Which Horror Game Should I Play First? A Comprehensive Guide to Navigating the Genre

Horror games have been a staple in the gaming industry for decades, and with good reason. There’s something about being terrified that’s just plain fun. But with so many horror games out there, it can be tough to know where to start. That’s where we come in. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll help you navigate the world of horror games and determine which one you should play first. From classic survival horror to modern psychological thrillers, we’ll cover it all. So grab a flashlight, get comfortable, and let’s dive into the world of horror gaming.

Quick Answer:
When it comes to horror games, there are so many options to choose from that it can be overwhelming. To help you decide which game to play first, consider your preferences for gameplay mechanics, storyline, and level of horror. If you prefer a more story-driven experience, you may want to try “Until Dawn” or “The Walking Dead: The Game.” If you’re looking for a game with more puzzle-solving elements, “Layers of Fear” or “Bloober Team’s Observer” may be the way to go. If you’re a fan of classic survival horror, “Resident Evil” or “Silent Hill” are essential franchises to check out. Ultimately, the best way to decide which horror game to play first is to read up on the different options and watch gameplay videos to get a feel for each one before making a decision.

Choosing Your First Horror Game: Factors to Consider

Your Tolerance for Scares

Jump Scares

When it comes to horror games, jump scares are perhaps the most common and recognizable form of fear-inducing mechanics. These are sudden, loud noises or visuals that are intended to startle the player and create a feeling of terror. Some games rely heavily on jump scares, while others use them sparingly. If you’re new to the genre, you may want to start with a game that uses jump scares judiciously, as they can be overwhelming if you’re not used to them.

Atmospheric Tension

Another factor to consider when choosing your first horror game is your tolerance for atmospheric tension. Some horror games rely more on creating a creepy atmosphere and building tension over time, rather than relying on jump scares. These games often have a slower pace and may require you to explore your surroundings or solve puzzles in order to progress. If you’re not a fan of jump scares, this may be a good option for you. However, keep in mind that atmospheric tension can also be unsettling in its own way, and some players may find it just as scary as jump scares.

Your Comfort with Violence and Gore

In addition to considering your tolerance for scares, you may also want to think about your comfort level with violence and gore. Some horror games are extremely graphic and may feature scenes of violence, blood, and gore. If you’re sensitive to this kind of content, you may want to choose a game that is less graphic or opt for a different genre altogether.

Your Interest in Story and Characters

Finally, consider your interest in story and characters when choosing your first horror game. Some horror games are all about the scares, while others have a compelling narrative and well-developed characters. If you enjoy immersing yourself in a story and getting to know the characters, you may want to choose a game that prioritizes these elements. On the other hand, if you’re primarily interested in the scares, you may want to prioritize a game that focuses more on the horror mechanics.

Themes and Subgenres

When selecting your first horror game, it’s essential to consider the themes and subgenres that best align with your interests and preferences. These categories can provide valuable insight into the game’s tone, gameplay, and narrative elements.


The supernatural subgenre focuses on otherworldly entities and paranormal occurrences. In these games, players often encounter ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, or other mythical creatures. This subgenre typically relies on atmosphere and suspense rather than graphic violence or gore. Some popular supernatural horror games include:

  • Silent Hill series: These games are known for their eerie atmospheres, haunting soundtracks, and intricate storytelling. Players explore the mysterious town of Silent Hill, where they must uncover the truth behind the town’s supernatural occurrences.
  • Resident Evil series: This franchise revolves around the fight against various supernatural enemies, such as zombies, werewolves, and vampires. The series combines survival horror gameplay with action elements, making it a great choice for players who enjoy a mix of genres.


Psychological horror games delve into the human psyche, focusing on fears, anxieties, and mental instability. These games often feature disturbing atmospheres, complex characters, and intricate narratives that explore the darker side of human nature. Some notable psychological horror games include:

  • P.T. (Silent Hills): Although canceled, P.T. remains a highly regarded psychological horror experience. Players explore a seemingly ordinary house, but as they progress, the atmosphere becomes increasingly unsettling, and the game’s twisted narrative unfolds.
  • Amnesia series: These games focus on survival and exploration within an atmosphere of intense horror. Players must navigate through creepy environments while avoiding hostile entities, and uncover the mysteries behind their character’s amnesia.


