Dare you turn on your Sony console as we check out the best PS4 horror games? We here at Retro Dodo can’t be held responsible for giving you nightmares – maybe it’s best to keep the light on, just in case…
Video games have come a long way in the last few decades; though initially the range of emotions they could elicit in a player were limited, it wasn’t long before developers sought out ways to terrify gamers.
As technology has improved, the ability for games to shock and terrify has increased too – with plenty of audiovisual tricks at the disposal of developers.
The PS4 has played host to plenty of scary games since it was released in 2013 – and we’ve taken a look at which ones will truly make you terrified of things that go bump in the night.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Best PS4 Horror Games!
10. Call of Cthulhu (2018)
HP Lovecraft’s cosmic horror stories – in which normal people stumble upon the hidden secrets of the universe, uncovering all manner of hideous truths and vile creatures before going insane in the process – have been hugely influential on generations of horror writers, drawn to his visions of nameless terror beyond our understanding.
This game, though not directly based on Lovecraft’s story The Call of Cthulhu, does use an awful lot of Lovecraftian settings, tropes and characters to create a vivid and atmospheric first person detective story.
Though the shocks and scares aren’t consistent, when they do arrive they’re very effective indeed, thanks to an oppressive and creepy atmosphere throughout. Choices in the narrative can lead to very different outcomes by the end of the game, giving it excellent replay value too.
9. Little Nightmares (2017)
With a much more psychological approach to horror than many titles on this list, Little Nightmares is a platform game with puzzle elements that sends shivers down the spine thanks to brilliant art direction and a pervasively disturbing atmosphere.
Players control Six, a little girl trying to escape a huge structure known as the Maw. Stealth elements come into play as the vulnerable Six does her best to avoid the hideous, twisted inhabitants of the Maw – truly grotesque, humanoid beings who won’t hesitate to kill the poor protagonist.
It’s not just the giant people Six has to be wary of though – the environment itself can be pretty deadly at times.
Little Nightmares is a game that truly gets under your skin, with its sympathetic, almost helpless player character’s struggle to survive the horrors of the surreal environments and creatures she’s trapped in.
8. The Evil Within (2014)
Directed by Shinji Mikami – of Resident Evil fame – The Evil Within wastes no time in laying on the oppressive atmosphere and gory imagery in The Evil Within, with an opening sequence that sees your character attempting to flee from a terrifying, chainsaw-wielding psychopath who’s already dismembered lots of people; we know this because body parts are everywhere!
This third person, narrative-led title is full of jump scares, punishing combat and lashings of gore; it goes to some seriously crazy places in the story, with some incredibly unsettling imagery that’ll stay with you for a long time after the credits roll.
7. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan (2019)
The first in a series of interactive, cinematic tales known as The Dark Pictures Anthology, Man of Medan comes with a title sequence and even a presenter – a character known as The Curator, who pops up to comment on the action between chapters.
It’s a storytelling device that works really well, giving this first title in the series the feel of an anthology show such as The Twilight Zone.
It’s a terrifying tale too, which players can take on alone or with friends in a variety of inventive modes either online or locally.
The story is heavily focused on choice and consequence, with plenty of quick time events that often pop up so quickly during dialogue that you feel almost certain to fail. It’s even possible to reach a point in the narrative where there are no characters left alive!
The brilliant direction, clever structure and compelling story are truly first class in Man of Medan; though it’s fairly brief – being designed so it’s just about possible to complete in an evening – there’s replay value in seeking out ways to keep your characters alive.
Or finding ways for them to be horribly killed – you do you, we won’t judge!
6. The Evil Within 2 (2017)
Those players scared away by the graphic, visceral horror of The Evil Within should probably stay away from this sequel too.
Though original director Shinji Mikami didn’t produce or direct this second entry, he did supervise development – and the intense, shock-filled survival horror gameplay certainly stays true to the spirit of Mikami’s previous work.
The Evil Within 2 picks up a few years after the end of the first game, with a very personal plot twist bringing ex-cop Sebastian Castellanos back to work in order to search for a character long-presumed dead.
Serial killers, shifting realities and a satisfyingly unpredictable plot keep The Evil Within 2 compelling even though it’s a tense and dark experience that you should definitely play with the lights on.
5. Alien Isolation (2014)
Here at Retro Dodo, we’re not shy about our love for Alien Isolation, Sega’s masterpiece of a licensed title (it made it onto our Best PS3 Horror Games list too!).
