To be classified as one of the best horror games for Xbox, you really need everything from a compelling storyline, characters you can buy into, balanced amounts of gore and, of course, shock factor. As a genre that has literally been done to death (no pun intended), the very best Xbox horror games are complete works of art.
From personal experiences, I often find that Xbox horror games fall short because the devs spend too much time on the fear factor – everything else goes out the window, including the plot! You won’t have those issues with the titles below though. They are perfectly balanced horror games that you and your friends will highly enjoy.
So, without further ado, here’s our list of the best horror games for Xbox and Xbox Series X. As always, this list is presented in no particular order and is a collection that we imagine every horror fan would own.
Let’s delve in! –
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Up first, Little Nightmares. Fewer games execute the notion of building fear and dread as well as Little Nightmares does. Most impressively, this is achieved with basically no dialogue – using actions, body language, and the framing of the world. The game relies on the players’ next move, and when and where to make it, to convey this story.
All of which is seamlessly brought together in a poetically nuanced manner.
It may be obvious from the above excerpt that I’m a huge fan of Little Nightmares. Ten points to you. But on a serious note, as a video game design and philosophy hobbyist, I’m always fascinated by how games communicate what they want their players to do without explicitly spelling it out for them. In this regard, Little Nightmares is a brilliant case study.
Aside from the design, the “horror” here is brought out in the fact that often the player character of Six is hiding in plain sight mere inches and/or seconds away from disaster with no way to defend herself. She can only hide and run or run and hide. Using Six’s heartbeat as both a way to build tension and doubling as a device to warn when enemies are approaching is a stroke of genius. This effect is amplified when it rumbles through your controller, the fear viscerally reaching the player.
The only downfall is that Little Nightmares is relatively short. With a skilled player able to finish the game in around 45 minutes to an hour, we’re left wanting more.
Something of a spiritual successor to Resident Evil, as was overseen by creator and master of interactive horror Shinji Mikami, The Evil Within has many influences derived from its brainchild’s mind, but this doesn’t mean it’s a clone, a copycat, or any less of a game by any means.
The Evil Within puts players as Sebastian Castellanos, a police detective investing a brutal murder with his two colleagues, when the trio get pulled into a bizarre, nightmarish world seemingly conceived out of nowhere. They reunite and attempt to escape from this strange place and get back to some form of grounded reality, before being killed by the abhorrent creatures that inhabit the plane, or from losing their own sanity.
As aforementioned, The Evil Within borrows heavily from the forefather of Survival Horror with Resident Evil as its primary influence, and to be honest, Mikami being at the helm of the project pretty much made that a certainty.
While Sebastian can kit himself out with some fairly solid weaponry like shotguns, revolvers, and explosives, players must carefully consider when to use these resources, even for a genre that has resource management as a cornerstone. Sebastian is capable, but so are the enemies. One wrong move or bad decision is all that keeps you from becoming a name on a memorial wall.
In addition to the game’s element of danger being uneasily close at all times, the difficulty options help to amass the challenge even further for the true sadists among us.
Dying Light 2 is a modern take on zombie survival games in the sense that it strips back powerful shotguns and leaves you with just your intuition, some series parkour skills and bags of agility to dropkick zombies off rooftops and navigate your way around the dark.
Playing as Aiden, an infected member of society, you must loot supplies to survive the night (before you transform into a zombie) and travel across 7 distinct regions to help and support the lands. Whether you do this solo or team up with friends for an epic co-op adventure, Dying Light 2 has much less of a storyline but invests all of that budget into some of the best zombie apocalypse mechanics going!
If you have not played any of the Dying Light series to date, Dying Light 2 will be one of the best horror games on Xbox that does not let you have a shotgun! No seriously, while there are basic weapons in this game, the majority of the time you will be levelling up your skill tree and delivering some ground and pound to your zombie chums.
Make no mistake about it; Outlast 2 is a very scary game. If nothing else, it will cause you to scream, jump out of your chair, drop your controller, and shout random expletives that will cause concern to your neighbours.
While other games I’ve included in this rundown put horrible monsters in your face or show you rotting flesh to make your stomach churn, Outlast 2 attacks you on a mental and psychological level, which just makes it way worse than other games out there (most of the time there’s no threat, you convince yourself there is).
Outlast 2 has you play as journalist Blake looking for clues as to the murder of a pregnant woman in Arizona. After getting separated from his wife, he finds himself in a remote village run by a sect that believes the end of the world is nigh. Naturally, you want to be as far away from those people as possible, so it’s up to you as Blake to find your wife and get out of the village.
