Horror games tend to rely heavily on sinister environments and jump scares to convey their most frightening elements. These two abilities work in tandem to inflict fear on a player, but the most effective means of inflicting terror is through the incorporation of a solid environment.
The world-building in a game is only considered satisfactory when it serves a purpose. For horror games, the form and design of a world must aim to instill fear in those who see it, but it must also enthuse intrigue.
10 The Forest
Eric LeBlanc must adapt to survive when his plane crash arrives on a desolate island in the middle of the ocean. He awakens after the crash to discover that his son, Timmy, is nowhere to be found, forcing him to explore the island's entire perimeter seeking clues.
The forest's world is initially unimaginable, but each day gradually reveals that a horrific evil is lurking beneath the surface. Although the game does an excellent job of sculpting its wooded terrain, the modern design of the research facility beneath the island enhances the game's overall plot.
9 Five Nights At Freddy's: Security Breach
Gregory is a youngster with an adventurous side, but this charming ability has led him to becoming a target for the Freddy Fazbear Mega Pizzaplex animatronics. These animatronics are mostly gentle during the day, but they can become quite dangerous at night.
Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach's world is designed to be an inviting one, but moving through the narrative highlights the true horrors it contains. The world around Gregory begins to decay, rendering the previously welcoming world a grotesque and uninviting one. The pizzaplex's exploration is made more frightening by the method of world-building used in Security Breach.
8 Resident Evil: Village
Ethan Winters and his wife Mia are attempting to live a normal life when Chris Redfield appears with a group of spies at the start of Resident Evil: Village.
Ethan undertakes to scavenge an unnamed village in the hope of reuniting with his daughter. The village itself is a cold and dark place that echoes the state of mind of all who dwell there. It is a relic of a medieval town from the past, which alienates all who attempt to explore it.
7 Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Daniel, an amnesiac, is following the Gatherers as he attempts to escape the confines of Brennenburg Castle. Throughout his journey, he will be forced to solve a series of puzzles to progress forward.
Daniel, an amnesiac, has no memory of his time at Brennenburg Castle, and as a result the player will harbor little knowledge of it either. Brennenburg Castle is surprisingly quiet, promoting a surge of paranoia and terror. The more Daniel explores, the more dangerous his surroundings become, especially due to his underlying condition.
6 Little Nightmares
Six discovers herself trapped inside the maw, a strangely large sea vessel engulfed with terrifying creatures, and must brave the difficult journey to the top of the ship to escape the clutches of those who seek to kidnap her.
The Maw is a slanted ship that contains a slew of hidden locations. As they progress, the player will learn what the Maw is lent to the world of Little Nightmares. Due to the secrets it contains and its unusual design, it is an exceptionally well-built world.
5 Until Dawn
Josh invites his friends to his cabin on Blackwood Mountain in recognition of their tragic deaths a year before. Upon arriving at the lodge, Josh's friends discover that his siblings have left him depressed and somewhat unhinged.
The player must make the correct decisions about their well-being to ensure the survival of these unsuspecting characters. Each character will be given the chance to explore a different area on their journey, but some are far more terrifying than others. Each location is reminiscent of a different horror trope, allowing the player to experience multiple horror subgenres all in one sitting.
4 Blair Witch
Blair Witch is a survival horror game that is loosely based on the same film as the 1999 film. It follows Ellis Lynch, a retired police officer, and his dog German Shephard as they attempt to find a missing child in the Black Hills Forest.
The more Ellis explores these wooded hills, the more fractious his mind becomes. Ellis' past trauma and the unpleasant environment of the Black Hills result in a collapse in his perception of reality. Blair Witch possesses the ability to transform a once welcoming world into a wake-up nightmare.
Miles Upshur goes to Mount Massive Asylum in the hope of uncovering the sinister inner workings of the asylum. He suspects that the asylum's patients are being treated unfairly, and in the hope of uncovering the asylum's cruel methods, he breaks inside.
The asylum contains a large army of demons and creatures, but that does not prevent Miles from recording every single moment. The asylum is dark, so Miles will have to rely on the illumination from his camera to navigate the asylum's dark areas. Outlast's intent is to isolate the player.
Subnautica depicts how humanity has begun colonizing different planets in the 22nd century. While on a mission for the Alterra Corporation, Ryley Robinson goes through space on the Aurora spacecraft, but a malfunction in the ship's hull leaves him trapped on a distant planet known as Planet 4546B.
Ryley departs his emergency life pod and is greeted with as much water as the eye can see. He must dig deep into the sea to discover the necessary materials to construct a functioning spacecraft. The horrors lurking in the depths of the world of Subnautica leave him paranoid.
1 Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation is set fifteen years after Ridley Scott's Alien, released in 1979. It follows Ellen Ripley, Ellen's daughter, as she explores the vast unknown in the hopes of uncovering her missing mother's whereabouts.
Amanda travels to the Sevastopol space station to retrieve a recording left for her by Ellen, only to discover that the station has become infested with hostile alien life forms. The clever world-building fosters anxieties and claustrophobia in the world of Alien: Isolation.