Triple-A developers aren’t the only ones to create compelling and terrifying horror games. Here are some equally scary titles from indie developers.
When it comes to horror games, it’s not all about Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and The Last of Us. Sometimes the smaller studios absolutely nail a creepy horror experience. Interestingly, some indie developers have had so much success with their horror games they’ve gone on to become much larger studios in time.
Let’s examine some of the smaller, indie horror games that have helped shape the landscape of the genre, or that have offered a memorably frightening experience. After all, Halloween draws near, and lots of gamers will be looking for fresh scares.
- Daymare 1998
- Penumbra: Overture
- Hello Neighbor
- Don’t Escape: 4 Days to Survive
- We Happy Few
- Slender The Arrival
- Blair Witch
- The Forest
Daymare 1998 may not be as polished as the triple-A horror games it’s designed to emulate, but those who enjoy those titles should seek it out as soon as they can. The game is inspired by late 90s survival horror games like Resident Evil, but it plays a lot like that franchise’s recent remakes. The game started out as a fan remake of Resident Evil 2 called RE2: Reborn by Invader Games.
However, Capcom asked the team to stop their remake, although they were so impressed by it, they invited the development team to travel to Japan to share their thoughts on what an RE2 remake should be. Once Capcom created an official RE2 remake, the RE2: Reborn assets were turned into Daymare 1998. Those who love the RE2 remake owe much to Invader Games and should give Daymare 1998 a try.
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The Penumbra series is the work of Frictional Games, which would go on to create the horror classics Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Soma. The game involves a character getting a letter from his supposedly dead father, asking him to come to an isolated area in Greenland before the horror ensues.
While Frictional Games are much more well-known today, back when they released Penumbra, they were firmly categorized as an indie developer. Those who’ve played their equally terrifying more recent work should check out Penumbra on PC. Although we can all live in hope of a remaster one day.
Don’t be fooled by Hello Neighbor’s cartoony art style. This is one nerve-shredding game. The premise is simple, you break into your mysterious and creepy neighbor’s house and must make your way to the basement to see what he’s hiding there. However, doing this is easier said than done.
Your neighbor does not want you in his home. What’s worse, if he finds you, he’ll start stalking you with a shovel. So if you thought breaking in was hard, then getting out is going to be murder.
Don’t Escape is a point-and-click adventure and survival horror game. It’s a lot like Telltale’s The Walking Dead in a lot of ways, but its art style is decidedly indie. This also gives it a unique sense of character that a lot of horror games don’t have.
Set in a post-apocalyptic landscape, the player needs to survive a series of disasters caused by the Moon breaking into pieces. The player must then make their way to a rocket ship that will take them far away from the ravaged earth. It’s a bleak story, but a fun experience for horror fans or those who enjoy a point-and-click adventure.
The Slender franchise has always had the potential to be an excellent horror game. Its first attempt, Slender: The Eight Pages was a fun and scary experience, but it was also fairly basic as far as horror games go. Slender: The Arrival is a much more substantive experience.
It explores the mythology of the creepy Slenderman in more detail and offers gameplay similar to Amnesia, Outlast, and other celebrated horror games. While the Slenderman meme/myth may have run its course, it will be interesting to see where the gaming world goes with it next.
While the Blair Witch game is far from perfect, it’s ideal for those craving similar horror experiences to Outlast and other interactive horror experiences. Games like this limit combat and focus on solving puzzles and exploration. While not for everyone, Blair Witch can be a very intense few hours of your life.
What we liked most about it is the game does an excellent job of channeling the original movie and its most recent sequel. If you enjoy the Blair Witch mythology and concept, then this really is a must-play.
We Happy Few has a fantastic concept; everyone you know is always happy because society takes a mandatory drug designed to keep the population docile. The player starts to stop taking the drug and as a result, sees life for the way it really is.
When this is discovered, they are hunted by the authorities and violently attacked by members of the population who view them as a “downer” and traitor to their society. However, the player can’t go fully cold turkey. They need to wean themselves off the drug. This also helps them blend in, but they need to make sure they don’t go back to drinking the Kool-Aid completely.
If you take the freaky woodland setting of Blair Witch, combine it with combat reminiscent of Dying Light, and throw in some crafting mechanics, then you’ll have The Forest. The player character is a plane crash survivor who’s stranded in a dense forest awaiting rescue.
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The only problem is he’s trapped there with cannibalistic creatures that will hunt him at night and flee into the caves when the sun comes up. During the day, the player can fortify their living space and scavenge supplies. They’ll eventually need to search the caves, which can be dangerous. It’s a scary game with some tense moments, this can be very rewarding for those who put the time in to explore it in-depth.