The 10 Scariest Virtual Reality Games You Can Play Right Now

Clowns... Why did it have to be clowns?

Emily Wants to Play (VR game)
Photo: Emily Wants to Play / Shawn Hitchcock

Virtual Reality has taken horror games to a whole new level. The immersive nature of VR takes the atmosphere, sounds, and jump scares found in traditional games and magnifies them. 

We've compiled a list of what we believe are the top 10 scariest virtual reality games on the market right now. These games are practically guaranteed to get your heart racing and stimulate your fight or flight response. As new and scarier games hit the market we will update this list. Enjoy.

10
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Screenshot from HordeZ by Zenz VR
Photo: HordeZ by Zenz VR

VR Platforms: HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Developer: Zenz VR

HordeZ is an on-rails zombie-filled first-person wave shooter. The atmosphere in this game is well beyond creepy. It feels like it has a bit of a 'Doom-vibe' to it, seeming to us to evoke a bit of the eeriness of the Id Software classic (although this title was not developed by them)

HordeZ can be played in both single and multiplayer (which is a lot less scary since you have a friend to help you). This game is full speed all the time. It doesn't really give you any breaks to catch your breath the way other VR zombie games such as Arizona Sunshine does.

In HordeZ, zombies sneak up on you all the time which can be extremely unnerving. You have a lot of weapons to work with, but the sheer numbers of undead being constantly thrown at you quickly induces panic.

What makes it scary: This game tries to overwhelm the player with A LOT of enemies. The constant worry over how much ammo you have left, coupled with the fact that zombies come out of everywhere and can surprise the player, makes this game both scary and exhausting. More »

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Raw Data (VR game)
Photo: Raw Data / Survios

VR Platform: HTC Vive

Developer: Survios

I'm not sure that Raw Data’s developers intentionally wanted it to be a scary game, but it ended up being one that a lot of people are scared by nonetheless.

Raw Data at its heart is a VR wave shooter. The robots that attack you are creepy as hell with their glowing eyes and emotionless facial expressions. Their slow, deliberate, and unflinching attacks are especially unnerving to most players.

From the glass-shattering first encounter where a robot smashes its head into safety glass in order to attack you, to the spider-like torso robots in the darkly-lit level 2, this game is right on the line between sci-fi and horror.

What makes it scary: Tons of creepy robots and dimly lit levels, and those glowing robot eyes. THE EYES!!! More »

Ghost Town Mine Ride & Shootin' Gallery (VR game)
Photo: Ghost Town Mine Ride & Shootin' Gallery / Spectral Illusions

VR Platforms: HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Developer: Spectral Illusion

This title came out of nowhere and ended up scaring a lot of people. We here at Lifewire didn't even want to leave the creepy lobby menu area of this game.

This game is part on-rails shooter and part limited exploration. Taking place in an abandoned amusement park-type attraction also raises the creepy factor in this game immensely. Mix in weird animatronic characters (reminiscent of those in the 5 Nights at Freddie's franchise) and a darkly lit abandoned mine, and you've got yourself a nightmare factory.

What makes it scary: The mix of dark environments, abandoned amusement park theme, and creepy malfunctioning animatronics will give you the fear sweats. More »

Screenshot of Arizona Sunshine (game)
Photo: Arizona Sunshine by Vertigo Games

VR Platforms: HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Developer: Vertigo Games

Unlike other zombie shooters that rely on darkness to make things scary, Arizona Sunshine puts all the horror on display in the bright desert sun (except for some cave and evening levels).

In this game, you are a lone-wolf-type just trying to find other zombie apocalypse survivors. You must scavenge to find food (health), ammunition, and weapons while you make your way through many different environments, fending off hordes of the undead during your quest.

What makes it scary: The feeling of being totally alone in a terrible apocalyptic world makes it a pretty scary experience. Getting surprised by a hungry zombie horde is no picnic either. More »

Screenshot from The Brookhaven Experiment (VR game)
Photo: The Brookhaven Experiment (game) - Phosphor Games

VR Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR

Developer: Phosphor Games

The Brookhaven Experiment was one of the first wave shooters available in VR. The pre-release single level demo was also one of the first polished virtual reality experiences that many early-adopters played when they first got their VR headsets.

This game was also many people's first VR horror experience (mainly because early adopters wanted to show off to their friends how scary and real it seemed). This game scared the bejesus out of a lot of people and you can see a lot of great reaction videos of this on YouTube.

Brookhaven is a straight-up zombie / monster wave shooter where they come at you from all sides. Resource conservation is key which makes shooting accuracy very important. There is nothing worse than running out of ammo when you've still got a mess of zombies coming at you.

What makes it scary: The relentless waves of monsters coming at you, sometimes almost silently from all directions, ends up making you super paranoid. More »

Doom 3 BFG Edition (with VR mod)
Photo: Doom 3 BFG Edition / Id Softweare

VR Platform: HTC Vive (via VR Mod)

Developer: Game - Id Software / VR Mod for HTC Vive - Codes4Fun

Doom 3 BFG Edition has been out for many years for the PC and other platforms. Doom 3 BFG was a solid entry in the Doom franchise. Many wouldn't probably consider it to be a horror game per se, but now that it can be experienced in VR (through a mod), the scare-factor has been cranked up and it has definitely evolved into a horror FPS.

