5 best horror games for Oculus Quest 2
When it comes to the intersection of technology and art, there are few better matches than horror and VR.
There is no other genre that benefits more from the visceral impact of feeling like you’re actually present when playing. More than a book, more than a movie, and even more than a traditional game, VR horror can truly convince your brain you’re seeing what’s being shown to you, and that’s immensely potent when creating fear.
It’s no surprise then that horror is one of the most popular genres in VR, or that there is such a wealth of options to choose from. With the increasing availability of stellar VR headsets, including the recent release of Oculus Quest 2, it’s worth exploring some of the best horror offerings out there.
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Choose Your Headset
All of the titles below are available for the Oculus Quest or Quest 2, without needing to rely on any external hardware.
Though the Oculus Quest 2 can use Oculus Link, which opens up the stellar collection of VR horror titles available for the more powerful Oculus Rift, we’re focusing strictly on those that run on the base Quest hardware alone. This allows a wireless experience with very little setup, meaning you can dive right in and not be held back by the greatest horror of VR: cable management.
Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted
Let’s kick things off with the VR entry in one of the more successful horror franchises to emerge over the last decade.
Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted is a jump-scare filled VR experience that pits you against a group of truly awful mechanical animals. Don’t let the occasionally colorful aesthetic or cartoon-styled graphics fool you; this is a seriously stressful experience. Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted takes some of the series most iconic scares and packages them in VR, so even returning fans will find a new experience from a different perspective.
The game has a compelling mix of ways to engage with the animatronic beasts. These include more traditional modes like observation-based survival where you’ll be watching security feeds to stay ahead of the monsters, to more intricate puzzles that involve fixing machines and exploring the dilapidated environments.
There’s a reason this franchise has been so successful, and Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted is a great way to experience it. That said, if you’re highly sensitive to jump scares it might be better to start with something a little less intense. Maybe something like...
Lies Beneath is still very much a horror title but has a more empowering emphasis on action when compared to some of the run-and-hide alternatives. The stylized graphics give it a unique cel-shaded look, and the gameplay is more substantial than many VR experiences.
The player controls college student Mae as she uncovers the horrifying secrets of a small town in Alaska, armed with a massive arsenal of weapons including axes and shotguns. The gameplay is more traditional FPS fare than straight-up horror, but there’s plenty of disturbing imagery, and being able to fight back for once is somewhat liberating. Because of this emphasis on weaponry, it might not feel as traditionally scary as some of the other options on this list. Still, though, it’s an excellent VR experience all around, and one of the most substantial games you can get on the Quest 2.
It’s on the more expensive side price-wise, but that’s because it offers a surprisingly large amount of gameplay, complete with light puzzles, scarce ammo, plenty of frightening foes to dispatch, and just about everything you’d expect from a full survival horror title.
Lies Beneath is a great place to start, especially if you’re new to VR horror.
The Exorcist: Legion VR
We’ve written about The Exorcist: Legion VR before, and how it’s one of the best examples of traditional horror being reinvigorated by VR.
As you might expect from this revered franchise, this game focuses primarily on demons, exorcism, and spiritual threats, with a reliance on unsettling demonic imagery throughout. Each of the short vignettes put you in the shoes of a detective as you solve puzzles, explore deeply unsettling environments, and defend yourself with the traditional tools of an exorcist like holy water and good old-fashioned light.
It’s not just the visuals that are compelling though, the audio design has been carefully engineered to increase the creepiness factor. It’s a remarkably polished experience overall and an easy recommendation for any fans of the original film or horror in general.
Layers of Fear VR
Layers of Fear VR is a port of the 2016 horror game of the same name. Occasionally when a game is ported to VR and not built for it there can be mechanical issues, but fortunately, that’s not really the case here. Though it’s clear this is a port, with an atmosphere this thick and impactful, it hardly matters.
Layers of Fear VR puts you in the troubled shoes of a tortured artist, one who is slowly losing their mind as they finish their final painting. This madness manifests in delightfully creepy ways, culminating in some of the most inventive and creative scares you can find anywhere, VR included. The constantly shifting environment is even more disturbing when you feel like you’re actually in that space, as is the unsettling sense that your own perception cannot be trusted.
This game is an excellent example of a haunted house done right, one where the space you’re exploring feels like the real enemy, and the oppressive atmosphere is thoroughly enhanced by the intimacy provided by VR.
Dreadhalls is yet another first-person VR experience for the Quest, but this one has a twist in the form of dungeon crawling and rogue-like elements. The visuals might lack modern polish, but even with the more stylized aesthetic this game gets quite scary and does an excellent job of slowly ramping up the tension as you continue to play.
Dreadhalls has you exploring a series of dungeons, solving puzzles, and, of course, encountering all manner of horrifying creatures. One of the most ambitious and effective elements of Dreadhalls is the fact that the levels you’re exploring are procedurally generated. This means no playthrough will ever be the same twice, enhancing replayability to a huge degree. When you die (and you will) and bravely attempt another go, everything will be different. There’s nothing more detrimental to horror than repetition, but Dreadhalls bypasses that problem beautifully.
Dreadhalls is nearing a decade old, which is ancient for VR, but it’s still widely regarded as one the scariest VR experiences around. In a space with so much modern competition, that’s saying something.
Honorable Mention: VR Horror via Oculus TV
Once you’ve braved all the above, there’s a treasure trove of other horrifying media you can enjoy with your Quest or Quest 2 headset via Oculus TV. While these can’t really be called games, they are absolutely worth checking out for any fan of VR horror and do a great job of exemplifying why horror and VR are such an excellent fit. Large budget franchise expansions like the Exorcist 360 VR experience or Pennywise the Dancing Clown are just the tip of the proverbial horror iceberg.
There’s also a huge selection of compelling independent productions online, including countless VR experiences on Youtube that are compatible with the Quest. There’s a pretty much endless supply of VR-friendly video for you to explore and enjoy.
So, get your VR headset on, and search for any video with the “horror” and “VR”.
You’re bound to find something to freak you out.