There is one important fact to remember about games like Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, and Silent Hill, these games allow you to defend yourself. You can grab a pipe, gun, or even your hands to do some significant damage.
There is a safety in that, a feeling of comfort that you can fight off your enemies. This list focuses on a different type of game: surviving a horror game without a means to defend yourself. It’s challenging to move through a nightmarish scenario with only a flashlight. So, are you ready to test your nerves with these titles?
Updated on October 12, 2023 by Jouanna Bondakji: Horror games come in many forms. There’s definitely a feeling of catharsis when you can gun down the horrifying monsters coming at you, but there’s no denying that being defenseless in a horror game brings a whole new sort of terror. We’ve added more games that leave you defenseless in the best of ways.
18 White Day: A Labyrinth Named School
Schools make for surprisingly great horror locations; they’re quite eerie when empty, especially at night. Add some actual horrors to face, and it’s enough to make for a terrifying experience. White Day: A Labyrinth Named School takes place in such a setting, and you play as a student who gets trapped in school.
It wouldn’t be as bad if that were it, but it turns out the school is somewhat haunted on top of being guarded by a killer janitor. The worst part is that you have no way to defend against them. It turns out there’s more to this school than you knew, and solving its puzzles is the way to uncover its secret past.
17 Haunting Ground
Haunting Ground is one of those hidden gems of the PS2 era. You play as a girl named Fiona who wakes up in an unfamiliar and creepy mansion after getting into a car crash with her parents. Not soon after, you’ll find yourself chased by its tenants who all want something different from you. Mainly your azoth.
Alchemy is a big part of the game, and you have to work with it a bit to solve the mansion’s bizarre puzzles and get closer to escaping. Your loyal canine companion, Hewie, will try to help you out by attacking your stalkers, but you can’t rely on that too much, or he’ll get hurt (and eventually knocked out). Even the boss battles rely on puzzle-solving rather than attacking your stalkers.
There’s nothing like playing as a kid in a horror game to make you really feel helpless. Ib is a popular RPGMaker horror game named after its main character. She visits an art gallery with her parents, but it doesn’t take long for things to shift. She’s transported to a twisted world where art pieces seem to have come to life.
These pieces are deadly, though, and all you can do as Ib is run away from them while you try to find any other humans, as well as a way out. The way art is incorporated into the enemy and puzzle designs is a nice touch. You might find yourself eyeing portrait paintings warily after playing this game.
15 Iron Lung
Iron Lung is a short horror game that takes place within the confines of a submarine. The horror in this stems from the fear of the unknown and the fact that you are but a small and insignificant thing swimming through an ocean of blood.
Navigating a submarine through this horrifying area is one of the scariest video game experiences anyone can expose themselves to. The game truly ramps up the scare factor after a horrifying and massive entity starts hounding the ship, with you being unable to fight back against something so terrifying.
14 SCP – Containment Breach
SCP – Containment Breach is one of the most popular horror games around, appearing around the time when titles like Amnesia were making waves. The blinking mechanic and the fact that these creatures didn’t move until you took their eyes off of them made SCP a pretty horrifying experience indeed.
You could do nothing but finish puzzles and run away from the horrors that haunted you. It made for a nerve-wracking experience that fans absolutely loved. Now, there’s a remastered version of the game that includes community-made mods and upgraded graphics. There’s more reason than ever to throw yourself into an environment crawling with hostile SCPs.
A game so legendary that players are still desperate to play it to this day, P.T. revolutionized the landscape of horror gaming itself with a mind-bending adventure of its own. It’s easy to see that Kojima had a big role to play in crafting this masterpiece.
The looping apartment is one of the most iconic parts of the game, along with the spirit that haunted players in the form of LISA. It’s a shame that this game never lead to a new Silent Hill game, with Konami and Kojima parting ways before this title could become a reality.
P.T. has been completely removed from the PSN store and is no longer downloadable. You can only play it if you already have it downloaded on your PS4.
12 Layers Of Fear
Layers of Fear
- PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC
- November 30, 2022
- Bloober Team
- Bloober Team
Layers of Fear takes a rather unique and interesting look into the world of horror. It explores the mind of a painter who is slowly losing his mind, with his paintings and creations reflecting the depths of his mind.
It’s a rich and story-driven experience that you’ll have a great time with if you’re a fan of good horror games, especially if you like Victorian-era decor. The fact that you can’t really fight back against the terrors created by the main character’s mind is where the real horror lies.
11 Doki Doki Literature Club!
Doki Doki Literature Club broke the internet when it came out. A game that hid its true nature behind the guise of a cute visual novel, it takes a while for Doki Doki Literature Club to show its true colors.
The game goes off the rails after every girl in the game exhibits disturbing behavior, and the finale is so iconic that it became a popular meme. If you want a horror game that is unlike anything you’ve experienced before, then Doki Doki Literature Club is the way to go! Just be mindful of the trigger warnings before you start.
