Five of the scariest games of all time to play on Halloween

We've picked the top titles for the ultimate fright experience to play with your friends, or alone

A still from the game Dead Space. Photo: Electronic Arts
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Horror and gaming have gone hand in hand for decades.

Since the days of Ouija boards, people have been trying to scare themselves silly for entertainment. Video game makers recognised the appetite for spooky thrills and ran with it.

Scary video games had humble beginnings however, with text-based adventures that attempted to scare players with unexpected twists and turns. Today, thrill seekers can find a trove of games to choose from that will ensure those goosebumps will last for weeks.

For Halloween, we look at five of the scariest video game experiences to play with your friends. Or alone if you’re feeling brave.

Dead Space

Space can be a very scary concept. Being out there in the vast emptiness, not knowing what can be encountered, is certainly terrifying. But even more scary is a monster staring down at you.

Dead Space, developed by Motive Studio and published by Electronic Arts, explores the deep fear of what lurks out there in space that we can’t understand but know is only there to hurt us.

Set on a mining spaceship, the game’s protagonist is Isaac Clarke, an engineer who finds himself in the precarious situation of surviving and fighting against the monsters which have overrun the vessel.

The spaceship itself is severely damaged from the infestation, presenting a scary space to navigate through, using mostly mining tools as weapons to fend off an attack.

Scare score:

  • Gore: 4/5
  • Atmosphere: 4/5
  • Jump scares: 3/5

Five Nights at Freddy’s

Working alone in an empty venue after hours can be a daunting task. Couple that with the possibility of working in a haunted animatronic puppet-themed restaurant and the result is an anxious and scary experience.

Developed and published by Scott Cawthon, Five Nights at Freddy’s started out as an indie game that gained popularity through YouTube videos and gamers reacting to how frightening the experience was.

The task in the game is relatively simple: keep an eye on the security monitors and make sure nothing is amiss. The frights start when the animatronic puppets, which should be still, start moving independently, seeking you out.

Viewing the monitors and spotting the creeping puppets is made even more difficult by the fact the batteries on the monitors drain the more they are used, requiring a level of strategy for success in surviving the night.

Scare score:

  • Gore: 1/5
  • Atmosphere: 5/5
  • Jump scares: 5/5


Imagine a long winding corridor, with one way in and one way out, except the way out is also the way in.

Controlling an unnamed protagonist in first person view, the mystery opens up as clues are revealed and puzzles are solved.

The corridor's characteristics change with every pass and scares reveal themselves from behind closed doors and bloodstained mirrors.

P.T. first landed on the PlayStation store as an unassuming demo, later revealed by those who completed it as the playable teaser (that’s what P.T. stands for) for the next game from Japanese game designer Hideo Kojima.

The game was to be a new instalment in the Silent Hill series of games, a collaboration between Kojima and Oscar-winning director Guillermo Del Toro.

Unfortunately, Kojima would soon exit Konami, and Silent Hills, as the project was called, would be abandoned. P.T. would eventually be pulled from the PlayStation store. To play it today, gamers can seek out PlayStation 4 consoles which still carry the game. An arduous endeavour, but worth it for the unforgettable experience.

Scare score:

  • Gore: 3/5
  • Atmosphere: 5/5
  • Jump scares: 4/5

Silent Hill 2

There’s a town in the horizon. It’s small and quaint but there’s not much to discern due to a thick fog engulfing it.

The closer the town gets the more of its secrets are revealed. There are also deformed monsters here and this world does not feel normal or familiar.

Developed by Team Silent and published by Konami, Silent Hill 2 presents a very eerie and unsettling horror game experience.

The plot revolves around James Sunderland, a widower, as he traverses through the town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his dead wife informing him that she is waiting there for him.

The town is filled with grotesque beings that attempt to stop our protagonist from reaching his goal.

Throughout the game, James encounters puzzles and challenges that reveal more of the story and where his wife could be.

The Silent Hill games, especially the second one, have garnered huge appreciation by gamers over the years. Since the release of the first one in 1999, there have been numerous sequels and spin-offs in the series.

Scare score:

  • Gore: 5/5
  • Atmosphere: 5/5
  • Jump scares: 3/5

Resident Evil 7

Being trapped in a house is a concept often used in horror films. Since the release of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, envisioning a situation in which being taken hostage by an evil family is a spine-chilling concept.

The fear in this situation is made even worse knowing the captors are somehow powered by supernatural abilities that make them hard to overcome.

Developed and published by Capcom, Resident Evil 7 was a huge return to form in the long-running horror series. Fans of the games had complained that the fifth and sixth versions of the series had become too action-focused, leaving behind its spooky origins.

For the seventh game, developers decided to go with a first person view rather than the usual third person view they had become known for. Putting the players within eye level of the horrors they face made it an even scarier experience.

The game’s story focuses on protagonist Ethan Winters, who finds himself held captive in a mysterious house after he goes searching for his wife and daughter in the bayous of Louisiana.

The game’s success revitalised the Resident Evil series, with the older games receiving remakes and an eighth entry coming soon after.

Scare score:

  • Gore: 5/5
  • Atmosphere: 4/5
  • Jump scares: 5/5
Updated: October 29, 2023, 7:36 AM