My pick of the best horror games of 2023 are a mix of remade classics, inventive indies and Triple-A hits. If you’re spooky of soul like me, you don’t need the excuse of a specific calendar date to get your scare on; if you believe hard enough, every day can be Halloween.
As the games editor for PLAY Magazine and a complete scaredy cat that loves having her buttons pushed by scary games, I’ve assembled below a full on fright fest. Better yet, these are just ten of the best horror games released in 2023 so far, ranging from portable terror to frights that’ll see you diving behind your sofa cushions on console.
My pick of horrors to play this Halloween are for all current formats, some picked for Nintendo Switch, others better for PlayStation 5 and some best on Xbox Series X. This year has seen some great use of new tech too, such as Layers of Fear running on Unreal Engine 5, so it's no wonder a number of remakes have made my list.
Horror is seeing one hell of a shambling return this year, so it’s been hard to narrow it down, but this list offers a bit of everything. Whether your pick of poison be shooters, puzzlers, or even multiplayer madness, you’ll find terror to your tastes on a range of platforms from PlayStation to PC below.
The best horror games of 2023 (so far)
Below are my picks of the best horror games of 2023 so far, and these are in no particular order (though I've numbered for ease of reading). I have tired to select my favourite scary games for each console platform and PC too.
Resident Evil 4
The best horror game on PS5
Yes, I’m a PlayStation girlie and believe me if I could put this as every entry, I would. Alas, Leon S. Kennedy, his quippy one liners, and his dreamy fringe are only leading the charge.
Based on the genre-defining 2005 shooter, this ground-up remake sees our hero once again venturing into an isolated community in the hopes of rescuing the President’s daughter, Ashley. What he finds is a cult whose fervour is spurred by a most unholy-looking parasite.
These Las Plagas enemies remain a fresh take on the series mainstay zombies, while the closer over the shoulder view makes shooting at their gnarly hordes feel all the more fraught. The recently released Separate Ways DLC only makes this remake all the sweeter.
Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo
The best horror game on Nintendo Switch
Publisher Square Enix Developer xeen inc., Square Enix Platform Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS Players 1
I used to love urban legends and ghost stories when I was a young’ un. This visual novel sets its scene amid all those old chestnuts for a tale of terror that’s surprisingly fresh.
Set in 1980’s Japan, seven unfortunates find themselves duelling with curses in the desperate hopes their most heartfelt wish will be granted as part of a ritual known as the 'Rite of Resurrection'.
What follows is an intricately woven web of mystery that’ll both tease and tickle your brain, featuring some beautiful artwork, while hopefully not inspiring you to fling your Joy-con controllers across the room.
Best horror game on PC
Publisher Prime Matter Developer Nightdive Studios Platform PC, MacOS, Linux, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S Players 1
Nightdive, the reanimator of many a retro classic, including the excellent revamp of Star Wars Dark Forces, have really outdone themselves with this full remake of the genre-defining 1994 immersive sim.
Aboard the Citadel Station, you are far from alone in the deep void of space - the onboard AI SHODAN has seen to that. This virtual villainess doesn’t rate human life highly, least of all your’s, and has harvested the station’s staff for parts, sending waves of reconstituted zombies (and worse) after you.
Scavenge your way through the station’s labyrinthine halls, and you may not only find a way to survive, but escape… This classic proves strong game design and world-building game be timeless.
Best horror game on Xbox
Publisher Bethesda Softworks Developer Tango Gameworks Platform Xbox Series X/S, PS5, PC Players 1
This night time jaunt around Tokyo was originally locked to my beloved PlayStation 5. Well, the timed exclusivity period is now up and Xbox Series S and X, and PC, fans can finally dive into the most fun open world I’ve played in ages.
Humanity has disappeared overnight, leaving only restless ghosts and Japanese folktales brought to life roaming the empty city. However, due to an unusual arrangement with a spirit, protagonist Akito remains to pound pavement, stylishly fling palm propelled spells, and hoover up collectibles.
While the overarching plot is a little predictable, combat designed by Doom Eternal's Shinichiro Hara and how the game reimagines famous folktales keeps me coming back.
Dead by Daylight - Alien Chapter Pack
Best multiplayer horror game
Publisher Behaviour Interactive Inc. Developer Behaviour Interactive Inc. Platform PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS Players 1-5
This asymmetric multiplayer title has been killing it since its 2016 debut, so this inclusion is a wee bit cheeky. However, this list wouldn’t be complete without the creeping silhouette of the Xenomorph, and this recent chapter update delivers.
Beyond the perfect organism now inhabiting the role of the Killer, Ellen Ripley joins the survivor’s side too, and both have plenty of appropriately in-character perks that’ll get the blood pumping. Remember, friends that stay together, scream together.
Best horror game remake
Publisher Electronic Arts Developer Motive Platform PS5, PC, Xbox Series X/S Players 1
With so many great horror remakes, how could I pick just one? Well, the simple answer is that obviously I didn’t, but this particular reimagining deserves its own spotlight.
Yes, the necromorphs look particularly gnarly here, especially once you start lopping off limbs, but you know what really gets me? It’s the sound design - to quote technical director David Robillard in a recent interview in my very own PLAY Magazine, "It’s just too fucking scary".
Dread simmers in every shadow, especially in every industrial scrape echoing through the darkness of the USG Ishimura, and it gets me every time. Mixing visual design influenced by Alien and Event Horizon with its own spin on the genre, Dead Space is a bloody, limb-severing masterpiece.
Best horror indie game
Publisher Team17 Developer Black Salt Games Platform Nintendo Switch, PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S Players 1
Mysterious circumstances sees a fisherman wrecking his vessel on the dock of an archipelago community. Not to worry though, the town’s mayor is only too happy to offer him a new boat and a new job to help pay it off. Dread simmers just below the surface from then on.
Sometimes your catch has too many eyes, sometimes at night there are strange lights in the sky, and sometimes you find something altogether more strange than can be described. Whatever is going on here, you’ll dredge the bottom of it - and hopefully you won’t be left sleeping with the fishes as a result.
World Of Horror
Best horror roguelite or roguelike
Publisher Ysbryd Games, PLAYISM Developer panstasz Platform PC, MacOS, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch Players 1
What’s worse than photorealistic gore and viscera? The horrifying crevices of your own imagination coaxed into the light by 1-bit pixel art. There's really nowhere for your imagination to hide in panstasz's stylish horror.
The Old Gods are stirring, threatening to crush the town of Shiokawa as they roll over from their nap. Investigating strange occurrences throughout the town (by shuffling a deck of event cards and taking to turn-based fights) you’ve no option but to confront the horror head on. Your only hope is that perhaps the next randomised run through this text-based, cosmic horror tale is slightly more kind to you.
Mask of the Rose
Best horror visual novel
Publisher Failbetter Games Developer Failbetter Games Platform PC, MacOS, Linus, Nintendo Switch Players 1
London has been forced to find new lodging underground where the dead refuse to rest, but there’s still room for romance. Taking place in the same setting as Failbetter’s Fallen London browser game, what’s already a unique take on cosmic horror then smooshes together shades of the detective genre with dating sim mechanics.
As you investigate a murder - occasionally with the crime’s own surprisingly chatty victim - will love blossom? My vote is yes; between the unspeakable horrors and the literal devils that walk the streets, I just can't say no to this endlessly charismatic setting.
Alan Wake 2
Best horror game for creatives
Publisher Epic Games Publishing Developer Remedy Entertainment Platform PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC Players 1
This long awaited sequel is finally here, though this time it’s survival horror from the dedication to the back matter. Alan Wake 2 releases 27 October and from my time going hands-on with the game it's going to be one of the year's best. (Read my interview with the Alan Wake 2's art director for a breakdown of the Remedy's approach.)
The titular character, Alan Wake, a kind of Stephen King figure in Remedy's universe, has been trapped in a nightmare of his own writing, and missing from the real world, for more than a decade. Meanwhile on the other side, FBI investigator Saga Anderson has her caseload full with a string of ritualistic murders - in Bright Falls.
Featuring reality warping mechanics and a story that literally leaps off the page, this clearly has the isolation of the creative process - alongside its sometimes unexpectedly explosive results - on its mind. The perfect chiller for creatives.