Need something spooky to enjoy on this latest Halloween? I’m talking about horror games! The best horror games of 2022 (as played by me, anyway, as I scramble to try out as much stuff as possible before the end of the year). Rather than keep all my picks to myself, I’ve decided to create another Fanbyte horror game list for Halloween 2022! Now you can take a look for yourself and have some fun. You might just find something you’ll enjoy!
While this list is presented in no particular order, I’m going to start with my personal favorite pick of the year. That’s because Signalis isn’t just my favorite horror game of 2022; it’s one of my favorite games of the year period.
You can read my thoughts in much greater depth on this very website. Just check out my full review! But the short version is that Signalis is a lo-fi mix of Silent Hill psychological horror and Resident Evil resource management. In space. The vibes are off the chart, as you might imagine, as your playable character fights her way through deadly mutant “Replikas” to rescue a woman who — for reasons teased out slowly during the nine-ish hour game — is deeply important to her.
Signalis is also “free” for Xbox Game Pass and Humble Games Collection subscribers at launch, but it’s cheap enough even if you buy it outright to support the devs (it’s a great Steam Deck option, too, in my experience). Whatever your method, though, go play Signalis!
You Will Die Here Tonight (free demo)
Circling to something which isn’t actually very spooky, and more like campy fun instead, You Will Die Here Tonight is still another horror game that wears its influences on its sleeve. Said influences are the original Resident Evil (it stars a squad of doomed police in a puzzle-filled mansion) and House of the Dead (combat switches to first-person shooting galleries in which you pop approaching zombies).
The full game missed the Halloween 2022 window. It’s currently listed as “Coming Soon” on Steam. However, the developers made up for this with some extremely clever micro-demos. Six of them, in fact. Each was released on a different day leading up to Halloween and focuses on a different character and aspects of the game at the fore. One is all about combat, one is all about puzzles, one is more traditionally horrific, and so on.
The short demos (each is about 10 minutes long) interweave and form a complete sort of thematic prelude to the main game. It’s really exceptionally well-done. So is the game itself, if the demos are any indication. The combat is surprisingly weighty and the puzzles are appropriately silly for the source material. It’s definitely worth checking out the demos at the very least for the low, low cost of “entirely free.”
Dread X Collection 5
DreadXP, the publisher behind The Mortuary Assistant and the upcoming Creepshow tie-in game, really supports a huge variety of horror games. You’ve got Sucker for Love (an excellent eldritch “dating” sim), Dread Delusion (an indie spiritual successor to Morrowind), and Spookware (basically WarioWare if it starred Ed, Edd n Eddy skeletons).
But it all started with the Dread X Collection back in 2020.
If you’re not familiar, each Dread X Collection is a horror anthology — usually featuring 10-12 tiny horror games with their own, often very unique twists. The most exciting of these little experiments usually get spun off into full games down the line. That’s what happened with Sucker for Love and Spookware, in point of fact. Not every bite-sized entry is such a hit, but this year’s crop was quietly very good. I particularly recommend Gallerie: technically the “second” game in this fifth collection. Though you don’t need to play them in any specific order.
The game uses the now-common horror trope of Weeping Angels and SCP-173. Which is to say enemies that can’t move when you look at them. Being a trope doesn’t mean it’s not still effectively scary, of course, but the real star of Gallerie is a series of sections where you translate extraterrestrial language and syntax to communicate with an ascended being inside the museum where the game takes place. The strange puzzles are tense and fascinating and would absolutely make a great full game. Here’s hoping Gallerie gets spun off like its peers!
Like Signalis, this game is free for a limited time. You can snag Saturnalia for nothing until November 3, 2022 on the Epic Games Store. You absolutely should, too, as the “neon-folk horror” experience is a treat. It’s also quite difficult to describe absolutely everything happening in Saturnalia in just a few paragraphs, but I’ll do my best.
You play a group of four unfortunates in the strange seaside town of Gravoi. A religious festival has begun, and all the locals have seemingly holed up inside their homes or disappeared. Your four playable characters can’t — or won’t — follow suit for various personal reasons. Thus begins a search through the suddenly shifting villa for answers to just what the hell is going on.