Survival horror games emphasize the struggle to stay alive in a dangerous environment. Players must conserve resources, manage their fear, and evade or defeat hostile creatures. These games often feature a strong emphasis on atmosphere, tension, and player choice. Some notable survival horror games include:

  • The Last of Us series: These games combine survival horror elements with a strong emphasis on storytelling and character development. Players control Joel and Ellie as they navigate a post-apocalyptic world filled with infected humans and other hostile creatures.
  • Alien: Isolation: Based on the iconic film franchise, Alien: Isolation puts players in the shoes of a space station crew member who must evade a deadly Xenomorph. The game emphasizes stealth, resource management, and survival mechanics in a terrifying atmosphere.

By considering the themes and subgenres of horror games, you can narrow down your options and find a game that best aligns with your preferences. Whether you prefer the supernatural, psychological, or survival horror experience, there’s a game out there waiting to be discovered.

Platform and Device


When it comes to playing horror games on a computer, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, the specifications of your computer can greatly impact the overall experience. If your computer does not meet the minimum requirements for a particular game, it may not run smoothly or may not look as good as it could. Additionally, some horror games may require a controller or keyboard and mouse to play, so it’s important to consider what input devices you have available.


Playing horror games on a console like Xbox or PlayStation offers a more immersive experience with the ability to use a controller for a more interactive gameplay. Console horror games often have better graphics and more advanced technology than their PC counterparts, which can enhance the overall scare factor. Additionally, many console horror games offer online multiplayer modes, which can be a great way to share the experience with friends.


Mobile horror games are a great option for those who are on the go or want to play a quick game. Many mobile horror games are designed to be played in short bursts, making them perfect for a lunch break or a commute. However, it’s important to note that not all horror games are suitable for mobile devices, as the smaller screen size can detract from the overall experience. It’s important to research the game and its compatibility with mobile devices before making a purchase.

Recommendations from Friends and Critics

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is a valuable tool when it comes to choosing a horror game. Ask your friends, family, or online communities for recommendations. Take into account their preferences and playstyles to ensure that the game you choose aligns with your own tastes. Additionally, consider the age and maturity level of the players involved, as some horror games may contain mature content unsuitable for all audiences.

Professional Reviews

Professional reviews can provide insight into the quality and overall experience of a horror game. Websites such as Metacritic and GameSpot compile reviews from various critics and aggregate them into a single score. However, it’s important to remember that individual opinions may vary, and a high score from one critic may not necessarily mean the game is right for you. Read through multiple reviews to get a well-rounded understanding of the game’s strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, pay attention to the specific types of horror the game employs, as some may be more appealing to you than others.

Understanding the Mechanics of Horror Games

Key takeaway: When choosing your first horror game, consider your tolerance for scares, violence, and gore, as well as your interest in story and characters. It’s also important to consider the themes and subgenres of horror games, such as supernatural, psychological, and survival horror. Understanding the mechanics of horror games, such as exploration, puzzles, and combat, can also help you choose a game that suits your preferences. Some popular horror games to consider include Silent Hill 2, Resident Evil 2, The Last of Us, Alien: Isolation, Outlast Trinity, and Until Dawn. Finally, navigating the horror game community through online forums, communities, streaming platforms, and let’s plays can provide valuable resources and recommendations for finding the perfect horror game for you.

Gameplay Mechanics

Horror games rely heavily on their gameplay mechanics to create a sense of tension and fear in the player. These mechanics can be broken down into three main categories: exploration, puzzles, and combat.


Exploration is a key element in many horror games. It allows players to interact with the environment and uncover clues that help them progress through the game. However, exploration can also be used to create a sense of dread and unease. For example, a game might use exploration to lead the player down a dark and creepy path, or into a room filled with ominous whispers and strange noises.


