Not all games follow a hero. Sometimes you’re playing as quite the opposite: a villain. You’re bad; maybe you’re a monster destroying everything or a person with evil ideas. Described as “reverse horror games,” it definitely feels like a breath of fresh air in the genre, but the concept isn’t totally unique.
Though it’s rarely seen in gaming, a few titles have dared to put you in the shoes of an antagonist. From the murderous psychopaths seen in games like Hatred and Manhunt to the madness of shooters like The Darkness and The Last of Us, here are a few horror games in which you assume the role of the villain.
Updated on October 4, 2023, by Dennis Moiseyev: As much as horror games like to put you in the shoes of heroes or just innocent everyday people caught in intense horrifying situations, they also sometimes allow you to take control of the villains in the story. You most often see this in multiplayer games, but sometimes in single-player as well. Below are even more new games that offer this interesting alternative playstyle and perspective.
18 Deceit 2
The sequel to developer World Makers’ social deduction multiplayer horror game Deceit puts two players back into the secret villainous roles of the Infected helping out the Game Master. As the name suggests, the rest of the group won’t know who to trust and which of them is playing for the other side, but there will be opportunities like in Among Us to vote out the Infected.
The Infected are trying to sabotage your plans of escaping a Ritual being started to sacrifice everyone to the Game Master’s associates. It’s a darker psychological horror game with FPS mechanics and perfect to play with some friends, as there are up to nine players that can join in.
17 The Amnesia Series
While protagonists like Tasi in Rebirth and Henri Clément in The Bunker don’t deserve the harrowing tribulations and torment from the Shadow, Otherworld, and the Orb, some of the other Amnesia protagonists really do. Protagonists like Daniel, Oswald Mandus, and Justine in Dark Descent’s DLC are some of the most twisted and evil characters you can play in horror games.
Without giving too much away, you’ll find out more about the vile atrocities Daniel, Justine, and Oswald have committed the further you get into the narrative. In Justine and Oswald’s case, the unbelievably mutilated and grotesque creatures trying to hurt them are of their own depraved doing. That should give you a sense of just how benevolent they are.
16 Resident Evil 4 Remake – Separate Ways DLC
While the main story of Resident Evil 4 has you play agent Leon S. Kennedy on the side of good as he carries out a rescue operation of the president’s daughter Ashley from the clutches of Los Iluminados, the Separate Ways DLC puts you in the shoes of Ada Wong during the same events to gain her perspective.
Although not necessarily the true antagonist in the story compared to Salazar and Sadler, especially saving Leon on multiple occasions, she does work for Albert Wesker to help retrieve the sample of Plaga amber for nefarious purposes. The remade version of Separate Ways is a DLC that’s every bit as compelling as the actual game, and you’ll have even more fun with Ada’s gameplay due to her new grapple gun mechanic with takedowns.
We’ve seen thousands of pixel art indie platformers and puzzlers over the years, but while it may share a visual style with a litany of other games, Carrion feels utterly unique. You control some sort of amorphous, eldritch abomination and are tasked with causing as much havoc as possible. It’s a simple premise, but it’s undeniably effective.
Though ripping doors off their hinges and sending scientists flying can be fun, Carrion is best approached as a sort of fast-paced puzzle game. Similar to Mark of the Ninja, you will have to map out their routes ahead of time and make quick decisions.
14 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Not only can you be a villain in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but it comes with the option of playing one of five different family members alongside two other players in a single match. There’s, of course, Leatherface, The Cook, The Hitchhiker, and two new members Sissy and Johnny coming to help out the notorious Sawyer family with the terror, all with unique attributes.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the most iconic slasher film franchises of all time, and it’s now received the same asymmetrical multiplayer survival horror treatment by Gun Interactive as the studio’s previous Friday the 13th game, except this time it’s a 3v4 gameplay design. Like the movies, the ultimate goal is your victims don’t make it out alive.
Often touted as one of the most grizzly video games of all time, Rockstar’s Manhunt was so controversial when it originally debuted that it was banned in several countries. You assume the role of a death row inmate conscripted to take part in the filming of a snuff film at the behest of an unknown party referred to as “The Director.”
Though he’s not a villain in the strictest sense, Manhunt’s player character is certainly no cherub. Known for executing innocents and opponents alike in an utterly brutal and downright sadistic fashion, Manhunt is about as warped as it gets.
12 Dead By Daylight
Initially released on PC in 2016, Dead By Daylight has since taken the multiplayer world by storm and been released on all major consoles, including the Nintendo Switch. An asymmetrical survival horror experience in which four survivors quest to complete a series of tasks and escape from a compound while pursued by one of a number of player-controlled slasher-film horrors, Dead By Daylight plays like the most nerve-wracking game of hide-and-seek imaginable.
Subsequent updates and DLC releases have introduced new and unique locations and monsters, some of the most notable being from established horror series like Silent Hill and Saw. It’s only really a reverse horror game for one player. But for horror aficionados, it doesn’t get much better than this!
Originally released in 2009 for the seventh generation of consoles, Prototype is a superhero story gone wrong. You take the role of Alex Mercer, the subject of some sort of experiment that granted him Venom-esque superpowers. Yet, rather than fight for peace and justice, Mercer razes his city to the ground in a quest to exact revenge against whoever inflicted him with these powers.
A power fantasy in its purest form, you will have tons of fun terrorizing the city’s inhabitants, battling military forces, and using a wide and varied array of abilities to destroy those who dare oppose them.
