Updated with new entries for Halloween 2022. Enjoy!
Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family ever seen a spook, spectre, or ghost?
If the answer is “no”… you obviously haven’t been playing any of the excellent horror games available on Nintendo Switch. There’s no shortage of scary games on the console, but you may well be wondering which are the best Switch horror games to load up when you’re in the house alone on a darkened night and in the mood for a fright.
We’ve rounded up the best scary games on Switch — in no particular order — to get that pulse racing. Not all of them are outright horror games, but each and every single one of these titles is a spooky treat in its own way. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Tarsier Studios
We quite enjoyed the original Little Nightmares, but the sequel — the appropriately titled Little Nightmares II — is the pick of the pair in our book. It’s nothing less than engaging from start to finish, with superb pacing, entertainingly varied level design and excellent graphics and performance. Its only real flaws are based on the imprecision that comes with all games in its sub-genre, as well as a few sections that feel more about trial-and-error than reactive survival. In our view, though, this doesn’t detract from a far superior sequel and one of the best cinematic platformers we’ve had the privilege of enjoying. A real stylish treat.
Publisher: Bloober Team / Developer: Bloober Team
Despite threatening to fizzle under the weight of its reverence for Blade Runner, Observer manages to craft an impressive and affecting horror experience on Switch that doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s arguably at its best when you surrender to the barrage of imagery and sounds rather than scanning pools of blood with detective vision. This port walks a technical tightrope and falters a little in docked mode, but fares much better as a handheld experience – its ambition and rich world-building are admirable enough to make up for any technical shortcomings. As for the scare factor, well, everyone’s going to have their own personal scale when it comes to what makes you moisten your trousers, but if dread, unease and a total lack of predictability sound like your cup of tea, you could be looking forward to a long, sleepless night after playing this one.
This series is granddaddy of survival horror games, so it’s obviously going to feature on this list. Resident Evil Revelations Collection combines both the original 3DS title Revelations and Revelations 2 (although the sequel is a download code if you buy physical, so beware) and provides some excellent over-the-shoulder scares. Both are available separately on the eShop and the latter is ideal for co-op if you have a friend. In fact, we’d recommend you bring someone else along – it might be less scary that way…
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Publisher: Bloober Team / Developer: Bloober Team
Layers of Fear: Legacy is a horrifying walking simulator in which you have to explore the house of a mad painter. The scares are psychological here, and even a simple pan of the camera can alter the environment considerably. You’ll be terrified to take a simple step in this artistic mind-messer; the creativity in its scares helps to keep you guessing about what’s around every corner, and even then, its unique set-pieces will most certainly surprise you anyway. Slightly lacklustre gameplay aside, the plot’s descent into madness and the title’s dedication to messing with your expectations to set up a scare mean that this horrific experience is one you won’t want to miss out on.
Publisher: Red Barrels / Developer: Red Barrels
The original Outlast: Bundle of Terror proved that indie developers can do survival horror – and do it well. You play as the freelance journalist Miles Upshur, who decides to stop writing about Brexit and new-age diets and go looking for a story inside a long-abandoned asylum. However, it might not be quite as abandoned as it looks…
If you like the original there’s also Outlast 2 to consider. It takes place in the same universe as the original, but has you playing as a husband and wife investigative journalists Blake and Lynn Langermann. Armed with only a camera, you have to investigate the mysterious death of an unknown pregnant woman. Nothing can go wrong there, surely? Both Outlast games are must-have experiences for those who love to be scared witless, although the first one is perhaps the best. Still, the sequel is worth a look when you’re finished filling your unmentionables with…fear.
Limbo is a brilliantly moody and expertly poised platform-puzzler that tells a harrowing story entirely without the use of words. It might be a little stark, but it’s dense with ingenious physics puzzles and weighty platforming challenges. It’s pretty powerful stuff, and your imagination will run wild at what it all means. Oh, and there’s an absolutely massive spider to contend with. That provides more than enough horror to earn its place here.
