Whether RPGs, action games, or even movies, the Japanese have a different way of doing things than the West. Those differences that are hard to describe make them unique and distinctive. That distinctiveness is ever more present in the Japanese horror genre. Japanese developers Capcom coined survival horror as a sub-genre with Resident Evil. That series was inspired by the 1989 Japanese horror games Sweet Home and Alone in the Dark.


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A lot of people have completely forgotten about the late PS3 horror titles, despite many of them being very high quality.

After the release of Resident Evil, several other Japanese developers followed suit and released their games in the horror genre. Many of these would become just as influential as Capcom’s effort, with some being even more terrifying, using terror and fear in various ways.

Updated March 27, 2024, by Michael Llewellyn: The Japanese horror genre is unique in its execution. It often features imagery and storytelling that can be superior to its Western counterparts. Man Japanese-made horror games tap into a pulpish and Hammer horror-like sense of characterization and genuinely scary psychological elements that build on the player’s fears and helplessness. This list is updated to include specifications and information as more games to satisfy horror fans.

21 Silent Hill 4: The Room

An Effective Spin On The Haunted House Genre

Henry and Eileen

Silent Hill 4
September 7, 2004

Team Silent

Survival Horror

Silent Hill 4: The Room is one of the more unique titles in the series. The player is placed in the shoes of its protagonist Henry Townsend as he attempts to escape his haunted apartment. The Room is a more claustrophobic experience and an excellent spin on the haunted house/apartment genre seen in many of the best horror films.

The mechanics revolve around, complex puzzles, protecting his neighbor Eileen, and not succumbing to the apartment’s hauntings. While Silent Hill 4’s combat is clunky and awkward to control, it’s one of the most visually impressive and imaginative entries in the Silent Hill franchise on the PS2. The Room has become a cult favorite among horror fans and holds up better than the spin-offs.

20 Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries Of Honjo

A Twisted Tale In With Lots Of Jump Scares

characters in PARANORMASIGHT The Seven Mysteries of Honjo

Paranormasight: The Sveen Mysteries of Honjo
Microsoft Windows , Nintendo Switch , iOS , Android

March 8, 2023
Adventure , RPG , Simulation

Launched in 2023 for the PC and Switch, Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is a visual novel and graphic adventure from Xeen. Despite its genre, Paranormasight is a tense, atmospheric horror with plenty of jump scares to keep players on their toes. It features interwoven stories between the characters across short chapters with challenging decisions for players to undertake. The narrative of Paranormasight centers around a curse and spooky urban legends known as the Seven Mysteries of Honjo. It has several alternate paths and endings to unlock, which will keep fans of horror and visual novels busy for a long time.

19 Kuon

A Survival Horror From The Dark Souls Team

Kuon monster captured the protagonist

April 1, 2004


Survival Horror , Adventure , Fighting

FromSoft is best known for its work on the Dark Souls, Elden Ring, and Bloodborne. However, in 2004, the studio launched a PS2 survival horror title called Kuon. The game puts players in the shoes of three central characters. It is set in a haunted manor and resembles the classic Resident Evil games with fixed perspectives and tank-like controls.

Kuon received below-average reviews but has become a sought-after cult classic with a high asking price on auction sites. FromSoft still shows an aptitude for horror and scares with the Souls series and Bloodborne with its Lovecraftian style. There’s no end to the monsters and ghouls that lurk around every corner in the Souls games, jumping out at the player.

18 Resident Evil 4 Remake

A Superior And Thrilling Remake

resident evil 4 remake leon and ashley

Resident Evil 4 Remake
March 24, 2023

Survival Horror

Following in the footsteps of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3, this stunning remake of Resident Evil 4 is one of the best horror experiences on modern systems. Like the original, it still fits in with the action-horror genre, but this reimagining added more jumps, scares, and tension than the original.

Leon is more physically capable after training in the Special Forces in the years between the second game and the fourth entry. So he never feels as vulnerable as he used to, but the Lovecraftian atmosphere and relentless attacks from enemies that appear more determined than ever to kill him raise the stakes, keeping the intensity at an all-time high.

