Horror video games are a bit more niche compared to horror films but they offer a level of immersion that you just don’t get from passively watching a film. No shade to Hereditary (2018), but Outlast really gets your adrenaline pumping because you’re at the helm of the player character, meaning that you experience what they experience in first person.
As great as classics like Outlast, Amnesia, and Soma are, it’s hard to deny that these games came out eons ago. At this point, we’ve replayed them so much that they aren’t really all that scary anymore.
Good thing these 2022 horror video game releases have us covered. These games range from spiritual successors of beloved older games to horror-themed simulators to games that remind you of the Silent Hill P.T demo because it’s just tradition at this point.
1. Martha Is Dead
Martha Is Dead is a psychological thriller that came out in February this year. The game puts you in the shoes of the titular Martha. Well, forces you into it. You actually play as Giulia, Martha’s twin sister who finds Martha’s dead body. We aren’t told what happens to Martha but we do have a clue in the form of a tale told by the girls’ nanny. She tells Giulia about a White Lady who was murdered by her own lover in the estate.
But is that what really happened to Martha? It’s up to you to find out and because this is a psychological horror game, good luck putting two and two together.
2. The Outlast Trials
Yeah, yeah, we all love and are tired of hearing about the Outlast franchise at this point, especially given how different the experience was between the stellar first game and its Whistleblower DLC and the installment that followed it.
Like its predecessors, The Outlast Trials are a gorey horror survival game. Emphasis on gore since there’s going to be less fo the constant, heavy dread we got from the first Outlast and more running from enemies on your own or together with friends.
That’s right: It’s the Outlast version of Dead by Daylight.
Of course, we can’t be too harsh on The Outlast Trials given that it isn’t out yet. It’s expected to be released for closed beta later this October 2022 which is why it’s made it into this list.
If you want to check it out, this is your sign to stay tuned for official announcements from Red Barrel.
3. Ravenous Devils
Not every horror game has to be about ghosts, demons, or experiments. Some of them can be horrifying because capitalism yada yada. The cooking and business management simulator game Ravenous Devils has you assist a cute husband and wife pair who just moved into town and are trying to get set up their bakery and tailorshop businesses.
Fortunanely for them, their process is pretty symbiotic. The husband kills the people he’s taking measurements of and throws their body down a chute connected to the kitchen where the wife makes pies that she feeds to the rest of the town. How the husband’s tailorshop manages to stay open, we’ll never know, but there’s a cool mystery angle that starts with them getting blackmailed.
And that I’ll leave for you to discover.
It would be wrong to claim that MADiSON is the same game as Layers of Fear but it really has that vibe. Think P.T. and Outlast meets Layers of Fear to get a better idea of how it feels like to play the game.
MADiSON has you rely on a camera to interact with the world around you and solve puzzles as you navigate a haunted house where you get followed around by a humanoid demon creature that looks like it’s ready to eat your flesh at any given moment.
5. The Quarry
Where are all the Until Dawn fans? We’ve waited years to get a follow-up to the ultimate teens-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods game and we’ve finally gotten it, but not in the way we expected. Instead of an actual sequel to the story of Until Dawn, we got The Quarry, a spiritual successor that does everything Until Dawn did right and then some.
Like Until Dawn, The Quarry is played in third person and has you guide a group of teenagers as they go through the worst night of their lives. The game starts by introducing us to Hackett’s Quarry where characters Laura and Max were hired to be camp counselors. Things go terribly wrong on the way when they are attacked by a monster, establishing that the camp is a hunting ground for an unknown creature our protagonists must fight against.
6. Ghostwire Tokyo
Ghostwire Tokyo was introduced to gamers in June 2020 before finally releasing in March 2022. Now, unlike other games on this list, it’s less of a horror horror game and more of an action horror where you fight against Japanese monsters. Still pretty cool, but not exactly the pants-shitting experience you might be looking for if you like your horror with a healthy serving of inexplicable dread.
In Ghostwire Tokyo, you play as Akito and his spirit companion KK. Together, they prowl the streets of Tokyo in search of Hannya, an unknown figure capable of summoning demons and spirits which he then unleashes on the city. Your goal? Stop Hannya.
7. Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel
Back to the horror games, Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel has you exploring the St. Dinfna Hotel that’s packed with puzzles and horrors beyond human comprehension. It’s arguably the closest thing on this list to the original Outlast, particularly with regard to the fact that you’re trapped in the hotel and need to use a camera to find clues for solving puzzles.
Heck, you’re even a journalist in this game. Roberto seeks out the hotel to report the mysterious sightings at Treze Trilhas. Since there’s no map, the hotel feels much bigger and more confusing than it really is.
8. SCP: Secret Files
So, you liked Control and wish you could play more of it. As fans of Control and the SCP Foundation have pointed out, it’s an adaptation of the SCP premise in an indirect way. Come on, SCP is massive in the online horror community, it’s no surprise people want games of it.
Enter SCP: Secret Files, a game where you experience the events documented in the files of Dr. Raymond Hamm and his assistant researcher (that’s you). That’s right: You go through all this terrible stuff for the sake of scientific discovery.
SCP: Secret Files is unique in that you get a different game with each SCP as the gameplay is meant to fit the themes of the anomaly that you’re about to experience. Beloved entries such as SCP-1762 – Here Were Dragons are in this game.
9. The Backrooms 1998
One of the wonders of having an active horror community online is the sheer amount of stories that come out of collaborative storytelling exercises. We went from creepypastas to SCPs and now, the more recent Backrooms. The premise of The Backrooms mythos is that it’s an alternate non-dimension that you can fall into. A gap between realities, if you will, where all the horrors of existence converge.
You’ll be navigating the Backrooms in The Backrooms 1998 with your VHS camera which serves as your primary light source as you move through stages of the game and into new levels of the backrooms. It helps that the Backrooms were always split into levels that you can move through from the beginning of the tales, but whether you can make it out is yet to be seen.
10. The Closing Shift
Released in March 2022, The Closing Shift is a Japanese horror game with a simple premise: A girl is left to work the closing shift of a coffee shop on her own. It’s kind of like the adult version of being a kid and having to turn off the lights downstairs before going to bed so you run up the stairs after switching the lights off.
But our heroine isn’t so lucky since she has to actually finish her shift at Chilla’s Coffee. She has to fend off a stalker while running the coffee shop which is about as realistic as it gets in terms of horror for the ladies out there.
It’s one of those horror video games that are very YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) since it has been described as a walking simulator. If atmospheric horror really isn’t your thing, it’s best to skip this one.
11. Iron Lung
Iron Lung is proof that, just like horror movies, horror video games are one of the best mediums for great storytellers with small budgets. The game is an indie horror that takes 3 hours at most to play, even if you’re the type who likes to play games nice and slow.
The game has you play as an explorer navigating an ocean of blood on an alien moon. It’s undeniably one of the best atmospheric horror games to come out this year as it mixes the dread of claustrophobia and thalassophobia in a game where you can’t help but hold your breath and wonder if this is how the crew in Alien (1979) felt.