It’s almost safe to come out now—2019 is in the books. We want to keep you scared for all the right reasons, and we know that 2019 might have been a tough year to stay focused on horror. There may have been some… other things on your mind. We tend to focus more on horror movies and television here on Daily Dead, but scaring the audience is also huge in the world of video games. Now that the year is up, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the best horror video game releases of 2019.
If you’d rather play your scares—or, at least, you’d rather watch someone else play them and make fun of them when they scream—then here are the best horror video games that came out this year. We are talking full releases only; if a game is still in Early Access or Beta, it doesn’t count. Also, these are in no particular ranked order, they’re just listed alphabetically.
The Beast Inside: The Beast Inside is an atmospheric, story-driven game full of jump scares and mystery. You play as a codebreaker for the CIA in 1979 who journeys to a remote location to crack a code and end the Cold War. A discovery in the house turns it from a quiet retreat to the fight of your life, as the ghosts of the past come calling.
If you want some heart-pounding moments, The Beast Inside has got them. There are tons of jump scares, and the enemy design is pretty strong. The game itself loses some steam after a bit and becomes more of a puzzle game than a horror puzzle game, but it also does not overstay its welcome.
The Beast Inside is one of the best of the bunch of this style of game, and it will certainly get your adrenaline flowing. It’s only available on PC.
The Blackout Club: You want more Stranger Things in your life? Take a look at The Blackout Club, which might just scratch your itch for “precocious kids in peril.”
It’s a cooperative game for up to four players, where each of you plays as a different teenager. People in your town are experiencing strange phenomena, including frightening bouts of sleepwalking, and one of your friends disappears. As is common in horror, the police are useless. You and your friends form “The Blackout Club” to try to figure out what is happening before it’s too late.
Each time you play The Blackout Club, the environment changes. Your goals aren’t the same, the streets aren’t the same, and enemy placements aren’t the same. Your group—and this game is really best with at least one other person—has to adapt to your situation, avoid or knock out your enemies, and capture evidence of whatever is causing problems.
The Blackout Club is an absolute blast to play if you can get a few others to join in. It’s intense, the plot and background story are interesting, and it’s easy to pick up and put down. You can play it on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Control: Calling Control strictly a horror game is a bit of stretch, but there’s enough bizarre elements and Eldritch-style creepiness to classify it as such. It’s made by Remedy Entertainment, who also made the atmospheric and fantastic Alan Wake games, but it features an entirely different approach to its atmosphere.
Lots of horror gets its power by putting weak characters against overwhelming odds. In Control, you are the overwhelming odds. Your character, Jesse Faden, becomes the director of a top secret government organization called the Federal Bureau of Control. You have a vast array of psychic powers and weapons to use to fight off an incoming invasion of an evil entity called the Hiss.
It’s more action forward, as Control is a game where you can levitate through the air while picking up practically anything in the environment and hurling them at monsters. You can transform your weapon into whatever you need, and your power grows exponentially as you progress. It boasts an impressive physics engine and the action feels really impressive, and there’s enough mind-bending, trippy visuals and ideas to keep you on your toes. Control is available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan: If you’ve ever watched a horror movie and questioned the decisions the characters make, then Man of Medan is for you. Part one of a planned eight (!) stand-alone releases in the Dark Pictures Anthology, Man of Medan puts you in control of a group of teenagers going on a dive in the Pacific Ocean. Things quickly go sideways, and the group finds themselves onboard the Ourang Medan ghost ship.
The game is essentially an interactive story—as things play out, you’ll have to make split-second decisions about what your character will do. These decisions can have severe consequences, either immediately or down the line. It’s well-written enough that you’ll want to go back through and see how things turn out if you make different decisions.
Where Man of Medan gets really fun is when you bring in a second player. You’ll both control a different character at the same time, and trying to make split-second decisions that can have life or death consequences is harrowing, especially while your partner is doing the exact same thing. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan is available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Hunt: Showdown: If you have a friend you like gaming with, then Hunt: Showdown is a blast to play as a cooperative experience. It’s actually been available for over a year, but only “officially” released out of Early Access in mid-2019. It features a unique combination of player vs. player and player vs. AI, a great risk-reward system, and some of the most tense gameplay you can find.
Hunt: Showdown takes place in a steampunk, dark version of our world in the late 1800s. Each game is a single battle, where you can dive in solo or with a teammate. You’ll need to scour the map for clues, fighting or avoiding AI-controlled enemies in order to track down the boss creature. After you find it, kill it, and banish it to hell, you have to escape with the bounty. There are also a few other teams of players on the same map, trying to do the same thing.
