2020 was a strong year for the horror genre. It saw critically-acclaimed sequels to established horror franchises, along with the release of some innovative, brand new IP that is taking horror in new directions.
Some horror games are notable for their ability to scare the player, whereas others may combine fun gameplay mechanics with a horror aesthetic. There are many differenttypesof horror games, and 2020 saw horror games of all kinds released to the masses. However, not all horror games are created equal, with some of them standing out from the rest of the pack as particularly strong games.
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In alphabetical order, here are the 10 best horror games of 2020.
Frictional Games can be given a lot of credit for revitalizing the horror genre in video games. 2010'sAmnesia: The Dark Descent launched at a time when many developers had turned their back on horror games, transforming some of the genre's biggest franchises into action-oriented shooters instead of embracing their horror roots. 10 years later, Frictional followed up the originalAmnesia withAmnesia: Rebirth, a sequel that largely lives up to the hype.
Amnesia: Rebirth trades the dark castle setting for more varied environments, with protagonist Tasi exploring an overbearingly bright desert, caves, ruins, and otherworldly locations as well. Like its predecessor,Amnesia: Rebirth favors atmosphere over simply bombarding the player with jump scares, and in doing so, ensures that its scares are far more effective than they would be otherwise. A genuinely scary game from start to finish,Amnesia: Rebirth proves that Frictional can still deliver top-tier horror gaming experiences.
Most horror games leave players completely defenseless against their adversaries, left with little to no means of defending themselves.Carrion flips that on its head, instead letting players take on the role of the monster for a change. InCarrion, players control a massive red blob of flesh and blood that is able to shapeshift and scurry around with its tentacles. This creature is capable of taking control of human minds, turning them against each other like something out ofThe Thing, and it can just as easily grab them by the ankles, smashing them to smithereens on the ceiling. A blood-soaked take on the classic Metroidvania formula,Carrion's reverse-horror game concept is unique and definitely worth checking out for fans of the genre looking for something a little bit different.
The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters may not be the most well-known horror game that came out in 2020, but it's certainly one of the better ones. InThe Coma 2, players take on the role of Mina Park, who finds herself stuck in a horrific alternate version of Sehwa High, pursued by a strange creature that looks like one of her teachers. Like many other survival-horror games, puzzle-solving is a key element ofThe Coma 2, with players solving puzzles as they attempt to make their way through the story. Players have to learn how to sneak around quietly, collect resources, and craft items if they hope to make it through the game alive.
The originalLast of Usis considered one of the best games of its generation, and so expectations were incredibly high going intoThe Last of Us 2. While certain story beats didn't please all fans of the franchise, there's no denying the pure technical craft that went into the game, standing out as one of the best-looking and most technically-sounded video games ever produced, even in the face of next-generation titles.
The Last of Us 2 is the most-polished horror game on this list, as well as the one with the highest critic review score. The game once again has players trying to survive against horrific creatures like Clickers, with players also encountering new threats, like the gruesome Rat King. Some ofThe Last of Us 2's cut-scenes are the scariest and intense cut-scenes in any video game ever, sure to leave those who haven't been spoiled on the edge of their seats.
It's rare for a horror game to get the kind of budget and attention thatThe Last of Us 2 has, but it's well-deserved. Having already won numerous Game of the Year awards,The Last of Us 2 is one of 2020's most impressive games, and easily one of the year's best horror titles.
One-man development team Puppet Combo creates horror game experiences that should especially appeal to old-school fans who grew up with PS1 horror games. One of Puppet Combo's latest projects,Murder House, is also one of his best. In the game, players find themselves exploring the abandoned house of Anthony Smith, a notorious serial killer known as the Easter Ripper. Taking its cues from PS1-era horror games likeResident Evil andSilent Hill, complete with tank controls,Murder House's gameplay should be familiar to longtime survival-horror fans. Horror fans will be keeping a close eye on Puppet Combo to see what kind of retro-inspired horror gaming experience they can come up with next.
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Indie gamePhasmophobia came out of nowhere to be one of the top horror hits this Halloween season.Phasmophobia quickly became one of the most popular titles for streamers looking to make some Halloween-themed content, and has cultivated a dedicated following of players. Technically still in early access, there are some aspects ofPhasmophobia that are still rough around the edges, but the co-op ghost-hunting concept is still plenty of fun. NewPhasmophobia content is released regularly, with a prison level having just recently left beta. IfPhasmophobia is able to keep its playerbase engaged, there's no reason to think that it won't be one of 2021's top horror games as well.
TheResident Evil 2 remake was a massive hit in 2019, and sotheResident Evil 3 remake had some pretty big shoes to fill. WhileResident Evil 3 didn't exactly light the world on fire likeResident Evil 2 did, it still managed to be a high quality horror gaming experience, bringing Jill Valentine's struggle against the Nemesis monster to modern standards. Featuring classic survival-horror gameplay and impressive graphics, theResident Evil 3 remake is a no-brainer for fans of Capcom's long-running franchise and horror enthusiasts in general.
It should be noted that theResident Evil 3 remake doesn't come by itself. Not only do players get the base game single-player adventure, but they also gain access to theResident Evil: Resistance multiplayer experience as well. An asymmetric multiplayer horror game,Resident Evil: Resistance is an interesting experiment by Capcom, and is good for some multiplayer fun after players have wrapped up the story.
In terms of scares, few horror games in 2020 can hold a candle toVisage. Directly inspired by Hideo Kojima'shorror classicP.T.,Visage is a bone-chilling haunted house experience.Visage's brutal opening scene sees a man murder his entire family, and after subjecting players to that atrocities, they are tasked with exploring a clearly haunted house.Visage's creepy house is a constant drain on the player character's sanity, which causes them to hallucinate and experience some disturbing moments.Visage is not just one of the best and scariest horror games of 2020, but it's also quite arguably one of the scariest horror games ever made.
Virtual reality and horror go well to together, and one of the best examples of that isThe Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners. The bestWalking Dead VR game and arguably the best zombie VR game made to date,The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners has players fight their way through zombie hordes while scavenging for supplies and crafting deadly new weapons. Humans inThe Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners pose just as much of a threat, if not more, than the zombies do, leading to plenty of intense encounters that will have players sweating underneath their VR headset. Combine all of this with motion controls that are designed to make zombie-killing as fun as possible, and it's clear thatThe Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners is both a standout VR game for 2020 as well as a standout horror game.
Rebellion Developments may be best known for itsSniper Elite games, but the studio has also produced somehorror-themed titles as well, specifically theZombie Army series.The latest entry in the franchise,Zombie Army 4: Dead War, was launched earlier this year. A great game when played with friends,Zombie Army 4: Dead War provides plenty of co-op zombie-slaying action for fans of Rebellion's games.
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Dalton Cooper is an editor for Game Rant who has been writing about video games professionally since 2011. Having written thousands of game reviews and articles over the course of his career, Dalton considers himself a video game historian and strives to play as many games as possible. Dalton covers the latest breaking news for Game Rant, as well as writes reviews, guide content, and more.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero