Navigating an abandoned mansion’s labyrinthine halls, every creak and groan of the aging foundations reverberating like ominous early death knells in your ears, the mental heft of an unseen horror weighing heavily on your mind: no video game technology is better suited to horror games than VR.
The deep immersion provided by a VR headset makes you feel like you are there, a part of the thrilling and terrifying worlds conjured up by horror games. It’s a match made in heaven. And, one all horror fans should waste no time trying out.
As with any genre, there are superb games worth your time and money, and dire aberrations best forgotten. Fortunately, VR developers are hitting their stride, now more capable than ever of enhancing and maximizing the immersive qualities of VR to have even the most stoic gamers quivering in terror.
Here are our top picks for the very best VR horror games you can play right now.
Products at a Glance
Resident Evil: Biohazard
Five Nights At Freddy’s VR
The Exorcist: Legion VR
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
The driving force behind compiling this list was to pull together a selection of games we believe horror buffs and, more broadly, all VR headset owners should sample at least once. We favored games that tap into the immersive qualities of virtual reality to deliver a uniquely spine-tingling, unsettling, or straight-up terrifying gaming experience. Good media press reviews and the odd award also helped narrow down our choices.
After careful deliberation, we slimmed down our list to five VR horror games that deserve every VR headset owner’s attention. Further down, we’ll introduce each game and provide some insight into what’s in store once you don your headset, shut out the outside world, and dive in.
It goes without saying that our recommendations are by no means exhaustive but instead align with those most commonly lauded among versed VR players for their haunting and eerie qualities. If we’ve omitted a game that’s close to your heart, please do drop into the comments section at the end to let us and other readers know what we’re missing.
Best VR Horror Games in 2021
Resident Evil: Biohazard
Resident Evil franchise
Insanely immersive gameplay
No PS Move support
As far as horror franchises go, none is quite as suited to VR as Resident Evil. With three decades honing their craft, Capcom’s VR debut was always going to be a momentous occasion, and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard doesn’t disappoint.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is an unnerving, deliciously unsettling experience on PC and console, but the VR version ramps the fear factor in every respect. Dropped in a haunting Louisiana estate owned by the crazed Baker family, protagonist Ethan Winters is faced with the task of tracking down his missing wife. The Bakers are no ordinary family and one that’s hiding a bleak secret. VR brings every shadowy corner, distant structural groan, and filthy detail of the Bayou cabin to life like never before.
What makes Resident Evil 7: Biohazard a must-play on VR is the polished quality of the production married to a well-paced story that leans heavily on superb audio design, a genuinely terrifying atmosphere, and attention to detail rarely found in VR titles.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard doesn’t eschew classic jump scare mechanics, but these aren’t gratuitous; instead, they are married with an ever-present dread, a visceral fear of an unseen horror creeping around the Baker’s haunting cabin. Suspense and anticipation are just as effective as the enemies who’ll cross your path.As the most complete VR horror experience out there, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is largely unrivaled. The only real catch is that it’s a PSVR exclusive, so PC players are out of luck. Additionally, the game doesn’t support the PS Move controllers and is only playable with a controller.
Five Nights At Freddy’s VR
Fan favorite and one of the top selling VR games
No shortage of quality jump scares
Simple premise with fun mini-games and collectables
Compatible with all Oculus, SteamVR, and PSVR headsets
Not the most polished game visually
Another long-running franchise bound to jump to VR at some point, Five Nights At Freddy and its unique brand of animatronic horror transitions splendidly to the immersive qualities of the platform in the shape of Five Nights At Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted. Don’t just take our word for it: the game is one of the best-selling VR games, all genres confused, on Steam and a fan favorite among VR horror buffs.
As the newest hire at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, you’re tasked with surviving five successive nights in the kid’s pizzeria. Easy enough on paper, other than the pesky issue of animatronic fur balls romping around the place as soon as the sun sets and a concerning absence of decent lighting. It goes without saying that said fur balls are out to end your gainful employment early.
Five Nights At Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted is framed as a series of mini-games and game modes that include throwbacks to previous entries in the series, maintenance tasks, creepy hide and seek sessions, and on-rails shooting, among others. Naturally each is characterized by the ever-present fear of an animatronic aberration springing up out of nowhere. Expect jump scares from series staples, plenty of references, and a ton of collectibles to amass throughout those five fearful nights.
While Five Nights At Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted’s VR experience ranks up there as one of the most enjoyable and terror-inducing, it isn’t the most polished affair on a graphical level. That said, it’s available on a broad range of headsets and platforms, including Oculus, SteamVR, and PSVR headsets.
Ghost hunting TV show in video game format
Immersive, terrifying atmosphere
Alongside Among Us and Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, Phasmophobia was one of the unexpected hits of the Covid lock down-ridden 2020, and it has its very own VR mode that’s free alongside the ‘flat’ gaming version.
As part of a crack team of paranormal investigators, you’re tasked with diving head-first into a variety of haunted locales to gather evidence, detect strange otherworldly activity, and if everything goes right, dispatch over a dozen different types of ghosts. At your disposal is an arsenal of ghost hunting gear, including sensors, EMF readers, CCTV cameras, thermometers, and more. Additionally, you can use your voice to interact with the ghosts; pester them too much, and things quickly go south.
Phasmophobia heightens the suspense by throwing a timer into the mix, adding a sense of urgency to the fear factor. More gathered evidence and more ousted specters equate to better pay, which you can then invest in better gear to ease subsequent investigations.
Though Phasmophobia proposes a decent single-player experience, it’s best played with others in four-player co-op, not least because of the endless trolling opportunities afforded by sowing panic among already on-edge friends. Nothing quite beats sharing the sudden terror of a ghost appearing with others.Phasmophobia is available via Valve’s Steam digital storefront and consequently only fires up with SteamVR compatible headsets such as the Valve Index, Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive, and WMR headsets. There are rumors of a PlayStation 4 version in the works, but no firm confirmation yet from developer Kinetic Games, so it’s the waiting game for PSVR owners for now.
The Exorcist: Legion VR
An immersive treat
Based on the work of William Peter Blatty
Available on SteamVR, Oculus, and PSVR
On the short side
The Exorcist: Legion VR gorges unapologetically on the works of the late author William Peter Blatty, famed for penning the seminal The Exorcist novel in the 1970s, among others, and to great effect.
Broken down into five thrilling and easily digested episodes, The Exorcist: Legion VR drops you in as an investigator tasked with plying your trade as a demonic exorcist, confronting sinister entities, and unearthing secrets, all while navigating richly detailed and immersive environments. Each area needs to be thoroughly combed and explored to solve puzzles, uncover clues, and even find a smattering of Easter eggs.
It’s an intense horror experience that is only enhanced through the lenses of a VR headset. The slow, creeping crescendo of horror at the core of The Exorcist: Legion VR is well-paced and accompanied by stellar audio design. No jump scare feels surplus to requirements, and the five chapters lead to a climactic finale that will have you quaking in your boots in terrified delight.
With each episode tallying up to half an hour of gameplay, The Exorcist: Legion VR is on the short side, but given the intensity and emotional toll of the horror experience on offer here, that’s all for the better.The Exorcist: Legion VR is available on Steam, Oculus, and PSVR, granting compatibility with most of the major headsets currently available. It’s an unmissable VR game for any self-respecting horror buff out there.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
Based on The Walking Dead universe
Satisfying and gory combat
Testing moral dilemmas
Available on Steam, Oculus, and PSVR
Lacks the psychological horror of other games on our list
Our last recommendation for the best VR horror games is The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, released last year for SteamVR, Oculus, and PSVR, making it the most recent game of our picks. As the name implies, it dips into the rich The Walking Dead universe and its deep dive into a community trying to survive amid a zombie apocalypse.
