If you’re on the lookout for new games that’ll make your spine tingle and your heart race, we’ve scoured the darkest corners of the indie gaming scene to bring you a list of 10 bone-chilling, yet lesser-known indie horror games that you’ve probably never heard of.
So, grab a cosy blanket, turn off the lights, and get ready to dive into these terrifying hidden gems that’ll leave you sleeping with one eye open. And oh, be sure to visit OffGamers here for all your gaming needs.
1. FAITH: The Unholy Trinity
Drawing inspiration from the Satanic Scare of the 1980s, FAITH: The Unholy Trinity thrusts you into the heavy vestments of a priest returning to the site of a botched exorcism to finish the job.
On his quest, the priest finds himself in a number of gruesome situations, each with its own little island of gameplay with rules that you must learn and adapt to on the fly. These isolated puzzles aren’t afraid to add or remove mechanics in service of establishing an empathic bond between the player and the avatar. The priest’s frustration and helplessness become yours, and that makes his fear even more real.
Don’t let the simplistic visuals fool you, 2017’s FAITH: The Unholy Trinity is a masterclass in horror fundamentals. The immaculate timing, incredible sound design, and innovative gameplay trickery create a sense of unease and dread that doesn’t relent until the game’s heart-pounding conclusion.
2. From the Darkness
From the Darkness gives you a simple objective: explore a Soviet residential building and retrieve the photo albums from the abandoned apartment room of your deceased grandfather.
Borrowing from iconic enclosed space horror films like the original Saw, From the Darkness packs a complete horror experience into one small apartment. Through clever tweaking of the layout, this tiny space feels large and inescapable. Already unsettling from the jump, the tension and terror slowly build with each passing moment.
Those who fancy slow-burn horror over jump scares and have some time to kill (the game only takes about an hour to beat), definitely check out From the Darkness.
3. The Last Door
For horror game fans seeking a fresh experience, The Last Door is a standout. This point-and-click adventure applies traditional Lovecraftian-style storytelling with a deft touch. Where other Lovecraft-inspired games tend toward heavy-handed reliance on Chtulian powers from beyond the veil, The Last Door knows that the most horrible things can often be mundane at first glance. That it does this without dialogue is even more impressive.
Typical of any point-and-click game, puzzles make up the bulk of the gameplay. Fortunately, the puzzles are where The Last Door really shines. Despite the supernatural leanings, each puzzle is firmly grounded in a consistent logic. You’ll have to work to find some of the solutions, but they’re always “a-ha” moments and not “but why?”. The result is a puzzle-laden story that is inseparable from gameplay and one of the most effective horror point-and-click games available.
4. I’m on Observation Duty Series
The gameplay in I’m on Observation Duty should feel familiar if you’ve played Five Nights at Freddy’s — watch the security cameras for suspicious activities going on. Instead of hostile animatronics, though, you get moving objects, mysterious shadows, and horribly misshapen guests in the night. All you have to do is report the anomalies you find (using the game’s intentionally clunky report system) and survive the night.
One Steam review summed up the experience of playing I’m on Observation Duty as an exercise in self-gaslighting. Not everything that goes bump in the night is a non-human thing with overlong limbs (though you’ll find those, too), and half the challenge in playing this series is in knowing the anomalies from your own imagination.
5. Discover My Body
Discover My Body is an indie horror game created by Yames that takes place in the year 2040, where humanity turns to ever stranger ways to rebuild social connection. The game focuses on a procedure called “flowering” where a patient becomes connected to some kind of fungus that allows psychic connection to all the other “flowered.” As a medical student, your role is to observe the flowering of a researcher on the organism and its effects, who is all but giddy about his changing form despite the grotesque changes happening to his mind and body.
The game has you observing the doctor-turned-patient body, skeleton, and nervous system while he describes the horrific metamorphosis taking place. Even more sickening, throughout the procedure, the doctor’s tone of stark casualness and researcher’s neutrality gradually transforms into disturbing euphoric glee.
Though not much of a game at all, the grotesque nature of Discover My Body is sure to interest fans of body horror while also offering a unique insight into humanity’s quest for social connection in the future. Also, it’s free to play, so if you want an interactive experience that’s wholly unlike any other, you owe it to yourself to play this.