Also unlike other games on this list, Outlast 2 isn’t a well-rounded piece of work that ticks multiple boxes like some of the later games will. If screams and scares are what you seek, however, Outlast 2 has that for you in spades.
I would advise never to play it alone and/or at night. It’s just not worth it.
There are few things as terrifying in video games as being pulled out of a closet by an android or watching the alien walk past your vent as you cower in fear, holding your own physical breath for you’re petrified that he might somehow sense you via the vibrations in your headset. This is what makes Alien: Isolation one of the best horror Xbox games because it absolutely nails this concept.
In Alien: Isolation you take the role of Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen from the original Alien films, as she continues to search for her mother fifteen years after she disappeared. Prompted by the discovery of the Nostromo’s flight recorder, Amanda travels to the Sevastopol, a ship where the recorder is held to investigate any clues it might hold before the titular alien crashes the party.
As the films do so brilliantly, the majority of the game will see you hiding from the alien as it has the ability to rip you in half should it come face to face with you. The whole time ramping up fear while simultaneously gathering more hope and confidence as you amass more resources and strength to finally take on the beast in battle.
Don’t let this confidence go to your head though. You may find a flamethrower and a shotgun on your travels, but failing to pay attention to the sounds of the vents, the dots on your map or the flickering of the shadows will quickly ensure that Amanda becomes just another one of the many screams fading away on the Sevastopol.
Causing fear and horror in a slightly different way from other entries on this list, Dark Souls 3 generates a feeling of repulsion and fear by the mere existence of enemies in your path before they’ve even noticed you. The Dark Souls series is infamous for its punishing difficulty that demands players learn the tells, traits, and foibles of its enemies, or you will most certainly die.
While it’s fairly light on explicitly telling the story, the action takes place in the Lothric Kingdom where the Age of the Flame is dying out, so beginning the Age of Darkness will cause the undead to rise and wreak havoc on the world.
Being a third-person action game at its heart, and more shrouded in horror than outright games that act as pillars of the genre like Resident Evil and Amnesia, Dark Souls 3 still causes its players to fill the existential dread of what is coming next, just hoping to make it through the next few rooms and the relief of being confronted with another bonfire.
Sneaky enemy placements, encountering a mimic chest for the first time (you don’t forget that experience in a hurry) and going up against your first boss are all things that will stick with you for the disgusting design of the enemies, the gothic music that serenaded the battles, and the pride you felt having conquered a monster that slayed you countless times.
Dark Souls 3 has the ability to make players as much proud as they are afraid.
Once again conveying horror from yet another angle, the 2016 reboot of DOOM is seeking more to disgust its players to the point where ripping and tearing a Cyberdemon into tiny meaty chunks is preferable to staring at him in the face (not to mention what he’ll do to you if he gets the chance).
Following pretty much the plot of the 1993 original to the letter, you don the helmet and super shotgun of an unnamed space marine on Mars, AKA the Doomslayer, who has to fight his way out of a mining facility through the hordes of demons that have been unleashed from hell.
For a brief period in its life, DOOM slowed down its pace, adopting a more methodical approach. That time is over. This is high octane, unadulterated action and gore, a sick pleasure emanating from the fact that you just exploded an Imp’s skull, and you can’t wait to do it again.
Being that DOOM makes you akin to a powerhouse of a character, you might question where exactly does the horror arise… The horror arises when you go to pick up a key and the floor drops down to land you in a room of Lost Souls flying at you. It comes from having a door lock behind you and thirty Possessed Marines collectively aim their shotguns at you. It comes from constantly dodging enemy attacks while trying to destroy Gore Nests.
The challenges will be fierce. The odds will be immeasurable. The monsters will be brutal.
Slightly different to the contemporaries on this list as it’s an asymmetrical multiplayer title rather than a single player experience. Dead By Daylight isn’t for everyone but if you’re a fan of horror, this should suit you better than Jason Voorhees hockey mask.
Inspired by many different horror influences and slasher movies, Dead By Daylight puts players as either a group of teenage survivors trying to escape from their nightmare scenario, or as one of the many powerful killers, inspired from a range of folklore tales and silver screens, as well as just straight up creepy things (clowns are scary, right?).
While there’s an abundance of fun to be had running around as Leatherface, terrorising screaming young adults as you sprint at them with your chainsaw revved high above your head, the fear comes from playing as the survivors as your heartbeat grows ever louder and faster as you try to start your generator before the Hag figures out where you are or the Trapper hears that engine begin to rev…
With a range of survivor abilities and over twenty killers to pick from, the combinations of fear are almost endless.
