Skip to main content

The best horror games for the Xbox One

The horror genre in gaming is unlike any other. While most genres cater to power fantasies or letting us live out adventures and experiences we want to but otherwise never could, horror games almost take the opposite approach. More often than not, horror games put us in uncomfortable, underpowered, and disturbing situations where we are prey to a greater force. That makes the genre a very difficult one to get right. They need to give you just enough tools to feel like you have a slim chance of making it through, creature and monster designs that aren’t cliché or cheesy, and a story that makes you want to keep going even when you’re afraid.

Halloween is the prime time for horror, gaming included, but that’s no reason to restrict yourself from playing them any other time of year. The Xbox One has arguably the largest library of quality horror titles for you to dive into with a strong lineup, and also thanks to drawing from the previous generation and backwards compatibility. There are a lot of different types of horror games out there, and each tries to scare you in different ways. If you’re looking for the best horror experiences you can get on the Xbox One, this list has the ones guaranteed to give you nightmares.

As a small note, we will only list one game per franchise here to keep as much variety as possible.

Further Reading

Resident Evil 7 biohazard

Resident Evil 7 biohazard
84 %
4.5/5
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia
Genre Shooter, Adventure
Developer Capcom
Publisher Capcom
Release January 24, 2017
Between Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil 2 Remake, and the dozen or so other titles and spinoff games in the series you can play on your Xbox One, we have to give this spot to the one that brought the series back to its horror roots. Ever since Resident Evil 4 the series went on a weird trajectory towards action games that just so happened to feature zombies and biomutants, as opposed to the more tense and, you know, scary games that came before. The seventh game, at least in the mainline series, finally recaptured the horror of the first few games, but also put a new twist on things. Perhaps inspired by the other massive hits in the horror space, Resident Evil 7 became the first game in the series to take on a first person perspective. This is a natural fit for horror, really placing you in the situation, and boy does the game take advantage of that change. The new engine makes the entire swampy estate drip with creepy atmosphere and detail, but even worse are the Baker family stalking its halls. If you yearn for a modern take on the classic puzzle solving, resource managing, survival horror game where every encounter keeps you on the edge of your seat, this game will more than satisfy.

The Evil Within 2

The Evil Within 2
82 %
4/5
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre Shooter, Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer Tango Gameworks
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release October 13, 2017
Speaking of the Resident Evil series, many people overlooked the sequel to Shinji Mikami’s original The Evil Within game due to a mixed reception on launch. The sequel, which was not directed by Mikami, who was the director of the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4, manages to fix almost all the issues with the original. Rather than be a pure, linear horror game, The Evil Within 2 places you in a few small hub zones you can explore and navigate through however you want. That makes the scraping for supplies feel more natural, and opens up the game to hit you with unexpected encounters with regular and unique monstrosities. While it is a sequel, and does star the same protagonist as the first game, you are not required to have played it to jump into this game. Unlike the first game, this one’s story is fully focused on your character’s quest to enter a mental simulation of a small town overrun with monsters and murderers and rescue his daughter. The game is a natural evolution of the Resident Evil 4 style of combat, and just as tense, but also plays with the fact that you’re in a collapsing world to create unique scares and tricks that would otherwise be impossible and unbelievable. Don’t spoil yourself on this one and just dive right in.
Read our full The Evil Within 2 review

Blair Witch

Blair Witch
76 %
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre Adventure, Indie
Developer Bloober Team
Publisher Bloober Team
Release August 30, 2019
Movie tie-in games have a terrible reputation for a good reason. Most are rushed cash-grabs just looking to capitalize on a film’s name recognition to sell copies while the property is hot. A horror movie tie-in has arguably even more stacked against it. In the case of Blair Witch, none of that is true. While there was a reboot film a few years earlier, this game was clearly made out of passion for the original and not concerned with coming out anytime close to the film. It focuses on building up tension and dread slowly, building atmosphere, only hitting you with a select few jump scares that feel genuinely earned and scary rather than cheap and lazy. The story here is fully original. You play as a former detective named Ellis, along with his dog Bullet, venturing into the legendary Black Hills Forest trying to track down a missing boy. Being a detective, aside from trying to navigate the disorienting forest, you will also engage in some light detective work like searching for clues and watching tapes. Your trusty dog Bullet, and the occasional voice on the other end of your walkie-talkie, are your only sources of comfort here. Don’t brush this one off because it shares the name with a film, or comes from a small team, because it is one of the most tense horror titles you can find.