6. [Chilla’s Art] Inunaki Tunnel | 犬鳴トンネル
Chilla’s Art is an established name in the indie game scene, mostly known for crafting atmospheric experiences with a distinctive retro-Japanese aesthetic. Inunaki Tunnel is probably their most well-known game, but even this title is woefully under-appreciated by horror game fans.
The Old Inunaki Tunnel is a real place in Japan that was sealed off after five men abducted a factory worker, bringing the victim to the tunnel, where they tortured him and burnt him to death. This game allows players to step inside the structure and uncover its mysteries through the frame of a hand camcorder.
Part Fatal Frame and part Blair Witch Project, Inunaki Tunnel is more about atmosphere than jump scares, creating a sense of anxiety through disorientation.
7. 3 Blind Mice: A Remediation Game for Improper Children
3 Blind Mice: A Remediation Game for Improper Children is a short, surreal game where the player answers 10 questions aimed to straighten out “improper children”.
Designed as a “coffee break” game, its goal seems to be to build dread in as simple a manner as possible. Think of it more as an experiment in horror basics, rather than a fully-fledged horror experience. Players who go into the game with no expectations and a willingness to experience surreal creepiness will find a fun little game that’s simple and effective.
It’s also free and only takes five minutes to beat, so why not give it a shot?
8. MOTHERED – A ROLE-PLAYING HORROR GAME
MOTHERED is a first-person point-and-click adventure horror game with a disturbing retro aesthetic. The player takes on the role of Liana, who returns home to stay with her mother after undergoing surgery. The game’s unsettling tone is established early on in an unsettling drive with Liana’s father and doesn’t let up throughout the game’s roughly 2-hour duration.
Like Inunaki Tunnel, MOTHERED taps into the inherent creepiness of found footage by utilizing visual effects reminiscent of DVD menus and VHS tapes. These amazing visuals are coupled with some incredible sound designs that will have you on the edge of your seat.
All that said, MOTHERED is not particularly scary and doesn’t rely heavily on jump scares. Still, you’ll want to stick with it for its story. You’d be doing yourself a disservice by passing up a chance to experience this story yourself.
9. Lost in Vivo
Lost in Vivo is a psychological horror game that draws inspiration from classic survival horror games. Featuring a strong PS1-inspired aesthetic, fans of Silent Hill will love exploring the creepy and horrifying world of Lost in Vivo.
While most of the games on this list are interactive horror experiences first and games second, Lost in Vivo is unmistakably a first-person action title. Players set off on a rescue mission to recover their lost service dog, which takes them into an eerie sewer world inhabited by grotesque creatures. To defend yourself, you’ll have to use the various melee weapons and firearms you come across.
If you’re searching for something in the vein of your traditional horror video games from the PS1 and PS2 era, Lost in Vivo will scratch that itch. Great enemies, a heavy atmosphere, a compelling soundtrack, and a fantastic understated story all come together to make Lost in Vivo a short but sweet experience that all psychological horror fans should play.
10. Knock Knock
Knock-Knock is a simple yet surreal horror game in which the player assumes the role of a lodger living alone in a forest hut. He is awakened each night by banging on his door and the conviction that something wants to harm him.
Who is this night disruptor and what do they want with the lodger? That answer can only be found by uncovering clues and exploring the lodger’s history, which is a mystery all on its own.
During the night, your goal is to simply survive until daylight. Avoid the horrible creatures that stalk the randomly generated layout of the lodger’s hut, fixing lights to repel them or finding clocks to make the morning come faster. During the day, you explore the surrounding forest for clues.
Knock Knock can get repetitive and has pacing issues (especially towards the end). Also, the randomly generated stages will probably have you cursing under your breath a few times. Thankfully, it keeps a short playtime with a narrative that’s genuinely gripping the whole way through.
Those were 10 indie-horror games that will make your skin crawl and your heart race. Indie devs often have the creative freedom to offer unique and terrifying horror games that you won’t find in your typical big-dev release. As horror game fans, we’re just happy there’s space and an audience for the type of weird and experimental experiences on this list alongside your Resident Evils and Dead Spaces.