If you love horror games, you should be excited about the Xbox Series X. Horror is a gaming genre that particularly benefits from advances in graphics support for lighting, speedy loading times, and extra detail on the screen. If you’re getting chills just thinking about it, we’ve got the list for you: These games are works of excellent horror on the Series X or specifically enhanced for Series X gameplay!
Resident Evil: Village
Capcom has put in serious work to perfect the Resident Evil formula, and few of the titles have benefited as much as Village, a tightly focused RE game set in a gothic town filled with a wide variety of monsters and machinations. You play Ethan Winters, who explores and unlocks the village while running from — and eventually facing down — a number of terrifying enemies inspired by ancient horror tropes (plus, of course, the towering Lady Dimitrescu). The Series X does a particularly great job of running the ray tracing around Village while still ensuring 60fps. Gamers who like action with their horror will certainly want to try Village, even if it’s been a while since you’ve dipped your toes into the Resident Evil series.
One of the very first horror games made for the Series X, The Medium has a very clear core gameplay offering: As a medium, you’re able to jump between two different worlds, one real and one spiritual, to uncover the truth. You use these powers to explore a rundown resort and piece together what actually happened. Just one thing — the spiritual realm can get truly nightmarish, and you aren’t the only presence haunting these ruins. Those looking for plenty of narrative and exploration will enjoy this ride.
Survival horror has had an excellent few years, and The Persistence is a great example of how fine-tuned the genre has become. The setting will probably be familiar to you: You are on a dying spaceship desperately trying to survive, and a number of horror-inducing monstrosities are trying to do unspeakable things to you.
However, several things make Persistence unique. It uses a roguelike cycle where you run expeditions into the ship, which constantly changes in layout, items, and upgrades. There’s a stealth system that requires you to hide in the darkness, and a shield system that focuses more on living through attacks than fighting back. This game takes its horror seriously, and the Series X enhancement is just icing on the cake (plus it plays well in VR).
Subnautica: Below Zero
Speaking of survival horror … Subnautica was a hit thanks to survival and crafting gameplay set in a hostile alien ocean, which constantly shifts from atmospherically stifling to downright scary (especially if drowning, endless water, ocean monsters, etc., make your skin crawl). Below Zero, the sequel, improves on the graphics and adds more to do, as well as more dangers in the alien sea. It’s a good choice if you like a little horror and challenge but don’t want to take it too seriously. Newcomers may want to play a little of the first game before, ah, jumping in.
Outbreak: The New Nightmare
This Outbreak sequel is Series X enhanced and ready for a buddy! It’s a co-op survival horror game centering on a scary nighttime zombie experience. There’s some Left 4 Dead in it, certainly, but with a variety of interesting twists: You only get one life per playthrough, so scrounging for supplies and staying hidden is vital to success. Many missions include tense, timed activities where death is always just around the corner. The shadowy environments are also creepy in a way few recent zombie games have been — and horror is always more fun when you can bring friends along, too.
Maid of Sker
It’s difficult to explain Maid of Sker, but if you like folklore horror, it should certainly be on your list. The game is a first-person exploration through a hotel that’s being haunted by Welsh spirits, specifically the ghost of Elisabeth Williams and her tragically haunted family. We can’t say much more about such a story-driven game, but it’s a fun pick for gamers who like a classical approach to horror.
Little Nightmares 2
Little Nightmares 2 is filled with what made Little Nightmares so great, but with more of it. While the first game made you a mouse-like person hiding in a ship overcome by giant monsters, the second takes you to a new world. Here you play as another of these small people, a young boy trying to escape a creepy landscape dominated by an eerie signal tower — and more of those twisted monsters. Comparisons to Inside are easy to make, but there’s a greater focus on platforming than puzzle solving here, and the combination works very well.
While Scorn isn’t out quite yet, it’s worth keeping an eye on this one: It’s a first-person horror game set in a terrifying environment that’s immediately reminiscent of H.R. Giger. It’s no surprise, then, that there are disgusting monsters to fight and weapons to desperately loot as you try to survive. The release date is still a bit uncertain (it remains at 2021, but these days it’s looking increasingly likely we’ll have to wait until 2022), so keep an eye on it if you are interested. Oh, if you don’t mind being patient, get ready for Dying Light 2, which is set to be released in December 2021, and follows a new generation dealing with the virus in a new open world to explore.