Puzzles are another common element in horror games. They are often used to add an extra layer of challenge to the game, and to create a sense of accomplishment when the player finally solves them. Puzzles can take many forms, from simple lock-picking mini-games to complex logic puzzles that require the player to think creatively.


Combat is a third gameplay mechanic that is often used in horror games. It is typically used when the player is faced with a monster or other dangerous enemy. Combat can be a tense and terrifying experience, as the player must use all of their skills and wits to survive. Some games may also use a stealth mechanic, allowing the player to avoid combat altogether by sneaking past enemies.

Overall, the gameplay mechanics of horror games are designed to create a sense of tension and fear in the player. Exploration, puzzles, and combat are all important elements that can be used to achieve this goal.

Storytelling Mechanics

When it comes to horror games, the storytelling mechanics play a crucial role in creating a terrifying and immersive experience for the player. Here are some of the key elements that contribute to effective storytelling in horror games:


Atmosphere refers to the overall feeling and mood of the game, which is often achieved through the use of lighting, sound effects, and music. In horror games, the atmosphere is designed to be unsettling and tense, creating a sense of dread and unease that draws the player into the game world. The atmosphere can be achieved through a variety of means, such as using dim lighting to create a sense of mystery and danger, or using jump scares to shock the player and create a moment of fear.


The characters in a horror game are often the source of the player’s fear, as they are the ones who pose a threat to the player’s safety. Effective characters in horror games are often deeply disturbing and unsettling, with twisted personalities and a sense of menace that draws the player in. The characters may also have a backstory that adds to their complexity and makes them more believable, adding to the overall sense of fear and tension in the game.


The plot of a horror game is the overarching story that drives the game forward, and is often used to create a sense of tension and fear in the player. The plot may involve a mysterious and dangerous force that the player must confront, or a series of terrifying events that the player must navigate in order to survive. The plot may also involve puzzles or challenges that the player must overcome in order to progress through the game, adding an element of challenge to the experience.

Overall, the storytelling mechanics of horror games are a crucial element in creating a terrifying and immersive experience for the player. By carefully crafting the atmosphere, characters, and plot of the game, developers can create a world that draws the player in and keeps them on the edge of their seat, eager to see what happens next.

Popular Horror Games to Consider

Silent Hill 2


Silent Hill 2 is a survival horror game developed by Konami in 2001. The story follows the character of James Sunderland as he searches for his missing wife in the eponymous town of Silent Hill. Players will uncover a dark and twisted tale of cults, rituals, and a haunting otherworldly realm. The narrative is a psychological thriller that explores themes of loss, guilt, and madness, with multiple endings that depend on the player’s choices.


The gameplay in Silent Hill 2 is a mix of exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat. Players will navigate through a series of environments, uncovering clues and solving puzzles to progress the story. Combat is a unique aspect of the game, with a focus on using various weapons to defeat monsters and enemies. The fear factor is amplified by the use of a limited inventory system, which forces players to make difficult decisions about what items to carry and when to use them.


Silent Hill 2 was widely acclaimed for its atmospheric soundtrack, eerie graphics, and engaging storyline. It has been recognized as a classic in the survival horror genre and has influenced many subsequent horror games. The game’s legacy has transcended its original release, with multiple remastered versions and adaptations in other media.

Overall, Silent Hill 2 is a must-play for horror game enthusiasts who are looking for a game that combines a gripping story with terrifying gameplay mechanics. Its psychological themes and haunting atmosphere make it a standout in the genre, and its influence can still be felt in modern horror games.

Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2 is a survival horror game developed and published by Capcom. The story follows rookie police officer Leon S. Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield as they attempt to escape Raccoon City after a zombie outbreak. The game’s storyline is intense and suspenseful, with unexpected twists and turns that keep players on the edge of their seats.

