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The hint given for the battery puzzle on a cult stash
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Top 10 Best Puzzle-Based Horror Games

These horror games make you think if you want to progress to the end!

Puzzles are a perfect feature to blend with horror in games. When you’re put in a high-tension or stressful environment, having to stop and solve puzzles to progress can really leave you on edge. However, this is a positive result when you want to be scared. So, here are the 10 best puzzle-based horror games.

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10. Poppy Playtime

Broken beds in Home Sweet Home
Image via Mob Entertainment

Poppy Playtime has a lot of lore to dig through and plenty of puzzles used to navigate through the rundown Playtime Co. factory. But because the game isn’t fully released yet, I put it at number 10. So far, each chapter has gotten longer as you unravel the horrors of Playtime Co. and what they did to employees and orphans. The puzzles are required to move from location to location. Then, the real horror comes through VHS tapes and lines of dialogue that reveal how far the researchers were willing to go in their search for immortality.

9. The Mortuary Assistant

Preparing a body for burial by adjusting teeth
Image via Darkstone Digital

The Mortuary Assistant mixes the normal tasks involved in preparing bodies for cremation or burial with figuring out the name of the demon attached to you. Uncovering the demon’s name requires piecing together clues and information through puzzle-based game elements. Since each game randomizes the demon’s name as well as the body it’s using, you can replay it as many times as you want and things will remain fresh and interesting. Or, at least, as fresh as a dead body can be! It’s also a good lesson about understanding exactly what sort of job you’re taking… And if any demonic activities or risks of possession are part of your job tasks.

8. Killer Frequency

Radio studio
Image via Team17 Digital

The concept of Killer Frequency is so unique that it’s difficult to not appreciate the creativity put into it. Since I also love music, the idea of uncovering a serial killer’s identity while working as a DJ, taking emergency calls, and playing music is fascinating. A large part of uncovering the killer’s identity and who the next victim will be involves puzzles. It’s such a fresh take on a horror game that I recommend it whenever I can.

7. Limbo

Boy facing giant spider
Image via Playdead

Limbo is a dark little puzzle game that follows a boy entering ‘LIMBO’ as he searches for his sister. However, this task becomes difficult when a giant spider wants to kill you. To successfully find your sister, you need to use your surroundings to progress through obstacles and defeat the giant spider. It’s dark, unsetlling, and oh so clever with the puzzles you’ll need to solve to push through this atmospheric world. It might have been out for a while, but Limbo remains one of the best horror puzzle games you can play in 2024.

6. Inside

Boy swimming through bodies hanging upside down in water
Image via Playdead

Inside is created by the same team that made Limbo, and they used their experience to really master the puzzle platformer style of game. And that means most of the game involves solving puzzles to pass obstacles and avoid enemies. Unlike Limbo, Inside has more of a sci-fi feeling to its atmosphere instead of the heavier fantasy elements. Most of the game takes place in what seems to be a laboratory, but very little information is given to you upfront. If you love mysteries, puzzles, and unsettling atmospheres, then this is the game for you.

5. Amnesia (Series)

Fountain room in amnesia's castle
Image via Frictional Games

Without combat as a focal point of the games, Amnesia relies heavily on puzzles and exploration to uncover your tasks. Each Amnesia game has a different setting and story, which means you can jump into any of them without playing previous ones. But the playstyle stays consistent, even with slight changes to mechanics, so you don’t need to worry about having to relearn how to play when you jump between entries in the series. Of the games included in this list, Amnesia might have the strongest fright factor. However, if you get motion sickness easily, I wouldn’t recommend the early games at least, since their sanity function results in screen effects that might bother you.

4. Little Nightmares

Image via Tarsier Studios

Like Limbo and Inside, Little Nightmares is a puzzle platformer. Of these three, Little Nightmares has the most disturbing content. You play as a little girl named Six trying to escape a ship where children are served as the main dish of the feasts that bring in many rich customers. While that’s eerie enough, Six suffers from increasingly bad hunger pains that show that—when it comes to survival—monster and victim aren’t too different.

3. Alan Wake 2

Subway word of power in the traincar
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Alan Wake 2 gives you a lot of assistance with puzzles through the Writer’s Room and Mind Place elements. But that doesn’t mean you can’t solve your fair share of puzzles as part of the main story or as minigames. Even without playing the first game, you can jump into Alan Wake 2 and explore a universe where fact and fiction are too closely related to the point that one influences the other. Puzzles, horror, and a bit of action, there’s a bit of everything wrapped up into this wild ride of a game.

2. Silent Hill (Series)

James staring at a clock
Image via Konami

Silent Hill is notorious for mixing puzzles with survival and psychological horror elements. Puzzles are required for progressing through most Silent Hill games, since that’s the usual method to get keys and items required to access new areas. Between the puzzles and swaps between the normal world and nightmare world, Silent Hill keeps you scared and frustrated at the same time.

1. Resident Evil (Series)

Image via Capcom

Like Silent Hill, Resident Evil sits at the top when it comes to blending puzzles and horror together in games. Although, there’s a level of ridiculousness that comes with the puzzles that makes it tough not to enjoy them. I can’t imagine designing a mansion that requires me to carry both keys and emblems to get from room to room. And that’s the same for the police station. I can’t work in a place that requires three emblems just to reach the parking garage. But that’s part of the charm of RE. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s serious enough that it doesn’t feel like a joke. There’s a lot to balance in these games, and the remakes along with the latest entries in the series have returned to those roots that made the series a hit in the first place.

And those are the 10 best puzzle-based horror games. Even when games aren’t as focused on puzzles, you can usually find at least one or two in most horror games. From here, check out more spooky content like 10 horror games that desperately need a remake or all Silent Hill main games, ranked!

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Image of Melissa Sarnowski
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.