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  • Danish Sinha

The Psychological Angle of Horror Games and Why It Matters

Video games used to be shunned by many people because they were often seen as a waste of time and a distraction from more productive activities. However, this isn't the case today because technology has evolved to the point where video games rival movies and television shows in terms of storytelling, which says a lot because they come in various genres. No exception to this is horror; plenty of horror games have been released over the years.

Horror games are noteworthy for their ability to create a sense of fear and suspense in the player. It can be argued that horror games are much more effective at this than movies or television shows because the player is directly involved in the game, making them more engaged and more likely to be scared. However, many people barely scratch the surface, and the psychological aspect of horror games is often underappreciated. For this reason, we'll discuss the details in this article.

Interactivity in Horror Games

First and foremost, the interactivity of horror games is what makes them so effective. Unlike movies and television shows, the player participates actively in the game. This means that the player controls the character's fate and can make decisions that will affect the game's outcome. This level of control is often used to create a sense of dread, as the player will constantly be on edge and uncertain of what will happen next.

The fear of the unknown is a powerful tool for horror games. The player may know what will happen, but the unpredictability increases the tension. This can be enhanced by using jump scares to shock and surprise the player.

Psychological Horror

In addition to using jump scares, horror games often employ psychological horror. This type of horror is designed to play on the player’s emotions and manipulate their feelings. It can create a sense of dread and unease in the player, as they are constantly on edge and unsure of what will happen next.

Horror Game Design

At its core, the design of a horror game should focus on creating an atmosphere of fear and tension. This can be done in various ways, including sound design, visuals, level design, and more.

Sound design is an integral part of horror game design, as it can create an atmosphere of fear and tension. This can be done through ambient sounds, music, and sound effects that make sense of dread and unease.

Level design is also vital in horror game design, as it can create an environment conducive to scares. This includes using dark corridors and tight spaces and placing objects that make sense of dread.

Of course, horror game design should also include mechanics that create a sense of tension. These mechanics can consist of using limited resources, time limits, and other gameplay elements that put the player in a state of anxiety.

Famous Examples

When it comes to horror games, there's no better example than the Silent Hill franchise from Konami. The series is notable for mixing psychological horror with horror elements such as monsters and a creepy atmosphere, which is elevated by the titular town's traits, particularly the fog.

Another example is the Resident Evil series from Capcom. This series is focused more on action-horror but still manages to deliver plenty of scares. More notably, Resident Evil is a psychological horror with traditional monster-slaying, creating an atmosphere of fear and dread. The games also feature intricate level design, with plenty of hidden secrets and jump-scares.

Finally, there's the breakout indie horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent from Frictional Games. The game features a unique blend of psychological horror and puzzle-solving as the player navigates a dark and twisted environment that affects the player's sanity as part of the mechanic. Staying in the dark for too long can lead to madness, and your only line of defense is running and blocking the path, creating an intense and immersive experience.


Horror games are a great way to experience terror and suspense in a safe and controlled environment. With various genres, horror games can range from psychological horror to action-horror, depending on the player’s preference. Whether you're looking for jump-scares or a more psychological take on horror, there's a horror game for everyone.

If you’re planning to develop thrilling games, Gamestacy can help you! We believe in creating a safe, secure gaming environment, which is why we make wholesome yet fun games that everyone can enjoy. Visit our website today to subscribe to our newsletter!

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