The gameplay in Resident Evil 2 is a mix of action and survival horror elements. Players must explore the city, scavenge for resources, and solve puzzles to progress through the game. The game also features a unique inventory system, where players must manage their resources carefully to survive.

The game also features a unique tank control system, where players must manually rotate the camera to move the character, which adds to the tension and atmosphere of the game. The combat system is also unique, with a focus on using weapons such as guns and knives to defeat enemies, rather than the typical shooting and action found in most games.

Resident Evil 2 was a critical and commercial success, with praise for its story, gameplay, and atmosphere. The game has since become a classic of the survival horror genre and is often cited as one of the best games in the series.

Overall, Resident Evil 2 is a must-play for fans of the horror genre, and is a great starting point for those new to the genre. Its unique mix of survival horror and action gameplay, along with its intense storyline and atmosphere, make it a standout in the genre.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us is a critically acclaimed horror game developed by Naughty Dog and released in 2013. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States, where a fungal infection has turned most of the population into aggressive, infected creatures. The story follows the journey of Joel, a smuggler, and Ellie, a teenage girl, as they travel across the country to find a safe haven.

Throughout the game, players control Joel as he navigates through various environments, including abandoned buildings, forests, and cities. Players must fight off infected creatures and other hostile survivors, while also making decisions that will impact the story’s outcome.

The Last of Us is known for its emotionally charged storytelling and strong character development. The game’s story delves into themes of loss, survival, and the importance of human connection in a world gone mad.

The Last of Us features a mix of combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving gameplay. Players must use a variety of weapons and tools to defend themselves against the infected and other hostile characters. The game also includes stealth mechanics, allowing players to sneak past enemies undetected.

Exploration is a key aspect of the game, with players searching for resources and clues to help them progress through the story. Puzzles are also interspersed throughout the game, challenging players to think creatively and use their surroundings to solve problems.

The Last of Us received widespread critical acclaim, with many praising its storytelling, characters, and gameplay. The game won numerous awards, including several Game of the Year awards, and has been considered one of the greatest video games of all time.

The Last of Us has also spawned a sequel, The Last of Us Part II, which continues the story of Joel and Ellie and expands upon the world and characters introduced in the first game.

Little Nightmares

Little Nightmares is a puzzle-platformer horror game developed by Tarsier Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The game is set in a mysterious underwater world known as “The Maw,” where players control a small boy named Six and a mysterious creature named The Kid. The story follows their journey as they attempt to escape from The Maw and uncover the secrets behind their imprisonment.

The game’s story is deeply unsettling, with a sense of unease and dread that permeates every aspect of the game. The world of The Maw is dark and oppressive, with grotesque creatures lurking around every corner. The story is also filled with symbolism and metaphor, with themes of abuse, isolation, and mental illness that add to the game’s disturbing atmosphere.

Gameplay in Little Nightmares is a mix of puzzle-solving and platforming, with a strong emphasis on stealth and avoiding danger. Players must navigate through various environments, solving puzzles and avoiding enemies, as they make their way towards the exit. The game is divided into chapters, each with its own unique setting and challenges.

One of the standout features of the game is its use of atmosphere and tension. The game is designed to be played in the dark, with a candle or lantern providing the only source of light. The sound design is also incredibly effective, with creepy whispers and distant screams adding to the game’s unsettling atmosphere.

Little Nightmares was met with widespread critical acclaim upon its release. Critics praised the game’s atmosphere, visuals, and sound design, as well as its unique story and gameplay mechanics. The game was also nominated for several awards, including a BAFTA for Best Game Direction.

Overall, Little Nightmares is a must-play for fans of horror games. Its unique blend of puzzle-solving, platforming, and stealth gameplay, combined with its unsettling atmosphere and haunting story, make it a standout title in the horror genre.

Alien: Isolation

Alien: Isolation is a survival horror game set in the same universe as the iconic 1979 film, Alien. The game takes place 15 years after the events of the original movie, and follows the story of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of the film’s protagonist, Ellen Ripley.

