Whether you’re a gamer from America, Europe, or Asia, you’re likely to have played a Japanese horror game or two without even realizing it. In fact, Japan is where some of the most well-beloved gaming titles come from, and horror games are no exception.
Japanese horror games have one thing in common — they have a distinct way of doing things few other horror titles can match. That is precisely why they’ve attracted so many passionate players over the years.
So whether you enjoy running away from various twisted abominations or enjoying dark and convoluted storylines with plot twists at every corner, you’ll be glad to hear that the Japanese horror gaming genre has something for you. If you’re looking for an exciting and terrifying horror game to play, why not pick one of these horror gems from the Land of the Rising Sun?
5 Japanese Horror Games That Will Give You Nightmares
Here are our picks for the five best Japanese horror games no fan of the genre should miss! We’ve selected titles of different genres to accommodate different tastes, so you’re sure to find something to your liking.
1. Corpse Party
We start our list with one of the Japanese horror gaming classics — Corpse Party. This anime-like horror game follows a group of friends who decide to perform a ritual to bind their friendship forever that goes horribly awry.
The friends end up trapped in their school in an alternative dimension, in which horrible things transpired. Throughout the game, the player is haunted by the spirits of the childrens’ deceased peers while looking for a way out of that death trap. After a while, it becomes clear that the only way to leave is by solving all the murders.
Corpse Party is a Japanese horror masterpiece that emphasizes the importance of storytelling for a genuinely compelling horror experience. The game features various survival and psychological horror elements, making it scary despite the graphics and character models looking like anime characters. This game offers the perfect blend of mystery, challenge, puzzle-solving, and terror, making it a prime choice for anyone looking for a story-driven horror experience.
If the above sounds like your cup of tea, Corpse Party is the perfect title for you!
2. Evil Within
Evil Within is the first game in a twisted, action-packed horror series that had awed gamers worldwide when it was first released in 2014. If you’re a fan of horror classics like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, you’re sure to love this game!
Evil Within follows the detective Sebastian Castellanos as he’s thrown into a malformed nightmarish world filled with all sorts of horrors. The game does an excellent job at making players question the protagonist’s sanity as he walks the fine line between madness and reality. The game does little to explain its storyline and instead chooses to take the more subtle route by scattering various hints all over the world. Collecting all of them and piece the puzzle together will keep the more dedicated players entertained for hours on end.
Evil Within plays from the third-person perspective and features a wide variety of different monsters and boss battles, ensuring that even the most hardcore gamers get a worthy challenge. The game also allows players to customize their character through multiple talent trees to best suit their preferred playstyle. When you combine that with the fact you’ll likely need multiple playthroughs to experience everything Evil Within has to offer, you’re almost guaranteed to get dozens of hours of entertainment from this single title.
Whether you’re a fan of action-packed horror games or not, Evil Within is a title every horror fan should experience at least once.
3. Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly is the sequel to a well-loved unique Japanese horror game that proved even more successful than its predecessor.
This survival horror game has players play as two twin girls fighting to exorcise spirits using an enchanted camera. The title has peculiar aesthetics and an iconic mechanic of taking photos of ghosts to banish them. On top of that, the game features a compelling narrative that contributes to the first game’s story only to wrap up with a twist.
Fatal Frame 2 will have players biting their nails with anticipation as they fight for their lives every step of the way. The creepy atmosphere of the ghost town you’re lost in will be enough to test the resolve of even the most hardened horror veterans.
Do you think you have what it takes to come face to face with the evil spirits of Fatal Frame 2? Give the game a whirl and find out!
4. The Witch’s House
The Witch’s House is another story-driven Japanese horror game that takes players on a dark, macabre adventure. The players will play as a girl, Viola, as she explores a mysterious mansion out in the woods. It won’t take long for Viola to find out that the estate is haunted and brimming with all sorts of terrors.
This pixel horror game plays from the third-person perspective and challenges players with various puzzles and riddles. Although it’s not action-packed, the story behind the house that will gradually unravel will keep you motivated to push forward. Despite the graphics looking a bit outdated, the game’s atmosphere and characters are sure to give you the chills.
Oh, and if you thought that it would be a walk in the park due to its story-driven gameplay, you’re mistaken — there are plenty of dangers lurking in the shadows of the witch’s house. How many times will you die before you find the way out of this nightmare?
5. Resident Evil: Biohazard
What would a list of Japanese horror classics be without a Resident Evil game? This time, we decided to showcase Resident Evil: Biohazard as it’s one of the most well-received games in the franchise of all time!
Besides maintaining all the iconic gameplay aspects of the franchise like crafting, weapon upgrades, limited inventory system, and dynamic and challenging enemies, RE Biohazard takes the franchise to a whole new level with a new story arc.
This game has players control Ethan Winters as he looks for his missing wife in a seemingly abandoned farmhouse in the U.S. countryside. However, little does Ethan know he will soon face the mad (and diseased) Baker family.
Gamers and critics alike praise RE Biohazard for its challenging gameplay, excellent pacing, captivating storyline, and epic boss battles. This installment goes back to the horror roots of the RE franchise as the developers put atmosphere and horror first and slashing and shooting second this time around.
So if you’re looking for an action-heavy but terrifying game and are a fan of the RE franchise, this title is one of the finest to date.
How did you like our list of the best Japanese horror games? Did you find some interesting titles you’d like to try out? Which of these was your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments below!