The Best Horror Games With RPG Elements

Role-playing horror games are an undeservedly niche genre. Probably because combining the confidence-boosting treasure-hunter bliss of RPGs with the ominous tension of horror is a difficult marriage to pull off. Hence, games that manage to combine both elements with care usually come out as timeless masterpieces whose brilliance might never get replicated.

THEGAMER VIDEO OF THE DAY

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

RELATED: RPGs With The Best Exploration

In any case, finding RPG horror games that are of triple-A quality or at least close can be a grueling task. So, we’ve searched far and wide to bring you the best in RPG horror. Of course, they’re not as scary as dedicated horror genre games, but they sure as heck are more replayable.

Updated on September 7, 2023 by William Quick: Horror is not for everybody, but you can’t deny that it’s fascinating. Unlike humor, horror is much less subjective since there are some things that the majority would consider objectively scary. The problem is that these things have been presented to us so often that we’ve become used to or even numb to them. That’s why horror games need to work much harder to be creative in how they scare and haunt us. If you’re looking for titles that not only creep you out consistently but also make you invest time in your character and then world, then look no further than this list.

19 Deep Sky Derelicts

Deep Sky Derelicts Steam A Spaceman Holds An Infected Head

Darkest Dungeon came out, and we were floored at just how we were captivated by the visual style, horror, and attention to detail when it came to the characters’ physical and mental states. If you never go back to it, that would be understandable, but if you’re looking for another take on it, then try to brave Deep Sky Derelicts.

Guess what? It’s the future, you’re far out in space, and everything is horrible. Luckily, you have just enough resources to get together a ship and a hearty (or at the very least, desperate) crew to explore the remains floating out in space. You’re a salvaging and exploration operation taking on odd jobs just to keep yourself afloat. Every wreckage is a disturbing maze of things gone wrong with creepy aliens, murderous robots, and humans twisted by various horrors. Each encounter could well spell the end of your journey.

18 An Outcry

An Outcry Title Art With Main Character And Crow Eyes

Pixel art and psychological horror appear to go hand-in-hand very well, with saying the simpler, the better proving true. While there may be supernatural horror elements in play as well, it’s the effects on your mind and emotions that a game like An Outcry will be going after.

You play as a nameless person living in the dark part of a dense city in a rundown apartment building. You’ve cut yourself off from pretty much everyone you know, work is awful and almost non-existent, but there’s a ray of light in your friendly neighbor. As the night drags on, crows seem to descend upon you in huge murders as they take on scarier and more monstrous forms. They even have a spokesperson who questions everything about you. The building begins to transform and, though you can enter battles, you’re better off running for your life.

17 Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium Steam Detective And Kim In A Firefight

Have you ever woken up in a dirty and destroyed location just to question your very existence and what it all means? Well, this is how things start off with a much heavier and depressing tone in Disco Elysium and every move you make is a struggle just to keep on living.

RELATED: Best RPGs To Play On PC

The game follows a nameless police detective who awakens after a period of heavy drinking that involved collateral damage, freaking people out, and throwing out personal belongings. You start out at a very low point and all you can do is try your hardest to pull yourself up just a bit. Not only is the world you’re in cold and unfair, but your internal voices are always chatting away, usually with nothing helpful. The only sliver of hope is your professional and tolerant partner Kim Kitsuragi who will try to stay by your side through bad or worse.

16 Sunless Sea

Sunless Sea Title Art Showing A Light Buoy In The Dark

The sea is beautiful but also violent and uncaring, commanding the respect of anyone who decides to sail across their waters. As a testament to how dark these waters can get is the ‘Zee’ spreading across the vast and maddening world of the Sunless Sea.

In an alternate Victorian-era London, the city has fallen into a huge underground realm from which there appears to be no escape. The good news is that you start with a ship that lets you explore and experience some semblance of freedom. The bad news is that it’s ill-equipped to face the dark and dangerous creatures that lurk above and below the water. You can buy upgrades and hire a crew to try to make things more manageable, but misery loves company. Sooner or later, you may be forced to make decisions that will leave scars on your mind.

15 Pathologic 2

Pathologic 2 A Group Of Beings In Crow Robes On A Stage

The plague is here, and it is so very, very hungry. Pathologic 2 is a symphony of conflicting genres, from immersive sim to RPG to survival horror. You are stranded in a small, remote village that has been overtaken by a sickness that blots out the sky and sucks all the warmth out of the world.

The horror elements of Pathologic are subdued, but it would be lying to call them subtle. Dread in Pathologic comes from human problems — everything is scarce and morals must be bent to get what you need. You’re not scared in Pathologic because of the otherworldly elements — you’re afraid because you become someone different when you play.