The firefights that ensue are terrifying and deadly, with real consequences: if your character dies, they are gone. All experience you’ve built up and skills you’ve added die with them. Time to start again.
Get someone to watch your back and you’ll have a terrifying good time here. Hunt: Showdown is available for PC and Xbox One, and will supposedly come to PS4 before the end of 2019.
Luigi’s Mansion 3: Want your horror to have a little more cuteness? Tired of not seeing the Nintendo Switch on this list? You’re in luck with Luigi’s Mansion 3. It’s basically Ghostbusters with a Mario-themed twist. You take control of Luigi and explore a haunted hotel, capturing ghosts to save your friends. Like many Nintendo games, the basics are pretty simple, but there’s a lot of skill and complicated puzzles to solve if you want to learn all the secrets and find everything in the game.
Like most of Nintendo’s games, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is incredibly charming and all sorts of adorable. You have a pet ghost dog named Polterpup, for God’s sake! There’s a transparent, see-through green clone of Luigi named Gooigi!
If you’re looking for a little more family-friendly horror, this is one of your best bets on this list. It won’t fill you with fright, but it will make you happy and appeal to your kids (or your kid at heart). Luigi’s Mansion 3 is available on Nintendo Switch.
Metro Exodus: This is less a horror game and more a shooter with elements of horror, but Metro Exodus has enough moments of pure terror (especially if you have a few common phobias) to snag it a spot on the list. It’s the third game in the Metro series based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s dark science fiction novels, but you can get by just fine without having played the others (though you’ll want to if you like this one).
Metro Exodus takes place in a post-apocalyptic Russia, and the player is leaving the subway tunnels in search of human survivors. It features a survival crafting system and environments that change and evolve over the course of time. The story also adapts a bit, and player choices can have consequences on how everything turns out in the end.
It may not be true horror, but there’s quite a bit of creepiness to be had in a playthrough of Metro Exodus. The setting alone is enough to make you want to leave a light on. It’s available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Pathologic 2: If bizarre horror is more your speed, then Pathologic 2 may be exactly what you need. It began as a remake of Pathologic, a cult 2003 PC game, but quickly moved into “reimagining” territory. It still tells the same basic premise: a small town is dying of the plague and you can do something about it. But your time is very limited. You can’t save everyone and, sometimes, you won’t save anyone.
Pathologic 2 is a very deliberate type of game, and it will definitely punish you as you are trying to figure things out. That said, it is extremely rewarding when you start to piece everything together, and it rewards the types of players who pay very close attention or take notes as they work their way through.
It’s also just… weird. Mostly in a good way. Get your thinking cap ready—Pathologic 2 is available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
A Plague Tale: Innocence: A Plague Tale is a stealth, puzzle-solving game where encountering enemies directly will almost always kill you immediately. Instead, you must figure out ways to sneak past them, distract them, or incapacitate them without being seen. Oh, and there’s a horde of hungry, plague-stricken rats threatening to devour you on several occasions.
If rats freak you out, then this is the game for you. A Plague Tale: Innocence is set in France in the 1300s. You play a young woman whose brother is infected with a disease that the government wishes to eradicate. Your goal is to sneak past enemy agents and get your brother to his doctor. Things get much more complicated as you go.
This is a creepy, atmospheric game with a strong story to tell and some truly tense moments. There are multiple sections where you must creep your way through caves or sewers with nothing but a dwindling torch keeping thousands of rats at bay. It’ll make your skin crawl and fill you with dread as you play through. A Plague Tale: Innocence is available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Resident Evil 2 Remake: The remake of Resident Evil 2 came out way back in January, but it’s probably still the best horror release of the year. Equal parts nostalgia and reinvention of one of the most iconic survival horror games ever created, Resident Evil 2 works whether it’s your first or 40th trip through Raccoon City.
If you have never played it before (the original game came out in 1998), RE2 tells the story of Leon Kennedy, a rookie police officer, and Claire Redfield, a student searching for her brother, trying to survive a zombie outbreak in Raccoon City. They hole up in the city’s police station and must solve puzzles and fight monsters in order to survive. It tells an impressive yarn that, like many of our favorite zombie movies, is equal parts campy and terrifying.
As this is a full-blown remake, it features some pretty amazingly redone graphics and sound. It also swaps out the original’s “tank” controls for a much more fluid control system, making surviving some of the game’s tougher fights a little more approachable. Resident Evil 2 is available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.