We’re trapped in a dark house without any means of escape––our only hope is to work together. If you bring your wits, I’ll bring my fearlessness. Together we might last the night, or perish beside each other, our corpses fading away into the background or glitching out on the screen while we laugh, text, and decide to play again. From afar we can protect each other from our worse fears, our nightmares.
RPG horror games give people the chance to actually play through a horror movie with their friends. Even before the pandemic, this was very appealing to me. I grew up believing that the stuff of horror movies was actually real. Not so much demons and the like, but that there were people so emotionally, mentally, or physically powerful that they could make terrible things happen. I thought the Michael Myers who stalks the shadows and suburbs was the same one who cracked jokes on TV.
They were all just different costumes, different players on the same stage—the fear stage.
Now that we’ve passed the one-year mark in quarantine and people and governments are relaxing their restrictions, things are about to get really wild in the streets. Our world has become a stage of fear where the only certainty is that it has always been March.
You can stay close with your friends, family, and even the new people who enter your life this past year by playing these horror-filled multiplayer games without venturing out into the doom-filled world. The world we live in now isn’t like anything you’ll find in the games listed in this article, which is a good thing, but they have some similarities, some moments that make the playthroughs feel like you and me are together, trying our best to survive.
Systems: Steam | PlayStation 4 | Xbox One | Nintendo Switch | Android | iOS | Stadia | PlayStation 5 | Xbox Series X/S
For gamers who could care less about an unfolding storyline, Dead by Daylight is nonstop action and guts without all the cut scenes and plot. An asymmetric survival horror game, Dead by Daylight allows players to create a party of five, each of whom is dead set on making it out alive. In the game, players can choose to play as four survivors and one killer, where the killer’s job is to stalk, maim, and kill the other players. While playing as survivors, friends can help each other out of sticky situations and save each other’s lives. A great perk of the game is its simplicity allows for an ever-growing list of DLCs that change the characters and killers to fit different worlds like Stranger Things, Halloween, and even the world of K-Pop stars.
Systems: Steam | PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Like Dead by Daylight, White Noise 2 is an asymmetric game where you play with your friends as a group of investigators trying to solve a murder while being hunted by a terrifying demon. Equipped with a flashlight and a desire for truth, you and friends set out into the dark world of the game, hunting down clues while your flashlight’s battery runs out of juice. There are a couple of great features that come with this indie game that makes it ideal for playing with friends, like the ability to live on after death: much like Among Us, after your character is killed, you are able to hang around as a ghost. Unlike the popular space game, though, here you can actively help your teammates from beyond the grave. White Noise 2 also comes with a replay option so that your group can watch the best and worst kills and moments of the game.
Speaking of Among Us, Unfortunate Spacemen is another great option with a similar premise. In this first-person shooter indie game, players have the option of playing with their friends as space cadets in an asymmetric game of trust and murder. As an employee for The Company, you must complete random objectives while waiting for rescue at various failed space outposts. One of the crew members–your friends, your family, your loved ones–is really an alien who can shapeshift and is hungry for your blood. Unfortunate Spacemen adds that extra layer of survival by placing the players in front of the action and forcing them to confront the monster on their team.
A newer indie game that is currently available for early access and multiplayer fun is Phasmophobia, the ghost hunting game that recently had a run of popularity on Twitch and Steam. As a member of a ghost hunting squad, you wander through dark landscapes, searching for evidence of the paranormal. Made for VR but not exclusive to it, Phasmophobia is game that brings the ghost into your home through the use of features like voice recognition. As a group, you and up to four friends set out to gather as much evidence on the paranormal as possible, traveling from one haunted destination to the next.
Systems: Steam | PlayStation 4
A cross between the reality TV show Alone and the game Rust, The Forest presents players with an open world filled with survival tasks and cannibals. The Forest allows up to 8 players to play in multiplayer online cooperative mode. You and your cast of friends play as survivors of a crash on an isolated island, forced to scratch out survival while trying not to be attacked and eaten by the mutant cannibals who call the island home. Build structures, craft weapons, and erect defenses to make the days easier and the nights safer while you watch your friends’ back and they watch yours through the long cold dark.
Just because we’re stuck in a nightmare doesn’t mean we need to be alone inside it. Gather a group of friends to play online, or do it with the people that you live with as a way to stay close, stay sane, and make it out of this pandemic alive.