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A four-panel image featuring screenshots from games including Stay Out of the House, Mothered, That Which Gave Chase, and Helltown. Graphic: Toussaint Egan/Polygon | Source images: Puppet Combo; Enigma Studio; Aslak Karlsen Hauglid; WildArts Studio

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5 short horror games to play this Halloween season

Player beware, you’re in for a scare

Toussaint Egan is a curation editor, out to highlight the best movies, TV, anime, comics, and games. He has been writing professionally for over 8 years.

Halloween is nearly upon us, and what better way to prepare for the spookiest holiday of the year than to dive deep into the best stories the horror genre has to offer?

We’ve got you covered if you’re looking for the best horror movies or horror TV to watch on Netflix (or the best horror movies generally). But what about video games? 2023 has been a terrific year for horror games so far, from modern remakes of classics like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space to new titles like The Outlast Trials, Dredge, Amnesia: The Bunker, and more.

We’ve pulled together a list of some of the best short horror games to play with only a few days left before Halloween. Whether you’re looking for a chilling psychological horror experience or frantic splatter-core nightmare, these are some of the best games to play this season.


Developer: WildArts Studio
Average time to play: 1h 30m
Where to purchase: Steam,

If you like folk horror movies like The Wicker Man and Enys Men, you’ll love Helltown. Developed by Nicolas Lamarche and Gabriel Bolduc Dufour, Helltown follows the story of a postman assigned to deliver packages to a secluded rural neighborhood called Little Vale. After their first day on the job, things quicky take a sinister turn as disturbing visions manifest into an insidious plot rife with demonic cultists and unspeakable horrors. An open-world horror exploration game, Helltown offers multiple endings and collectibles and is the perfect game for those who enjoy sinking into the unknown.

No one lives under the lighthouse

Developer: Marevo Collective
Average time to play: 2h
Where to purchase: Steam

Fans of slow-burn psychological horror with oppressive atmospheres and an emphasis on strong sound design should definitely check out No one lives under the lighthouse. Much like Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, this game puts players in the role of a lighthouse keeper who assumes stewardship of a small island off the coast of the United States after the former keeper deserts their post. Unlike that aforementioned movie, you’re all alone; with no one else to keep you company as you tend the light of the tower and conduct chores around the island. Or are you?

That Which Gave Chase

Developer: Aslak Karlsen Hauglid
Average time to play: 1h
Where to purchase: Steam,

In this experimental first-person horror game, players assume the role of a sled dog musher hired by a mysterious scientist to safely escort him across the frozen plains of the arctic to a remote research facility. Along the way, the pair encounter increasingly strange and disturbing phenomenon that calls into question the scientist’s motivations, if not the entire expedition as a whole. Can the scientist be trusted, and what’s up with all these strange visions?

Mothered - A Role-Playing Horror Game

Developer: Enigma Studio
Average time to play: 2h
Where to purchase: Steam,

In this role-playing horror game (see the title?), you are Liana, a young girl recovering from a life-saving operation. Upon returning home, she awakes one morning expecting to meet her mother, only to instead be greeted by what appears to be a mannequin-like figure resembling her mother. What’s going on here? As the week wears on, Liana will have to unravel the mystery behind her peculiar situation before time runs out.

The second game from Jamie Gavin, a Galway-based game developer who works under the pseudonym “Enigma Studio ‘’ alongside composer Karl Barnes, Mothered is the middle entry in a loose trilogy of games set to conclude this year with November’s Echostasis. If you enjoyed this one, you should definitely check out Mothered: Home — the “DLC sequel” is even available to play for free via the Haunted PS1 “Spectral Mall” Demo Disc.

Stay Out of the House

Developer: Puppet Combo
Average time to play: 4h 30m
Where to purchase: Steam

Benedetto “Ben” Cocuzza is a game developer known for unique low-poly survival horror games inspired by ’80s VHS aesthetics and classic slasher horror movies. Taking cues from The Texas ChainSaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, Stay Out of the House is a stealth game where players assume the role of a young woman kidnapped while on a road trip with her boyfriend across the border of Oklahoma. In order to escape, players will have to sneak their way through the maze-like interior of a masked madman’s dilapidated house without alerting either him or his deranged family members.


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