Psychological horror is a subgenre of horror that incorporates elements of emotional, spiritual, and mental states of mind to create suspenseful and unsettling media. In film, psychological horror movies have a rich history dating back to the 1934 release of The Black Cat and stretching through to such classic movies as The Silence of the Lambs and The Shining.
The use of psychological horror in video games, however, is less prevalent. Despite this, there have been some strong contributions over the last few decades that have masterfully integrated psychological themes into their narratives. Here is a list of the 5 best psychological horror games ever released.
Observer is a psychological horror released in 2017 that is set in a cyberpunk world heavily influenced by Blade Runner.
The game takes place in Kraków, Poland, in 2084. During this time, Poland is controlled the megacorporation, Chiron, who taken advantage of a world ravaged by a digital plague, or nanophage.
In Observer, players take on the role of Daniel Lazarski, an detective belonging to Chiron’s observer unit. These observers have been given top-level clearance to hack the minds of Poland’s inhabitants in order to ensure the security of the country. This is done using a Dream Eater.
Observer is played from first-person perspective and requires the player to explore certain areas for clues and solve puzzles that will advance the game’s story. You are also equipped with Electromagnetic Vision and Bio Vision to help negotiate the whereabouts of objects in your surroundings.
This game is undoubtedly one of the best psychological horror games available right now and has received widespread acclaim for its cyberpunk world design, visual effects, and thought-provoking plotline.
To find out more about the game, watch the video below or follow the link here to visit the game’s official web page.
Developer: Frictional Games
Publisher: Frictional Games
SOMA is a survival horror game set in an underwater research facility in a futuristic scenario in which Earth has been obliterated by a comet.
The game is set in 2104 and follows the path of Simon Jarrett, a former patient of York University graduate student, Dr Munshi.
At the beginning of the game, we learn that Simon’s last memory was of being terminally ill following a car crash, after which he had agreed to take part in experimental treatment in an attempt to cure his ailments and ensure that his life could further the knowledge base in medicine and brain treatment.
This psychological horror game is played from first-person perspective. The enemies take the form of various different theme presented throughout the game, each one being equally terrifying.
SOMA does not have a combat system and, instead, relies on stealth, suspense building and puzzle solving to keep the game captivating from start to finish.
The atmosphere is SOMA is unlike any game of the past few years. The barren underwater facility sets the mood for an environment that is dark, scary, and mesmerising. Marry this to an expertly scored sound contribution, and you have one heck of a suspenseful atmosphere.
The story is where SOMA really wins. It is, perhaps, the best horror game plotline of recent times and is both emotional and thought-provoking.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best psychological horror games available right now and you should definitely try it if you haven’t yet.
To find out more, watch the video below or visit the game’s official web page here.
3. Silent Hill 2
Developer: Konami Computer
Silent Hill 2 is a revolutionary horror game that was a pioneer in the psychological horror genre and is widely considered to be one of the best survival horror games ever released.
In Silent Hill 2, players follow the path of James Sunderland, who is brought to the town of Silent Hill after finding a letter from Mary, his deceased wife.
The game is heavily-laden with aspects of psychological horror and revolves around James’s quest to discover the truth about the death of his wife.
Everything that you could want in a psychological horror game is here in Silent Hill 2. The story is immersive, emotionally engaging and unique. You explore the area alone and must, therefore, trust your instincts in fight or flight scenarios.
What’s more, the game is before its times in terms of the mental health themes it explores, and there is plenty of food for thought throughout story.
Those who have played this game will understand why it is on this list of the best psychological horror games ever, for those who haven’t, you must.
To find out more, watch the video the review below or follow our link to another review of the game here.
2. Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
Fatal Frame 2 is a Japanese horror game that was released in 2003 for both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It is the second game in the Fatal Frame franchise.
The game follows the story of 2 Japanese youths, Mio and Mayu Amakura, who are exploring Minakami, an abandoned village in rural Japan.
Mio and Mayu, who are twin sisters, soon realise that they are being pursued by paranormal entities that threaten their lives. The spirits of Minakami that threaten their lives wish to use their bodies for sacrificial purposes in an ancient ritual.
The game plays in two modes. First, there is the field mode, which enables players to directly control Mio and explore the village for clues to advance the game. The other gameplay option is the viewfinder mode, whereby players use the Camera Obscura to take pictures of enemy spirits in order to defeat them.
Fatal Frame 2 should be seen as a work of art as opposed to merely a video game. It offers a beautiful soundtrack, setting and story line, and a level of suspense that has rarely been surpassed since it’s release. This is truly one of the best psychological horror games ever released and you should try it without hesitation.
To find out more about the game, watch the video below or read our other review of the game here.
1. Amnesia: Dark Descent
Developer: Frictional Games
Publisher: Frictional Games
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a survival psychological horror game that was originally released in 2010 to widespread critical acclaim.
The follows Daniel, an Englishman who awakes in a Prussian Castle with no recollection of previous events. He can remember his name, but that’s about it.
Throughout the game, Daniel collects his own diary excerpts, that are scattered around the castle, in order to find out how he has ended up in the situation he finds himself in.
As with most other Frictional Games’ title, the game plays from first-person perspective and allows the player to interact with various object in the game.
Amnesia is the perfect example of how psychological horror games should be made. The audio, exploration, and visual elements all combine to make a game that creates suspense like no other. There is an in-game sanity meter that deteriorates as the player becomes more distressed. Needless to say, this meter is pretty close to the bone.
Amnesia is certainly one of the best psychological horror games available right now. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can watch the video below, or find out more info via the game’s official website here.
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