Top Ten Scariest Games Available on Xbox One

By Mark Delaney, 1 month ago
Typically when I put together these ranked lists, I'm not too concerned about the ranking order. I still pay mind to it, but I often feel like there are plenty of opportunities for one to move the order around and I wouldn't feel like much was lost. I consider the whole list — what made the cut — more important than the game to game comparisons. However, as the resident horror aficionado on staff, I took extra time to ensure I got this one exactly right, debating with myself the order of several of these games for a long time. Honestly, I still feel like there's a bit of wiggle room here and I'd love to hear your personal rankings as well. Here is my definitive list of the ten scariest games on Xbox One, either via a current generation release or by way of backward compatibility. Please note I elected to only include one game from any given series, so if you feel a game is missing, it's maybe because a scarier game in the series is already shown.

If you're looking for something scary to play for the Halloween season, turn down the lights, put on the headphones, and dive into any of the unforgettable and unforgiving worlds listed here.

10. Sylvio

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I think Sylvio is the type of game that won't appear on most similar lists around the internet, but it really should. I've become something of a vocal proponent for this unsung indie, which admittedly offers visuals on par with early Xbox 360 games. However, the brilliance of Sylvio is heard, not seen. It's a game that focuses on electronic voice phenomenon, or EVP (ghostly voices caught on tape), and the sound design that went into those EVP samples is truly unnerving. Some goofy puzzles and shooting elements do get in the way, but in terms of audio, few games on this list come close to the truly unnerving ghost tapes in Sylvio. Its sequel, which was sadly canceled for consoles but is available on PC, adds ghosts caught on video too, and those are frighteningly memorable too.

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9. Condemned: Criminal Origins

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One of the earliest games of the Xbox 360 era, Condemned has become something of a cult hit among longtime Xbox players. It's a first-person game where you play as a cop stuck in a nightmarish scenario with crazies and criminals running amok with all kinds of melee weapons and sinister plans. It's not aged incredibly well, so this one may play best for those who have already done so and have that nostalgia, but if you can forgive some 2005 jankiness and visuals to match, it remains one of Xbox's best efforts and a game that truly deserves a new series entry.

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8. Dying Light

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In the daylight, Dying Light is an excellent first-person survival horror/action-RPG hybrid. It does a lot well and it has thankfully spawned a much-desired sequel. But when night falls, that's when the game crosses over from a great horror RPG to a true survival horror experience. The darkness of night brings with it a special breed of zombies and the game does its best to alert you to when night has nearly fallen because you really don't want to be out of the safe zone after dark. Hunted without resources or the proper speed to take these vile creatures on, it's often the case that some players will outright skip nighttime sections of the game by literally sleeping through it with the in-game passage of time. If you do dare venture out after hours, there are greater rewards waiting for you, but seriously, you've been warned.

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7. The Evil Within

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I often think of The Evil Within as the modern-day equivalent to Resident Evil 4. It's definitely more along the lines of an action-horror rather than a survival horror, but plenty of times throughout the game it reminds us that those can be terrifying too. Really it does that within just a few minutes of starting when you're crouching around a police station being chased by a chainsaw-wielding behemoth. The game rarely lets up and its greatest attribute comes in how relentless it feels for players who so crucially need a moment of respite but won't ever get one. If you loved Resident Evil 4 and have somehow missed this one, make time for it this Halloween.

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6. Amnesia: Collection

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Only coming to Xbox just weeks ago after a long drought, Amnesia's three-part series is still an important work almost a decade since it debuted. It basically put defenseless horror games on the map and has paved the way for so many other games to try and match its effectiveness, with few ever achieving the same heights. The Dark Descent is the highlight here, and if you play it without a guide it could very well demand a wardrobe change. It's like the godfather of what I call hide-and-seek horror, and for everything Frictional Games did so well later with their follow-up, SOMA, that instant classic owes so very much to this instant classic. It took a long time for Amnesia to come to the Xbox platform, but it's absolutely worth the wait.

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5. Alien: Isolation

Licensed games are rarely good, never mind great, and licensed horror games have been especially bad over the years. Alien: Isolation is a terrifying exception to the rule. Telling a new story in Ridley Scott's famous universe, Isolation manages to take so much of what makes the first film a classic and bring it over to video games. The feat is especially impressive when you realize the studio behind it, Creative Assembly, has spent their history mostly working on strategy titles. With a cunning xenomorph AI, players must learn to outsmart one of pop culture's most intelligent predators. It's truly an ode to the franchise and belongs alongside the best of its storied history.

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4. Dead Space

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The best new horror franchise of the last generation, Dead Space ultimately became an excellent trilogy, but it really peaked with this first effort. Visceral struck horror gold with this tale of a space mining vessel that goes dark and succumbs to a nauseating and violent threat. No one who has played could ever forget the vile necromorphs and their many forms, and the game's superb use of audio to toy with players still holds up even today, October 14th, which is the exact ten-year anniversary of the game. With Visceral gone and EA not seeming interested in something as niche as survival horror, we may have already seen the last of this unforgettable series, but it stands among the titans of the genre forever.

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3. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

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As I said above, only one game from any series would appear on this list and for the most famous horror series of all, it's the most recent game that earns the spot. RE7 rewrote the book on Capcom's seminal scare series, combining modern stylings of first-person horror with the classic puzzle and progression loop of the famed series. Collectively, it has gone down as a somewhat controversial entry for the game, and if you think the series doesn't fit as a first-person title, you may join in the small chorus of boos. But, if you allow yourself to see Resident Evil from a new perspective, literally and figuratively, what you'll get is a game that has returned its once great series to the top of the genre.

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2. Silent Hill HD Collection

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Let me be clear here: in terms of the best overall horror games, I don't think anything is better than Silent Hill 2, which, along with part 3, makes up this buggy HD re-release. It's a shame these reissues are both a bit problematic because when things are working correctly, which is thankfully plenty of the time, they still hold up as two of the most important, most unsettling, most I-can't-play-this-anymore games the industry has ever seen. Both of them offer exceptional stories too, along with a mood that is often imitated, never duplicated. Silent Hill is my personal favorite horror series ever and despite their issues, these two games still exist as required playing for every genre fan.

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1. Outlast 2

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When I think of the scariest games on Xbox One, there's truly only one that fills me with such absolute dread that I find it almost impossible to go back and play again. I foolishly reviewed this game last year, which meant I was up against a deadline and had to push myself to finish on time. Outlast, despite what you may have heard, is much more than just a few jump scares. It combines deeply unsettling atmosphere and a sense of constant danger to make it the type of game that will permanently turn away anyone new to the genre and even test the mettle of hardcore horror fans. Brimming with memorable foes and chase sequences that will often literally having you jumping (or falling) out of your seat, this sequel cemented the series as a modern horror juggernaut. Developer Red Barrels has teased a third game and that should leave fans both elated and haunted, which is exactly why we horror fans like this sort of thing in the first place.

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This list was revised several times and, like I said, I really did painstakingly go over these rankings to ensure they're now presented in a way I feel is most true. But I'm still open to debate and I'd love to hear from you too. Show me what your top ten horror games on Xbox One look like, or expand it to the entire industry history if you'd like. I'll be back next weekend with more horror coverage in celebration of the Halloween season!
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is the host of the community game club TA Playlist. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his family. He almost never writes in the third person.