October is a month of two things for dedicated gamers: catching up on their backlog and playing horror games. The latter usually means consuming jumpscares and psychological scars, but not all horror games are created equal. Survival horror master Shinji Mikami is at the helm of The Evil Within, which delivers brutal fights and terrifying hallucinations. Meanwhile, Dead by Daylight is the genre leader thanks to its asymmetric multiplayer action.
Resident Evil 4 Remake
If you love survival horror games that entertain as much as they scare then 2023 has been a great year for you. First we got a remake of one of the most infamous horror games to date in Resident Evil 4. The game has stunning environments that channel the original with natural indirect lighting and tense atmospheres.
Then we had a breakout indie hit in Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle, a nostalgic homage to the survival horror games of old. Also worth checking out is the new Amnesia Collection which brings both The Dark Descent and Justine to Game Pass. It’s a tense ride through an abandoned military research facility infested with bloodthirsty enemies.
In a genre that has evolved since 2008, Dead Space still manages to stand out with its creepy atmosphere and overarching narrative. EA Redwood Shores’ Motive studio has set out to modernize the experience with some significant upgrades.
This remake includes updated zero-gravity gameplay, new twists on exploration, and expanded upgrade options. It also features a spoken protagonist in Isaac Clarke, who must tap into a deep well of courage and engineering skill to survive the hideous horrors waiting aboard the USG Ishimura.
The qwirkle game retains its iconic array of weapons and adds a fire mode that buffs enemies by burning off layers of flesh, leaving brittle animate skeletons that can be killed with another weapon. Even the grotesque necromorphs are better than ever, thanks to an updated system that displays how close you are to severing an arm or torso from its body.
Layers of Fear
Layers of Fear introduced psychological horror to a new audience in 2016 with its first-person depiction of a disturbed artist. The title became a classic of the genre, and spawned DLC and a sequel. Developer Bloober Team has now released a reimagined version of the series, which collects all three games into one package.
The new release features a reworked gameplay system, ray tracing support and 4K resolution. Players will encounter a variety of supernatural phenomena while navigating a spooky house.
The game focuses on the dark story of a man’s twisted past, and offers head-scratching puzzles. If you’re looking for something more action-oriented, then you might want to check out the Arkane Studios title Prey.
My Friendly Neighborhood
Despite the premise being less scary than it could be, My Friendly Neighborhood still manages to keep players on the edge of their seat thanks to clever level design and some great gameplay. It’s a survival horror game with first-person weapons, resource management (like in Resident Evil) and a grid based inventory system.
Using the show’s characters as weapons and exploring the labyrinth of sound stages, offices and sets is fun, and a good balance of exploration, puzzle solving and combat are used to make sure that it never feels dull or repetitive. And if all that isn’t enough, the game even has unlockable cheats.
Amnesia: The Bunker
From the developers of SOMA and the Amnesia series comes a new spine-chilling experience in an abandoned WWII bunker. It’s a first-person survival horror sandbox with an ominous setting that allows players to explore claustrophobic tunnels while hunting down a monster that stalks the halls.
Players must also bypass grates, grenade traps, passcode combinations, and other hindrances while keeping a low enough profile to avoid the monster’s detection. Fortunately, there’s usually more than one way to get around these obstacles without triggering any noise-making traps or attracting the monster.
These inventive ways of getting through doors help to make Amnesia: The Bunker more replayable than its predecessors. That’s especially true because the game randomizes codes, items, and other puzzle elements on every playthrough.
While many games use mental illness as a cheap scare, Hellblade is a rare treat that strives to portray it with respect. Developed by Ninja Theory, the game features motion capture acting and voice work to create an unsettling world that showcases psychotic hallucinations.
Gameplay is a mix of exploration and combat. Players can discover environments based on Norse mythology and fight enemies to progress through the world. Combat involves Senua waging brutal battles with her sword and is enhanced by her ability to Focus, which she builds up by blocking enemy attacks.
This feature allows her to slow down time and take down foes. She can also use it to open doors that would normally be inaccessible.