It’s the perfect time for horror games. As Halloween and the spooky month descend, from Resident Evil to Silent Hill, Five Nights at Freddy’s and Phasmophobia, the absolute best that the genre has to offer are bound to make a return to your Steam playlist. But alongside all the classics, there are loads of fantastic Steam Next Fest demos available now that give you a window into horror games’ future. The sheer amount of upcoming games can get overwhelming, so at PCGamesN, we’ve gathered a flashlight and a dusty old map, and trawled the haunted caves to find you the absolute best horrors available to try now.
October is the month for horror games. From classic-style, fixed-camera retro cuts to fear-inflected shooters and creepy platformers, there are dozens of future classics waiting for you at Steam Next Fest. Everything is free to try, and with so much to choose from – and so many enormous scares just waiting to pounce – this is the ideal time to sample the Steam Next Fest horror catalog. We’ve chosen five of the absolute best.
The best Steam Next Fest horror games October 2023
The best Steam Next Fest horror games to play are:
- Empty Shell
- Terror at Oakheart
- Echoes of the Living
- The Great Smog
- Hellbreach: Vegas
A team of investigators and commandos is sent to a remote facility in the wilderness of Japan. Naturally, something has gone horribly wrong – your job is to find out what. Played from a top-down perspective, not dissimilar to Hotline Miami, Empty Shell is a roguelike shooter with a highly distinctive black-and-white aesthetic. The whole game looks like a crusty, haunted old VHS tape, and there’s a terrific mix of action and big scares. There’s also a neat gimmick, true to the absolute best roguelikes, whereby if you get killed, you jump to another member of the commando team with completely randomized gear and abilities. Scavenge gear. Explore dark, randomly generated maps. Try to survive and figure out what the heck is going on. Super frightening but endlessly playable, Empty Space is one to watch.
Empty Space is available to try free as part of Steam Next Fest, with a full release scheduled for Monday, October 16.
Terror at Oakheart
Inspired by the classic slasher films of the ‘80s and ‘90s, Terror at Oakheart is a side-scrolling, pixel-art adventure horror game reminiscent of Lakeview Cabin Collection. In a small town, that bears a striking resemblance to the creepy suburbs of Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street, you play as one of a group of over-eager teenagers trying to uncover the mystery of Teddy, a vaguely Lovecraftian, absolutely terrifying clown-teddy bear-type monster man on a murder spree. It looks a bit like Terraria or Stardew Valley, but as your characters get killed off one after another – and you get closer to the truth about Teddy – it becomes gradually clear that this is one of the best-looking and also funniest indie horror games available to play. Maybe they should have called it Terroria, though.
Terror at Oakheart is available to try free as part of Steam Next Fest, which runs until Monday, October 16. A release date for the full game has not yet been announced.
Echoes of the Living
If you miss the classic era of Resident Evil – those fantastic, slow-burn, fixed-camera angle retro RE games – Echoes of the Living is everything you’ve been seeking. A survival horror in the truest sense, with hints of Silent Hill, Dino Crisis, and Parasite Eve, you need to manage your inventory, go steady with your ammo, and collect items to solve puzzles in a small European town that’s been overrun by zombies. As well as the typical guns, you also have an arsenal of melee weapons like baseball bats that degrade through use. It looks great, too, similar to Resident Evil Remake, with a combination of 3D and pre-rendered backgrounds, and seriously moody atmospheric lighting.
Echoes of the Living is available to try free as part of Steam Next Fest, which runs until Monday, October 16. A release date for the full game has not yet been announced, though it’s broadly slated for Q1 2024.
The Great Smog
This one is a real mix. A steampunk-themed co-op horror set in Victorian London, visually it reminds me of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and the criminally underrated The Order 1886. Mechanics wise however, The Great Smog is closer to Escape From Tarkov, a team-based extraction and looter shooter where you gang up to survive bizarre monsters and mutations on the streets of Britain’s capital. You can customize everything, unlock hidden areas by solving puzzles as you go, and take on additional contracts from The Great Smog’s various murky factions. Managing your resources and inventory is as vital as working as a team. If you like Phasmophobia, Tarkov, and terrific, slower-paced online shooters like Hunt Showdown, The Great Smog is well worth your time.
The Great Smog is available to try free as part of Steam Next Fest, which runs until Monday, October 16. A release date for the full game has not yet been announced.
Rainbow Six Siege but with monsters. I can’t be any clearer. You need to build your defenses, work out your strategy, and fend off wave after wave of shrieking monstrosities as you try to protect a variety of crumbling buildings in a pseudo post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. Six maps. 19 guns. Dozens of ways to approach each battle and wave. Hellbreach: Vegas also feels like the spiritual return of Left 4 Dead, but combined with the stressful, gradually tougher static defense of the best Call of Duty zombies modes. Every kill and round earns you in-game cash that you can spend on slot machines to get new perks and equipment. If you miss Space Land, Tranzit, and Nuketown – or want a ghoulish alternative to Ubisoft’s squad-based FPS game – get Hellbreach: Vegas today.
Hellbreach: Vegas is available to try free as part of Steam Next Fest, which runs until Monday, October 16. A release date for the full game has not yet been announced, though it is expected Q4 2024.
So, those are the greatest Steam Next Fest horror games to try out, but we’ve also rounded up all the best Steam Next Fest demos, period, if you want to try some different genres. Alternatively, keep it spooky with the best survival games to play this October.