Now that Halloween season is in full swing, there's no better way for gamers to celebrate than by dipping their toes into the most terrifying games available on Xbox Game Pass.
Essentially Netflix for video games on Microsoft's consoles (and PC!), Xbox Game Pass has more than 15 million subscribers and grants access to more than 100 games for as little as $9.99 a month. (That price bumps up to $14.99 a month if you want access across both PC and consoles).
If you're looking for a spooky or straight-up terrifying game to play, look no further than one of these nine titles available to download and play right now from Xbox Game Pass.
9. Doom Eternal
While it’s not a horror game per se, Doom Eternal from id Software and Bethesda is a hellishly good time that will put you into the Halloween mood.
You play as an ancient human warrior armed to the teeth with all sorts of guns who slays hordes of demons, all while exhilarating heavy metal music thunders in your ears. While it talks a lot about hell and the monsters are definitely demonic, the overall plot feels more sci-fi than dark fantasy.
New "The Ancient Gods" DLC will be released on October 20, just in time for Halloween. As Microsoft has acquired Bethesda, this game won’t leave Xbox Game Pass anytime soon — perhaps ever.
8. Grim Fandango
This classic LucasArts adventure game from 1998 will join Game Pass on October 29, just in time for Halloween!
It’s a perfect fit because it follows Manny, a “travel agent” in The Land of the Dead that helps people move on to the afterlife. While you’ll need a guide to get through some of its tougher puzzles, Grim Fandango features a hilarious story with Tim Schafer’s class wit. This remaster even features insightful developer commentary so you can learn how this game came to be. If you prefer laughing over screaming on Halloween, definitely check out Grim Fandango when it joins the Game Pass library on October 29.
Most horror games put players in the shoes of a frantic survivor who needs to escape the murderous clutches of a malevolent creature, but Carrion flips the script. The “reverse-horror” indie title developed by Phobia Games Studios gives gamers control of an amorphous, tentacled monster that consumes everything that stands in its way after its blood-soaked escape from a research facility.
While most spooky franchises try to instill fear in you, Carrion transforms you into fear itself. Players need to slither their way through air ducts as they devour scientists and soldiers to grow and mutate. Phobia mashed up some light puzzle-solving with non-stop platforming carnage into a gruesome, 2D package that is unlike any other game on this list.
The whole Gears of War series is well worth playing to get that exact sort of “dark action” fix the Underworld movies are good for. But the first game, released in 2006 and remastered in 2015 as Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, is the most atmospheric and most fitting for Halloween.
You start the game in a gross prison and end it in a two-on-one shootout with a big MOFO swarmed by bats. It's basically a Dungeons & Dragons game if D&D had assault rifles with chainsaws on the end of them. In a socially distant Halloween, there's no better time than to recruit one (1) friend online to take on the Locust.
5. Alan Wake
A gripping supernatural thriller mystery where you play a disgruntled bestselling author sounds like a weird concept for a game, and yet Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake is a spectacular adventure that will sit with you for years to come — and that’s probably a good thing when he’s now part of Remedy’s Control universe as well.
Alan Wake is on vacation in the fictional town of Bright Falls, Washington when his wife mysteriously disappears following an attack from shadowy monsters. Events from a novel that Alan can’t even remember writing begin to happen in real life. What unfolds is a spooky story that feels like Twin Peaks, Silent Hill, and Stranger Things wrapped into one.
When it comes to providing spooky and scary vibes, few authors have been as influential to horror as H.P. Lovecraft and Junji Ito, the minds behind Cthulhu and Uzumaki, respectively.
World of Horror combines both their sensibilities for a roguelike horror game that meshes Lovecraftian writing with Ito’s art direction. On top of that, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure visual novel where mysteries abound. Depending on your choices, a playthrough can vary in length from a tight hour or four hours, making it the perfect game to play across a few dark stormy nights.
Asymmetrical online multiplayer games are a bit of a niche genre, but there’s something special about Behaviour Interactive’s Dead by Daylight. It pits a single murderer against up to four would-be survivors. While that’s a fun concept to play with even generic assailants, the steady stream of crossovers really elevates what’s essentially a playable slasher horror game.
Dead by Daylight includes characters from Stranger Things, Silent Hill, Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw, Scream, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and more. So there’s pretty much no better game to play or watch during Halloween season.
Speaking of living through horror movie experiences, Alien: Isolation simulates the experience of living through the original Alien movie, but it’s actually a direct sequel instead. Developed by Creative Assembly, Alien: Isolation stars Amanda Ripley (Ellen Ripley’s daughter) on an expedition to retrieve the flight recorder from her mother’s ship.
Along the way, she has to deal with hostile humans and androids with traditional weaponry, but she has no recourse against the relentless Xenomorph that pursues her throughout the course of the game. Writing for The Verge, Andrew Webster called it “the most terrifying game I’ve ever played,” and you better believe it.
If you’re reading a list of scary video games, it’s fair to assume you’re familiar with the staples of the Resident Evil series — zombies, big mansion, biotech gone awry. But Resident Evil 7: Biohazard represents a substantial departure from the preceding games in the series.
Bombastic action setpieces take a back seat to more intricate exploration and unrelenting suspense. Rather than spelunking through expansive underground labs, sewers, and a museum, you’ll spend most of your time in the terrifying Baker house, getting to know this extremely unpleasant family one member at a time. If you loved the way Silent Hill made you want to sleep with the lights on, check out RE7.