Best Horror Games To Play With The Lights Off

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Like your favorite horror movies where you await scare after scare sitting in a dark theater or the late evening hours of your home, video games are even more immersive if played in the dark because you’re living the experience through the characters. And there are quite a lot of options in the horror genre designed just for this.

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The intricately crafted lighting effects and jump scares make it feel more as though you’re witnessing the scary moments first-hand. So put on your headphones and dim the lights if you want to experience the best of what these horror games have in store.

10 Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals

Riley tuning her radio in between channels 102 and 103 in a spooky room with only a lamp, TV, and couch.

Night School Studio’s debut game returns with plenty more scares and a new story still taking place in one night and set on Camena rather than Edwards Island. The glowing red entities and chilling audio of the Sunken, the sound design of your walkie-talkie and radio channels, the visual scares with the screen effects, and the exploration builds an incredible atmosphere best enjoyed after dark.

Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals follows Riley Poverly’s new line of work in setting up transmitters to document Camena’s strange anomalies. At her walkie-talkie channel is her supervisor Evelyn and by her side is local handyman Jacob Summers. The night takes a turn right after the first transmitter is up, and you soon must confront Riley’s future, a cult, and the supernatural horrors lurking all around you.

9 Five Nights At Freddy’s Series

A screenshot showing gameplay in Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted

Though aimed at teens, any Five Nights at Freddy’s game feels more immersive when the lights are out and you get the best out of its jump scares. After all, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza has closed its doors, and you’re in a dark room surveilling cameras to track some of the creepiest animatronics that come to life and slowly make their way toward your office.

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Switching feeds and seeing these iconic yet creepy characters disappear will induce panic. And when they show up right at your door or vent, or you hear the childlike voices and giggles or other eerie sound cues coming from them, you might be inclined to scan your surroundings in the real world.

8 Dead Space Remake

Dead space pulse rifle aimed at necromorph

A brilliant sci-fi horror narrative with some unique scary monsters to fight and plenty of scares is something to consider in the 2023 remake of Dead Space. Isaac Clarke is on a mission to be reunited with his girlfriend, Dr. Nicole Brennan, with his plasma cutter equipped and ready to face the terrifying events in store for him. And amidst all the horror, you also uncover the secrets hidden on the USG Ishimura.

The atmospheric lighting of the environments and intense set pieces of Necromorphs rushing at you would play out even better in a dark room. This version also displays more disturbing actions of the station’s crew, like one smashing their head against a wall at the end of a corridor.

7 The Mortuary Assistant

Grandma haunts you and tries to stab you in The Mortuary Assistant

If you’ve seen The Autopsy of Jane Doe and are looking for something similar in a horror game, The Mortuary Assistant is even more intense and frightening. The premise of finding yourself alone at night in a mortuary with corpses is scary enough, but they’re seemingly possessed and haunting you throughout the environment.

There’s a deeper story to be uncovered about the River Fields Mortuary and the practicing assistant named Rebecca Owens. But what follows is a neverending series of haunts involving multiple demons at play while balancing those insidious events with your actual task of embalming the bodies.

6 Blair Witch

Blair Witch Gameplay figures hanging from tree branches

As you most likely viewed the Blair Witch films in a dark environment, the game should only be experienced the same. It’s a bit like a mixture of the Slender Man games and Outlast, incorporating the use of a flashlight to ward off the supernatural entity and using a camcorder to replay footage and reshape the environment.

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Instead of being a filmmaker heading into the Black Hills Forest, you’re a former officer turned private investigator attempting to locate a missing boy. Much suspense and strange occurrences ensue, but it’s a little more comforting since your dog companion Bullet is at your side and always eager for some pets and belly rubs.

5 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

A screenshot taken during the first Mia fight in the game, which replicates itself before the final boss and ending.

With its seventh mainline entry, Resident Evil opted for something completely different, and it delivered one of the more frightening installments in the series. 2017’s Biohazard parted with the third-person shooter action-adventure the series turned into and became instead a first-person survival horror influenced by games like Amnesia and Outlast, though with combat.

Playing as Ethan Winters, you’re searching for your wife Mia inside a Louisiana property owned by the Bakers, and you find no one is as they seem. You’ll immediately see why this game works best in the dark from the opening moments, which already feature jump scares tied to lighting cues and a found-footage mechanic with VHS tapes you can watch.

4 Visage

A screenshot from the game, featuring... something haunting

Visage is one of the most unsettling psychological horror games out there that aims to give you an experience akin to P.T. The premise feels the same, being in a house and facing disturbances from your radio and other phenomena that occur, and jump scares around every corner and dark hallways.

It’ll remind you of horror movies like Sinister and is also tied to the gruesome past of the previous occupants. Like many horror games of this design, you’re defenseless and must persevere through the puzzles and outmaneuver enemies without any way of defeating them.

3 Layers Of Fear (2023)

the first appearance of the musician's ghost in layers of fear 2023

The 2023 remake of Layers of Fear begins with a new character called the Writer working from a lighthouse. It’s a reimagining of the original story by combining the first game, its sequel, DLC, and new content all into one horror anthology story. You also have much more improved graphics that look shockingly realistic with the help of Unreal Engine 5.

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The Painter faces an entity in his own home, with rooms constantly shifting and more disturbing revelations coming to light at every step of the night. Then you have the Actor and the Musician with their own nightmarish scenarios that can end in multiple ways. Each story is richly atmospheric and filled with clever jump scares that’ll get you better in the dark.

2 Madison

a draped cloth covers a tall clock at the end of the hallway

Aiming and taking photos in the unknown darkness is a perfect mechanic calling for a horror game played in a dark room. Because in Madison, you’re armed with a Polaroid camera that you need to flash at dark spaces in order to reveal the titular demonic entity in your presence, which makes for some unnerving jump scares.

It’s a cat-and-mouse horror mystery tied to the events brought on by Madison, which are affecting a protagonist named Luca. As you try to escape Madison and piece together the unsettling things that transpired, you’ll encounter some puzzles and use your camera to aid you in solving them.

1 Until Dawn

Until Dawn Sam running away from the wendigos. Two wendigos jumping after her.

Out of all the Supermassive narrative-driven horror games that could’ve ended up here, none are more fitting to be experienced in a dark setting than Until Dawn. It takes place in the nighttime on a cold snowy mountain region called Blackwood that, in addition to providing a cozy chalet lodge, harbors a chilling mine and a sanatorium. There’s also a killer in your midst and some supernatural creatures after you.

Throughout the game, you play multiple friends who came to the lodge on Blackwood Mountain one year after two sisters died in a tragedy. There are quick time events, suspenseful decision points where time ticks down, and well-executed horror sequences that feel movie quality. And the performances are great as well, as you have Rami Malek, Hayden Panettiere, and Peter Stormare voicing the characters.

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