The game’s narrative centers around Amanda’s search for answers about her mother’s disappearance, which leads her to the abandoned space station, Sevastopol. Players soon discover that the station has been overrun by a deadly alien creature, and must navigate the terrifying environment while evading the creature’s relentless pursuit.

In Alien: Isolation, players take on the role of Amanda Ripley, who must navigate the sprawling space station and uncover the truth about her mother’s disappearance. The game features a mix of survival and stealth mechanics, as players must scavenge for resources, craft weapons, and avoid detection by the alien.

One of the game’s standout features is its procedurally generated levels, which create a unique experience for each player. The game also includes a robust crafting system, allowing players to create a variety of weapons and tools to aid in their survival.

Alien: Isolation was met with widespread critical acclaim upon its release, with many praising its atmosphere, gameplay, and faithfulness to the source material. The game received numerous awards, including several “Game of the Year” honors.

Fans of the Alien franchise and survival horror games alike have lauded the game for its immersive world-building and tense gameplay. However, some players have criticized the game’s occasionally frustrating difficulty and limited replay value.

Outlast Trinity

Outlast Trinity is a horror game that follows the story of a journalist named Miles Upshur, who decides to investigate a mysterious and remote mountain asylum. The asylum, known as Mount Massive Asylum, was closed down after a series of horrific events, and Miles is determined to uncover the truth about what happened there. However, once he arrives at the asylum, he realizes that he is not alone, and the terrifying events that occurred in the past are far from over.

As Miles explores the asylum, he will encounter various characters, each with their own story to tell. Players will have to piece together the puzzle of what happened at Mount Massive Asylum, while also facing their own fears and confronting the horrors that lurk around every corner.

Outlast Trinity is a first-person survival horror game that emphasizes stealth and exploration. Players will have to navigate through the dark and creepy corridors of the asylum, avoiding the malevolent spirits that haunt the premises. The game features a unique mechanic where players must conserve their battery-powered flashlight, as it is their only source of light in the dark and dangerous environment.

The gameplay is designed to create a sense of tension and fear, with players constantly being aware of their surroundings and the possibility of being caught by the terrifying creatures that inhabit the asylum. The game also features puzzles that players must solve to progress through the story, adding an extra layer of challenge to the gameplay.

Outlast Trinity received critical acclaim for its atmospheric and terrifying gameplay, as well as its immersive storytelling. The game was praised for its ability to create a sense of dread and fear in players, with its creepy setting and terrifying enemies.

Many reviewers also noted the game’s strong narrative, with its complex characters and intricate plot. The game’s use of sound and lighting was also noted as particularly effective in creating a sense of horror and tension.

Overall, Outlast Trinity is a must-play for fans of the horror genre, offering a thrilling and terrifying experience that will keep players on the edge of their seats.

Until Dawn

Until Dawn is a narrative-driven horror game that follows the story of a group of teenagers who are trapped on a mountain after a tragic accident. The story is told through a series of interactive episodes, where players make choices for the characters that ultimately determine their fate. The game’s story is known for its dark and twisted plot, with many unexpected twists and turns that keep players on the edge of their seats.

The gameplay in Until Dawn is primarily focused on making choices and navigating through the game’s story. Players are presented with a series of dialogue options and actions that they can choose from, which will impact the outcome of the story. The game also features quick-time events, where players must react quickly to on-screen prompts to keep their characters alive.

Until Dawn was widely praised for its engaging story and well-written characters. The game’s focus on storytelling and character development was seen as a refreshing change from other horror games that focused more on gameplay mechanics. However, some critics felt that the game’s story was too predictable and lacked any real scares. Despite this, Until Dawn remains a popular choice for horror game fans looking for a unique and engaging narrative experience.

Navigating the Horror Game Community

Online Forums and Communities

There are a variety of online forums and communities dedicated to horror games that can provide valuable resources for those looking to navigate the genre. Here are some of the most popular platforms:


Reddit is a popular platform for discussing and sharing information about horror games. The r/horrorgames subreddit is a great place to start, with active discussions and recommendations from fellow horror game enthusiasts. Users can also find niche communities dedicated to specific games or subgenres, such as r/residentevil or r/silenthill.


