Easing Into Horror Games: A Beginner’s Guide.30th September 2019
Can’t handle scary stuff? Welcome to my beginner’s guide to horror games!
Not everyone can handle horror games, and that’s okay! Some people are fine with just not going into the genre at all, but others want to enjoy horror games, but have a hard time because it scares them a bit too much. So, if you want to enjoy
This will probably be a work in progress for…. forever. I’ll keep slotting games in as I find them. Of course, if you’re already a fan of horror games, and can handle all the jump scares, you might still find some games here that will strike your fancy.
As I’m intending this list for horror beginners, I’ll be disclosing if there’s jump scares, chases etc., so if you like to be surprised by these things, you may not want to read too closely.
Okay, horror cadets! Let’s go!
If you’re not quite ready to jump headfirst into horror games, the best way to dip your toes is to watch others play them. Not only is the pressure taken off by being removed from the action, experiencing the game along with the let’s player, and seeing their reactions, can really take the edge off – particularly if their reactions are hilarious.
There’s always someone playing a horror game over on Mixer or Twitch, but, as my internet is too terrible to watch live streams, I can’t provide any recommendations as to which streamers to tune into. I do, however, have a few YouTubers who I watch regularly, and feel rather confident in recommending for your horror immunisation. They all have a different approach; even if none of them
If you’re ready to move on from let’s plays, but are still a little shy of jumping in – why not grab a friend and play together? We all need some moral support occasionally.
Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper
This may seem like a very strange game to include, but! Dark and foggy Victorian London? Jack the Ripper? What better way to ease in than a very safe, but utterly creepy and atmospheric story. One day I’m sure I will write a whole post on my love for this game.
Note: This game has notoriously had problems on Steam, but now that GOG.com has come to Frogwares’ rescue after their recent… issues, we have a working version!
True Fear: Forsaken Souls
True Fear: Forsaken Souls is a hidden object game – the perfect starting point. It’s nearly impossible to create a truly terrifying hidden object experience, and I only say nearly to cover myself in case someone comes up with a masterpiece horror hidden object game – and if they do, I want it, and give them a medal.
Firstly, there’s limited immersion; you’re clicking things while always aware that you are very much separated from the events in the game. This is why it’s a great starting point, it’s a safe start. True Fear has some pretty great art, so you can get used to a creepy atmosphere without being overwhelmed.
Jump scares. The all-important part of scary games. True Fear does them, but you get to ease in – as it’s a hidden object game, you have very clear transitions into cutscenes, so you very much know when they’re coming. Although the art is very well done, it does limit the level of scary it can accomplish.
All in all, a nice easy step into the horror genre. I talk about the game a bit more generally here.
The Guest isn’t a horror game. It’s an atmospheric escape-room style puzzle game. It has quite a dark atmosphere, first-person perspective, and item inspection mechanics that are quite integral to so many horror games. This game is a good way to get into a lot of horror genre mechanics without anything jumping out at you, or trying to kill you.
Note: I’ve found the game a little buggy, but it seems to have a mind of its own – some days it’s fine, other days it’s not.
Suggested by Virtute in the comments below, I was kicking myself that it didn’t occur to me to include Stories Untold. This is actually an incredibly clever game, consisting of four episodes. Each episode is quite different, each with a different flavour of horror style. But don’t worry horror cadets, you’re quite safe throughout. This is a game I would recommend to anyone, it’s just one of those games that needs to be experienced.
September 1999 is a short horror experience. We’re finally dipping into horror-proper. It has a fantastic VHS style, which always makes things creepier; I’m also rather partial to 90s nostalgia. It’s very short. 5 minutes 30 seconds short. You stroll between two rooms, waiting for the tape to change days, and seeing what changes. No decisions, no jump scares, no chases. Just creepy atmosphere.
I’m personally looking forward to the dev’s future projects.
Okaeri is quite short, quite creepy. It’s Japanese, and it’s in VHS style, a great creepy combination. It’s short and simple, you go home, you explore your home. It’s got that horror vibe, but it’s still safe. Nothing jumps out at you, nothing chases after you, but you do get some sudden noises.
Andromalius. Are we ready? We’re entering jump-scare territory. Look, it had to happen sooner or later. Before you nope nope nope out of this post, there’s no dying, no chasing.
You have a new apartment, and it’s your first night. Things start to happen. It’s essentially an exploration game, you investigate things, something happens, you investigate, another thing happens. First, things just get creepy, eventually things will jump out at you. But you can relax and let it happen, they’ll jump at you, and then they’ll disappear.
Doki Doki Literature Club
The presence of this game on this list is a dead giveaway as to the nature of it, but that can’t be helped. I was debating whether or not to include it… on one hand, it’s a classic, it utterly messes with you, it’s dark and has disturbing themes… On the other hand, its visual novel mechanics and great anime style removes you from the horror element.
Horror cadets – at your own risk. Horror masters – it’s not a game that you can pass on. Also, it’s free, so why not?
Note: Play with the game files open. Seriously. Have them open.
If you decide to give these a go, let me know! If you have any games that you think will slot in nicely, also please let me know – these lists will always be ongoing, I will keep adding as I find good fits. If you’ve seen a game that looks good, but you’re maybe worried about the spook level, I’ll take it on and let you know if it’s safe to try 🙂