Holding a candle towards a spider monster
Image via Frictional Games

10 Best Horror Games with Little to No Combat

Explore horror games that either keep you helpless in combat or focus on the story and settings instead!

Horror has dozens of subgenres, and while survival horror is perhaps the most popular in gaming, sometimes you want to see how long you can survive without combat. Or you prefer games that focus more on tension and atmosphere than fighting. Here are the 10 best horror games with little to no combat.

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10 Best Horror Games That Don’t Focus on Combat

10. Layers of Fear

Layers of Fear
Image via Bloober Team

Rather than being scary in a traditional sense, Layers of Fear builds tension by slowly unsettling you as you play. The goal is to finish your masterpiece painting, and doing that requires exploring a house that keeps changing. During the process, you learn more about your background and increasingly lose your sanity. Strange and interesting, the biggest downside is that once you play it, it loses all of that tension. So, while I loved my first run through it, I know I wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy a second run the same way.

9. What Remains of Edith Finch

A room of books and photos
Image via Giant Sparrow

Well, it turns out that your family is cursed and everyone dies at a young age. Or that’s what you’ve been told. As you dig into the stories of your family members, you realize that the situation is much different than you believed. In fact, it seems that your family’s deaths are more complicated than simply giving up the ghost. As you explore the story of each untimely demise, you’re forced to doubt the truth, and it grows increasingly difficult to know what’s real and what isn’t.

8. Doki Doki Literature Club

Monika speaking in Doki Doki Literature Club
Image via Team Salvato

Doki Doki Literature Club starts out like an unassuming visual novel. Look at the bright colors and anime characters in the screen above, and you’d be right to ask: “What’s so scary about Literature Club?” However, it turns into a metafictional horror game that constantly forces you back to the beginning. Each time you go back, the story unfolds differently. In some cases, characters that die in one run are absent from the next run, and their existence isn’t even mentioned by other characters. From unsettling to downright disturbing, Doki Doki Literature Club is a rollercoaster of a game.

7. Limbo

Boy facing giant spider
Image via Playdead

After dying, a boy finds himself in a greyscale world full of traps and a giant spider looking to kill him. And it’s your job to get him through this world safely and solve the puzzles you face to find your sister. The narrative is told mostly through the art and environment rather than through dialogue or exposition. It’s not a very long game, but the journey and eerie visuals stick with you.

6. Little Nightmares

Image via Tarsier Studios

Little Nightmares is a series, so I’ll talk about the first game in particular (though LN 2 is worth playing, too). You play as Six, a child-like figure trapped in an underwater environment called the Maw, where guests come to eat children at a feast under the supervision of a woman in a Noh mask. Six has bouts of hunger, and what she eats escalates each time. When you’re forced to eat another item out of extreme hunger, you realize that Six is more of a villain than a hero. Even though Six’s journey seems to end with the first game, the series is no less unsettling in the sequel.

5. Five Nights at Freddy’s

Image via Scott Cawthon

Five Nights at Freddy’s relies on helplessness. Even as a security guard, you’re not allowed to move or hide in the first games. Instead, you monitor killer animatronics that move at night and wait to use security doors as your only protection when they come too close. If the jumpscares lose their fright, then you can dig into the lore of the games for a new wave of horror. And in case you don’t want to buy the games, you can find some FNAF experiences in Roblox.

4. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water

Three ghosts in the camera obscura
Image via Koei Tecmo Games

It’s difficult to access most Fatal Frame games now, which center around using a camera to capture spirits and “defeat” them. This game in the series follows three characters, and one of them is the daughter of Miku, the protagonist of the first Fatal Frame game. With different endings included, you can play Maiden of Black Water multiple times to see every possibility. While it isn’t as good as the original Fatal Frame entries, it’s worth playing and exploring this universe of wandering spirits and hidden evils that only an antique camera can contain.

3. Detention

Ray in a red room
Image via RedCandleGames

Detention is a dark game set during Taiwan’s period of military rule. You play primarily as Ray, whose background is discovered as you explore the school. Aside from learning about Ray, you learn about the oppression of military rule, and how even smuggling banned books could lead to imprisonment and death. Although this mix of history, myth, and nightmares makes a great horror game, it has dark imagery that you should take into consideration before deciding to play it.

2. Amnesia

Fountain room in amnesia's castle
Image via Frictional Games

Amnesia is one of the most iconic horror games with little to no combat. Here, fighting against enemies means running away and hiding to avoid the monsters roaming the castle. As an added bit of difficulty, staring at the monsters or being near them lowers your sanity. The newer games, such as The Bunker, do give you a way to fight back. But even then, the combat is still limited. With both the classic Amnesia style and the newer games in the franchise, the combat isn’t the focus, and the locations are always unsettling.

1. Outlast

Richard Trager holding a knife
Image via Red Barrels

Investigative journalism goes wrong when Miles decides to check a tip about Mount Massive Asylum in the first Outlast. The game doesn’t pull punches, showing graphic content and making you watch a patient who believes he’s a doctor cut off some of your fingers. However, general asylum patients aren’t the threat. Instead, you learn that Murkoff has been conducting experiments on patients to summon a supernatural creature. And it seems they’ve succeeded, meaning you must face both the natural and supernatural with only a camera.

Those are the 10 best horror games with little to no combat. However, they’re far from the only games you’ll find in that category. And if you enjoy horror that has combat as well, check out my list of all Silent Hill main games, ranked. Or take a look at 10 horror games that desperately need a remake.


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Author
Melissa Sarnowski
Melissa Sarnowski has been working as a gaming writer professionally for two years, having been at GameSkinny for over a year now as a horror beat writer. She has an English degree from University of Wisconsin - Madison. While she focuses on all things horror, she also enjoys cozy games, MMOs like FFXIV and WoW, and any and everything in between.