Spooky Indie Horror Games to Creep You Out

There is something fun about being scared or creeped out. Whether it is sitting around a campfire telling the same scary stories or playing a survival horror game, there is something I find enjoyable about being scared. Indie games do a better job of taking the horror genre in different directions than the larger studios.

Indie game developers tend to experiment with different graphics, stories, and genres. Horror games are no exception. I’ve seen strategy games, RPGs, adventure games, and many other genres made with a horror backdrop, as opposed to the larger studios that seem to be trying to recreate Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or Clock Tower without knowing why those games were successful.

These are the fifteen games I think do the best job of creating a scary game or taking the horror genre in new directions. Indie game developers do an excellent job of exploring themes that larger developers ignore. The games on this list stand out from the mainstream or try something different.

Bottom Line up Front: Fifteen Horror Games to Give You the Creeps

Selection criteria

Let’s talk about what qualifies for this list. I’m not just going to be putting any random game on this list. Because Horror games might not have a Metacritic score, I’ll use either the Metacritic or the User scores.  Here are the selection criteria I’m going with:

  • The game has to be made by a small studio without being published by a large publisher. (i.e., EA, Activision, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, etc.)
  • The game must have a Metacritic score of 70 percent or higher or a user score of 70 percent or higher.
  • If I feel the Metacritic and User Scores are wrong or don’t exist, I’ll use my scores or Steam User Scores.

7 Days to Die

Developer: The Fun Pimps

Genre: Survival Horror

Review Score: 9/10 (Steam)

I’ve called this game scary Minecraft, a few times. It is that, but it is also an excellent survival horror game that lets you create a story for yourself. It is a sandbox game where you can explore a large map and build a base to defend yourself.

You spend most of the game traveling around and gathering resources. As you travel the map, zombies attack you. There are many types of zombies, and I like that the developers have added more. The graphics have also dramatically improved as the updates roll out.

There is also a lot of crafting in this game. It has changed dramatically as the game has been updated. Some of those changes have been great, and others have been disappointing. It is a big part of the game, letting you play however you want.

The PC version of the game is the best way to play this. For some reason, the console versions are lagging in the version that has been released. It is a smaller development team, so they haven’t had time to update those.

Rewind or Die

Developer: Torture Star Video

Genre: Survival Horror

Review Score: 9/10 (Steam)

This is a short game that is filled with jump scares. It also looks like a forgotten PS1 game, and I love it! It works for what the developers are going for with a plot straight out of a horror movie from the late 80s and early 90s.

You play as an employee of a video rental store. It looks like a mom-and-pop shop with all the movies you couldn’t find at Blockbuster or other chain stores. Your character closes the store alone and gets attacked by a masked figure. Most of the game is you trying to escape the killer’s creepy dungeon.

This was a fun but short game to play. It can be beaten in less than an hour if you know what to do and in about 2 hours if you don’t know what you’re doing. Despite this, it is a fun game to play.

Welcome to Kowloon

Developer: a1esska, Notex, N4bA, Admia

Genre: Survival Horror

Review Score: 7/10 (Steam)

This short game takes place in the slums of Kowloon, China. It is an interesting game, and I wish it were more fleshed out because I like the idea of it. It looks great, and I like the gameplay.

You play as someone looking for a place to live. This leads you to the slums of Kowloon. It is a vast structure where people can find cheap housing, but you find a bunch of unsavory people. It relies on jump scares like other indie horror games; some are good, and some are predictable.

Kowloon has a lot of secrets for the player to unravel. You have to deal with the inhabitants of the slum. It is based on an actual location. It is a very interesting setting for a horror game. The only thing I have a problem with is how short the game is.


Developer: Rose-engine Games

Genre: Survival Horror

Review Score: 81 (Metacritic)

This is a futuristic game that uniquely uses Lovecraftian horror. Usually, I see the sea or coastal cities used in Lovecraft-inspired video games. This game is set in space, and we don’t learn too much about the rest of the civilization that sent our heroes on their mission.

You play as one half of a scout team looking for a planet to colonize. Something happened at a base on the planet you land on, and your partner has gone missing. You explore the base to learn what happened and hopefully save your partner. It is a fantastic game!

In some ways, this game reminds me of Another World and Heart of the Alien. The graphic style is different enough to make the game stand out. The gameplay is also excellent! Signalis reminds me of several games on the PS1 but with better graphics and story.


Developer: Night School Studios

Genre: Adventure

Review Score: 80 (Metacritic)

OxenFree is all about the story. The minimal gameplay lets the player focus on the spooky story the developers are telling. The characters are great, the music is outstanding, and the graphics are good.

