Many of the most popular horror video games of all time have been heavily inspired by great horror films, and we look at five of the best.
In the realm of interactive horror, certain games have successfully captured the magic of iconic horror movies, offering players the opportunity to immerse themselves in chilling gameplay. The fusion of movies and gaming has birthed a new era of horror experiences, allowing fans to engage with their favorite films in interactive and spine-tingling ways. These games pay homage to the timeless classics while delivering unique and thrilling gameplay capturing the essence of fear we love so much. Let’s explore the world of movie-inspired horror games with a look at five of our favorites.
1. Dead by Daylight
Inspired by some of the most iconic slasher franchises, Dead by Daylight is an asymmetric multiplayer survival horror online game developed by Canadian studio Behaviour Interactive. This means that players can have significantly different roles or abilities from each other – enough to provide a significantly different experience of the game.
It is a one-versus-four game in which one player takes on the role of a Killer, and the other four play as Survivors; the Killer must impale each Survivor on sacrificial hooks to appease a malevolent force known as the Entity, while the Survivors have to avoid being caught and power up the exit gates by working together to fix five generators.
For those yearning to step into the role of Michael Myers of Halloween, who has inspired countless spin-off movies as well as, would you believe, his own range of successful online slots, the renowned killer finds a chilling home in Dead by Daylight, where players can embody The Shape himself, joining a roster of other iconic villains.
This multiplayer horror title offers a unique opportunity to become either a victim or a villain, and with Michael Myers’ inclusion, it offers fans the closest experience to a dedicated Halloween alternative as they engage in thrilling battles against survivors in a sinister game of life and death.
Alongside original characters, the game licenses characters and settings from other popular franchises as well, including A Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead, Hellraiser, Resident Evil, Saw, Silent Hill, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
In a beautiful case of art imitating art (imitating art), this game that is heavily inspired by horror movie classics is soon getting its own film adaptation, currently in development by Blumhouse Productions and Atomic Monster Productions.
2. Little Nightmares
In the eerie depths of a mysterious realm, a courageous young girl named Six finds herself entangled in a haunting predicament. Clad in a vibrant yellow raincoat that obscures her face, she navigates through a treacherous labyrinth known as the Maw, an iron vessel where darkness and despair hold dominion.
Little Nightmares is a puzzle-platform horror adventure game developed by Tarsier Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment.
Inspired by the ethereal but haunting wonders of Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, Six’s journey mirrors that of Chihiro’s as she encounters enigmatic creatures and unsettling spectacles.
Seeking to break free from this spectral realm, Six must outwit her eerie captors and unravel the secrets that bind her, all while preserving her own fragile innocence.
Besides sharing some common themes, the mere appearance of the game and design of the Maw is often a near-replica of certain elements from Spirited Away. Though Spirited Away is not typically thought of as a horror movie, it certainly contains horror elements. The film is about a young girl’s moral ethics and fears, and it contains graphic and horrific scenes and many doses of Fridge Horror. This excellent Screen Rant article makes a solid case for considering it a horror film.
A sequel to the wildly popular game was released, which follows a young boy named Mono, who has been trapped in a world distorted by an evil transmission. Together with new friend Six, he sets out to discover the source of the Transmission. As of May 8, 2023, Little Nightmares 3 is in development.
3. Friday The 13th: The Game
Friday The 13th: The Game is a multiplayer opus where players delve into the heart-pounding realm of terror as they face off against the Crystal Lake slasher, Jason Voorhees. Amidst the dimly lit landscapes and eerie ambiance, the game pays homage to the illustrious Friday The 13th film franchise, brilliantly capturing the essence of its blood-soaked history.
Developed by IllFonic and published by Gun Media, the game allows players to choose to play as a counselor or Jason Voorhees. As a counselor, players must escape and survive Jason. While playing as Jason, players must track down and deal with counselors.
