“Horror games” and “Nintendo Switch” aren’t perhaps the most natural pairing. But among games like Animal Crossing, Pokémon, and Mario Odyssey is an excellent selection of horror titles. So dive in with this list and try not to scream too loudly when playing them in public.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2
This is just one of a selection of Resident Evil titles on the Switch, but it’s currently the newest. 2017’s Resident Evil 7 is often credited with bringing the series back to its survival horror roots. But Revelations 1 and 2 arguably did this before.
The story stars series veterans Claire Redfield and Barry Burton, joined by partners Moira and Natalia. Forced to take part in an experiment on a remote Russian island, the game switches between the perspectives of each pair.
If you like playing Switch games with friends, this one features two-player co-op throughout the entire campaign. Interestingly, one partner (Moira or Natalia) is always underpowered in terms of firepower, but has a few unique skills to help you survive.
There’s also a very fun Raid Mode, which can also be played co-op or single player. It offers a selection of new and classic RE characters, arcade-style combat, and a deep customisation system. It’ll leave you itching for another match every time.
Special mention: Resident Evil 0, 1 Remake, 4, 5, 6, and Revelations 1 are also available on the Switch.
Alien: Isolation was far and away my personal game of the year for 2014.
It’s a delight for fans of the movie series, but even if you’re totally new to Alien, it’s well worth getting. You play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen (the series protagonist). When the game starts, she’s looking for her mother and follows her signal to an isolated space station.
And of course, the humans on board the Sevastopol station aren’t alone. The game pits you against a single xenomorph, and as soon as you meet it the survival horror goodness begins. You’re massively underpowered against the alien, and have to rely on hiding and distraction to survive.
The fear you’ll feel when navigating an area and hearing a telltale blip on your motion tracker, and having to quickly find some way of hiding from the xenomorph, is exhilarating. And the environmental design is true to the original movie. It offers a satisfying retro-futuristic look to Sevastopol, like a ’70s vision of the 22nd century.
This came to the Switch long after other platforms, but includes the DLC bundle that adds exciting extra modes to the game, making for an impressive package.
This follow-on from the original Outlast brings another excellent psychological horror game to the mix. Like Alien: Isolation, it’s presented in first-person mode. It features investigative journalist Blake Langermann, who crash lands in a remote part of Arizona.
Also like Alien: Isolation, there’s very little you can do in terms of fighting. You’ll usually have to run or hide from the cult members hunting you down, and there are many environmental props you can use to your advantage. Dash inside a house or even into pools of water if you have to, and stay hidden long enough to make it to the next area.
As in the first Outlast game, one of the main tools at your disposal is your night vision camcorder. And of course, the batteries don’t last very long, so you’ll need to use it judiciously to make it through the game.
Special mention: The first Outlast game is also available on the Switch
Dead by Daylight
This asymmetric horror game is one of the best in the subgenre, offering a collection of original and classic horror movie villains and heroes to play as.
Players either take on the role of survivor or killer. The four survivors in each game work together to repair generators and power the exit doors, while the killer hunts them down.
Gameplay is fairly simple, without too much variation on objectives, but there are many characters to play as. Some of them are included with the game, but a lot of them are locked behind DLC paywalls. Still, it’s a fun romp if you have a bunch of friends to play with.
Classic horror characters include Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, and Michael Myers. There are maps associated with many of these, like a suburban street in Haddonfield, featured in the Halloween movies.
Friday the 13th
Another asymmetric horror game, this one stars Jason Voorhees and a group of teenagers whose fun at summer camp is cut violently short.
Matches include seven survivors (from a choice of 12), each with a unique set of attributes like speed and stealth, and Jason. Like in Dead by Daylight, the camp counsellors have numbers on their side, but the killer has special powers that give him an edge.
A lot of asymmetric horror games focus more on fun multiplayer gameplay over top-notch graphics, and F13 is no exception. That’s not to say it doesn’t look good, as the camps are fittingly foreboding and include nods to the late ’70s/’80s setting.
There’s a bit more variation to playing as a survivor over DbD, as survivors have a few methods of escape. These include fixing and escaping in vehicles (either selfishly or along with fellow survivors), and calling the cops for rescue. But the small selection of maps are quite samey. They all feature similar-looking summer camps, so there’s less variation in level design than DbD.
Despite the simple presentation of this point-and-click title, the sense of terror and strong storytelling makes Detention well worth a look. Set in 1960s Taiwan, you play as Wei Chung-ting as he and fellow student Fang Ray-shin escape the horrors of their isolated high school.
After falling asleep in class, Wei wakes up and finds the school is under siege by horrific monsters. Together, Wei and Fang try to survive and uncover the dark secrets of the building’s history.
The sense of atmosphere is impressive for a side-scrolling point-and-click adventure, with a great soundtrack and beautifully-designed environments. It’s also interesting to see elements of Taiwanese history and culture incorporated into the game.
Detention isn’t a very long game, and will probably take around three or four hours to complete. But it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re into unique indie horror games with strong writing and presentation. Its popularity even spawned a movie adaptation last year.
This is another indie title which is surprisingly terrifying despite its simple presentation. It’s another 2D side-scrolling game, but it’s a platformer rather than a point-and-click adventure.
The game throws you right into its dark world with no explanation as to why you’re there. The black and white environment presents a multitude of horrific ways your character can die. Early on, it includes a giant spider section that scared me more than anything in Silent Hill.
The art style is simply gorgeous, especially considering it’s all in monochrome, and there’s a heavy emphasis on environmental puzzle solving. It’s not a long game, but some parts had me scratching my head for longer than I’d care to admit.
You will die a lot in this game. But if you enjoy the satisfaction of difficult puzzle solving and appreciate beautiful indie games, this one is well worth your time.