In space no one can hear you scream. But since you’re not in space (probably), prepare to shake and squirm in your seat with the spookiest and best space horror games available right now. Our aim with this list is to showcase our picks for the biggest and best space-set horror games – as of late 2022 – in ranked order.
We believe all of the video games mentioned here are well worth checking out and cover a wide range of scary stories and unsettling atmospheres that are perfect for this Halloween season. The main rule is simple: they must be set in space… although there’s one notable exception.
Great space horror games aren’t obligated to toy with monsters nor supernatural phenomena as scares come in many forms – maybe it’s just a creepy atmosphere that’s doing all the work. As stated above, outer space is plenty scary without added tension and freaky threats, but those are definitely welcome.
If you’re also looking for calmer space video games that look to the stars, you might want to check out our list of the best space exploration games, or maybe the best Star Wars games for fans of all kinds. Looking at the future, we’ve also prepared a list with upcoming space games you should keep an eye on, including the long-anticipated Dead Space remake and that same series’ spiritual successor, The Callisto Protocol.
10. We Went Back
- Release date: April 3, 2020
- Platform: PC
The first title in our list is an overlooked, free-to-play (and keep) indie game by Dead Thread Games. The premise is quite simple, and the game can be beaten in less than 50 minutes: you’re all alone in an abandoned space station, the exit is locked, and something is lurking in the shadows – it’ll make you feel like you're in one of the Alien movies.
We have a soft spot for “condensed” horror stories, and We Went Back is like a great short story about fear of the unknown. It’s really good looking for such a small dev team, too. With its Steam reviews sitting at a healthy “very positive” rating, maybe a bigger project based on this little treat will follow sometime in the future.
9. Moons of Madness
- Release date: October 22, 2019
- Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Moons of Madness is another first-person horror game. This one is bigger and shakier though. It comes from Rock Pocket Games, a Norwegian studio that started out developing mobile games and then made the jump to full-blown horror for PC and consoles.
If you’re a fan of cosmic horror with Lovecraftian DNA, this one’s for you. Moreover, Moons of Madness has plenty of hard sci-fi elements as well. While the initial setbacks in your mission are somewhat normal, things quickly take a strange turn. What’s real and what isn’t? You know things are going to get dark soon, yet you can’t wait to uncover Mars’ biggest secret.
- Release date: September 22, 2015
- Platform: PC, Linux, MacOS, Xbox One, PS4
This one’s a bit of a wildcard. For starters, it’s not set in outer space, but underwater here on planet Earth instead. So, why is it part of this list? Well, its influences come from space-set games and sci-fi films with strong A.I. and body horror elements. In many ways, it feels like a spiritual successor to the classic System Shock games.
SOMA is Frictional Games’ 2015 follow-up to Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010), one of the most influential horror games of the past two decades. On this occasion, the Frictional folks went all in on the wild narrative and stunning twists. The stealth sections were still a bit undercooked, but the rest of the game is absolutely top tier.
- Release date: July 30, 2020
- Platform: PC, Linux, MacOS, Xbox One and Series X/S, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
Dark Souls… in space! That’s a pitch that will automatically make tons of gamers click the nearest “buy” button. Cradle Games’ Hellpoint may lack the finesse and polish of bigger Soulslike titles, but its dark heart is in the right place. Derelict space colony? Check. Massive “we shouldn’t have tampered with this” cataclysm? Check. What’s not to like?
The player controls a nameless humanoid stranded on the Irid Novo space station, which orbits a giant black hole. Vicious creatures and entities need to be banished, and a huge mystery must be cracked. Of course, like most Souls-influenced games, this one’s tough and not for everyone. You’ve been warned.
- Release date: May 21, 2019
- Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
One of our personal favorites, since it’s such a drastically different approach to telling a spooky tale set in outer space. No Code’s game is more of a thriller in which the truth about a mission gone awry must be uncovered through the lens of the station’s computer (S.A.M.), whose point-of-view is limited and changes as the game progresses.