From the meticulously crafted kills to well-designed maps, an unmistakable love for the source material reverberates throughout the game. Though marred by legal constraints that led to support cessation, Friday The 13th: The Game etched itself into the annals of cult classics, finding solace in the hearts of dedicated fans who continue to roam its treacherous landscapes.
The game’s dedicated servers were shut down in November 2020, and the game will no longer be available to buy after December 31, 2023. So, if you’d like to experience one of the best horror movie-inspired games ever made, rush out and get yourself a copy as soon as possible.
4. Dead Space
Dead Space is a terrifying science fiction/horror media franchise created by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey that spawned a successful franchise. Each installment in the franchise is a continuation or addition to a continuing storyline, with sections of the storyline presented in prequels or sequels. Sometimes the continuing story is told in other media, including two films and several comic books and novels based on the original video game series.
The original sci-fi survival horror game was set in the year 2508. In the game, players assume the role of engineer Isaac Clarke, who is part of a small crew sent to repair a giant mining ship called the USG Ishimura. However, Ishimura has become a ghost ship. The ship’s crew has been slaughtered, and Isaac’s beloved partner, Nicole, is lost somewhere on board.
Dead Space is regarded as one of the scariest games in its genre. The eerie and unsettling atmosphere of the game, along with the level design, creates tension and makes players feel confined and alone inside the ship.
Dead Space‘s original designers were heavily inspired by sci-fi movies like Alien and Event Horizon, as well as horror games like Resident Evil 4.
Interestingly, Resident Evil itself was inspired by a Japanese horror film called Sweet Home, which follows a film crew exploring an abandoned mansion haunted by a poltergeist. That film spawned its own video game from Capcom. Four years later, Sony and Capcom were working on bringing the game to Playstation and initially planned to just remake the Sweet Home game. Instead, they used it as a jumping-off point for an original property, which replaced the poltergeists with zombies.
5. Silent Hill
The Silent Hill franchise has been a standout survival horror franchise since its origins on the original PlayStation in the ’90s. The first installment, Silent Hill, received a positive response from critics and was commercially successful. It’s considered a defining title in the survival horror genre, moving away from B-movie horror elements toward a psychological style of horror emphasizing atmosphere.
Silent Hill is about Harry Mason searching for his missing adopted daughter in the fictional American town of Silent Hill. While searching, Harry discovers his daughter’s true origin after stumbling upon a cult conducting a ritual to revive a deity.
In the sequel, Silent Hill 2, you play the character of James Sunderland, a writer who searches for his deceased wife in the monster-filled town of Silent Hill. James receives a letter from his wife, Mary, who claims to be waiting for him in Silent Hill. James searches the town for clues as to why he received the letter.
Silent Hill 2 is considered by many to be one of the best horror games ever made. It’s known for its atmosphere, psychological horror, and study of its characters. It relies on psychological horror rather than loud sounds and jump scares. There are six endings in the game, and which one you see is determined by your actions in the game.
Both games are heavily inspired by psychological horror films, particularly the 1990 cinematic masterpiece Jacob’s Ladder.
Jacob’s Ladder is considered a thought-provoking horror masterpiece because it explores the human condition. Inspired by a dream screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin had in the early 1980s, this powerful psychological thriller and antiwar film explores the trauma of a Vietnam War veteran named Jacob Singer, who has personal tragedies and hallucinatory visions before and after the war. The horror is often told through a slow build of haunting set-pieces and an unreliable narrator. It’s a metaphorical descent into Hell.
The film has many settings in common with Silent Hill, such as the hospital and subway.
In the first game, Harry Mason dies, and everything was just a hallucination in the “bad ending”. Boss designs in Silent Hill was also heavily influenced by Jacob’s Ladder, including the iconic design of the creepy nurses with their eyes covered in bandages as well as the many straightjacket-wearing enemies.
The most influential and critical scene in Jacob’s Ladder is known as the hospital scene. This horrific set piece single-handedly inspired Keiichiro Toyama, the creator of Silent Hill, and Akihiro Imamura, the series’ lead programmer, to make horror games.