10 terrifying VR games to play this Halloween
Horror is perhaps the one genre of video game that has benefitted from the VR boom the most. Horror games only work if they can immerse you in the game world and then disturb that immersion through a scare. Nothing immerses you in a game world better than VR. Putting on a headset has turned slightly spooky experiences into heart pounding terrors that have made grown men cry. This list contains ten of the most frightening horror VR experiences we have seen since the technology became readily available.
Note: Some of the following games have been known to cause panic attacks and can potentially be psychologically damaging to some people with certain phobias or nervous disorders. Read all game documentation carefully and be sure to use your VR headset responsibly.
Not all of these games are compatible with every VR headset, and some will require some tweaking or additional software to get running, but if you're willing to do some troubleshooting you'll be all set for a horror game experience the likes of which you've never experienced before.
Dreadeye is the simplest horror game on the list in that it’s not much of a game at all. It’s more like a horror movie—much like VR roller coasters, except you aren’t actually moving. In Dreadeye, you find yourself tied to a chair as all manner of freaks and horrors torture and jumpscare you.
It’s short, only about seven minutes, and there’s no interactivity, so don’t expect any replay value. But it’s free and is just the right length to pass the Rift around a group of friends, laughing at each one’s screams and reactions.
Mini-game compilations are common in the VR space, and Affected is the one you want to play for the Halloween season. It allows you to choose from several different “floors” of horror attractions, each with a different theme.
Unlike Dreadeye, you can actually move around and interact with these attractions, though there still isn’t much “game” here, and you’ll always end up at the same conclusion. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t be terrified along the way.
Late Night Shop
Remember that episode of Dr. Who with the weeping angels that could only attack you when you weren’t looking at them? Late Night Shop is an entire game of that. Just replace the angels with creepy mannequins and you are good to go. Late Night Shop makes things even more complicated by forcing your character to blink and by making him walk slower when walking backwards than forward.
It’s hard to articulate how terrifying it is to constantly have to look at the thing that’s trying to kill you. It’s even scarier in VR, where a simple turn of your head might lead to your death.
Alone is one of the more innovative games on this list. It’s a game about sitting alone in a house playing a video game, a game within a game if you will. But this simple game is not what it seems. As you play it, it slowly starts to leak out into the real world in horrifying ways.
Alone is notable because it’s one of the most immersive VR games out there. It’s easy to forget that the virtual couch you’re sitting on isn’t the real couch you are sitting on. This one will have you looking over your shoulder in real life for hours after you stop playing.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
OK, so this entry is cheating a little. Resident Evil 7 won’t actually be out by the time Halloween comes around this year, but the PSVR will, and RE7 is notable for being built specifically for PSVR functionality. The demo is out right now and has recently received an update, and we are likely to see yet another one around Halloween time in order to make it compatible with the PSVR.
Resident Evil 7’s demo is longer than a lot of other games on this list and just as scary (and free!). It’s a fine horror experience if you don’t have a VR-ready PC.
Slender: The Arrival
Slender is a classic horror game that helped kickstart the horror Let’s Play phenomenon. It’s relatively simple in concept. You have to find a variety of notes scattered around a series of spooky environments while the infamous Slender Man attempts to kill you. But he won’t chase you down. Instead, he’ll teleport from place to place, always just out of sight. You won’t know he’s there until you turn your head to see him staring at you with his ominous lack of a face.
Lost in the Rift
Lost in the Rift asks you to wander a spooky set of tunnels in hopes of finding a way out. Unlike other horror games, which pester you with zombies and monsters, Lost in the Rift lets the environment do the scaring. It is fantastic at transmitting a sense of claustrophobia, and no matter how close to the end you get, you still feel lost.
Its sound design is fantastic and is where most of the game’s scares come from. Try out Lost in the Rift if you want your horror to be a little more subtle and maddening than the garden variety jumpscare.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
VR is still young, so many of the games on this list are demos or mini-games. Amnesia, on the other hand, is a full horror game in its own right. An indie game darling from 2010, you are only safe in Amnesia if you can’t see the monster. Once you do see it, you’re likely already dead. On top of this, you also have to contend with slowly losing your sanity, which messes with your perception through a number of eerie visual effects.
Amnesia was scary when played on a plain old monitor, but introducing VR to the formula makes it downright terrifying. If you have a compatible head set, it’s worth experiencing this classic in a whole new way.
Remember how Lost in the Rift had you wander through claustrophobic catacombs searching for an exit? Dreadhalls does the same, except the dungeon is procedurally generated each time you play the game, so you can’t memorize your way out. Oh yeah, and gargoyles are trying to kill you, so there’s a few of Late Night Shop’s mechanics thrown in there as well.
Dreadhalls has given several notable Let’s Players panic attacks. It’s driven others to tears. It comes with a host of trigger warnings for anyone afraid of enclosed spaces or the dark. It really makes you feel like you are going to be lost forever in a dungeon, never seeing the light of day again. Seriously, this one’s not for the faint of heart.
Finally, we close off our list with Alien: Isolation. This is another game that first hit the market in non-VR format, and it was very well received. The plot is great. The voice acting is phenomenal. The graphics do H.R. Geiger justice. It feels like you are truly interacting with an Alien movie. It combines just the right amount of action gameplay and combat with survival horror. You’ll spend most of your time running and hiding from the alien as you desperately try to survive your deep-space tomb, though you do get to do some damage with a flamethrower at one point.
Adding VR actually makes the game a little bit harder to play, but it ups the fear factor tenfold. It also makes the alien execution scenes far more graphic. It’s incredibly disorienting to look down and see the alien’s spear of a tail shoved through your abdomen. It’s not the scariest game on this list, and it’s clear that it wasn’t designed with VR in mind, but in terms of sheer horror game quality Alien: Isolation is hard to beat.
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