Horror games have long been a staple of the video game industry, as have role-playing games. However, mixing both of these genres was quite a rarity, and remains so to this day. But that doesn’t mean that some of the best horror games out there don’t feature role-playing elements.
So, today, we’re going to look at 10 of the best horror RPGs that have ever been released. Let’s get started!
When you consider how popular the Bioshock games became, it may come as a surprise that they were actually spiritual successors to a game called System Shock. Released in 1994, System Shock was a first-person horror shooter with RPG mechanics, playing rather similar to the Bioshock games. You play as a hacker who is trying to stop an Artificial Intelligence on a space station.
If you enjoyed the Bioshock games, or even the Deus Ex games (made by the same developers), then you should definitely try System Shock!
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
How do you turn a standard horror game with RPG elements into one of the most memorable games ever released? Well, the developers of Eternal Darkness did this by making the gameplay with your mind just as much as you play with it. As your characters experience or see more horrifying creatures and events, they slowly go insane.
This causes strange things to happen in the game, like the controls changing randomly or the game acting as if the TV has turned off. It was a work of game development genius.
Not every horror game has you fighting against monsters… Some, like Galerians, prefer to turn this idea on its head. In Galerians, you play as a young boy named Rion who has been experimented on, becoming psychic with devastating powers. In an attempt to escape his confinement, Rion becomes the “monster” of the storyline, with the police and security forces acting as your enemies.
This creates a completely different dynamic when it comes to the theme of the story, making Galerians a truly memorable experience for anyone.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Vampires have provided a rich source of gaming inspiration for years – from arcades to PC games and even online casinos. The video slot Bloodsuckers for example, with its notoriously high Return to Player, is a classic shocker that still makes it amongst the most popular games at NetEnt casinos and slot sites in the UK today.
And there is no shortage of Vampire-themed RPGs either.
Based on the White Wolf pen and paper RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is a semi-open world horror game where you play as a newly transformed vampire thrust out into the World of Darkness. As well as working through the storyline, which is great, you have to juggle your hunger and deal with all sorts of other monstrosities.
Easily the most modern game on this list, Bloodborne is an extremely challenging RPG made by the developers of Dark Souls. It features very hard boss fights that will take a lot of practice to be able to defeat and monsters that are both disgusting and amazing at the same time!
If you’re a fan of Dark Souls or Sekiro, but want a bit more of a horror aesthetic, then Bloodborne is exactly what you need!
Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl
As the one and only first-person shooter game, Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl plays similar to the recent Fallout games, acting as an action RPG rather than a typical shooter. On top of this, because the Stalker games feature an area filled with radiation, the developers have been able to include some very interesting enemies.
That means that you actually get three different genres combined into one great game! Who could complain about that?
It’s funny to think that the game which inspired the creation of Resident Evil was actually an RPG. Sweet Home was released on the original Nintendo Entertainment System as a 2D, top-down horror RPG. Imagine the Legend of Zelda games but with horror added into it. This meant that the game was very unique at the time.
Sadly, that uniqueness meant that it wasn’t brought to the West, so if you want to play it, you’ll need to know Japanese or find a translation patch.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Widely considered one of the greatest Metroidvania games ever made, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a 2D side-scrolling RPG where you are making your way through Dracula’s Castle in an attempt to end his unlife.
It features platforming elements and a huge amount of explorable content, meaning that you’ll be able to lose yourself in the game for hours at a time!
You wouldn’t normally think that a tactical RPG battle system would fit in a Survival Horror game that takes inspiration from the Resident Evil genre. Yet, surprisingly, it really does! Koudelka is one of the darkest games you could play when it comes to storyline themes, mixing everything from demonic possession to the undead, and ghostly girls trying to kill you.
The fact that there are only 3 specific characters means that each one gets a huge amount of character development, which only helps to make it even more enjoyable as an RPG.
We couldn’t have a list of RPGs, no matter the sub-genre, without at least one entry from Squaresoft. After all, they are the kings of the RPG. Parasite Eve is a mix between Survival Horror themes and action RPG gameplay, similar to Vagrant Story. The really interesting thing about Parasite Eve, despite the fact that it is an amazing game, is that it is the official and canon sequel to a Japanese novel.
This means that the game has a huge amount of story for you to enjoy whilst you are running away from the monsters.
Visual journalist/Graduating student, University of Missouri-Columbia. Lover of everything in the gaming industry and an avid fan of all films!