One of the first games to be bogged down by what’s now referred to as the ‘live service’ video game monetization model, 2K and Turtle Rock’s Evolve featured an excellent concept that was, unfortunately, doomed by some shoddy business decisions.
One of the first games to truly embrace asymmetrical multiplayer, teams of four were tasked with hunting down one of a number of player-controlled monsters that bore definite influence from Lovecraftian lore. Though the game’s early stages could be tedious, engagements were always frenetic and thrilling, and the game could have been revitalized had the publisher not chosen to pull the plug on it.
Out of all of the reverse horror games out there, this one is probably the most controversial. In Hatred, you play an unnamed character as he goes on a “genocidal crusade” against mankind. From a top-down perspective, you travel across New York, killing innocent people and any police officers who arrive to stop you.
Released back in the 20-teens, Hatred was developed to be the opposite of what was “politically correct” in games at the time. So instead of a hero doing good things in a colorful, fun world, you play as a purely evil character, killing in a colorless, washed-out world. That said, the game received lackluster reviews from critics, often citing the repetitive or unengaging gameplay. Fun or not, there’s no denying that you’re playing a villain.
Slightly ahead of the viral indie horror game curve, Shiver Games’ Lucius debuted in 2012 and captivated many with its one-of-a-kind premise and gripping gameplay loop. You take control of a young child named Lucius. Secretly the son of the Devil himself, Lucius is hellbent on ending the lives of everyone with whom he lives.
The end result is a Hitman-esque game with a satanic twist, and eliminating every family member requires careful planning and astute observation. Though it’s fraught with low-budget jank, it remains a worthwhile title that actually went on to spawn a trilogy.
7 Sea Salt
Developed by unsung indie studio YCJY games, Sea Salt borrows directly from Lovecraft lore, putting you in the role of the strange eldritch horror Dagon and tasking them with commanding a swarm of nightmare spawn to overrun a downtrodden port town.
Similar to Carrion in its reverse horror theming, Sea Salt is a fantastic trip for fans of Lovecraft’s work. The pixel art aesthetic and puzzle/combat-oriented gameplay hearken back to retro titles like Lemmings or Cannon Fodder. It’s a bit short, but it’s definitely a trip worth taking.
6 Hunt: Showdown
The rules are bent a bit for this entry, as, though it’s an excellent multiplayer game with a gritty southern Gothic setting, you don’t technically control any true villains. However, other groups of players will be pursuing the same goal as you in the game, and only one team can successfully collect the bounty.
Hunt: Showdown tasks teams of up to three players with tracking down a monster hiding somewhere in the Louisiana Bayou, which is done by finding clues and using paranatural senses. Every moment of gameplay is fraught with peril and tension, as firefights between players could interrupt at any moment. Though not technically villains, these hunters certainly aren’t out to help their fellow man.
5 The Darkness
Forgotten by many because it was never ported to Steam or modern consoles, The Darkness is a video game adaptation of a graphic novel series of the same name. It tells the tale of a young mobster on a quest for revenge after nearly being killed.
The mobster is only kept alive after being possessed by the game’s titular monster, granting him access to otherworldly abilities. An innovative shooter in the vein of something like FEAR or Condemned: Criminal Origins, it may be worth dusting off the PS3 or Xbox 360 to give this one a look.
4 The Last Of Us Part 2
Most horror fans will likely already have made up their minds as to whether they love or hate Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us Part 2. A controversial entry in the epic saga originally introduced on the PS3 in 2013, The Last Of Us Part 2 is a tale split in two; one segment featuring Ellie, one of the primary characters from the previous game, and the other featuring Abby, an all-new character.
While it may not be immediately apparent. This is still fitting among reverse horror games. Both of these characters could be construed as the villain of the story, thanks to all the vile and thoughtless misdeeds they commit throughout the course of the lengthy campaign in their quests for revenge.
3 Spec Ops: The Line
At the outset, Spec Ops: The Line doesn’t seem like a horror game, and, in many ways, it isn’t. However, it weaves a narrative of dread much in the same vein as something like Heart of Darkness. There are no terrifying monsters or malicious ghouls; instead, the monster is very clearly man himself.
A military shooter that makes clear its disdain for the popularity of the genre, Spec Ops: The Line forces you to question their decisions and determine if indulging in such violence, even if simulated, is morally correct. In a way, it’s one of the scariest games ever made.
2 Lakeview Cabin
Take the classic campground slasher film, convert it to a retro pixel art style, take the role of the killer, and you get Lakeview Cabin. Taking place over four chapters, each paying homage to horror films of the 70s and 80s, you have to solve a series of puzzles to survive the dreadful forces that lurk in the forest. It’s kill or be killed, and many of these puzzles require the lives of innocent campers.
Lakeview Cabin is an excellent blend of brain teasers and mind-bending horror. It highlights the lengths a person will go to to survive, even at the expense of other people’s lives. Are you really a villain, or just someone forced to do evil?
1 Resident Evil: Resistance
Launched in 2020 alongside the Resident Evil 3 remake, Resident Evil: Resistance is an asymmetrical horror title that, similar to Dead By Daylight, tasks a band of survivors with thwarting a mastermind and escaping from an Umbrella research facility.
With recognizable Resident Evil monsters and iconic creatures like William Birkin and Mr. X stalking the game’s corridors, Resistance is as perilous as it is entertaining. Though many found it to be a tacked-on experience that wasn’t worth the price of admission, continued content updates and support have morphed it into an engaging—albeit still relatively incomplete—title.
NEXT: The Best Horror Games To Play In The Dark