Empty hallways with dim lighting
Image via Teleopsia Games

10 Best Liminal Space Horror Games

Get unsettled by playing these liminal space horror games!

Liminal spaces make us uncomfortable, relying on the idea that we anticipate certain areas to be bustling. Then, seeing those areas when they’re empty leaves us unsettled, making it a perfect tool for horror games. So, here are the 10 best liminal space horror games.

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10. Closing Shift

Empty Cafe in the Closing Shift
Image via Chilla’s Art

Closing Shift puts you in the role of a barista who’s dealing with a stalker while working closing shifts. The cafe looks normal enough, but it’s usually empty, along with the world around it. You have occasional customers, but there’s always an unsettling feeling that something about this place is off.

Most of the gameplay focuses on completing tasks like cleaning up the cafe or making drinks for customers, wondering if one of them is the person stalking you, which becomes tedious after a while. But it’s easy to jump into with those limited tasks being simple to learn. Since I worked closing shifts as a barista through college, this game hits especially hard for me. Even watching videos of it leaves me uncomfortable.

9. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach

Image via Steel Wool Games

Security Breach is the first FNAF game that lets you freely roam the building. And since it takes place in a megaplex that you expect to be bustling and full of activity, it becomes a liminal space at night. It’s closed while you explore, so the areas filled with games and entertainment are quiet and empty instead. With the free roam activity, the gameplay feels more like a stealth game than previous FNAF games. After a few patches, Security Breach runs much smoother than it did at release, so it’s a fun few hours of gaming.

8. Paratopic

Driving on an empty road
Image via Arbitrary Metric

Paratopic is a short game that you can run through in less than an hour, but it does well making everything you encounter feel wrong. This is a walking simulator, so you mainly experience the environment around you. However, I think that the gameplay is perfect here because adding more mechanics would take away from the uncomfortable feeling you get of just being in this environment. On the surface, the fractured three characters that you play as seem to be in a normal enough environment. This liminal space game is done so well that it’s difficult to pinpoint just what feels off. While you can play it quickly, the more you hang around in this game’s world, the more you find just how strange it is.

7. ATTA

Dim hallway of doors in a hotel
Image via Idea Fruition

ATTA takes place in a hotel, where you wake up in Room 1028. This hotel is a tourist attraction that asks guests to find supernatural anomalies, which is difficult because there are so many details in the hotel hallways that it becomes tough to identify what changed. However, some instances are easy to pick out such as the entire hotel floor flooding! Either way, this game combines unsettling environments with frustrating tasks that test your powers of observation and memory. While it might feel like another walking simulator, it’s more involved since you have to pick out and identify anomalies.

6. DREAM LOGIC

An empty parking garage
Image via Teleopsia Games

True to its name, DREAM LOGIC captures the confusing, chaotic nature of, well… dreams. It can shift from walking through a relatively normal scene to a nightmarish landscape with just one turn. You’ll need to find and pick up notes to help you along the way and solve puzzles to progress. I love the style of this game and how surreal it feels. It’s a lot of chaos in a small package, but it’s the type of experience that sticks in your mind long after you finish it.

5. The Exit 8

Walking through an underground passageway
Image via Kotake Create

The Exit 8 is a fascinating and frustrating game with a simple goal: Reach Exit 8. But when you spot an anomaly in the passageway, you need to turn around and leave that passageway. Otherwise, you end up back at Exit 0. Since it’s a walking simulator, you don’t have many options for confronting anomalies. But the game’s set up in a way that you don’t need controls aside from movement. As such, reaching Exit 8 requires patience and strong powers of observation. In theory, the game isn’t too long. However, the amount of time it takes to complete depends entirely on how much you pay attention to your surroundings.

4. Fears to Fathom

Dimly lit kitchen
Image via Rayll

Fears to Fathom places you in three different settings with an episodic structure. Of course, staying in those locations leads to strange events happening. You have a home invasion story, a story about staying in a motel in the middle of nowhere, and the last one takes place while house-sitting for somebody wealthy. Like many liminal space games, the gameplay elements are centered around interacting with your surroundings. But compared to other entries, the tension here felt greater. These are locations where you should feel safe, but you constantly feel unsettled and on edge instead.

3. Poppy Playtime

Poppy Playtime in a chair during a maintenance video
Image via Mob Entertainment

Poppy Playtime takes place in a mostly abandoned toy factory. So, it’s unsurprising that locations like the Playcare and the game station feel unsettling when they’re empty and showing signs of disrepair. The Playcare in particular is uncomfortable because you see signs of life but learn about the horrible experiments that took place there at the same time. The locations you go through at Playtime Co. should be full of life, but the truth is that this place saw a lot of pain and death. Like Security Breach, you have a lot more mechanics to deal with here. You need to use your GrabPack to solve puzzles and navigate through areas. As such, if you’re looking for a little more gameplay meat on the bones of your liminal space horror experience, Poppy Playtime is a great option.

2. The Backrooms

Image via Ionized Games

The Backrooms are a staple of liminal space horror games. This version of the game puts you in abandoned rooms that seem like they would be part of an office space. They should be bustling with activity, but instead, you’ll find yourself getting lost in a series of rooms that all look the same with creatures that might be lurking around any corner. It’s not a long game, but if you’re newer to liminal space games, this is the perfect introduction for you. I don’t mind The Backrooms, but the chase sequences that break up exploring can become annoying rather than frightening.

1. The Mortuary Assistant

The main room in the Mortuary Assistant
Image via DarkStone Digital

Working the night shift as a mortician is eerie enough, but add in the threat of demonic possession and slowly losing your sanity as a demon takes over your body and you’ve got some pure nightmare fuel. The Mortuary Assistant combines the normal tasks of being a mortician with the supernatural task of uncovering a demon’s name, binding it to the right body, and burning it. Yeah, I don’t think this was in the job description, but it’s too late to back out if you don’t want to be a demon puppet. Like Closing Shift, you have to complete regular job tasks. However, you also need to search for sigils, keep track of how possessed you are, and uncover the secrets that your boss neglected to tell you.

And those are the 10 best liminal space horror games. Liminal space games have become increasingly popular, and it’s a perfect concept to use in horror titles. From here, check out more topics like top 10 free horror games or the 10 best horror game stories.


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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.