Alien: Isolation

Alien: Isolation
85 %
M
Platforms Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre Adventure
Developer The Creative Assembly
Publisher Sega, Feral Interactive, Sega Europe
Release October 07, 2014
What’s this? Another pseudo movie tie-in game that’s actually fantastic? In a lot of ways Alien: Isolation is more of a true sequel to the original film than the actual Aliens. No offense to that movie, it’s absolutely fantastic, but didn’t have that same “slasher movie in space” tone or style as the first. This game, on the other hand, brings everything back to basics. There’s one alien that you can’t kill let loose on a ship hunting you as you try and escape with your life. You take the role of Ripley’s daughter Ellen 15 years after the events of the first film investigating reports that a flight recorder from the Nostromo, her mother’s ship, was recovered. Obviously she finds more than she bargains for. The alien itself is the star of this game thanks to amazing AI that makes it really feel like you’re being hunted by an intelligent creature. It can show up anywhere at any time, so keeping your motion tracker at the ready is key to survival. Speaking of the motion tracker, every environment and piece of technology in this game feels and looks exactly like it did in the original film down to the save stations having Ellen stick a keycard into a computer terminal. If you are a fan of the original space horror, you can be sure people will hear you scream playing this one.

Observer

Observer
81 %
M
Platforms Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre Adventure, Indie
Developer Bloober Team
Publisher Aspyr Media
Release August 15, 2017
Sticking with the sci-fi horror theme, Observer is a more psychological horror title than survival or monster focused one like previous entries. This game places you in the shoes of Daniel Lazarski, an Observer who is able to hack into people’s minds to gather information. The game takes place in these mindscapes, as well as an apartment building that acts as a kind of hub, and both are unsettling to explore for their own reasons. Between Daniel’s personal quest to find his son and the murder case he needs to solve involving conspiracies with major corporations and digital monstrosities, the world built in this game will easily draw you in. Daniel has access to a number of detective tools you will use to find clues and even enter the memories of the victims. Naturally this ability, somewhat like The Evil Within 2, lets the developers design spaces, scares, and situations that are not possible in reality. You never know what, or how, this game will scare you. What you can count on is the way the themes of this possible future will haunt your mind long after you’ve finished it.

Layers of Fear

Layers of Fear
69 %
Platforms Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre Adventure, Indie
Developer Bloober Team
Release February 16, 2016
One of the many games to take inspiration from the wildly popular P.T demo that Konami infamously shut down, Layers of Fear manages to find its own style among the dozens of copy cat games. That’s partly due to it not settling to be just P.T clone, but incorporate other unique elements, most notably the gothic setting and heavy emphasis on art. The disturbing paintings alone you come across are always unsettling, but even more so when you look a second time and notice something isn’t quite the same. Layers of Fear isn’t concerned about making the character you play as scared as much as it want’s to mess with you directly, and most of the time it succeeds very well. This is a slightly older game, so the controls aren’t the best but the game never asks much of you in terms of fast reactions or precise inputs. Puzzles are the main gameplay mechanic here, and depending on your comfort level with these types of puzzles may slow down the pacing a bit. When the game is really going, though, and pulls you into its tricks without you even realizing it, the scares will reveal themselves in ways you somehow never saw coming, yet occur right before your eyes.

