Things that go bump in the night, evil that lurks in the shadows and jump scares so frightening that you jump out of your socks! Or perhaps you enjoy the thrill of the chase, manifesting as a malevolent spirit and making your friends scream with delight – if this sounds intriguing, enter if you dare… Because we’ve put together a list of some of the best heart-racing, adrenaline-pumping and mind-bending horror games from independent developers. You can play all these titles on Xbox One right now, including one available through Xbox Game Pass, so there’s no excuse not to find your next favorite horror game!
The next installment in the Layers of Fear series is another psychological thriller that’ll have you hooked. Building upon the themes of the original, Layers of Fear 2 focuses on film as an art form as you play as an actor searching inside of himself to find inspiration for an upcoming role.
Taking place aboard an old ship — that just happens to be the set of his latest movie – you’ll explore the confines of the vessel and begin to develop the character for the film, finding clues and hints from the past occupants and crew. It’s not long until you start to question your reality as the ship becomes more difficult to traverse as your mind begins to play tricks on you.
With scenes inspired from iconic horror films such as “Se7en,” “Psycho,” and “The Shining,” Layers of Fear 2 masterfully displays the complexity and horror of the human psyche.
In this must-play classic horror game, you are journalist Miles Upshur, who has decided to explore an abandoned mental asylum. With no access to weaponry, he’ll confront deranged half-human creatures by… running and hiding. The inherent helplessness is one of the most terrifying aspects of Outlast.
Your only gadget is a small battery-powered camcorder with night vision allowing you to see faintly in the dark (hint: don’t run out of batteries). As the game progresses, you learn the events that previously transpired at the asylum and you may not like what you discover…
Already completed Outlast and looking for some more scares from developer Red Barrels? Consider exploring a terrifying rendition of the Sonoran Desert in search for your missing wife in Outlast 2. Or pick up both with the Outlast: Bundle of Terror!
Among the Sleep
Few of us get through childhood without a few scares; being lost in a store, a spider landing on your face or a particularly intimidating clown… But what if things took a darker turn? After your mother is taken in the middle of the night, you and your teddy bear companion must attempt to find her.
Among the Sleep differentiates itself from many other horror titles by forcing you to solve puzzles with limited mental and physical abilities. For example: Because you’ll play through the eyes of a two-year-old child, all the text in the game is written in an indistinguishable language due to the child’s inability to read. The forced change in perspective also adds dread to everyday locations, such as a playground that towers over you or a heavy door that’s impossible to open. Discover the horror of the world through a toddler’s eyes in this subversive take on horror.
Dead by Daylight – Available on Xbox Game Pass
The concept is simple: there’s an evil presence on the loose and the survivors must repair generators to escape. Dead by Daylight features an unusual dynamic, which allows you to play as the antagonist, or as one of four survivors.
When playing as the antagonist the goal is a single-minded one; find and kill all the survivors. The game gets a bit more complex when playing as the soon-to-be victims. Since different generators exist across the map, players must work together to escape the killer. The game rewards risky play, so close calls with the predator can pay off in the long run.
We love this game because of the shift in dynamic that pits players against one another. There’s nothing more terrifying than an opponent that may be able to outwit you!
After blacking out during a medical procedure, Simon Jarett wakes up on PATHOS-II, an abandoned research facility located deep in the ocean — he soon discovers he’s the only human on board.
Soma weaves a dark and captivating tale that delves into time-travel, consciousness, and futuristic technology. The dark, dimly lit hallways of the research facility beckon you to discover its secrets. Not to mention, the robots, and eventually other enemies you encounter, are truly disturbing.
If you find that all of this becomes a bit too much, try Safe Mode. This makes it so that enemies can’t harm you, allowing for a more accessible experience. Although this does remove some suspense, the atmosphere and intricate story ensure that you’re kept on edge. This title is a perfect choice for those that crave intelligent horror.
Friday the 13th: The Game
Play as one of the most iconic slasher film villains ever: Jason Voorhees. Revisit the eerie woods of Camp Crystal Lake and get ready to either hunt or be hunted. With a focus on emulating the very one-sided power dynamic of your favorite classic slasher flicks, makes matches in this game terrifyingly fun.
The counselors’ goal is to survive the night, escape, or call the cops. There are six versions of Jason you can play as, each from a different movie and unique advantages and disadvantages. Jason’s kills are, expectedly, spectacularly gruesome, paying homage to the film franchise.
You could call this the perfect complement to the legendary Friday the 13th franchise; any fan of these movies would be mad to miss Friday the 13th: The Game.
Thanks for joining us on this spooky journey, we hope you’ve discovered your next new favorite horror game to play or been reacquainted with an old one you’re dying to replay. Agree with some of these picks? You can always talk to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Discord about your spooky favorites – we love talking about games!