14 Vampyr

Vampyr Doctor Reid Bites A Victim

You move through the world like a shadow of your former self, driven by an unholy hunger and, perhaps paradoxically, your innate desire to do good. Vampyr has you trekking through dreary London streets, haunted by illnesses and the late stages of the First World War. Yet, even you, a creature of the night, will feel that palpable terror in the marrow of your bones.

RELATED: Best Games Based On Horror Movies

Vampyr’s characters and stories reflect your choices from beginning to end. Districts can fall into disrepair and vampiric violence if you give in to your thirst too often — any and every target can be more than they seem. You’re the monster here, in the literal sense of the word. But you don’t have to be the thing that lurks in the dark.

13 Prey

Prey The Hero Walks Away From The Alien Entity

Arkane Studios loves an immersive sim RPG with a little eldritch edge, and Prey is no exception. High in the sky, far from the dredges of reality on Earth, orbits Talos 1, a mid-century modern space station. It’s here where TranStar has built its science and testing station for a product that interfaces with a user’s brain… and uses aliens called the Typhon to give users psychic powers.

Of course, everything breaks bad; what else did you expect? As Morgan Yu, you will navigate through Talos 1 after a calamity. The storyline reacts to your actions, and Morgan’s skill set is fully customizable. The Typhon is always near and can appear as innocuous as a coffee mug — remember, safety first.

12 Omori

Omori The Hero Being Haunted By An Entity

When you first play Omori, you may think something so cute and nostalgic couldn’t be frightening. You may feel something uneasy beneath your skin, but you’ll brush it off as quickly as it appears.

RELATED: Terrifying Video Games That Trick You By Looking Cute

Omori is a game that embraces dread. It relies on its surreal setting and slowly unfurling psychological horror story, centering on a boy called Sunny. That, coupled with a soft pastel palette and gameplay that harkens back to the simplicity of RPGs on the SNES, makes for an uncanny experience.

11 Dead Space (2023)

Issac fighting the Leviathan in Dead Space Remake

Isaac Clarke is not having a good day. Dead Space’s 2023 remake takes everything that made the first game jaw-droppingly terrifying and ramps it up a few notches — with no escape from its constant tension.

With better graphics and tighter design, you can expect to be frozen in fear more than once. Customizable and upgradable weapons allow you to play your way, and the open exploration gives you some breathing room — just don’t get comfortable. Ever.

10 Dark Souls Series

Dark Souls 10 Locations We'd Love To Experience All Over Again The Kiln of the First Flame

You’re probably already sick of hearing about this series whenever someone asks for horror; well, too bad because the Dark Souls games are some of the most horrific RPGs ever made. While the brand of horror here is more slow-burn dread than in-your-face jump-scares (though there are some of those as well), the foreboding atmosphere and creepy creature design are undeniably there.

In all three Dark Soulsgames, there is a constant fear of getting squashed to paste and losing your hard-earned currency. That may happen so many times that the fear factor dissipates and is slowly replaced with infantile rage. Still, nothing comes close to the feeling of despair and hopelessness upon seeing a boss execute its most disgusting kill combo against you.

9 Bloodborne

Bloodbourne The Hunter Enters The City

If Dark Souls’ horror elements are too soft-core for you, then you might want to look at its more terrifying cousin, Bloodborne from the same developers. It has the same formula but takes place in a fictional Victorian era plagued by Lovecraftian monsters and mythos. As you can imagine, the creature design here is the stuff of nightmares… if a high-fever delirium accompanied the nightmare.

RELATED: RPGs With No Party Members

It’s a game you really shouldn’t miss if you’ve been a longtime fan of Lovecraft. There aren’t many games that successfully translate that kind of horror, either. Even some fans of the Soulslike genre consider Bloodborne better than Dark Souls. Getting your hands on Bloodborne, however, might be more difficult as it’s a console-exclusive game.

8 The Evil Within 2

The Evil Within The Hero With A Gun Frozen In Plaster-Like Material

The Evil Within 2 has proven itself to be a worthy successor to the first game. It’s more horror than RPG, so don’t go in as a hardcore RPG fan expecting some deep customization and character development. The Evil Within 2 has RPG elements, but, at times, those can even feel tacked on.

However, that provides a nice change of pace and offers more freedom than games like Resident Evil. Your character, Sebastian Castellanos, can be upgraded and has some specialized skill sets you can develop for a specific play style. Weapon variety is also commendable, and you’ll certainly start feeling more powerful (or less helpless) as you progress into the game.

7 Dead Space 3

Dead Space Isaac Fights A Necromorph

The preceding Dead Space games were flag bearers of the horror genre and were unique in their own right. They became so much more than just Resident Evil in space and were even popular enough to get a third title. Even so, the third game, Dead Space 3 is notably a weaker entry than its predecessors. It introduced a new progression system to its aging mission structure and incorporated more RPG elements.

