The wonderful world of horror games is rich and vast, and fans love it! From the genre’s humble beginnings back in the retro gaming era to modern AAA blockbusters, horror gaming has seen it all. But if you were to ask any fan what the creme of the crop of the genre was, we guarantee they’d say indie horror games!
The indie horror craze has been a thing for well over a decade, and it has given birth to some of the genre’s most beloved titles. Most fans prefer indie titles over professional ones purely because of their charm and the all-out focus on true terror in the absence of state-of-the-art graphics and production quality. These games are living proof of how pure passion can drive small teams or individuals to greatness.
In that honor, we decided to revisit some of indie developers’ most notable achievements over the last decade. There isn’t a single fan of horror games who hasn’t heard of most if not all of these eight iconic titles.
8 Most Popular Indie Horror Games of the Last Decade
Here is our list of eight of the most popular indie horror games of the last decade. We tried our best to cover various genres and horror game styles, so please don’t judge us if we forgot to mention your favorite title! Instead, share your favorite indie horror game in the comments below, and show its developers some love!
8. Layers of Fear
Layers of Fear is a horror title gamers were anticipating for years! It was inspired by a masterful teaser for a game called P.T., which ended up getting canceled. However, Layers of Fear more than made up for that loss!
This narrative-driven survival horror adventure takes players on a surreal journey through the mind of a troubled artist. The entire world of Layers of Fear represents an allegory of the suffering painter’s mental state as he’s struggling to finish his latest masterpiece.
Layers of Fear is filled with psychological and classic horror elements that will leave players on the edge of their seats every step of the way. Few survival horror titles succeed in telling such a captivating and emotional story as this game, so if you are a fan of the genre, Layers of Fear is a must-play!
7. SCP Containment Breach
SCP Containment Breach is an ambitious gaming project that aimed to bring the anomalous world of the SCP Wiki to life. If you haven’t heard of the SCP Wiki before, you have no idea how much you’re missing out on!
The SCP Wiki is a community-driven project where users worldwide contribute by coming up with various anomalous creatures and adding them to the Wiki’s database. So far, there are thousands of entries for various types of anomalies — from many ridiculous and harmless ones to creatures with the ability to cause world-ending scenarios.
SCP Containment Breach is a game that brings the most popular SCPs from the Wiki to life in a scenario where these anomalous creatures break containment. The players are placed in the shoes of a D-class personnel member trying to escape with their life.
SCP Containment Breach is a game that people have to experience for themselves. Its procedurally generated levels will ensure that no playthrough is the same. If you haven’t explored the fantastic world of SCPs yet, be sure to add this game to your bucket list!
6. Doki Doki Literature Club!
Doki Doki Literature Club is a game most horror enthusiasts are sure to be skeptical about at first. On the surface, the game looks and plays like a visual novel type of game done in a classic Japanese anime art style. But there’s much more than sunshine and rainbows beneath the surface…
We’re sure many non-horror fans were drawn by this game due to its cutesy graphics and feel but quickly regretted it. What initially seems like an anime fan’s paradise slowly takes a more sinister turn. Before you know it, players will be thrown into a psychological horror masterpiece that stops at nothing to make you question your sanity. This game is even bold enough to break the fourth wall in a way no horror title before it managed!
If you are a fan of indie horror and haven’t tried this game yet, you must! We guarantee you’re not going to regret it.
Darkwood is a recently released indie horror game that the online gaming community has been eagerly anticipating for years! And let us say that the game was worth every second of the wait!
This top-down survival horror game takes players on a narrative-driven journey through a dark, twisted forest full of monsters and grotesque creatures. The players are thrown into the world of Darkwood with little to no explanation of the setting and are left to fend for themselves in an ever-lasting battle for survival.
The best part of this game is that it forces players to explore to find pieces of the puzzle that is the game’s storyline. It perfectly wraps the elements of action-packed and survival horror into one perfect package. This game tells a grueling but deeply resonating story that no horror fan should miss. So if you haven’t gotten your hands on this game yet, you should change that!
Perhaps the most intriguing part of phasmophobia is that a single person is the brains behind it! This ghost-hunting passion project blew up as soon as the game entered public beta in the Fall of 2020, and thousands of players have been playing it daily ever since.
The game’s premise is pretty straightforward — you and up to three more people (yes, you can play it with friends!) go and investigate paranormal activity in one of over a dozen of different maps. The game’s goal is to gather clues and identify the ghost haunting the building you’re visiting.
Sounds straightforward, right? It does, but the game’s atmosphere and ghost mechanics are so well made that it will shake even hardened horror veterans to the core. Besides being able to play with friends, the best part about Phasmophobia is that no round will be the same! The two combined is likely what makes this game so addictive and still widely played to this day.
3. Five Nights at Freddy’s
We’d be hard-pressed to find an indie horror fan that hasn’t played Five Nights at Freddy’s! This indie horror title was so successful that it earned itself iconic status in the horror gaming world. Let’s not even mention that it used the same design formula to develop several equally challenging sequels!
But what makes Five Nights at Freddy’s such a terrifying game? And what is the gameplay about? It’s quite simple but ingenious, really! Players are put in the shoes of a night-shift security guard at a pizza place where a bunch of animatronics (human-sized animal robots) come to life and threaten to murder you.
Aside from already preying at a widespread fear of mannequins and dolls (automatonophobia), the fact that all the players can do is check security cameras and close the doors to their office while desperately trying to preserve enough power to survive the night is what gets to even the most hardened horror veterans! If you add to that the screeching jumpscare if the animatronics catch you, and you’ve got yourself a game that will make you jump out of your chair more times than you’d like to admit!
Five Nights at Freddy’s is undoubtedly an indie horror masterpiece everyone should try, regardless of their gaming taste!
2. Slender: Eight Pages
If you’ve been gaming for a while, you couldn’t have missed the golden age of indie horror — the Slenderman craze! This game is the one that started it all!
Slender: Eight Pages is a terrifying survival horror game with a simple premise. Players are thrown into a dark forest and have to collect eight randomly placed pages on the map. However, as soon as you grab your first page, you’ll quickly learn that you’re not alone!
While players are looking to complete their objective, a tall, faceless humanoid monster will start chasing them. The unnerving atmosphere, the surrounding darkness, and the haunting static that appears when you lay your eyes on Slenderman will haunt you for days on end! The worst part is that the game becomes more challenging the more pages you manage to find.
This horrifying indie masterpiece has truly managed to bring the Slendarman mythos to life. That and the fact that it gave birth to an entire wave of Slenderman related games in the upcoming years are reason enough to put it this high on our list!
1. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
We have the unprecedented king of all horror games at our number-one spot — Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Are you even surprised?
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a horror title that was way ahead of its time. It is one of the most memorable and spine-chilling horror adventures you will ever experience. And yes, we’d say that even now, more than ten years after its initial release!
This story-driven survival horror game gives an entirely new meaning to the word creeping dread! It is the first horror game that paid attention to subtle details and focused on the atmosphere above all else. To top all that off, the story it tells is out of this world!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a once-in-a-lifetime experience all fans of horror will remember fondly. So if you happened to have missed this indie horror game back in 2010, it’s the one title from this list you must revisit!
What did you think of our list of best indie horror games of recent years? Do you agree with our picks? Are there any games we forgot to mention that you’d add to it? Let us know in the comments below!