- PS4, Xbox One, PC, Linux, macOS, Switch
- November 4, 2013
- Red Barrels
- Red Barrels
Outlast has frightened many gamers. In it, you are a reporter running through a mental asylum with only a camcorder in hand. In addition to this, you are tasked with finding out the secrets of this place while fighting off some of the asylum inhabitants.
Your only line of defense is running and hiding. This game will cause you to dig deep for courage as you depend on the light of your camcorder to find your way. If you like games where you’re chased by the enemy with no way to fight back, you’ll likely enjoy this game.
9 Little Nightmares
Little Nightmares is like a mix of James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas, with some twisted horror thrown in. You play as Six, a child running through a boat to escape her captors. In this game, everything is larger than you. Everyone from cooks, monstrous guests, and other enemies will chase you through various horror-themed puzzles.
The only defense you have is to hide in the shadows or behind cargo. It’s unsettling and challenging as you move through multiple eerie settings without a means to defend yourself.
8 Clock Tower
Though it launched in 1995, Clock Tower is still a horror game staple. Much like Little Nightmares, your goal as the main character, Jennifer, is to solve puzzles in a large mansion. Your one significant opposition is a person known as Scissorman. Your only defense against his large scissors is breaking a sweat to run from him.
Add to this that the game goes into a distracting panic mode when this guy approaches, and you’ve got a recipe for terror. Your power is gone, and the developers have made sure that you feel helpless as you walk through this game.
7 Five Nights At Freddy’s
Five Nights at Freddy’s
- Android, iOS, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
- August 8, 2014
- Scott Cawthon
- Scott Cawthon, Clickteam LLC USA
Five Nights At Freddy’s is the ultimate defenseless game. You probably know the story: you are a night guard tasked with guarding a pizzeria at night, but little do you know that the animatronics get a bit active around midnight. In the first game, you are tasked with sitting at a desk and opening or closing doors to protect yourself from the haunted animatronics.
It’s scary and makes you ultimately powerless against their advances on you. You will likely be thinking twice the next time you go into a Chuck E. Cheese.
6 Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Now, you have to know this one was going to be on the list. Amnesia: The Dark Descent basically started it all (and launched the careers of many YouTubers). You begin the game without your memory (aka amnesia) and have to stalk around the mansion to find answers with only a lantern in hand.
The only problem is that monsters are running after you. Your only defense is to hide in wardrobes, avoid water (you know that level), and escape these monstrosities by any means necessary. It is a stressful experience and one you are not likely to forget.
5 Slender: The Eight Pages
You know him, the man, the myth, the legend, Slenderman. This creepypasta character showed up in the ’10s and has inspired many video games. One of the most famous is Slender: The Eight Pages.
The gameplay is pretty simple: wander around the woods until you find eight pieces of paper. However, you aren’t alone. Mr. Slenderman is trying to get you, and the only defense you have is to evade him. Get ready to run away a lot. But once your television screen starts to turn to fuzz… it’s game over.
- PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS Vita, Switch, PC, Android, iOS
- July 21, 2010
Limbo feels like an updated and much darker version of the 1998 game Heart of Darkness. Both involve young children travailing strange lands, and also routinely depict gory and disturbing deaths of the child characters. In Limbo, you play as a young boy who is trying to find his sister.
There is one thing to feel defenseless as an adult; it’s another to be a child running through “literal limbo.” Here you will face deep chasms, large spiders, and endless opportunities to meet your end. You have no defense here except to move forward and be exceptional at solving puzzles.
The isolation of being in an underwater research facility — seemingly alone — is a scary prospect. Amid all this madness, you have to find out why you are where you are and what happened before.
Soma is very clue and puzzle driven, but you have to master these tactics while also avoiding disturbing creatures. It really drives home the impact of psychological horror. It’s scary, unsettling, and will make you paranoid as you move through the game.
2 Alien: Isolation
- PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch, PC, Android, iOS
- October 7, 2014
- Creative Assembly
In a similar aura as Soma, Alien: Isolation also has some sci-fi horror leanings. You are Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley, who is researching her mother’s disappearance. For much of this game, you are moving through a spacecraft, trying to find your way and avoid hostile enemies, like Droids.
However, the star of the show is the Xenomorph. Your only defenses against the monster are a monitor that reveals where they are and some sharp instincts. You have an uphill battle as the Xenomorph has A.I. that allows it to start to understand your movements and hiding places. So, you always have to be two steps ahead.
1 Outlast 2
- PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
- April 25, 2017
- Red Barrels
- Red Barrels
Though this is a sequel, its setting and characters are completely different. While Outlast 2 isn’t as polished as the first game, it is still a terrifying experience. What makes this title so intimidating and scary is the fact that it is so linear. You may be running around to find that one door, trail, or location to move the story forward.
Imagine running from extremist enemies without knowing where you’re going, without weapons or a means to defend yourself. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting YouTube walkthroughs ready to watch as you move through this game.
Next: Horror Games That Are Set In Space, Ranked