You play as Alex, and as the game plays out, you learn more about the friends you meet on Edwards Island. The gameplay consists of you wandering around the map and choosing dialogue options. This lets you make the characters act how you want to. It also leads to different endings.

This game lets the player focus on the story. It is a short but fun adventure game. This is one of the games that I enjoy playing for the story it tells. Oxenfree reminds me of the ghost stories I would hear around campfires.

OxenFree II: Lost Signals

Developer: Night School Studios

Genre: Adventure

Review Score: 73 (Metacritic)

I liked the first game and think the second is just as good. It keeps the same gameplay and adds some puzzles to make things better. The new changes were minor but made the game feel slightly different.

In this game, you play as Riely, who is returning to her hometown after a long absence. Throughout the game, you learn who she is and her life before the game. You also have another local following you around. His name is Jacob, and he isn’t as interesting as the characters in the first game.

The biggest knock against this game is the characters. They aren’t as interesting as the group of friends from the first game. You have these three kids who are part of a cult, but that is all we know about them. Throughout the game, some things shed more light on them, but I missed most of them.

Oxenfree II is another excellent game from Night School Studios. I disagree with the Metacritic score, and I think it is as good as the first game. It is also a great continuation of the first game’s story.


Developer: Clock Wizard Games

Genre: Survival Horror

Review Score: 9/10 (Steam)

Demonologist is a lot like other co-op horror games. You can work alone or with a team to deal with an evil spirit. What makes this game different is the voice interaction feature.

What you say during the game can have an impact on the game. This is tied to your microphone. It is a very excellent idea! I talk quite a bit while playing games, and having this impact on the gameplay is an excellent idea!

At this point, the co-op horror formula is becoming a familiar formula to create a good game. I like that I don’t have to play with a group of people because there is always one person who is a jackass and ruins the game. Without fail, something like that will happen!


Developer: Black Salt Games

Genre: Horror Fishing

Review Score: 10/10 (Steam)

Have you ever wanted to play a Lovecraft-inspired fishing game? Did you think this would ever be something that would exist? I didn’t think it would until I heard about Dredge. Now, I’m so happy that it exists!

In Dredge, your character gets shipwrecked on an island and becomes a fisherman. Along the way, you learn more about the character’s past and the people who call this island chain home. You also catch the different fish native to the waters here and find some mutated fish. It is a very effective version of the “town with a secret” horror trope.

There are a few endings to the game. In some ways, it feels like a Silent Hill game where the player’s character is repenting for a crime, according to one of the endings. It is a fascinating game that I enjoyed immensely.

This will probably be my game of the year for 2023 unless something else comes up. It is going to be in my top three games I’ve played this year. It is going to be on my best games of the year list! It was a combination of things I didn’t think would work, but it came together so well that I got sucked into the game.

World of Horror

Developer: Pawel Kozminski

Genre: Horror RPG

Review Score: 80 (Metacritic)

This is an excellent game! World of Horror is a mix of RPG and point-and-click adventure. It has a unique art style, and the story is amazing. This is just a fun game, especially if you’re a fan of horror manga.

The artwork drew me to the game, but the gameplay kept me going. It plays like a combination of a text-based RPG and a graphical adventure game. It also looks like a horror manga.

This was one of the first games I played when I started writing about indie games.  I didn’t know what to expect, and I found it one of the best games I’ve played.

Apartment 1406

Developer: Airem

Genre: Adventure Horror

Review Score: 7/10 (Steam)

This is a psychological horror game where you’re exploring an abandoned apartment. Someone has sent you to Apartment 1406 to retrieve a book. Some evil spirit haunts the apartment and is full of puzzles.

In this surprisingly fun horror game, you need to explore the apartment to find clues, keys, and jump scares. I like the way the game looks. It looks like a grainy security camera at times, and at other times, it looks like you’re walking through a dusty house.

This is a creepy game to play, especially at night! The game has several jump scares and a ton of creepy imagery. The apartment complex is strange. It makes the game feel like a horror movie. You wouldn’t normally go into a place like this, but you have to because we wouldn’t have a game otherwise.


Developer: Kinetic Games

Genre: Horror

Review Score: 10/10

This is a horror investigation game. You play as a paranormal investigator, and either by yourself or with a few people online, you try to discover what is going on in a preselected location. I’m not a big fan of online play, so having an option to play by myself is great!

When you start the game, a ghost is randomly assigned for you to hunt. You select the equipment you think you’ll need before the mission begins. During the mission, you’ll gain experience points that can be used to purchase upgrades after the mission is over. If you complete the mission, you’ll also get money.