You can only play one character at a time, but phones scattered throughout Gravoi let you call for backup to solve puzzles and shuffle around resources, or to collect clues in different ways. Clues are added to a very complex web of information and relationships that tracks everything from who has a crush on who, to where you can find a key to that basement you saw earlier. Beyond that, though, there is no mini-map or deep user interface telling you where to go or what to do. You need to look at street signs to memorize where you’re going. All while dodging masked and shadowy figures in the night.
This is where the “shifting” part comes into play. It’s possible to rescue a player character if they get captured by a monster. Though this might just lead another person getting strung up in the process. If all of your characters get taken out, the structure of Gravoi changes in a roguelike fashion. After which you need to relearn the entire layout of town. Which, again, is never cleanly laid out in an abstract sort of map. Progress is however saved in the form of puzzles: any that you solve in a previous run carry over to the next. So, if you open a door on the other side of town, said door will remain open. You just won’t necessarily know where it is anymore without further exploring.
It’s a great setup — one that’s further wrapped in a fantastic visual style of intentionally crudely animated colored pencil drawings. Saturnalia should definitely be in your horror collection.
Volume warning: the lone trailer for Endoparasitic on Steam right now is loud as all hell. This sets the mood for the game itself, though, which is intentionally unpleasant to play — and in some ways even to look at or think about. Which seems just perfect for a horror game, no?
The game begins (like, within the first five seconds of booting it up) with your player character getting both legs and one arm ripped off by unidentified hairy blobs. The scientist in question — whom you quickly discover is a horrible little man who probably caused this to happen in the first place — cauterizes the wounds with a flatiron before continuing his one-armed crawl through a derelict research station to protect his “important research.”
This research appears to involve an alien parasite that is slowly crawling towards his brain. Thus, you have an obvious time limit as you click and drag yourself across the floor from one dose of vaccine to the next. Eventually you also find some guns with which to protect yourself. Though they must be painstakingly loaded one bullet at a time with your single set of fingers. There never seems to be quite enough ammo to kill all the things blocking your darkened path, either.
Minimalist controls and objectives like these make Endoparasitic immediately stand out from the pack. They bely a pretty well-written sci-fi horror story, too. One told mostly through computer terminals and snippets of dialogue with your suffering colleagues. The game itself is still frustrating as all hell to play. You’re going to get lost and stuck on monsters and reload saves a lot. That also seems to be intentional, though, and the game has fairly generous checkpoints with lightning quick load times.
For just $10, this experimental little release is worth checking out if you’re really looking for something different this year. Not to mention you can tell your friends “It’s like survival horror QWOP,” which is one helluva sentence.
The Quarry is almost certainly the highest-budget game on this list. You will probably recognize at least one of the famous actors in its cast: Lance Henrickson, David Arquette, Ted Raimi, etc. It looks damn gorgeous, too, as a game from the makers of Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology should. Developer Supermassive Ganes has quite the talent for motion capture and face scanning at this point.
Does that translate into a very scary game? Not really. But Supermassive joints aren’t really about that. They’re more about recreating the atmosphere and imagery of slasher and monster movies from a bygone era (an in an interactive setting). While popular horror films have mostly gone in the direction of the corny, uber-Christian James Wan extended universe, or “elevated horror” that increasingly feels like it looks down on the genre’s past, The Quarry and its ilk call to mind Friday the 13th and The Blob: pissy 20-somethings fighting and dying against terrors in the night.
You control the outcomes (more-or-less) by making extremely simple choices and occasionally flicking sticks in quick-time events. Which is to say: none of this is high art. But it’s extremely good fun for a night or two played with friends in a dark room! Do you decide that a character should check inside a mysterious bag, or open that ominously banging trapdoor? It’s up to you and maybe a friend or three to choose.
Darkest Dungeon 2 (early access)
I was a teensy bit disappointed with Darkest Dungeon 2 when it first launched into early access around last Halloween. One year later, the game is much deeper and far more promising. Which makes sense given that developer Red Hook studios is one of the oldest hands at early access development in the business.
The sequel initially threw out the base management of the original in favor of a more traditional run-based roguelike system. The sort you can find in Slay the Spire and Dead Cells. This was the source of my initial skepticism. While it was exciting to see the series try something new and different, in this case that meant veering toward a gameplay structure you can already get in dozens of other roguelikes flooding the market every day. Put another way what was new to Darkest Dungeon was not necessarily new to me.