It immediately washed away all of the bad memories induced by Gearbox’s terrible FPS Aliens: Colonial Marines, which released a year earlier.
Taking cues from the Ridley Scott 1979 movie – a tense and terrifying haunted house movie in space, rather than the Vietnam-in-space action of the 1986 James Cameron sequel – Alien Isolation sees players in the shoes of Amanda Ripley, daughter of the Sigourney Weaver character from the movies.
With the action set between Alien and Aliens, Weaver’s Ripley is adrift in space, unsconscious in hypersleep – and her daughter has lost hope in trying to find out what happened to her.
When offered the chance to investigate a clue which may lead her to discover her mother’s fate, Amanda signs up – but the broken down, cheap space station she ends up on has an unwelcome, unruly and deadly visitor on board.
The Alien itself is an absolutely terrifying, relentless and clever creature – its emergence from the many creaking air ducts and tunnels on the space station is almost always guaranteed to cause waves of panic and terror in the player, with the sound design playing as much of a part to scare players as the visuals – which hold up surprisingly well to this day.
A masterclass in audiovisual design as well as art direction, Alien Isolation is a nightmare come true for any Alien fan.
4. Resident Evil 7: biohazard (2017)
The middle trilogy of Resident Evil games started off on a high, with the third person change in style heralded by 2005’s Resident Evil 4 holding up remarkably well even now (the HD version features on our Best PS3 Horror Games list, for example).
Yet the fifth and sixth games in the series were met with muted responses; the series became more Aliens than Alien – less horror and more action, which was disappointing to say the least.
Resident Evil 7 goes back to basics, with a terrifyingly dark survival horror set in a house – and in this game, the action unfolds from a first person perspective for the very first time in the series.
The switch to first person is used incredibly effectively to shock and scare the player, with unsettling imagery and some very gory moments throughout.
The PS4 version can even be played in VR; though this isn’t a complete success, it certainly adds to the immersion and is even scarier than playing on a normal screen.
3. Until Dawn (2015)
And now number 3 in our best PS4 horror games list!
Four years before they made Man of Medan, Supermassive Games released this stunningly scary interactive slasher movie; just as in Man of Medan, multiple characters are involved in the story, with choice and consequence playing a huge part in how compelling it is to see the game play out to a conclusion.
The developers went to some genuinely surprising lengths to gauge how scary Until Dawn was, including the use of a Galvanic Skin Response test as a way to measure the fear of playtesters as they tried the game out!
A cinematic, narrative-based game with some impressively big names in its cast – including Mr Robot/No Time To Die’s Rami Malek and Hayden Panetierre of Heroes fame – Until Dawn sees characters trying to survive a night on a mountain, with some very well handled jump scares and a narrative that is shaped by the choices of the player.
It’s a true horror movie in video game form – and a very worthy entry for one of the top three best PS4 horror games!
2. Resident Evil Village (2021)
The most recently released game on the best PS4 horror games list, the eighth main entry in the Resident Evil series became famous for its meme-worthy inclusion of a tall vampiric character named Lady Dimitrescu – but there’s so much more to discover in this genuinely scary game.
Played once more from a first person perspective, as in Resident Evil 7 – and taking control of that game’s protagonist, Ethan Winters, here too – the phenomenal visuals and amazing sound design do a great job of selling the scary, tense atmosphere.
Plenty of shocks litter the narrative – and the titular village is a brilliantly designed, truly immersive environment. With scary creatures and situations filling the game world, this is one horror experience that really knows how to get under your skin.
After a disappointing middle trilogy, it’s great to see the Resident Evil series getting back to being truly scary once more (check out how many of the Resident Evil games made it to our Best GameCube Horror Games list to see just how scary they were even back then!).
1. Outlast 2 (2017)
The first Outlast very nearly made this list, being a truly scary game in its own right. This sequel takes the formula to new heights of fear, however – taking the religious themes and in-your-face, first person, stealth-based horror, then dialing up the tension and terror to near-unbearable levels.
Cast as a journalist investigating a missing person, your character’s wife is kidnapped by a religious cult gone wrong, with the night vision in your camcorder – and limited batteries – being your main tool used to avoid the cultists who are out to kill you at every turn.
The atmosphere is palpable, the scares are frequent and the soundtrack is genuinely oppressive too.
The story’s imagery and themes linger long in the mind after the game is completed, making Outlast 2 a truly scary, most definitely mature game that is almost certain to give you nightmares.
So that’s a look at our best PS4 horror games of 2022!
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.