Halloween is awesome. So too, are horror video games. Over the years, the gaming industry has fell in and out of love with horror games. They don't lend themselves well to a broad audience, generally, which is at odds with the industry's rush for engagement above all else. Save for a couple of AAA heavyweights like Resident Evil, most of the best modern horror games have emerged from independent developers, both on console and increasingly on VR, where immersion can be maximized and exploited.

Looking back through the ages, some of my favorite games of all time have been at least heavy on horror themes, even if not outright full-blown horror. In the spirit of the season, I thought I'd share some of my favorite spine-chilling games with you all, and invite you to do the same.

The greatest

Resident Evil 2

The original Resident Evil 2 is my favorite horror game of all time. The original launched when I was 12 years old — I ignored that 18-rating with glee and proceeded into the zombie-infested buildings of Raccoon City with naught but a pistol and a terrible, terrible knife. The remake launches in January, 2019.

From $60 at Amazon

The second greatest

Resident Evil 1 (Remake)

Resident Evil 1 is the game that gave birth to the term "survival horror." It was set in a now-legendary mansion filled with mad experiments, grotesque mutants, and of course, tons of zombies. Capcom has in the years since its launch on the GameCube remastered Resident Evil 1 for modern consoles in glorious — and grotesque — HD.

$20 at Xbox Store

Pure horror

Silent Hill

Silent Hill is a psychological horror game that's scarier than Resident Evil by a mile. It focused on evoking fear, with intentionally clunky controls, twisted music, and that ever-present mist that shrouds your field of view. Silent Hill 2 and 3 recently hit Xbox One on backwards compatibility. Are you brave enough?

$30 at Xbox Store

Old school horror

Realms of the Haunting

Realms of the Haunting followed similar themes as the original Resident Evil (both launched in 1996). Ammo and health was scarce, it used (clunky) live-action movie cutscenes, and encouraged exploration and puzzle solving. It's a classic thriller set in a winding mansion filled with secrets, forgotten tombs, and horror-filled Lovecraftian alternate dimensions. It hasn't aged well, but it's a classic near and dear to my horror-loving heart.

$6 at GOG

Slo-mo horror

F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. has some genuinely spooky moments that are hard to overlook in the genre. F.E.A.R. is a first-person shooter with slick combat, owing to slow-motion powers that make you feel like you're in your own personal Matrix movie. Your job is to rescue hostages kidnapped by a mysterious group with supernatural powers. Throughout, you're haunted by voices, ghostly spectres, and other strange phenomena.

$10 at GOG

Prehistoric horror

Dino Crisis

Dino Crisis is a classic horror title developed by the same team behind Resident Evil. The gameplay is largely similar, replacing the zombies with dinosaurs sucked into the present by a time travel experiment gone wrong. Sadly, there's no way to enjoy Dino Crisis without picking up the original or emulating it on PC, but it's often available used on Amazon for PS1. Hopefully Capcom will revisit the series.

From $17 at Amazon

Tactical horror

Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon isn't scary per se, but its Lovecraftian stylings are unmissable. It's a side-scrolling dungeon crawler with turn-based combat. You'll hire and train a small band of mercenaries on a quest to revive your fallen estate, delving into the horror-filled tombs and squalid forests. Darkest Dungeon is a truly wonderful game with gorgeous art, and addictive gameplay.

$25 at Xbox Store

Artistic horror

Layers of Fear

Layers of Fear is an exploration adventure, examining the psyche of a painter, apparently losing his marbles. As you piece together your characters mysterious history, you'll be assaulted by apparitions of the past, twisted by your worsening mental state. Layers of Fear is as stylish as it is spooky, with some truly terrifying moments.

$20 at Xbox Store

Psychic horror

The Evil Within

The Evil Within is a pure survival horror game set in a warped vision of the fictional Crimson City. Detective Sebastian Castellanos must navigate a supernatural maze with limited supplies and ammunition, as nightmarish horrors gut and decapitate everything in sight. Featuring some truly stunning art work and environmental treatment, The Evil Within is a must-play title for horror fans.

$20 at Xbox Store

Sci-fi horror

Dead Space

Dead Space is a cult horror hit from the now-shuttered Visceral Games, but thankfully, the games have been preserved in their gruesome glory on PC and on Xbox One backward compatibility. Playing as space engineer Isaac Clarke, you'll navigate a ruined space station filled with mutant horrors as you work to uncover the truth about what happened there.

$15 at Xbox Store

Mouldy horror

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Okay, it's another Resident Evil game. But it's simply too good to pass up. Shifting to first-person, Resident Evil 7 recaptures what made the classics so great, all while modernizing in the process. You'll skulk around a decrepit plantation deep in a Louisiana swamp, searching for your missing wife. Resident Evil 7 is mystifyingly creepy, with some of the series' most disgusting creatures.

$30 at Xbox Store

RPG horror

Parasite Eve II

Yet another very Resident Evil-like game, although Parasite Eve II evolves the formula with RPG-like mechanics, allowing FBI agent Aya Brea to perform superhuman abilities. The plot revolves around a sort of psychic hivemind, dormant in the cells of many people and animals. This hivemind reawakens, mutating afflicted beings into horrific monsters. It's creepy as hell, and also pretty rare, but can be found on Ebay.

From $30 at Ebay

Spooky times ahead.

There are dozens upon dozens of great horror games out there spanning decades of gaming history. Resident Evil 2 remains my personal best of the best, in large part due to nostalgia, but the creativity, atmospherics, and combat struck this perfect balance between horror and action that I hope we'll see again when the Resident Evil 2 remake launches in January, 2019

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.