Observation is more of a puzzle game which tells an unsettling story, and a much welcome change of pace for veteran gamers who have fought and hidden from unspeakable horrors for years. Though that doesn’t mean Observation can't be stressful when things get hairy – it’s definitely earned its spot on this list of the best space horror games.
5. DOOM 3: BFG Edition
- Release date: October 16, 2012
- Platform: PC, Android, Xbox 360/One, PS3/4, Nintendo Switch
DOOM 3 has always been regarded as a great first-person shooter and horror game, but a not-so-good DOOM entry. The latest iterations of the franchise have amplified its “power fantasy” philosophy up to eleven, but the classic instalments also had that kind of energy. DOOM 3 was a reboot of sorts that took advantage of the tech jump by id Software in the early 2000s to toy with the saga’s foundations.
It’s hard to argue against DOOM 3 being a bland representation of the rest of the franchise, but that doesn’t make it a bad game. The shooting holds up, the atmosphere is still suffocatingly dark, and the overall experience makes for an interesting detour from punching demons in the face. By the way, be sure to grab the “BFG Edition” to get all the latest bells and whistles.
- Release date: May 5, 2017
- Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Prey’s history is a doozy: the (fantastic) original game flew under the radar for years before creating a cult following, then an ambitious sequel that promised bounty-hunting in a Star Wars-like setting was canned by Bethesda due to ongoing development issues. The IP was later rebooted with Prey (2017), an Arkane Studios-developed first-person shooter and immersive sim which took quite a bit from BioShock and other classics such as Deus Ex.
Much like the original title, Prey 2017 remains an exquisite yet underrated game. It never became as famous as the studio's Dishonored games, but it shares many strengths with those flexible first-person, immersive romps. The story takes place in an alternate timeline in which humankind took to the stars far earlier and encountered a hostile alien race with strange physical and psychic powers.
Ever been attacked by a cup? No? Well then you need to play Prey.
3. System Shock 2
- Release date: August 11, 1999
- Platform: PC, Linux, MacOS
Many of the best space horror games in this list wouldn’t have happened if System Shock 1 and 2 hadn’t paved the way. Both games remain immersive sims worth exploring, but the second one gained a larger following thanks to its refined mechanics and systems.
System Shock 2 was originally intended to be a standalone game, but plans changed in the middle of production, after Electronic Arts signed on as publisher. The story takes place in 2114, on the starship Von Braun, where a genetic infection has taken over. There’s plenty of action and thrills in this one, but what makes everything click together are the plot and SHODAN, one of the best video game villains ever. Trust us, things get really crazy.
Development on System Shock 3 and a remaster/reboot of the first instalment are happening as we speak, so this is a saga that will be reactivated in the mainstream soon.
2. Alien: Isolation
- Release date: October 6, 2014
- Platform: PC, Linux, MacOS, Android, iOS, Xbox 360/One, PS3/4, Nintendo Switch
We couldn’t close out this list without Alien: Isolation, Creative Assembly’s first foray into first-person horror. There have been plenty of Alien games that recreated the second film’s thrills and action, but this one took a page out of Amnesia’s book and instead focused on delivering the perfect sequel to Ridley Scott’s original 1979 horror classic.
The story follows Amanda Ripley, Ellen’s daughter, 15 years after the events that ended with the destruction of the ship Nostromo. Its flight recorder is recovered, and Amanda joins a retrieval mission so she can have closure. Instead, she’s fated to face the horror her mother tried to destroy. This one’s a nerve-wracking experience and a must-play for anyone into the durable sci-fi franchise.
1. Dead Space
- Release date: October 14, 2008
- Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Often described as “The Thing in space,” Dead Space quickly became a sleeper hit when it was launched back in 2008. Yes, it’s set in yet another abandoned ship that discovered something no one should have touched, but its deep worldbuilding and exquisite enemy and level design made it one for the ages.
A full-blown Dead Space remake, handled by EA’s Motive Studios, is coming on January 27, 2023, but the original game holds up and is still worth playing through. Dead Space 2 is a worthy follow-up which doubles down on the action, too. It was Dead Space 3 that maybe strayed too far from the saga’s roots and became a horror-themed third-person shooter, but some fans defend it to this day.