Scary Games to Play on PC
What are the scariest games on PC? It’s a question that comes up time and time again, and there’s always plenty of new PC Games to answer it. The best Horror games don’t just make us scream, they make us think – and, in some cases, our minds boggle.
From Soma’s existential dread to the sheer terror of Alien: Isolation, the PC’s catalogue of horror games is plentiful, with new names emerging all the time. We’ve collected some of the best PC games with scares for you to play in 2023, from old-school classics to modern masterpieces.
Subnautica is, at its core, a game about exploration. The idea of leaving the comforting confines of your submarine, and venturing out into the vast blue unknown, is terrifying on its own. The terror comes from all directions, too, as you don’t know what lies beneath the waves.
The first time you dive into the water and hear one of the game’s many strange sounds, you’ll be left wondering what it is. The sound gets louder and louder, until it’s all you can hear. Then, once you finally find out what it is, you’ll have to face one of the many scary Subnautica enemies.
Subnautica is an experience of exploration, survival, and, of course, horror. Sometimes you’ll just be peacefully exploring, and sometimes you’ll be left alone with your own thoughts, and that’s when you’ll start to feel the fear creep in.
Play Subnautica on PC.
Soma is an exceptional experience, and one that leaves many players with existential dread. If you haven’t played the game, you may want to avoid the next few paragraphs, as they contain significant spoilers.
Soma is an incredible journey, and the ending of the game is particularly impactful, even on multiple playthroughs. The Prestige is another film and game that left us reeling, although Soma’s twist is far more existential than The Prestige’s.
Whether you like Simon, the game’s protagonist, is a matter of perspective. Soma asks existential questions, and allows players to make decisions that matter to themselves. Some players have mixed feelings about Simon, due to his treatment of other characters and his own changes.
That’s not to say Soma doesn’t evoke fear, because it does. The horror of consciousness transfer is something that will stick with players for a long time, and the game’s ending is memorable and thought-provoking.
The Prestige is a film that explores similar themes to Soma – what is reality? What is consciousness? – and is perhaps the best example of existentialism in film. The film is a twisty, turny mind-bender, and one that is especially memorable if you haven’t seen it before.
In the film, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play rival magicians whose act features a mysterious, hooded assistant. As the film progresses, the audience learns that each man has been using their assistant, played by Scarlett Johansson, as a scapegoat for their own wrongdoings.
The game leaves the player guessing, until the final reveal. The sound design in Subnautica adds to the terror and tension, with distinct and unfamiliar noises filling the water. Learning which sounds are harmless, and which ones signal danger, adds to the sense of exploration.
Subnautica’s warning messages and the presence of large predators such as leviathans create a sense of fear, which is all the more potent when playing the game in VR.
Alien: Isolation may not be the newest horror game on this list, but it’s one of the best. Creative Assembly’s 2014 game still ranks as one of the scariest games ever made, especially when played in VR.
The immersive experience of VR intensifies the fear and dread as you go toe-to-toe with the alien. You’re always on edge, constantly looking over your shoulder, and jumping at any noise. The best horror games for VR are still those that make you feel like you’re actually there in the thick of it, and Alien: Isolation is certainly one of them.
If you’re not a big fan of the idea of playing Subnautica VR in a submarine or Alien: Isolation VR on a spaceship, then you might want to look away. In a similar fashion to Soma, the presence of leviathans in Subnautica VR is downright terrifying. You can see one of our previous Subnautica VR horror experiences here.
The Dark Bramble section in Outer Wilds is a nightmare. You’re tasked with piloting a helicopter through a dense forest in order to extract your colleagues, but things quickly go awry. When you crash land, you have no other option but to continue on foot, and it’s here that the game’s childlike fear of the unknown comes to the fore.
The constant sense of dread continues as you navigate the narrow, twisting paths, and it’s in these moments that Outer Wilds is at its best. As you climb higher and higher, you’ll begin to notice the change in atmosphere, and it’s here, in the midst of the dense fog, that you truly feel alone.
And, if you’re anything like us, you’ll be cursing the game’s save system as well.
Penumbra: Requiem is the third and final instalment in the Penumbra series, and is also available as a standalone game.