The decade has been one of abundance, offering a smorgasbord of amazing titles to choose from, especially for horror fans. Given how broad the horror genre can be, with gameplay ranging from classic jump scares to tense exploration, it can be hard to pinpoint the “best” games of the decade.
That said, we’ve given the matter a lot of thought and have come up with a list of 10 games we feel best exemplify the horror genre. Included in the list are traditional horror games as well as ones that are a bit more abstract.
The scariest horror games of the decade
Bloodborne (2015), Dark Souls (2011)
We’d be wrong to start this list off with anything other than Bloodborne. Not only is it one of the top “horror” games of the decade in terms of atmosphere, writing, and gothic aesthetic, it’s also one of the best games of the decade period.
We can’t help but tip our hats to developer From Software as many of their titles feel worthy of “best of the decade” nods. Not only was Bloodborne released within the decade, but also games like Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. In the next decade, From Software looks to continue their success with games like Elden Ring, and we can’t wait to see how it turns out.
While it’s hard to pick between Bloodborne and Dark Souls for this particular list of “horror” games, we lean more towards Bloodborne as it fits the horror game concept a little bit better than Dark Souls. Of course, both set the standard for how games can be challenging, gloomy, and darkly atmospheric.
The Last of Us (2013)
When talking about horror, The Last of Us stands above the rest as one of the best entries in the zombie-themed survival subgenre. It’s mature, it’s dark, and the world it presents is both gorgeous and gloomy at the same time.
Creativity can be found in every single aspect of The Last of Us from its memorable story right down to the design of its enemies, infected humans with unique variants like the Clicker and the Bloater. You also get a human horror element thrown into the mix as many of the other survivors you encounter are a direct threat to you, including Bandits and Cannibals.
The sheer scale and scope of the game continues to wow us to this day and we can’t wait for the release of The Last of Us: Part II. The sequel will be released in the next decade, and if it’s anything like The Last of Us, will earn a spot as one of the best horror games of that decade.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010), SOMA (2015)
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is more along the lines of what you think of when you think of a traditional horror game in that playing Amnesia is like walking through a nightmare where you feel like you’re being watched and followed, even when no one is there. Ask anyone who’s played Amnesia and they’ll tell you it’s hard to complete given how scary it is.
Today, it feels a little dated in terms of graphics, but it’s managed to retain its fright factor. We still won’t play it in the dark and you can’t make us. Adding to Amnesia’s credit, it served as inspiration for many indie horror games that followed. Speaking of games that followed, developer Frictional Games released another memorable horror entry with SOMA.
Similar to how we listed Bloodborne and Dark Souls together, we have to give kudos to both Amnesia and SOMA. We couldn’t exclude one over the other, though Amnesia came first and helped set the groundwork for Frictional’s other titles including SOMA so we lean more towards Amnesia here.