More first-person shooter than a straight horror game, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners defines itself by addictively satisfying combat that translates beautifully to the immersion of VR. Decapitating zombies, dipping into a broad arsenal of weaponry, and gory melee combat aplenty, this is one for those that want the visceral experience of fighting for your life.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners also delivers a compelling snapshot of what it takes to count among the survivors in the face of a constant threat and waning hope. The game also throws in some tough moral decisions as you interact with other survivors, equally intent on surviving at any cost. While excellent at what it does, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners shuns the creeping dread and psychological horror of the other games in our list for a far more action-based horror experience. For those on the hunt for a genuinely haunting experience with a visceral dose of horror, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners won’t quite scratch that itch.
Things To Consider
Headset Compatibility and Platforms
The platform and headset you choose will largely dictate what VR horror games you can hope to play. While most of our recommendations are available on Steam, the Oculus Store, and PSVR, that’s not the case for all VR horror games, which may exclude some headset owners from experiencing everything they have to offer. It’s worth double-checking before getting caught up in the excitement of playing and committing to a purchase.
Steam tends to have the largest selection of games with native support for the biggest VR titles, followed by the Oculus Store. As such, we’d recommend one of the dozen or so headsets that are compatible with SteamVR, such as the Valve Index, Oculus Quest 2, Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive, and HP Reverb.
Unlike VR PC gaming, which benefits from multiple headsets and distribution platforms like Steam and the Oculus Store, there’s only one real choice when playing VR on console: PlayStation VR.
The backing of Sony is a boon that has seen the publication of an impressive library of VR titles, including horror titles. While this does mean some of the best PC-only VR horror games aren’t available, there’s some cross-over between the two, meaning PSVR aren’t entirely excluded from those superb experiences. Conversely, some excellent VR horror experiences are only available on PSVR, such as The Inpatient and Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood.
With a cheaper cost of entry, a setup better suited to tighter spaces, and out-of-the-box compatibility with PlayStation consoles, PS VR is a viable way to jump into VR horror games.
The Best Is Still To Come
Compared to traditional video games, VR gaming is in its infancy; the technology isn’t in enough homes to call it mainstream quite yet. The cost of entry remains relatively high, although the Oculus Quest 2’s standalone functionality is a major step in the right direction.
Despite these obstacles, VR is easily among the most intriguing trends in video games as a whole. Games like Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx and Sony’s commitment to the PSVR platform and confirmation of a new PS5 headset in the near future show that some of gaming’s biggest players believe in the tech.
Each year sees a new, larger batch of VR games, bettering and improving previous efforts, notably in the horror genre. VR is only just getting started, and the notion that the best VR horror games are yet to come is undoubtedly one that has our full backing.
Resident Evil: Biohazard
If there’s one VR horror game you play, let it be Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Capcom has expertly ported the franchise’s strongest traits to the immersive platform alongside a gripping story, stunning visuals, and enough psychological terror to have you tearing off your headset more than once as you make your way through the Baker’s Bayou estate.
A horror classic retooled to make the most of VR’s intense, immersive qualities, Five Nights At Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted is animatronic nightmare fuel. Versions for most platforms and headsets make it one of the most accessible VR horror games out there, and the mini-games add a fun extra layer to the experience of keeping the pizzeria in tip-top shape for those five long nights.
One of last year’s breakout hits and a Twitch favorite, Phasmophobia‘s four-player co-op ghost hunting antics are as terrifying as they are fun. It’s those tacky, over theatrical cable ghost hunting shows brought to the video game medium, but actually scary thanks to the marvels of VR immersion. There’s loads of replayability, too, so a game to gorge on over and over with friends hungry for an intense, shared dose of fear.
With William Peter Blatty on writing duties, The Exorcist: Legion VR channels the disturbing religious-steeped horror of the source material to deliver a bite-sized horror experience that’s as much about its compelling narrative as it is about its rich-detailed world. A must-play for fans of the hit movie and, more broadly, horror buffs searching for their next fix.
With zombies, gory combat, and the heft of a much-loved universe, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is all about tearing through hordes of zombies and weathering the trials and tribulations of a bleak, post-apocalyptic world.
With that, we’ll wrap up our guide to the best VR horror games. Do let us know in the comments section below if you have any recommendations of your own.