Rely On Horror’s Top 10 Story-Driven Horror Games

Story-Driven

Have you ever wondered what some of our favorite story-driven horror games are? Read on to find out our top picks in no particular order and see if you can spot some of your familiar favorites.

If you enjoy this list, you can also check out some of our others.

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1. Silent Hill 2 (2001) – PS2, Xbox, PC

This psychological story-driven horror game follows James Sunderland, who receives a letter from his deceased wife, urging him to return to the town of Silent Hill. James encounters nightmarish creatures and other troubled souls as he explores the fog-shrouded town, gradually uncovering disturbing truths about his past and the town’s dark secrets.

The game is renowned for its deep, emotional storytelling and complex characters, including the mysterious Maria, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Mary. The oppressive atmosphere, haunting soundtrack by Akira Yamaoka, and symbolic imagery make Silent Hill 2 a seminal title in the horror genre. A remake developed by Bloober Team will release on October 8, 2024.

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2. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010) – PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Players assume the role of Daniel, who awakens in a desolate castle with no memory of his past. As he explores the dark halls of the castle, Daniel uncovers terrifying secrets and pieces together his fragmented memories while evading monstrous entities lurking in the shadows. Without any weapons to defend himself, Daniel must rely on stealth and clever use of light sources to survive.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is notable for its emphasis on psychological horror, featuring mechanics that simulate the effects of fear and insanity. The immersive atmosphere and chilling narrative have made it a classic in the horror game genre, and it was also a favorite in the early days of streaming and YouTube gaming.

In the Video Game The Last of Us, Survival Favors the Man - The New York Times

3. The Last of Us (2013) – PS3, PS4/PS5, PC

Set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a fungal infection, this story-driven horror game follows Joel, a hardened survivor, and Ellie, a young girl who may hold the key to humanity’s survival. Their journey through a ravaged America is filled with intense encounters and poignant moments. The game is notable for its exploration of the human experience amid unrelenting terror.

The Last of Us is widely acclaimed for its compelling and emotionally resonant storyline, well-developed characters that draw players in, and visually stunning graphics that bring the game world to life.  The relationship between Joel and Ellie evolves throughout the game, adding layers of depth to the story. The game also features intense, strategic combat and stealth mechanics, making every encounter with infected or hostile humans a harrowing experience.

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4. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017) – PS4/PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC, Nintendo Switch

This installment of Resident Evil returns to the series’ survival horror roots. Players control Ethan Winters as he searches for his missing wife on a remote Louisiana plantation. The game delivers a gripping narrative filled with grotesque enemies, challenging puzzles, and a chilling atmosphere, all experienced from a first-person perspective.

Resident Evil 7 is a story-driven experience that revitalizes the franchise with its intense and immersive gameplay. It does this by drawing inspiration from classic horror elements while incorporating modern mechanics. The Baker family, who inhabit the plantation, are some of the most memorable and terrifying antagonists. Unsurprisingly, the game’s compatible VR mode adds an extra layer of fear, making the horrors of Resident Evil 7 even more palpable.

Outlast preview - the game that terrified PAX | PC Gamer

5. Outlast (2013) – PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Investigative journalist Miles Upshur ventures into the abandoned Mount Massive Asylum, only to discover horrifying experiments and deranged inmates. Armed only with a camcorder, players must navigate the asylum’s dark corridors, documenting its horrors while evading the malevolent forces that lurk within.

Outlast is a story-driven game infamous for its intense atmosphere and relentless scares, emphasizing survival and stealth. The camcorder’s night vision mode is crucial for navigating the pitch-black environments, adding to the sense of vulnerability and dread. The story is revealed through documents and recordings, unveiling a chilling conspiracy that ties the asylum’s horrors to a sinister corporate experiment.

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6. Until Dawn (2015) – PS4

This interactive drama follows eight friends reuniting for a getaway at a remote mountain lodge. However, their peaceful retreat is short-lived, as they soon become hunted by a mysterious killer. Players make decisions that impact the story’s outcome, leading to multiple branching paths and endings. The game masterfully blends suspense, horror, and character-driven storytelling.

Until Dawn’s gameplay mechanics allow players to influence character fates through choices and quick-time events. This dynamic helps to create a highly replayable experience. The game features an ensemble cast, including performances by actors like Rami Malek and Hayden Panettiere. The narrative explores themes of guilt, revenge, and survival, making each playthrough a unique and engaging horror experience.

Dead Space' Only Gets Better With Age - The Ringer

7. Dead Space (2008) – PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Players control Isaac Clarke, an engineer sent to repair a massive mining ship, the USG Ishimura. Once aboard the ship, Isaac discovers the crew have been massacred and transformed into monstrous creatures called necromorphs. The game combines intense action with a gripping narrative, as Isaac uncovers the dark secrets behind the necromorph outbreak and his connection to the events.

Dead Space is known for its atmospheric design, which includes detailed environments, eerie soundscapes, and innovative dismemberment mechanics that require players to strategically disable enemies. The story, told through logs and environmental storytelling, delves into themes of isolation, madness, and the unknown horrors of space. The game’s blend of survival horror and sci-fi elements has made it a beloved title among horror fans.

Layers of Fear (2016)

8. Layers of Fear (2016) – PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

This first-person psychological horror game revolves around a disturbed painter who navigates a constantly shifting Victorian mansion. As he progresses, he delves deeper into madness, with the environment reflecting his fractured psyche. The story unfolds through environmental storytelling and fragmented memories, creating a haunting and immersive experience.

Layers of Fear excels in its use of surreal visuals and unsettling atmosphere to portray the protagonist’s descent into insanity. The narrative draws from art history and the lives of well-known artists, resulting in a distinctive exploration of creativity and madness. The ever-changing mansion and unexpected scares keep players on edge, ensuring a gripping horror experience from start to finish.

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9. The Evil Within (2014) – PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

Directed by Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, this game follows detective Sebastian Castellanos as he investigates a gruesome mass murder at a hospital. As a result, he soon finds himself trapped in a nightmarish world filled with bizarre creatures and surreal landscapes. The game combines psychological horror with intense combat, delivering a compelling and unsettling narrative.

The Evil Within stands out for its intricate level design and reality-bending gameplay. The story explores themes of trauma, loss, and the nature of evil, with Sebastian’s journey adding depth to the horror. The game’s combat and resource management require players to plan their actions, heightening tension and fear.

Alan Wake Remastered update release notes — Alan Wake

10. Alan Wake (2010) – Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4/PS5, Nintendo Switch

My personal favorite story-driven horror game on this list is Alan Wake. The game follows the best-selling author, who is suffering from writer’s block, as he travels to the small town of Bright Falls with his wife, Alice. Shortly after the couple settles into a cozy lakeside cabin, Alice suddenly disappears. Wake then finds himself in a horrifying situation where the events of his latest novel, which he doesn’t remember writing, are coming to life. Armed with only a flashlight and a handgun, he must defend himself against the supernatural forces of darkness.

Alan Wake received praise for its atmospheric storytelling, cinematic presentation, and innovative use of light as a combat mechanic. The episodic structure and the rich narrative make for a compelling experience that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. An enhanced version of the game, titled Alan Wake Remastered, was released for the PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.

That’s it for our list of the top 10 story-driven horror games. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below which games left a lasting impact.

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