Top 10 Scariest Games of the Last Decade



Top 10 Scariest Games of the Last Decade

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
These terrifying video games were pure nightmare fuel! For this list, we're looking at the scariest video games released throughout the 2010s, ranking them based on scare factor, legacy, and overall influence on the horror genre. Our countdown includes “Until Dawn” (2015), “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” (2017), “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” (2010), “Outlast” (2013), “Alan Wake” (2010), and more!
Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Scariest Games of the Last Decade

We certainly haven’t been short of scares. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten scariest games of the last decade.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the scariest video games released throughout the 2010s and ranking them based on scare factor, legacy, and their overall influence on the horror genre.

#10: “Alan Wake” (2010)

If “Twin Peaks” and Stephen King merged together, then “Alan Wake” would be the result. It tells the story of the titular Alan Wake, a novelist who tries to uncover his wife’s disappearance in the “Twin Peaks”-esque town of Bright Falls. Of course, the town’s name is largely ironic, as it is plagued by something called The Dark Presence, a shadowy force with seemingly impossible speed, super strength, invulnerability, and the ability to possess. It’s not bloody or gory or viscerally impacting, but there’s just something really creepy about being hunted and stalked by the darkness itself. Especially when it has the ability to turn the town’s inhabitants against you. Nothing makes you feel more alone. Or more powerless.

#9: “Dead Space 2” (2011)

Now if you want to talk viscerally impacting, let’s talk about “Dead Space 2!” The “Dead Space” series is the medium’s answer to the scary space stories of old. Space inherently makes for a terrifying setting – not only is it seemingly beyond human comprehension, but there’s literally nowhere more isolating. In short, it really gets the ol’ imagination going. And not in a fun way. Add in some Lovecraftian alien things and some truly disturbing body horror, and you have the living nightmare that is “Dead Space 2.” We didn’t think it could get much scarier than the first game. This proved us wrong.

#8: “Layers of Fear” (2016)

Developed by the oddly named Bloober Team, “Layers of Fear” is a psychological horror game that takes its cues and influences from the independent horror titles of the early decade. More on that later. You play as a mentally disturbed artist who is trying to paint his masterpiece but who keeps getting distracted by puzzles and an ever-changing mansion. As you do. Like most psychological games, “Layers of Fear” places most of its horror within the mind and forces us to evaluate what is and isn’t real. As such, it asks us to share in the protagonist’s surreal experience, even if that’s something we don’t necessarily want to do. The persistent jump scares and disturbing visions don’t help much.

#7: “Until Dawn” (2015)

“Until Dawn” is one of the PlayStation 4’s most unique exclusives. It serves as an interactive, choose your own adventure style of game, as the choices you make directly impact the story and characters. The story takes its influence from a wide variety of horror styles, starting as a creepy slasher in the vein of “Friday the 13th” before transitioning to a more fantastical tale involving wendigos and Native American curses. Of course, much of the horror derives from the nature of those stories. But the stress of keeping your characters alive and trying to make the best decisions possible also adds an element of unpredictability that helps keep the game fresh and relentlessly nerve-racking.

#6: “The Evil Within” (2014)

Being a third person horror title directed by Shinji Mikami, (Mi-Kah-mi) “The Evil Within” was bound to be compared to the “Resident Evil” series. But while the latter primarily focuses on B-movie thrills like zombies, mutants, and parasites, “The Evil Within” is far more psychological and disturbing. It’s themes were more in line with “Silent Hill” than “Resident Evil,” complete with a troubled protagonist, otherworldly locations, a general nightmarish tone, and a story so bizarre and bonkers it’ll have you genuinely questioning the sobriety of its creators. And who can forget the grotesque enemies such as Quell, Laura, and everyone’s favorite, The Keeper? It’s deeply disturbing, but also incredibly rewarding.

#5: “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” (2017)

A lot was riding on “Resident Evil 7.” “Resident Evil 5” was considered a bit of a disappointment after the masterpiece that was “4,” and “6” was just…well, let’s not talk about “6.” Now taking cues from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Resident Evil 7” came barrelling out the gate, and it did not hold back! From the unnerving atmosphere of the Baker family residence, alongside disturbing boss battles and gruesome sequences we can’t show here, “7” brought the scares, both psychological and visceral. There may not have been a familiar face in sight until the very end, but this game singlehandedly brought the franchise back from the brink of extinction. (xref) “Resident Evil 2” only solidified Capcom’s miraculous redemption.

#4: “Alien: Isolation” (2014)

Finally – FINALLY! – we got an “Alien” game in keeping with the first movie’s tone. Most “Alien” titles have followed in the bombast of James Cameron’s “Aliens,” and that’s fine. But a lot of the franchise’s fans were clamoring for a more atmospheric and claustrophobic experience in keeping with Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, and Creative Assembly delivered. There are few video games as stressful and anxiety-inducing as this, as you are persistently hunted by the titular alien and left utterly powerless to defend yourself against it. Yes, there are defensive techniques, but most of your time will be spent cowering under tables or holding your breath in a locker as the alien stomps and sniffs around outside. We didn’t think our hearts could beat that fast.

#3: “P.T.” (2014)

We may never forgive Konami for what they did to “P.T.” If you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years, “P.T.” was a playable teaser (hence the initials) for a new “Silent Hill” game. This could have been the greatest horror game ever released – not only was it being co-directed by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, but the demo alone was scarier and more impactful than most AAA horror games. This demo was a masterclass in horror, creating tension like nothing else and cycling through a wide variety of horror styles, each of which were well integrated and deliriously terrifying. It’s a masterpiece of supernatural horror, and it will never again see the light of day.

#2: “Outlast” (2013)

“Outlast” helped define the independent horror surge of the early 2010s. Developed and published by Red Barrels, this game had you playing as a journalist who travels to a seemingly abandoned insane asylum to uncover the truth about inhumane experiments. The gameplay is relatively simplistic, as it mostly consists of walking around, running away from enemies, and hiding under beds. Most of the game’s mastery lies in its execution. It preys on our intrinsic fears of the dark, of being chased and hunted, and of being helpless against an enemy who wishes to do us harm. It’s amazing what Red Barrels managed to do with such limiting gameplay, and it helped revolutionize the way horror games were made throughout the decade.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator” (2017)

“Inside” (2016)

“Slender: The Eight Pages” (2012)

“Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” (2017)

“SOMA” (2015)

#1: “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” (2010)

The legacy of “Amnesia” cannot be overstated. It kickstarted the independent horror craze of the early 2010s, and its gameplay mechanics and general style were heavily copied throughout the decade. The game has you control a man named Daniel as he explores a dark and foreboding castle, solves intricate puzzles, and hides from deformed and nightmarish creatures that literally cause him to go insane. Never before had a game focused so heavily on sheer survival, and few have made the player feel so alone and vulnerable. You may begin questioning your own sanity by the time the credits roll, never mind Daniel’s. It’s a masterful example of the survival horror genre, and it remains one of the scariest games ever made.