Games That Deconstruct Horror

Horror games get a bad rap for being littered with cheap jumpscares that are only intended to go viral on the internet, instead of actually making the player feel something like pure fear and unfiltered fear. It can be easy to write off these games as nothing more than unforgettable experiences that exist solely for the sake of shock, but the fact of the matter is that there are plenty of horror games that really do justice to this underrated genre.

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In fact, some of the most effective examples of horror can be found in games that aren’t necessarily limited to just that genre. It’s this effective deconstruction of horror as a medium that makes these games so brilliant, with players feeling a looming sense of doom over most of these titles, as opposed to the jumpscare-fest that many shallow titles try to incorporate to the lowest common denominator to address.


10/10 Undertale


Undertale takes the form of a simple cute game without revealing the gist of what it’s really about. The idea of ​​saving, gaining experience, and leveling up is twisted in a clever way that really makes players dread the mere idea of ​​hurting the monsters in this game.

Of course, the true horror of this game comes out during the Genocide Run, where the player himself becomes the monster everyone is running from. This culminates in a brilliant set piece at the end where Frisk, the evil entity that tortured this entire world prior to the player’s arrival, appears and talks about the player’s actions before scaring them in a way that will last long after this one Experience persists, even after multiple playthroughs.

9/10 Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Alex Roiva's Eternal Darkness

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is one of the most imaginative horror games out there, and it’s a shame it didn’t have the success it deserved. The game played around with a sanity mechanic that is truly incredible in its own way.

This sanity mechanic not only messed with the character himself, but also broke the fourth wall to mess with the player as well. From reducing the volume to deleting saved files, the way this game has attempted to mess with the player’s understanding of how video games work is what makes it such an effective piece of horror.

8/10 LSD: Dream Emulator

LSD dream emulator

The idea of ​​exploring weird dreams, ranging from the pretty funny to the deeply disturbing, sounds like a really interesting way to spend time playing a video game. That’s exactly what LSD: Dream Emulator used with great effect.

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The sheer nightmare fuel some of the dreams in this game have is truly terrifying given that players have no idea what those dreams will contain when they begin a playthrough. It is the unique nature of LSD: Dream Emulator That makes it one of the most unique examples of how to incorporate horror into a video game.

7/10 phasmophobia

Monsters in phasmophobia

Most people feel that having co-op games where players can interact with their friends automatically makes a horror game less scary. However, it is the unique spin that phasmophobia contributes to this concept that makes it such a successful multiplayer horror title.

Players enter a house as a group of Ghostbusters, slowly breaking down their communication as they move further away from the core group. The intense feeling of loneliness that players get when they are cut off from others and haunted by a ghost makes this title extremely scary and worth experiencing for any fan of clever horror games.

6/10 pt

Lisa's ghost from the PT Silent Hill demo

It’s kind of inevitable pt will find its way into any conversation about games that deconstruct the horror genre. After all, Hideo Kojima is a master at creating unique gaming experiences, and it shows in a truly frightening way pt deals with horror tropes in gaming.

The infinite corridor instills a sense of claustrophobia as the puzzles have rather odd solutions that defy the logic used in most other puzzle-centric games. The fact that this game was nothing more than a playable teaser for a new one silent Hill The game made for a great reveal, and it’s a shame that Kojima was booted out of the company before his vision for a full-length game in this legendary horror series could be realized.

5/10 Doki Doki Literature Club!

Monika and Natsuki from the Doki Doki Literature Club!

Doki Doki Literature Club is by far the cutest horror game that deconstructs the genre. A simple visual novel eventually leads to a truly disturbing story in which video game characters either hate themselves, have deep insecurities, or end up becoming self-conscious.

The way the game encourages players to break the fourth wall to reach the ending makes for a great time and shows why this game was such a massive phenomenon at launch. Gamers who want to see just how much horror potential there is in video games should give this harmless-looking visual novel a shot.

4/10 Inside

Playdead in game

play dead limbo was a pretty awesome horror side-scroller with fun puzzles and Inside builds on this formula to enable something truly special. Most players won’t really understand the mysteries of this game even if they play it to the end.

The innocent looking boy that players control in the game becomes part of something much bigger than most people realised. The implications of the secret ending add to the mystery of this game and show how ambiguity can have a huge impact on the overall creepiness of a horror title.

3/10 Ox free

Ox free radio

Ox free is a great narrative adventure title that explores the idea of ​​time loops and how they play around with current realities. The mysterious nature of this title gives more weight to its horror aesthetic, which is used sparingly, making it very effective.

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Players must replay the game and tinker with the radio to prevent Alex and the group from ever going to the island. This prevents the gang from unknowingly opening a portal to the other spirits and prevents them from witnessing the harrowing events taking place on the island.

2/10 Yume Nikki

0_0000_Yume Nikki

Yume Nikki deals with the life of a Hikinomori and the dreams she experiences. Traversing the dreams in this game is fun, but there are times when players need to navigate certain nightmares.

Some of the scariest scenes in the game have a very low chance of being triggered, meaning many people could go through this game without really getting scared. It is the uniqueness of this fantastic title to dream of Yume Nikki one of the most popular indie titles of all time, despite being released at a time when such titles had very little chance of breaking into the mainstream.

1/10 Pathological


Pathological is one of the strangest games that has attempted to deconstruct the genre. This survival horror title harbors an amazing mystery that will require repeated playthroughs with multiple characters to uncover. Each character has their own unique interactions, making the game quite immersive despite its somewhat frustrating gameplay loop.

One of the endings straight up breaks the fourth wall, with characters addressing the player directly instead of the character they control. Pathological is a unique, never-before-seen horror experience that fans of the horror genre should definitely experience first-hand.

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