When it comes to indies, one of the genres that can count most on this branch of gaming is undoubtedly horror. Many of the best horrors ever, were created by small development teams who managed to create very good products, managing to establish themselves on the market, and giving a hard time to the greats of the genre. In this article, we have decided to round up ten of the best indie horror games that have been released so far. For clarity, we would like to say that we have decided not to mention more games belonging to the same franchise, in order to make this list as varied as possible.
Darkwood is a survival horror video game with an isometric view, set in the Soviet territories around the end of the 80s. The game puts us in the shoes of a character we know absolutely nothing about, except that he finds himself a prisoner in a dense forest from which he will have to try to escape. However, this will not be easy at all, since the forest has a kind of “soul” and therefore tries to take possession of everything that enters it.
The real strength of Darkwood, however, is not what is represented and told, but how. Everything within the game world has taken on deformed appearances, even people. Often you will find yourself trying to decipher what a particular thing means. This is also accentuated by the fact that the game takes inspiration from some of the masters of horror literature such as Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. Darkwood is a game that will surely involve all lovers of the genre, especially those who appreciate works of a grotesque nature.
9. Little Nightmares
Little Nightmares is a survival horror game with strong platforming and puzzle components. We play a nine-year-old girl named Six who wakes up inside a suitcase on an underwater resort ship. The pace of the game is quite slow, and there is no action of any kind, but the game still manages to keep the player's concentration (and tension) high thanks to the game mechanics. Our task will be to be able to survive the dangers that lurk in every corner of the ship and to be able to escape the Keeper.
The graphic style might make you believe it's a children's game, but you soon realize that it's not like that at all. The story of Little Nightmares is dark and brutal, certainly not suitable for an audience of very young people. We won't stay here to tell you what exactly makes it so, to avoid spoilers, but just think that the game hides a truly gloomy soul inside. All those who are not impressed by strong stories could certainly find something for their teeth.
Signalis is a return to the origins of the survival horror genre. The game is set in a future where technology is now super advanced and space travel is possible, in an unidentified planetary system. Everything is governed by a totalitarian regime in which androids (Replikas) created with neural copies of human beings are used to perform different tasks.
The game puts us in the role of one of these androids who, after a shuttle crash, sets out in search of the other android unit with which she was to carry out a mission. The game is in 2.5D and has a gameplay that is very reminiscent of the Resident Evil games of the 90s, complete with puzzles and doors to open, as well as the very famous rooms in which to save game progress.
Do you remember PT? The demo created by Hideo Kojima as part of the creation of a new Silent Hill which was then cancelled? Visage is a love letter to that “game”. Although PT has never really landed on the market, it has nevertheless contributed to creating a vein of the horror genre which sees, to date, one of its greatest exponents in Visage.
Visage puts us in the shoes of a character who finds himself exploring a house. Soon he will realize that it is not a normal house at all: strange things happen inside it and seem to be connected to evil entities. In that house, in fact, some chilling things have happened: suicides, murders, people gone mad. Our task will be to relive, piece by piece, what happened in that house. Certainly not a game for the faint of heart.
6. Layers of Fear
Layers of Fear is a psychological horror video game that puts us in the role of a painter with mental problems who tries at all costs to finish one of his works. The plot is not always well told, but it must be understood thanks to clues or documents that can be found within the game, which allow us to have a more complete view of the general picture.
The gameplay revolves around solving more or less complex puzzles. The determining factor is certainly the setting, an old Victorian house, which keeps changing constantly: nothing is as it seems and everything can change at any moment. This game, like Visage and others, was also heavily inspired by PT.
5. Martha is Dead
Martha is Dead is a psychological horror video game that combines folklore, fact, and fiction. Set during the Second World War, the protagonist of the story, Giulia, soon makes a gruesome discovery: her twin sister has died and she finds her in a lake. From here starts the entire story of Martha is Dead, between twists, tension, and historical events.
The game features very simple gameplay: just wander around the settings trying to find clues and solve small puzzles in order to bring the truth to light. The folklore certainly has significant and interesting importance that will be able to involve you for the entire duration of the game. If you are a lover of horror games that tell strong stories, Martha is Dead could definitely be for you.
Scorn is the debut work of the software house Ebb Software. It's a very different horror than the others on this list, but it's here because of its uniqueness. The storyline of the game is purposely cryptic and left to almost full interpretation by the player. We can only anticipate that you will impersonate a humanoid who will have to try to escape the horrors that lurk in the world of Scorn.
The setting is definitely the best part. Scorn draws inspiration from H. R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński, creating a very horrific, gloomy, and heavy atmosphere. This bioorganic horror is certainly not suitable for a very young audience, both for what you see and for what it tries to tell.
SOMA is one of the most successful horror games in recent years. It is part of the genre of sci-fi horror games set underwater. A distinctive feature of the title is certainly that of shedding light on one's inner self, on consciousness, and what it means to be human beings.
As the protagonist, our task is to search for the last survivors of Pathos-II after his fall from grace. The machines, in fact, have become hostile starting to feed on people, supplies are starting to run low and the few survivors must try to survive the various horrors that lurk in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. To make everything even more distressing, we add the fact of not being able to fight enemies but only to take shelter and flee.
In Outlast we play a reporter looking for news about an old abandoned asylum, recently put back into operation for research purposes. To shed light on the matter, the protagonist will sneak inside, but he will soon realize the horrors that are there.
Between science and religion, nature and the supernatural, our task will be, at the same time, to investigate the terrifying things that happen inside the asylum and to survive. The rooms of the Mount Massive Asylum, in fact, are full of enemies to hunt us down and kill us without even blinking an eye. Outlast is also part of the games where you can not fight but only run and hide.
1. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
We conclude this list with Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a survival horror with a strong psychological mold. We play Daniel who wakes up in a deserted castle, remembering neither how he got there nor his past. Slowly we will be called to investigate the narrow corridors of the castle, paying attention to the dangers that lie inside; or are they just a figment of our imagination?
Amnesia: The Dark Descent leans heavily on the psyche fact and what may or may not be real. It is up to the player to be able to make this distinction to complete the game, between hallucinations, tension, and puzzle solving. All fans of more cryptic games who do not guide you toward the solution will find bread for their teeth.