SOMA

SOMA
83 %
M
Platforms Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre Adventure, Indie
Developer Frictional Games
Publisher Frictional Games
Release September 22, 2015
Amnesia single handedly reinvigorated the horror genre in the mainstream thanks to it blowing up on YouTube. While another team handled the sequel, the original team moved on to a completely new IP in SOMA. While there is a clear line to be drawn from Amnesia to SOMA in the gameplay department, both are first person exploration and puzzle solving games where you are more or less powerless against any threats, everything else is wholly unique. Set in various undersea locations, SOMA manages to strike fear in the player in multiple ways. The monsters are scary in the moment, but it is this second layer of creeping horror that will seed itself deep in your mind. This is a far more cerebral and psychological horror experience than most other games even attempt. Questions on humanity, identity, and life are explored in ways that will make you stop and roll over the horrific implications they bring up in your mind. This is arguably the game’s main focus for inciting dread since they later added a mode that made all the game’s monsters unable to kill you in game. This game manages to nail sci-fi, psychological, and traditional horror in one self contained and tight package.

Dead Space

Dead Space
85 %
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre Shooter
Developer EA Redwood Shores
Publisher Electronic Arts
Release October 14, 2008
Yes, this game is a 360 game, but not only does it still hold up as one of the best survival horror games of the last 20 years or so, to the point where it is getting a full remake, it runs even better on your Xbox One. Deadspace picked up the mantle left by Resident Evil 4 and absolutely ran away with it. You have the same over-the-shoulder-style combat but with so many improvements and additions that it elevates itself from a knock-off into a full-on successor. Ditching the gothic and zombie tones of the Resident Evil series, you are now placed in the far future aboard a derelict spaceship with a crew that has been transformed into distorted monsters called necromorphs. As an engineer, you are not exactly equipped for monster killing. Instead, you use your various tools to protect yourself by dismembering the aggressive monsters. Cutting off limbs rather than shooting the head was, and still is, quite a novel and fun spin on the usual tactics we use in horror games. Even the UI was designed to keep you immersed by essentially removing all need to pause. Your health is displayed right on your back, as is the stasis meter, your ammo pops up with your gun, and your inventory displays as a holographic grid without stopping the action. It does lean more on the action side of things, especially as the series goes on, but this game walks the line between giving you a fighting chance and keeping you on the backfoot masterfully.

Outlast II

Outlast II
69 %
4.5/5
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre Adventure, Indie
Developer Red Barrels
Publisher Red Barrels
Release April 25, 2017
You could really take your pick between the two Outlast games depending on which setting is more, or perhaps the better term would be less, appealing to you. For our money, though, the sequel is a much more insidious horror that hits closer to reality. The same basic gameplay from the first game is present here. You are a journalist whose only tool at your disposal to help you survive the crazed cultists hunting you in the Arizona desert is a camera with a night vision mode that drains batteries like a hole in a bucket. When you’re spotted, and its only a matter of time, your only recourse is to run, hide, and hope. Aside from the change in story, setting, and themes of the sequel, Outlast 2 also incorporates more psychological elements into the recipe. It can get quite intense in the types of things the game tackles, including cults, hangings, physical and mental abuse, and more that can hit very close to home. The only fault with this game is that its quite hard. It is intensely terrifying to run through a small cluster of shacks or farm while perused by lights and shouts looking for a place to hide or escape, but fail two or three times and that fear can devolve into frustration.
Read our full Outlast II review

Little Nightmares II

Little Nightmares II
83 %
T
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia
Genre Platform, Puzzle, Adventure
Developer Tarsier Studios
Publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release February 11, 2021
What a perfectly fitting name for this perfect representation of a child’s nightmare or distorted vision of the world. The only 2D horror game to make this list could be described as what you would get if Tim Burton or Junji Ito made a horror game. Just like the first game, the characters and environments are just off enough to make you uncomfortable from beginning to end, plus features an extremely memorable sound design. You play the tiny, paper bag-wearing Mono in a world of overexaggerated monsters that you have no way to fight directly. This is another game where your main goal is to just make it out alive. Puzzles, as you probably guessed, are the name of the game here, but because of the camera perspective, you are often juggling trying to solve the puzzle while avoiding the massive beasts. Being such a small, delicate character in such a dangerous world, scampering along prison floors and through holes in walls, really puts you in the mindset of someone who is completely helpless against the forces put against them. What really drives that feeling home, pardon the pun, is how the game’s environments are all so familiar. From kitchens to bedrooms, the spaces where you probably feel completely at ease normally are turned on their heads here.

Editors' Recommendations