And I think the scariest part about the whole thing is playing against a human, which are notoriously much harder to outsmart and dupe than an AI…
Building beautifully on the original game, Little Nightmares II brings players back to before Six found herself imprisoned on the dreaded vessel of the Maw and joins her up with Mono, a new protagonist who we get to experience all new and creepy environments with.
Doing exactly as sequels should and keeping all the fundamentals of the first game, building and elaborating on them while simultaneously amending any erroneous qualities that unfortunately plagued the first game, Little Nightmares 2 offers up more expansive and haunting environments, accompanied by more chilling enemies that burn their disgusting faces into your psyche and linger long after you’ve put your controller down. Featuring some of the best Xbox RPG gameplay, this hybrid of horror, roleplaying and platformer is a joy to traverse through.
As mentioned, this time around you play as Mono, a child with untapped powers, who has Six in tow. They venture through Pale City looking to reach the Black Tower in order to turn off the signal being broadcast around the city, pervading evil to all corners of the environment and keeping the citizen’s in zombie and dreamlike state.
They are pursued by the Thin Man, a daunting figure that causes true unease not only from his appearance but from his unwavering determination to stalk the children with the eerily calm demeanour that he exudes. Not to mention trying to avoid being killed, captured, or eaten by the Hunter, Teacher, and the Doctor.
Having an almighty twist to polish the game off, Little Nightmares II is an amazing follow up to the original Little Nightmares and another brilliant horror-fest.
Sugar coating three of the scariest horror games for Xbox into a single price, how can one not be drawn to the terrifying value of Amnesia: The Collection?
In this bundle, you’re treated to Amnesia: The Dark Descent where you play as Daniel, a man with no memory who awakes in a castle and explores to restore his fractured mind. In Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (arguably the most famous of the three), Oswald Mandus awakens in a fever knowing his children are in danger, somewhere, but cannot remember where and must search for them before evil befalls them. Finally, in Amnesia: Justine, you’re put through Saw-Esque trials in order to escape the dungeon you find yourself in, guided only by a recorded voice.
By providing no context to the proceedings (taking its titular theme of amnesia quite literally), this makes progressing through each game all the more uneasy, as you simply don’t know what’s lurking for you in the darkness. Is it something mythical like vampires? Some infected, zombie-like creature? Demons? Werewolves? Or is there nothing there at all?
A masterclass in horror, each of the Amnesia titles is worth a play individually, let alone as part of a collective package. Frictional Games has done an incredible job here. –
Resident Evil 2: REmake
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One of the shining examples to look to when examining some of the best horror games for Xbox One are video game remakes and/or remasters. Resident Evil 2: REmake takes one of the best survival horror games for Xbox around and revamps it for a new generation of gamers while somehow keeping the soul of the original intact. It’s nostalgic, accessible and modern.
Following on shortly after the events of the first game, players can choose to step into the shoes of green rookie Raccoon City police officer Leon Kennedy, or STARS sibling Claire Redfield, during the initial T-Virus outbreak as the pair look to survive and escape from the hellish metropolis.
The game has a ton of replay value thanks to its two characters, two scenarios per character and the scoring system which will keep you coming back time and time again to improve on your grade, time, and ranking. Not to mention the 4th Survivor and Tofu Survivor mode. The remake of Resident Evil 2 just hits all the right notes in every department.
With specific regards to horror, the survival horror element of course permeates the DNA of the game, with limited supplies and the ability to save restricted on harder difficulties. If you haven’t watched anything or played anything Resident Evil, you are about to fall immediately in love.
And of course, there’s Mr X. He will find you, and he will kill you.
Honestly, I have never been much of a horror game player. I have more been into some of Xbox’s finest racing games. However, there is so much fun to be had here!
Get your safe word at the ready, keep your teddy bear in tow and enjoy some of our best-rated horror games for Xbox One and Xbox Series X. From cult-classic inspired survival horrors to psychological anxiety inducers, we promise you hours of terrifying, nail-biting fun.
Any game developer can create shallow, intermittent moments of shock and gore, but for us, the very best horror games must perfectly balance the shock and the gore with a compelling storyline and characters, pulling us in for the long haul to create a truly immersive, petrifying experience for players.
Did we miss any great Horror games for Xbox? Visage, perhaps?
Tell us about your favourite Horror Xbox games in the comments below. Meanwhile, feel free to check out some of our other incredible articles.