RELATED: Best Rec Room Horror Games

On top of that, there are also optional side missions in the game that can distract you from the main story. What really does scream ‘RPG’ in Dead Space 3 is the modularity of the guns. Your arsenal has been expanded, and you can even do some crafting to make hybrid versions of your default weapons. It’s arguably the third game’s greatest advantage over the first two.

6 Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

vampires from vampire the masquerade bloodlines

There’s no doubting the horror elements of this one; it’s written in the name. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is a classic from 2004 but was revolutionary back when it launched. Still, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is more of a traditional RPG than a horror game. You get to customize your character’s stats at the character creation and even pick your vampire clan.

There’s also lots of dialogue in between the action, and your choices matter more than most RPG horror games. It’s a true RPG alright. There is, however, at least one guaranteed spot in the game called the Ocean House Hotel which can quickly change the tone and make you feel like the prey instead of a bloodsucking predator. It’s a ghost hotel that’s better if you experience by yourself.

5 System Shock 2

System Shock 2 Title Art Depicting Shodan's Face

The first System Shock game shook the gaming industry to its core and eventually led to the creation of some spiritual successors, like Bioshock. The point is, it’s a masterpiece and was certainly ahead of its time. System Shock 2 follows it up with awesome additions to the core gameplay.

RELATED: Horror Games That Need To Be Remastered

System Shock 2 incorporates certain RPG elements such as skills and character progression through stats, but it’s still mostly a horror and survival first-person shooter (FPS). Nevertheless, it’s a worthy follow-up to the cyberpunk legacy that System Shock created. If you can stomach the heavily outdated graphics, it’s worth giving a try.

4 Stalker Series

Walking down a deserted path with your gun as choppers fly overhead.

Here we have another hybrid survival FPS game that, to this day, has never been successfully recreated: the Stalker games. Clear Sky, Shadow of Chernobyl, or Call of Pripyat — no matter which game you play among these three, you’ll surely have a unique experience. The Stalker games have successfully interwoven survival, RPG, FPS, and horror elements into one package (albeit a buggy one).

You play as a lone Stalker in the Zone, a quarantined area made desolate because of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. You’ll have to do your best to scavenge gear, improve your stats, and discover the secrets of the Zone — maybe even reach the fabled ground zero where an entity who grants wishes resides. There’s nothing quite like these games, despite them having existed for more than a decade.

3 Darkwood

Darkwood An Vision Of A Disturbing Cross

Since horror RPGs are not a very popular combination of genres for gaming, not many mainstream or triple-A developers make them. So, it’s up to indie studios to fill in that void and one of the best indie games in this genre mishmash is Darkwood. You play it from a top-down perspective, but it’s every bit as immersive as most horror games.

RELATED: Best Standalone JRPGs

The RPG elements are quite simple, but they work well to support the game’s survival aspect. There’s also a crafting system to keep the monsters out. Even the premise is simple: the woods are creepy, dark, and deep (sorry Robert Frost), so you do your best to explore and survive the place while finding some weapons and tools to aid yourself.

2 Parasite Eve Series

Near the beginning of Parasite Eve with Aya leaving the limo.

Leave it to Japanese developers to invent some hybrid games that actually work. What would the gaming industry do without them? Anyway, the Parasite Eve games are one of our best choices to recommend for anyone looking for that harmonic horror RPG experience. It’s made by Square (that figures) and thrusts the NYPD rookie named Aya Brea, the player character, into a mutant apocalypse in motion.

The gameplay is turn-based for the first game while the sequel revamps it in real time. As with most Square games, intricate and serviceable RPG elements are present but in no way does Parasite Eve skimp on the horror aspects. In fact, it might have even worked without the RPG elements. The unique gameplay and the interesting ideas of the Parasite Eve games alone make them worth playing.

1 Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon A Building Burns To The Ground

We mentioned earlier that Lovecraftian horror games are too few, right? That’s what makes the handful of them all the more memorable. Darkest Dungeon, in that matter, is a shining diamond. It takes the good old-fashioned dungeon crawling and turn-based combat and adds a dash of madness and masochism to it.

The result is one of the most difficult and nerve-wracking horror RPG games ever. It might even be harder than Dark Soulsor Bloodborne. You have to manage your adventurers’ stress levels and the fact that they’re all disposable no matter how much you value them. Oh, and you also frequently deal with freaky Lovecraftian monsters who love to lurk in ambush in every nook and cranny of the titular Darkest Dungeon.

NEXT: Horror Games Inspired By True Stories

Leave a Comment