Discord is a voice and text chat platform that has become increasingly popular among gamers. There are many horror game-specific servers on Discord that offer a community for players to share their experiences and recommend games. Some popular servers include Horror Game Talk and Horror Game Discussion.


Twitter is a great platform for keeping up with the latest news and releases in the horror game genre. Many developers and publishers use Twitter to share updates and news about their games, and there are also numerous horror game-focused accounts that provide recommendations and discussions. Some popular accounts include @HorrorGames and @HorrorGameDev.

Streaming and Let’s Plays

For horror game enthusiasts, streaming and let’s plays are popular ways to experience the genre with a community of like-minded individuals. In this section, we will explore the various platforms where you can find horror game streams and let’s plays.


Twitch is a popular live streaming platform that hosts a wide variety of content, including horror games. You can find a multitude of channels dedicated to horror games, where streamers share their experiences and provide commentary on their gameplay. Some popular horror games that are often streamed on Twitch include Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Outlast. Additionally, Twitch also hosts various horror-themed events and marathons, where streamers come together to play and discuss horror games.


YouTube is another platform where you can find a wealth of horror game content. You can find let’s plays, walkthroughs, and playthroughs of various horror games, as well as horror game analysis and reviews. Many YouTubers also provide tips and strategies for surviving horror games, making it a valuable resource for those looking to improve their skills. Some popular horror games that are often featured on YouTube include Amnesia, Alien: Isolation, and Little Nightmares.


Mixer is a live streaming platform that is focused on interactivity and community engagement. Horror game streams on Mixer often feature interactive elements, such as viewers voting on the direction of the stream or controlling aspects of the game. Mixer also has a feature called “Hype Zone,” where viewers can join a virtual queue to play the game alongside the streamer. This provides a unique and immersive experience for viewers who want to try their hand at horror games. Some popular horror games that are often streamed on Mixer include Phasmophobia, Among Us, and VR Horror games.

Overall, streaming and let’s plays are great ways to experience horror games with a community of players and enthusiasts. Whether you prefer Twitch, YouTube, or Mixer, there are plenty of resources available to help you navigate the horror game genre and find your next favorite game.


1. What is a horror game?

A horror game is a video game that is designed to scare the player through a combination of gameplay, graphics, sound effects, and storytelling. These games often involve supernatural or monstrous entities as the main antagonists, and players must navigate through dark and creepy environments while trying to survive and solve puzzles.

2. What are some popular horror games that I should try?

There are many popular horror games that you can try, including classics like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Alone in the Dark, as well as newer titles like Outlast, Until Dawn, and The Dark Pictures Anthology. Some other notable horror games include Amnesia, Layers of Fear, and Little Nightmares.

3. Which horror game should I play first?

The horror game that you should play first depends on your personal preferences and the type of experience you are looking for. If you want a classic horror game with a long-standing legacy, then you might want to start with Resident Evil or Silent Hill. If you prefer a more modern horror game with a focus on psychological terror, then you might want to try Outlast or Until Dawn. Alternatively, if you are looking for a game with a unique and atmospheric setting, then you might want to try Amnesia or Little Nightmares.

4. Are horror games suitable for children?

Most horror games are not suitable for children due to their intense and mature themes, including violence, gore, and fear. However, there are some horror games that are specifically designed for a younger audience, such as the LEGO Harry Potter series and the cartoonish spookiness of the Ghostbusters video games. It’s always a good idea to research a game and its rating before allowing a child to play it.

5. How long do horror games typically last?

The length of a horror game can vary widely depending on the title and the amount of content that it offers. Some horror games can be completed in just a few hours, while others can take dozens of hours to complete. Additionally, some horror games offer multiple endings or hidden paths that can extend the game’s playtime even further.


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