Publisher: Coconut Island Games / Developer: Red Candle Games
Detention is a horror classic that deserves a place on your Nintendo Switch. Its story has an important message behind it as it introduces themes that seem almost unfair when viewed through the eyes of a child, but that only helps to escalate the horror. Through a terrifying atmosphere, a series of chilling ghouls, and a soundtrack that will sink its teeth into you, Detention is a suitably horrifying title that should be experienced first-hand.
Inside is the spiritual successor to Limbo, and it builds on its predecessor in every imaginable way possible. A grimly beautiful platform-puzzler that, while brief, is packed full of jaw-dropping highlights, its dark tone won’t be for everyone, but it’s all been executed brilliantly, with gently taxing physics-based conundrums woven into a haunting wordless narrative. It’s a very similar game to its predecessor in many ways, with side-scrolling elements, a gorgeous, moody art style, and a vulnerable protagonist at the heart of it. Everything’s just bigger, better, and way more affecting.
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: FromSoftware
Dark Souls: Remastered might not be a strict horror game, but it’s packing plenty of frights nonetheless. This is a faithful remaster of a touchstone in video game design that improves overall performance while preserving all of the character traits that made the original such a memorable experience. While it’s no less forgiving – and its menus are a little fiddly – this slick Nintendo Switch iteration offers the only way to experience Lordran’s ultra-challenging odyssey in true handheld form. Between the daunting difficulty, horrific monsters, and a claustrophobic dark setting, Dark Souls will have you as tense as a night spent in a haunted house. Enter, if you dare!
Publisher: Aksys Games / Developer: Aksys Games
Death Mark‘s mystical horror setting presents itself as an exploratory adventure game, and much of your time will be spent wandering around a single predetermined location trying to find clues and objects that will help solve the case and quell the spirit’s thirst for revenge without getting yourself killed in the process. It’s a rare game that can start off tense and then continuously ratchet up the mood to almost unbearable levels until the final moments of the final chapter – and an even rarer one that has enough alternative characters, dialogue, and endings to make it worth playing through more than once – but Death Mark succeeds where it really counts. There’s plenty on offer here for both horror fans as well as those looking for a mystery that requires more than hoarding knick-knacks and waiting patiently for your character to officially notice something before you can proceed.
The first Resident Evil remains a classic of the genre. In many ways it is – and can only ever be – a product of its time, though. Even when tuned and honed and buffed to perfection, it has its own idiosyncratic personality and ways; change them and you change the game. Series veterans will know what to expect, but new players should prepare themselves for a schooling in game mechanics which have largely fallen out of fashion.
The same applies to Resident Evil 0, and while the original game is the obvious draw here, the prequel deserves another look, especially for fans who skipped it. Both games look great on Switch and the ability to play on-the-go helps alleviate some of the frustrations inherent to their old-fashioned systems, giving them the best possible opportunity to win you over in a modern context. Both are available separately on the eShop, and if you buy physical you’ll still have to download REmake via a code regardless. Ultimately, there’s no better way to sample that original survival horror formula in 2019, provided you’ve got the stomach – and the space on your system memory – for it.
Publisher: Crunching Koalas / Developer: Acid Wizard Studio
Darkwood is, thankfully, rather unlike any other horror game on Switch. Those with a taste for survival games will appreciate the constant pressure to salvage parts and craft new items while a clock ticks down in the background, while those with a love for all things sinister will really appreciate some of the truly disturbing moments. Despite the occasional technical flaw, the result is a purposefully slow experience that rewards multiple playthroughs with a storyline that branches depending on just how far into madness you’re willing to tread.
Publisher: Frictional Games / Developer: Frictional Games
Despite being a set that includes three entries in the same series, the Amnesia: Collection actually offers three very distinct experiences. The Dark Descent is a milestone for the genre that belies its own mechanical issues by offering some good, old-fashioned scares. Justine is a brief but experimental foray into gruesome puzzle-solving that’s well worth the detour, and A Machine for Pigs takes a more stripped-down approach to the original’s systems, but introduces a much more immersive story as a result. It’s a proper little time capsule that’s perfect for those who’ve already exhausted their fear glands with Outlast and Layers of Fear and want another means to chill their blood on a cold, dark winter night.