The massive “Altar of Hope” update has begun to split the difference while fleshing out the game considerably. Darkest Dungeon 2 still maintains the spirit of its tagline — “face your failures” — by forcing you to always press onward under a constant war of attrition waged against your party. However, you now unlock a currency that permanently upgrades your crew and the stagecoach they ride, similar to the city you managed in the first game. The process is heavily streamlined (there’s just one permanent upgrade currency to worry about instead of three or four), but still introduces better risk and reward for going after and holding onto bonus rewards.
All the while, Darkest Dungeon 2 looks as fantastic and spooky as ever. The new 3D art style has been very kind to the characters — who get detailed backstories this time around — and their sense of impact when they obliterate skeletons and bubble-headed fishmen. Or, y’know, when they get obliterated themselves. The atmosphere is perfect for a Halloween run or three as a result, and there’s coincidentally never been a better time to check out the changes in Darkest Dungeon 2.
FAITH: The Unholy Trinity
If Darkest Dungeon 2 brings maximalist Gothic horror, with its hard-hitting combat and booming narrator, FAITH: The Unholy Trinity is more like squeezing bloody terror from a stone. The latest game from the appropriately named New Blood Interactive (usually known for its classically styled “boomer shooters”) looks like an early DOS or Atari 5200 game and sounds like a rudimentary text-to-speech program.
If you think that means the game can’t do effective jump scares, you’re dead wrong. If anything, letting the players’ brain fill in the gaps between the chunky pixels and harsh, screeching sound effects makes FAITH even more intense than a lot of high-fidelity horror games. There’s a reason the smudgy graphics of the original PlayStation era — which leave monsters mostly in the mind’s eye — have made a resurgence in the horror space. Why shouldn’t it work with this style, as well?
Gameplay in FAITH is similarly simplistic. You can walk around and hold up a crucifix. That’s it! At least most of the time. The game gets incredible mileage out of these limited controls, however, as you’re confronted with demonic combat puzzles that must be exorcised with your limited toolset. You will die, die, and die again. Though each checkpoint is rewarded with a gorgeously grotesque pixel art cutscene — such as a demon forcing its fist through the empty void where someone’s face used to be.
Then there are multiple endings for each of the game’s three hauntings: encouraging experimentation and exploration. Along the way, you’ll discover notes with surprisingly grim details about the possessed people you encounter.
While Signalis is one of my personal favorite games to play this year, FAITH is definitely my favorite surprise. I had no idea what to expect. Nor did I realize how effective the rudimentary graphics would be at frightening me. I still don’t quite know everything (I haven’t come close to discovering every ending or playing every mode), but I’m darkly fascinated to find out more.
The Mortuary Assistant
As mentioned above, The Mortuary Assistant is another DreadXP title. It’s also perhaps the publisher’s biggest success to date; the game has gotten some livestreaming traction and even a feature film in the works. And like a lot of popular horror games that become streaming hits, its low budget is quite visible at times. Characters don’t look quite right in motion, for example, which is admittedly not much of an issue when you’re mostly dealing with inert corpses.
“Inert” might not actually be the right word. As the titular mortuary assistant, you take on night shifts to embalm bodies alone in a creepy building bereft of other people. The rub? One of these corpses is always possessed by a demon. It’s up to you to search for telltale signs of a haunting as you go about your business and properly incinerate the correct corpse. Lest you become the next one possessed by morning.
The whole thing is a little goofy. The game knows it, too, and leans into a sort of deadpan humor that makes the occasional jank feel that much more charming — like you and the developer are sharing kindly “What can you do?” glances the whole time. Much like the character models, it really doesn’t matter that much in practice, either, as The Mortuary Assistant is more of a puzzle/adventure game than a spook-em-up. The jump scares and dread are mostly just gravy. Albeit good gravy on a tasty little investigative puzzler.
And that’s my current crop of 2022 horror games to check out! I’ve got a few more on my own personal playlist — such as Iron Lung, The Callisto Protocol, and Scorn — but hopefully these give you at least a little something to enjoy this holiday season. Have fun and stay scared!