The VR mod (known as Codes4Fun/RBDOOM-3-BFG mod) available on GitHub isn't officially sanctioned by Id Software, but if you legally own Doom 3: BFG Edition, you can download the mod and put yourself in VR Doom 3, and let me tell you it's pretty darn scary, and also very cool.

The movement system implemented in this mod can make some people nauseous, but if you can stomach it, it's a lot of fun, and there are several comfort settings that can be applied to help avoid VR sickness.

This mod really shows the potential of taking classic games and converting them to work in VR. This could be the first of many older games made to successfully work in VR. It could also help to introduce a new generation of gamers to some classics they may have never known about otherwise.

What makes it scary: The environments, clever level design, creepy sounds, and jump-scares, make this a super scary full-on FPS. More »

Emily Wants to Play (VR game)
Photo: Emily Wants to Play (game) - Shawn Hitchcock

VR Platforms: HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Developer: Shawn Hitchcock

Emily Wants to Play is a traditional horror game that was converted to VR format. This game is all about jump scares. It's graphics are not AAA caliber but they still manage to get the job done.

It's cheap thrills, but it's still good fun as the jump scares are randomized so you don't know exactly when an where they’ll happen. 

What makes it scary: Jump-scares and the dread of not knowing when they are going to occur. Also, creepy dolls and clowns. What more do you need? More »

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (VR game)
Photo: Until Dawn: Rush of Blood / Supermassive Games

VR Platform: PlayStation VR

Developer: Supermassive Games

Like roller coasters? Like shooting galleries? If you like these things plus horror themes and jump scares then Until Dawn: Rush of Blood might be right up your alley.

The original Until Dawn was a Quick Time Event-driven horror game with some big name voice talent including Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere and Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek. It was a butterfly effect every-choice-you-make-has-consequences-type game. It also felt like a “B” movie at times, but many people enjoyed the Quick Time Event format of the game.

Rush of Blood is set in the same Until Dawn universe, but doesn't really advance the story of the original game.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is basically an on-rails shooter (in the literal sense) where you are placed on several scary roller coasters with different horror themes. You are provided with various weapons to shoot things you encounter while riding on the coaster (killer clowns, scary dolls, etc). The rides are full of jump-scares and you find yourself bracing for the next scare. It's honestly exhausting to play the first few times until you learn where to expect the scares.

Each level features several forks in the road where you can choose different sections of track which helps to increase replayability.

This game is well-polished and feels like a lot went into its development. In our experience, the PS VR gun tracking does not work as good as you would like it to all the time which can lead to frustration.

What makes it scary: The sound design, lighting, and atmosphere, coupled with jump scares, make for one hell of a scary ride (actually there are 7 rides in this game). More »

A Chair in a Room (VR game)
Photo: A Chair in a Room / Wolf & Wood Interactive

VR Platform: HTC Vive

Developer: Wolf & Wood Interactive

Don't let the odd title fool you. You are not stuck in a chair in this game, far from it, this game is a great room-scale experience that takes advantage of the VR space you have. In this game you start out as a patient in what appears to be a mental hospital and you're trying to get your memory back and figure out what the heck is going on.

A Chair in a Room is more of a puzzle-solving escape-room-type game more than anything else. It slowly builds tension and gets scarier as the game progresses.

When asked "what is the scariest VR game out right now", this was hands down the overwhelming favorite VR horror game on the r/Vive subreddit (prior to the release of Resident Evil 7 for PS VR).

What makes it scary: It doesn't rely on cheap jump scares, instead it provides a very creepy unsettling atmosphere, slowly building tension. The sense of immersion provided by the environments gives you a sense of being truly trapped. More »

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (VR game)
Photo: Resident Evil 7 / Capcom

VR Platform: PlayStation VR

Developer: Capcom

Back in 1996, Resident Evil by Capcom came out of nowhere and basically started the survival horror genre.

It went on to spawn 5 sequels and spinoffs, some good, some not so good. Back in June of 2016 Capcom released a playable teaser demo for Resident Evil 7. The new demo was in the first person perspective,  a major departure from the 3rd person perspective of all the other entries in the game series.

The other major development that got people excited was that Resident Evil 7 would support VR. This is probably one of the first AAA titles to support VR alongside the traditional non-VR launch.

The teaser demo was later updated to allow for play in VR and people went crazy because it was 10 times scarier in VR than it was just viewing the game on a TV screen.  When the full game was released in January 2017, gamers were blown away by the VR experience.

What makes it scary: Everything about this game induces fear. From the filthy looking locations, sound, lighting, level design, and relentless bosses. This game will stay with you long after you quit playing it. Add VR to the equation and you better have a healthy heart to handle this 10+ hour nightmare. More »

This is only the first wave of VR horror games

These 10 titles may be scary, but as VR matures and developers figure out what makes a truly fear-inducing VR experience, be prepared for even more trouser-soiling titles coming to a VR headset near you in the future.
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