Do you hate feeling good and having a nice time? Would you much prefer to feel really uncomfortable, and fester in the poor decisions that you’ve made? Have I got some psychological horror indie games for you!
Horror games come in all shapes and sizes. One very popular sub-genre of horror games is the psychological horror game, a label given to the spooky games that also make us think. Psychological horror games generally stick with you, and sometimes have you thinking something like, “Wait, why did I do that? Why would I do that? What is wrong with me?”. The horror indie market is choc-a-bloc with good stuff in this category in particular.
It’s funny that I come to you right here, now, as a lover of psychological horror indie games, considering it wasn’t that long ago that I wouldn’t even watch Seed of Chucky because it was too scary for me. I was an absolute wimp. A LOSER! LAUGH AT ME, BOO BOO THE FOOL! Okay, now stop laughing. You cannot laugh anymore because currently, I am The Big Strong Guy Who No Afraids Of Anything.
Sure, I still refuse to touch any horror games that look a little too real. I have my limits. However, I love a good psychological horror indie game that leaves me a little upset or unnerved. That being said, here are 10 psychological horror indie games that you may or may not have heard of that you should definitely give a go!
IMSCARED is a meta horror game made by Ivan Zanotti’s MyMadnessWorks. It’s a spooky little game that actively works against you, and implements gameplay mechanics that go far beyond just the game window. There are a few jumpscares here and there, but the true meat and potatoes of the game lies in the files you find in your computer as you play the game. Good stuff!
Therapy with Dr. Albert Krueger
Here we go, another Tumblr Sexyman. Looking beyond this, Therapy with Dr. Albert Krueger is a horror puzzle game crossed with a visual novel by dino999z. It’s a clever game with a very aesthetically-pleasing art style that really catches you off-guard with its more spooky themes. A fantastic horror game for anybody who requires therapy from an incredibly normal guy.
Platforms: PC and Mac (Itch.io)
Doki Doki Literature Club!
Why is this here? If you know, you know. If you don’t know, play Doki Doki Literature Club. Heed the content warnings, go on if you’re fine with them, and play it. It’s free on PC and Mac, and the Plus! version is great if you’re a pre-existing fan of the game. Go on then. The folks over at Team Salvato have made a great game here that I can’t stop recommending to people.
Exhibit of Sorrows
Exhibit of Sorrows is our first browser game on the list, and is a short puzzle game about going to the circus and having a really nice and fun time at the Exhibit of Smiles! Each exhibit tells you the name of the little jester that you must interact with, with each clown requiring you to do a task for them to receive a key. Over time, things start to get a little out of the ordinary, but the most important part is to remember to clean up after yourself. Love the art style.
Platform: Desktop browser (Itch.io)
Detention is easily one of my favourite psychological horror games, and is made by Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games, who is also known for making another title that’s no longer available on Steam, Devotion. That’s another game that I highly recommend giving a go, it’s a P.T.-esque atmospheric horror game that had me quaking in my boots. Detention is more readily available, and is a side-scrolling horror set in 1960’s Taiwan that is constantly unnerving, but initially unassuming. My eyes bulged out of my head a few times playing this game. Love it.
Peeb Adventures (Demo)
Peeb Adventures is not entirely a horror game. It really depends on where you go. But, considering it’s my favourite part of the 2021 Haunted PS1 Demo Disc collection, I simply had to include it. Peeb Adventures is a platform made by Feverdream Johnny where you play a little guy called Peeb. It’s a demo so it’s not super long, but is a treat to play nonetheless. It harkens back to that PlayStation 1 platformer days, similarly to games like Toree, but also has something… sinister going on.
Platform: PC and Mac (Itch.io)
WORLD OF HORROR
WORLD OF HORROR is a gorgeous game by sole developer panstasz that is so heavily inspired by the work of Junji Ito and so well executed in this inspiration that I’m surprised the king of horror manga himself wasn’t involved. There’s so much going on in this game in the best and worst way, the art style works perfectly for what they’re doing with the concept, and it’s truly a spooky experience.
The Itch.io page also has a demo available for those who wish to try before they buy.
Time is Solid Here
This is another desktop browser game, and it’s called Time is Solid Here by AlgebraFalcon. It’s one of a few games showcased as part of the Goethe-Institut’s Stillstand Project exhibition, and is a gorgeous feat of weird puzzle horror. This is a strange one that I highly recommend due to it’s gorgeously surreal art, the fantastic sound work within the game, and the fact that the discomfort seeps in so very slowly
Platform: Desktop browser (Itch.io)
Ahh, Omori. I love this game a lot. Omori is a title from artist and game developer OMOCAT, and is an Earthbound –inspired tale of loss, guilt, and grief. You follow a trouble young lad named Omori as he comes to terms with what his life has become, or at least attempting to. You shift between the real world and Omori’s dream world, but start to notice that the dreamy world you’ve constructed in your mind is starting to fall apart as your sanity crumbles. There’s a lot of good in this game, highly recommend.
Platforms: PC and Mac (Steam), Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 on June 17, 2022
Milk outside a bag of milk outside a bag of milk
The first game, Milk inside a bag of milk inside a bag of milk (Steam/Itch.io), is also included in this recommendation but the sequel is the main recommendation here. Milk outside a bag of milk outside a bag of milk is a psychological horror title that is incredibly unique. Every play through is just that little bit different, and the art style and soundtrack are a direct reflection of the fragile mental state of your protagonist. This game is truly unlike anything else. Play this game more than once. It’s a trip.
Very honourable mentions:
- Martha Is Dead (PC, PlayStation, Xbox)
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC)
- Little Nightmares (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list but simply my personal recommendations, which is why I now hand the microphone your way. Are there any psychological horror indie games that really tickled your fancy? Anything that made you sit down and think about all the horrible things you did? Any that made you sad and scared at the same time? Let us know!