Best indie horror games to play in 2023

Indie Horror GamesCommon Sense Media

Triple-A developers aren’t the only ones to create compelling and terrifying horror games, many smaller developers have also created some nail-biting horror gems. Here are some of the best indie horror games you can play in 2023. 

When it comes to horror games, it’s not all about Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and The Last of Us. While these Triple-A devs lead the industry, it’s often the smaller studios that absolutely nail a creepy horror experience. In the past, some indie horror game developers have had so much success with their horror games that they’ve gone on to become much larger studios.

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This helps the industry grow and shows other smaller developers that there’s an appetite for horror, and like many of the monsters we see in games, that appetite is unsatiable. With that in mind, let’s examine some of the smaller, but best indie horror games that have helped shape the landscape of the genre, or that have offered a memorably frightening experience.

Indie horror games DaymareGameplay in Daymare is similar to the Resident Evil 2 remake

Daymare 1998

Daymare 1998 may not be as polished as the triple-A horror games it’s designed to emulate, but those who enjoy those titles should seek it out as soon as they can. The game is inspired by late 90s survival horror games like Resident Evil, but it plays a lot like that franchise’s recent remakes. The game started out as a fan remake of Resident Evil 2 called RE2: Reborn by Invader Games.

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However, Capcom asked the team to stop their remake, although they were so impressed by it, they invited the development team to travel to Japan to share their thoughts on what an RE2 remake should be. Once Capcom created an official RE2 remake, the RE2: Reborn assets were turned into Daymare 1998, which instantly makes it one of the best indie horror games available. Those who love the RE2 remake owe much to Invader Games and should give Daymare 1998 a try.

Penumbra: Overture

The Penumbra series is the work of Frictional Games, which would go on to create the horror classics Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Soma. However, before their big breaks, the studio was known for its indie horror games. Penumbra involves a character getting a letter from his supposedly dead father, asking him to come to an isolated area in Greenland before the horror ensues.

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While Frictional Games are much more well-known today, back when they released Penumbra, they were firmly categorized as an indie developer. Those who’ve played their equally terrifying more recent work should check out Penumbra on PC. Although we can all live in hope of a remaster one day.

Hello Neighbor

Indie horror games Hello NeighborHe doesn’t want you anywhere near his basement

Don’t be fooled by Hello Neighbor’s cartoony art style. This is one nerve-shredding indie horror game. The premise is simple, you break into your mysterious and creepy neighbor’s house and must make your way to the basement to see what he’s hiding there. However, doing this is easier said than done.

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Your neighbor does not want you in his home. What’s worse, if he finds you, he’ll start stalking you with a shovel. So if you thought breaking in was hard, then getting out is going to be murder.

Don’t Escape: 4 Days to Survive

Don’t Escape is a point-and-click adventure and survival horror game. It’s a lot like Telltale’s The Walking Dead in a lot of ways, but its art style makes this a decidedly indie horror game. This also gives it a unique sense of character that a lot of horror games don’t have.

Set in a post-apocalyptic landscape, the player needs to survive a series of disasters caused by the Moon breaking into pieces. The player must then make their way to a rocket ship that will take them far away from the ravaged earth. It’s a bleak story, but a fun experience for horror fans or those who enjoy a point-and-click adventure.

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Slender The Arrival

The Slender franchise has always had the potential to be an excellent horror game. Its first attempt, Slender: The Eight Pages was a fun and scary experience, but it was also fairly basic as far as horror games go. Slender: The Arrival is a much more substantive experience.

It explores the mythology of the creepy Slenderman in more detail and offers gameplay similar to Amnesia, Outlast, and other celebrated horror games. While the Slenderman meme/myth may have run its course, it will be interesting to see where the gaming world goes with it next.

Blair Witch

Indie Horror Games Blair WitchExploring the domain of the Blair Witch

While the Blair Witch game is far from perfect, it’s ideal for those craving similar horror experiences to Outlast and other interactive horror experiences. Games like this limit combat and focus on solving puzzles and exploration. While not for everyone, Blair Witch can be a very intense few hours of your life.

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What we liked most about it is the game does an excellent job of channeling the original movie and its most recent sequel. If you enjoy the Blair Witch mythology and concept, then this really is a must-play.

We Happy Few

We Happy Few has a fantastic concept; everyone you know is always happy because society takes a mandatory drug designed to keep the population docile. The player starts to stop taking the drug and as a result, sees life for the way it really is.

When this is discovered, they are hunted by the authorities and violently attacked by members of the population who view them as a “downer” and traitor to their society. However, the player can’t go fully cold turkey. They need to wean themselves off the drug. This also helps them blend in, but they need to make sure they don’t go back to drinking the Kool-Aid completely.

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The Forest

If you take the freaky woodland setting of Blair Witch, combine it with combat reminiscent of Dying Light, and throw in some crafting mechanics, then you’ll have The Forest. The player character is a plane crash survivor who’s stranded in a dense forest awaiting rescue.

The only problem is he’s trapped there with cannibalistic creatures that will hunt him at night and flee into the caves when the sun comes up. During the day, the player can fortify their living space and scavenge supplies. They’ll eventually need to search the caves, which can be dangerous. It’s a scary game with some tense moments, this can be very rewarding for those who put the time in to explore it in-depth.

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So there you have it, the best indie horror games to play in 2023.

Check out more gaming lists below to find plenty of exciting titles to play:

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