The Best Open-World Horror Games

As the name of the genre implies, horror games are scary. Oftentimes, horror games are linear, involving a storyline that takes you through many locations until you reach your final goal. Horror games can also be open-world though, presenting you with an entire map of scary situations.

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If you are looking to play a horror game set in a vast environment with no linear limitations, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we are going to take a look at the best open-world horror games that you can play. Many of these games are part of a larger franchise, giving you even more games to choose from.

8 Dying Light 2

Dying Light 2 Character Hanging From Building

Dying Light 2

Platform(s)
PS5

Released
February 4, 2022

Developer(s)
Techland

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Dying Light 2 pits you against zombies, which are a horror staple. In this game, humanity has lost against a virus, and you will need to survive a brutal life in the city. With a unique day and night system, you can explore during the day, and protect yourself at night.

Although you don’t have to play the first Dying Light game before diving into the second one, we recommend doing so. The first game is still excellent, with many considering it scarier than the second.

7 Sons Of The Forest

Sons Of The Forest: Scaring Off Cannibals With A Human Head

Sons of the Forest is set on a desolate island filled with cannibals. Your goal is simple; survive. While doing so, you can build a base, and even play with friends. Of course, it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. The cannibals you deal with aren’t just flesh-eating humans, with some of them being utterly terrifying.

Sons of the Forest is the ‘sequel’ to The Forest, however, the games are unrelated in terms of plot. You don’t have to play The Forest first, but it is still definitely worth the play, especially if you like Sons of the Forest.

6 Darkwood

Darkwood An Vision Of A Disturbing Cross

Darkwood is a top-down game with a semi-open world, with some roguelike features. Rather than exploring and surviving for the majority of the game, you will spend nights indoors, protecting your base.

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During the day, you can explore a randomly generated forest, filled with materials that can be used to craft weapons or build up your base. Once night falls, you will have to hunker down and defeat any scary enemies that try to enter.

5 The Sinking City

The detective crosses a wooden pier while approaching Oakmont in The Sinking City.

The Sinking City

Platform(s)
PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S

Released
June 27, 2019

Developer(s)
Frogwares

The Sinking City takes it back to the 1920s, where you play as an investigator looking into the corruption of the citizens. As an open-world game, you can explore the entire city while solving a variety of cases that come your way.

Rather than just dealing with zombies, The Sinking City is based on the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, who is best known for horror revolving around the unknown, rather than gore. While playing, you will also need to manage your own mental health, so you don’t become a victim of this corruption.

4 Days Gone

a wide shot of Deacon St. John on his bike from Days Gone driving through tall grass with mountains and trees in the distance

Days Gone

Platform(s)
PS4, PC

Released
April 26, 2019

Developer(s)
Bend Studio

Next up, we have Days Gone. This open-world horror game deals with zombies in a “post-pandemic America”. You will get the chance to play as Deacon St. John, who is searching for a reason to live.

Rather than being in one biome, you will get to explore several, such as lava fields, mountains, and abandoned towns. Along the way, you can defeat zombies, called Freakers. Of course, Freakers aren’t the only enemy out there, as it’s every man for himself.

3 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow Of Chernobyl

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl image showing enemy on bloody ground

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is a bit older than many of the games on our list, launching back in 2007. Still, the game packs all the horrors of Chernobyl into an open-world FPS. The Chernobyl Accident is a well-known historic event that spawned tons of scary stories, including S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl.

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In the game, you will essentially trespass into Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, with the goal of finding another Stalker. Within the zone though, you will come across mutated creatures and enemies. If you don’t want to go alone, you can also play Shadow of Chernobyl with friends; one mode even supports 32 players.

2 Project Zomboid

A figure holding a basebal bat as two zombies approach him

Project Zomboid is a zombie game that expects you to die. While it doesn’t lean into horror as much as some of the other games on our list, it can still get quite gruesome. Overall, the goal is to survive against the zombies while crafting, eating, and even farming.

Once you die, you start again as another character. Your dead corpse will become a zombie, holding onto your inventory. You can seek out this former shadow of yourself, but be careful, as it might be surrounded by a horde of new zombies!

1 7 Days To Die

First person perspective holding a machine gun with a horde of zombies ahead

7 Days to Die

Platform(s)
PC, PS4, Xbox One

Released
December 13, 2013

Developer(s)
The Fun Pimps

Lastly, we have 7 Days to Die. This is a zombie-themed FPS set in the fictional Navezgane County, Arizona. Like many other open-world horror games, you will have a vast map to explore, as well as the ability to craft and build. You can play 7 Days to Die with friends, making it even more fun.

Every seven days, a Blood Moon occurs, causing a mass amount of zombies to appear. This deadly event can easily cause your death, giving the game its name. Can you survive this lunar event, or will you become another zombie in the crowd?

Next: The Best Horror Game Sequels

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