It is a fun game that reminds me of Friday the 13th: The Game. I wish that game were still going, but oh well. Phasmophobia is a nice change of pace from games that have you avoid a killer and gain experience points throughout the game.

Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation

Developer: Suncrash

Genre: Horror Strategy

Review Score: 9/10 (Steam)

This is a weird combination, but it works so well! The game picks up after a demonic invasion and has you play as a group of survivors. You have to build a base, gather resources, look for survivors, and figure out how to stop the demon invasion.

You can tackle the storyline at your own pace. The story needs to be advanced through your two research trees. This can cause a problem on the higher difficulty settings. You might run into a situation where your technology has bottlenecked, and you aren’t strong enough to gather the necessary resources to advance.

Overall, this is a fun strategy game that uses the demonic invasion setting well. This is a good strategy game that has an interesting setting. It was fun to find and is a great game to return to as it has been updated.

Call of Cthulu

Developer: Cyanide

Genre: Survival Horror

Review Score: 8.5/10 (My Score)

This game has many similarities to the movie Dagon and the novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth. I streamed this game on Twitch a while ago and thought it was a good horror game. It does have problems and is a little short, but it tells an exciting story.

You play as a private investigator who travels to a small fishing village on a remote island. The fishing village has been having a hard time and is also the home of a criminal organization. There are also some wealthy shut-ins on the island. It uses the small town with a dark secret trope.

I like this game an awful lot. It is another short game that tells a creepy story. It uses its Lovecraftian setting quite well, and the story is rather engaging. It is an enjoyable game to play on Halloween and can be rather scary.


Developer: Frictional Games

Genre: Survival Horror

Review Score: 84 (Metacritic)

It is a very creepy game. It deals with the loss of self and other psychological issues. It is one of the best survival horror games I’ve played in the last ten years.

Soma plays with the ideas of what makes someone human. It is a post-apocalyptic game where a comet hits the Earth and kills off much of humanity. In the game, humanity is mostly extinct, with only a few people surviving an apocalyptic event by being turned into brain scans and stored in a black box. You play as the brain scan of a person placed inside a biomechanical corpse. Your goal is to help get the black box of human brain scans off the planet.

It is a very compelling game that can make you think about some of its themes. I’ve also read someone’s dissertation on the game, which significantly impacted how I view the game. It is scary, especially when you leave your body behind, as multiple copies of your character’s consciousness are created during the game. It is awesome!


Developer: Spiral Circus Limited

Genre: Adventure

Review Score: 71 (Metacritic)

Silt is a stylish game that can be frustrating at times. The gameplay is interesting as you possess various creatures that grant you different abilities. This is how you progress through the game, as specific fish and other aquatic life are used to solve the game’s puzzles.

This is a side-scrolling adventure puzzle game. Silt uses black and white graphics to create an unsettling atmosphere. You’re also in the body of a deep sea dive who has been chained to what I think is the ocean floor. As you explore the game, more of its secrets are revealed to the player.

Silt can be unsettling as you work your way through the levels. Some of the puzzles can be tricky, but it isn’t too complex. The game is short, but it is fun to play and work out what you’re supposed to do.

Best of the Rest

I couldn’t include everything on this list that I wanted. If I did, the list would be a top 100, which would be too long for people to get through. Here are fifteen games that didn’t make the cut because I haven’t spent enough time with them or they weren’t as scary as the others on the list:

  • Daymare: 1998
  • Daymare: 1994
  • Superliminal
  • What Remains of Edith Fitch?
  • Amnesia: The Bunker
  • The Letter
  • Song of Horror
  • White Day
  • Blair Witch
  • Layers of Fear
  • Just Ignore Them
  • Mundaun
  • Killer Frequency
  • Bramble: The Mountain King
  • Burnhouse Lane


There are a lot of indie horror games on the market. I’ve made edits to this list several times as I’ve found more games. Each time I’ve looked to see what else is out there, I made changes to the list.

The fifteen I’ve selected are the ones I had time to play and enjoyed playing. For every good to great indie horror game, a few dozen don’t stand out. These games stand out from the others.

It seems like the horror genre is a place for indie games to try things. It reminds me of horror films. Those movies were places for directors to experiment and build up a reputation. Some stayed in the genre, and most left it for a while, only to return to it later on.

I’ll update this list as I play more indie horror games. More games are always coming out, and I will try to keep up with them. This is one of my favorite genres, and I’ve enjoyed the different takes on horror.

Published by Paul Werkema

Hi! I'm here to share my hobbies with all of you. I love video games and books, so I write about the books that cover video games or are novels about video games.

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