Video games have always been the ideal medium for the horror genre, and this is especially true for VR horror games. The eeriness of horror works so much better when you’re more deeply immersed in the world, and there's nothing more immersive than virtual reality. It’s a match made in heaven – or should that be hell?
But which are the best VR horror games? What should you play to capture that feeling of existential dread? Which game will give you more chills than an icy bath on top of a train through the Alps? Well, we have a few suggestions for you, and we hope that they’ll help to satisfy your hunger for all things terrifying.
We’ve got eleven recommendations for you here, ranging from tie-ins with popular horror movies, such as the 2019 Blair Witch game, to stalwarts of the horror genre, like Resident Evil 7, and many others. Read on for an overview of each of them.
The best VR horror games are:
- Killing Floor Incursion
- The Forest
- Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul
- Resident Evil 7
- Blair Witch
- Arizona Sunshine
- Five Nights at Freddy’s
Killing Floor Incursion
Fighting through waves of disturbing, zombie-like creatures is a staple of the horror genre, and Killing Floor Incursion gives you that in spades. However, it’s not just a simple case of gunning down monsters.
The game not only gives you a creepy world to explore, but it’s also filled with cleverly designed puzzles. The VR is used well for both the ‘brain’ and ‘brawn’ aspects of the game, with several different items for you to hold, use, and interact with, all of which feel unique to the touch.
If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. As a species, we have an almost innate fear of the wilderness, and The Forest plays into that perfectly. In this game, you play as somebody who has become stranded on a heavily forested peninsula and as you slowly get to grips with your surroundings, you realise that you’re not alone.
It starts out like most survival games, but you soon encounter the strange cannibals who live on the island and what makes them so frighteningly eerie is their high level of AI. They don’t just mindlessly and relentlessly attack, they’re cunning and calculating and have a sense of self-preservation that’s rare in this genre. When played in VR, this becomes even more unnerving. You’ll genuinely feel like you’re not alone.
Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul
Based on the popular Paranormal Activity film series, The Lost Soul tells a unique story within an everyday house. Part of what makes this series so effective is that it places paranormal encounters within a home that could be your own, meaning your own hallway will never look the same again.
It works just as well in the game. You walk around a darkened house, with only your torch to guide – and you have to be careful, because its battery power will dwindle. As you realise you’re not alone in the house (which, frankly, won’t be a surprise considering the context), the ethereal frights being to build to frankly quite hair-raising levels. You need to hurry to solve the mystery of what happened in that house, before something horrible happens to you.
Resident Evil VIi biohazard
Over the years, the Resident Evil series has been many things, but it’s always maintained its gruesome core. In some ways, Resident Evil VII is a return to the series’ origins in that you’re exploring a creepy old building, but while the first game gave you a fancy mansion full of zombies, this one puts you in a derelict plantation owned by the deranged Baker family (as well as mutant creatures called the Molded).
What makes this one particularly disturbing is the fact that the villains retain a lot of their humanity while doing sadistic things and even have a tragic backstory that your typical ‘hoards of the undead’ just don’t deliver. While not exclusively a VR game, it works fantastically in this format.
Dreadhalls was specifically designed as a VR experience. At its heart, it’s based on a very simple premise: you find yourself in a large labyrinthine castle and need to get out, so you look for the exit. While it sounds basic, where it really delivers is on creating an exceptionally eerie atmosphere.
Every corner you turn will have your heart racing, even though there’s often not even anything there. It’s a game that gets in your head and makes you imagine all kinds of terrifying things which turn out to be much more scary than in-your-face gore. What helps to make this game feel unique is that you won’t ever become more familiar with the layout of the map because it is procedurally generated. If you die and start again, the layout will be completely different.
1999’s The Blair Witch Project completely reshaped horror by introducing the found footage sub-genre. To this day, you can find movies and even video games whose creative roots stretch back to that film, so it’s only fitting that there should also be a video game set within the Blair Witch universe.
Found footage games seem perfectly made for VR and this is particularly true for Blair Witch. This game tells a unique story about a man named Ellis Lynch who becomes lost in the woods while searching for a lost child – if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what kind of thing to expect here. It’s not so much about what you see (not that you don’t see anything), but the atmosphere of these dark, terrifying woods that will have you constantly on edge.
This game is slightly more whimsical than some of the others on this list, but if you enjoy exploring eerie buildings, this will be right up your street. In Torn, you play as a woman who comes across a strange old mansion and decides to explore out of curiosity.
As you explore the house, you begin to uncover more of the story, which delves into the unknown recesses of the human mind and even parallel universes. It’s an experience that was designed specifically for VR and definitely one that’s worth checking out.
Are you afraid of the ocean? If so, give Narcosis a go (or maybe don’t). In this game, you play as someone who has survived an earthquake in a methane farming station at the bottom of the ocean. You’re in your diving suit the whole time, with your air supply dwindling by the second, giving the whole thing a very claustrophobic feel.
At times, you’re outside of the station and exploring the ocean bed, with the horror drawn from the strange and almost otherworldly creatures that you encounter down there. At other times, you’re within the flooded station and the horror comes from the strange supernatural occurrences that seem to be happening and that sense of isolation you get only from being alone in a place where you’d expect others. It’s a really cool game and definitely one to try in VR.
Zombie games are a dime a dozen these days, so it can be hard to tell the decent games from the shovelware. Rest assured, Arizona Sunshine is indeed a good game and another that’s a ground-up VR experience, so we certainly recommend it for anyone looking to get their VR horror game fix (and also anyone who likes FPS games, frankly).
Part of the game’s appeal comes from the fact that, despite having an unnamed protagonist, the person you play as actually has a huge amount of personality. He makes comments and remarks throughout the game, which are actually kind of funny a lot of time. However, that doesn’t undercut the fact that the game can be genuinely chilling too, particularly during a section where you’re in the dark and aren’t able to hold a weapon because you need to hold a torch.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted
Nothing beats a good old fashioned jump scare, and which series does the best jump scares? Five Nights at Freddy’s. For those who don’t know, this is a series about animatronic animals coming to life at night in a pizzeria. People have been terrified by these hideous monstrosities even when just playing off a regular monitor, so you can only imagine what it’s like in VR.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted was made to take many of the concepts seen in the earlier games in the series and translate them into a VR experience. This means that you’ll be walking around the darkened halls of this old pizza restaurant, filled with anxiety that one of the animatronics will jump out and kill you at any moment. It’s a relatively simple game, but ideal for someone looking for some classic thrills and when it comes to that raw feeling of uneasiness, there isn’t much to compete with FNAF.
Ever since its release in 2020, Phasmophobia has been making waves in the horror community. What sets this game apart from the others is that it’s a horror experience specifically designed as a co-op game.
In many ways, it’s like a much more terrifying version of Ghostbusters, as you and a team of three others enter a house with a ghost infestation. You then need to track down and neutralise the spectre – but with the resident spook trying to kill you and your sanity slipping all the time (with weirder and weirder things happening as you become less sane), it’s no easy feat. What it is, however, is fun, and if you and your friends love being scared together, you should definitely try Phasmophobia (also check out our guide on games like Phasmophobia).
So those are our picks, have you played them before? If not, why not give them a whirl today? With any luck, next time you find yourself screaming with blood-curdling terror, it will be all thanks to us.