that will rattle the nerves of even the most experienced horror gamers.
10. Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi
On the one hand, Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi’s technical shortcomings and general “jankiness” make it easy to understand why so many people found it so easy to overlook this game when it was first released in 2003. On the other hand, nearly every other aspect of this game should have made it at least a cult classic by now.
This title’s setting and story which combine elements of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu and John William Polidori’s The Vampyre are certainly the stars, but it’s this game’s randomly generated layouts and time limit-based objectives that accentuate the intensity of this gem’s scares and action-based gameplay.
Despite being promoted as one of the best-looking games in the PS2’s early lineup (which it was), reviewers at the time typically relied on words like “familiar,” “predictable,” and “standard” to describe Extermination. While many elements of this game are perhaps worthy of those less than flattering descriptions, the things that this project does so well deserve a lot more respect than they got at that time or even now.
By utilizing an “infection” meter that determines the player’s max health and overall status, Extermination manages to constantly keep you on your toes as you wonder whether the next combat sequence will be the one that corrupts you. It might honestly be a better The Thing videogame than the already great The Thing video game.
I can tell you right now that Siren isn’t a very fun game and that part of the reason why Siren didn’t find much of an audience in 2003/2004 is likely because this is the kind of almost uninviting survival horror experience that trades fun for scares.
Having said that, this might just be one of the most “pure” horror gaming experiences ever made. It’s bizarre, methodical, and it has this way of getting under your skin like few other games could ever dream of doing.
Before developer Red Candle Games upset the Chinese government with a seemingly harmless Easter egg tucked away in their also brilliant horror game Devotion, they stunned the PC gaming world with 2017’s Detention.
Detention is certainly frightening, but the thing that really separates this game is its wonderful characters, amazing story, and the way that both of those things join forces to leave you feeling emotionally invested in this unique experience that also regularly scares the hell out of you.
6. Rule of Rose
Before it was released, Rule of Rose attracted quite a bit of controversy for its blend of sex and violence as well as its use of underaged characters. After it was released, Rule of Rose drew additional controversy for its rough gameplay and generally unpolished nature.
Somewhere between those controversies and (often valid) criticisms lies a truly unique horror game that feels somewhere between a dark fairy tale and a Dario Argento film. There is more creativity and originality in most randomly selected Rule of Rose sequences than in even the best horror games.
5. Cold Fear
Cold Fear sees you play as a Coast Guard member tasked with investigating a mysterious ship seemingly stuck at sea. Your journey sees you battle not just the monstrosities aboard but the restless ocean which constantly threatens to throw you into the watery depths below.
Cold Fear may have been written off by some as a Resident Evil 4 knock-off at the time of its release, but much like Dead Space, Cold Fear uses the incredible core mechanics of Capcom’s epic as the basis for a truly exceptional adventure that stands the test of time.
Obscure sees you control five high school students as they try to survive a vicious onslaught from supernatural forces that have invaded their humble home of knowledge. Between battling unspeakable terrors, you’ll be asked to use each student’s unique skills to solve a variety of puzzles.
Obscure is basically the best ‘80s slasher simulator this side of Until Dawn. It taps into the spirit of a generation of B movies and combines that classic film style with incredible survival horror gameplay concepts.
3. Clive Barker’s Undying
Undying’s association with the Clive Barker name should have elevated the game’s status, but there are times when it feels like the opposite is true. Some at the time wondered if the Barker name was attached to a product that may have not otherwise seen the light of day.
However, Undying is not just one of the best rapid-fire FPS games of an era known for speedy shooters; it’s a genuinely terrifying horror game that gets your heart pounding and never lets you breathe. It’s arguably the best horror FPS game ever made.
Nocturne‘s failures are at least as noteworthy as its successes. This game’s controls and camera are often awful and representative of a time for the genre that some are more than happy to forget.
However, Nocturne’s legacy as one of the genre’s great cult classics is not simply a courtesy paid to a charming experience. This incredible game taps into the very spirit of classic horror to offer a memorable experience that almost feels like an X-Files episode starring Van Helsing. This one deserves a remake, remaster, or even just a proper re-release.
1. The Suffering
Picture this: you’ve just been sentenced to death row for a murder you’re not entirely sure you committed. On your first night, the prison is invaded by mysterious monsters of unknown origins. Against all odds, the worst place in the world somehow got even worse.
The Suffering pulls off the considerable feat of being an action game that still manages to be as terrifying as the most “pure” horror experiences out there. Like many of the games on this list, The Suffering’s rough edges may have persuaded some to initially ignore it, but this game somehow manages to offer the best of mid-2000s horror and mid-2000s action gaming without sacrificing the most irreplaceable qualities of either genre.