17 Silent Hill 3

A Replayable Psychological Horror

Main character Heather shining a flashlight up in the direction of the raised camera, a mildly perturbed look on her features.

Silent Hill 3
August 6, 2003

Survival Horror

Launched in 2003, Silent Hill 3 puts players in the shoes of a teenage girl named Heather, who feels more vulnerable than James in the first two games. The atmosphere of the Otherworld and the series’ use of psychological horror with genuinely terrifying jump scares make Silent Hill 3 a must for fans of the horror genre.

Silent Hill 3 has multiple endings and additional scenes for replayability and significant connections to the first two games. Some disturbing moments in the game hit hard more than two decades later. The third entry in the series inspired the Silent Hill movie adaptation featuring Kit Harington and Sean Bean years before they starred in the Game of Thrones series.

16 Fatal Frame 5: Maiden Of Black Water

Immersive Horror With Nailbiting Jump Scares

Fatal Frame 5: Maiden Of Black Water Yuri Gameplay

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
October 22, 2015

Survival Horror

​​​​​Fatal Frame 5: Maiden of Black Tower first launched on the Nintendo Wii U in 2011. It implemented the Wii U controller so players could feel more immersed using the Camera Obscura when fighting off ghosts. It was relaunched for modern consoles, but the Switch version is the best experience, thanks to the versatility of the screen in handheld mode.


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The Maiden of Black Water is a haunting experience dripping in a gloomy atmosphere and features tragic backstories of the phantoms that are a deadly threat to the protagonists. For fans looking for a traditional Japanese survival horror with three vulnerable protagonists who lack the means to fight back like an 80s action hero, Fatal Frame 5 is a solid recommendation.

15 Clock Tower 1995

A Point And Click Horror Experience And The Inspiration For Resident Evil

Scissorman in Clocktower

Clock Tower
September 14, 1995

Human Entertainment

Survival Horror , Adventure

Released in 1995, Clock Tower on the PS1 is the second game in the series. It is a point-and-click survival horror game created by the Japanese Studio Human Entertainment. The series is often credited as the inspiration for the Resident Evil series.

Despite not being an action-based game like the Resident Evil series, Clock Tower on the PS1 is still a creepy title worthy of its legacy. The atmosphere is unrelentingly tense, and the story is superior to many modern games in the genre.

14 Mad Father Remake

Creepy Psychological Indie Horror Game

mad father gameplay

Mad Father
December 10, 2012


Released in 2020, the remake of the freeware horror RPG/puzzle game Mad Father is available on the Nintendo Switch and the PC. The game was developed by Japanese indie studio Sen. Visually, it looks like and seemingly takes inspiration from titles like Corpse Party.

Like Corpse Party, Mad Father is a creepy game despite its simplistic-looking visuals. It prefers to rely on psychological fear rather than outright jump scares. The narrative is developed around an 11-year-old protagonist named Aya, who discovers that her father is a murderous mad scientist with a laboratory full of horrors. It gets creepier and more disturbing as the plot thickens.

13 Shadow Corridor

A Disturbing And Imaginative Indie Horror Game

Masked characters in Shadow Corridor

  • Platform: PC
  • Released: 2019
  • Developer: Kazuki Shiroma

Released in 2019, Shadow Corridor is a first-person horror game by Japanese indie developer Kazuki Shiroma. It is currently only available on the Steam platform for PC and in playable form on the Steam Deck. However, players with capable machines should try this game out despite its low budget.

The game is set in a Japanese city and takes the player into back alleys, temples, and theaters. Despite the familiar-looking locations, it still feels like the player is trapped in a horrific maze. Additionally, Shadow Corridor is complemented by a remarkable sound design perfectly implemented to scare its players out of their skins.

12 Corpse Party

Disturbingly Dark Horror That Betrays Its Simplistic Design

Corpse Party young student dragging a victim by her hair

Corpse Party
PC , PlayStation Portable , PlayStation Vita , PlayStation 4 , iOS , Nintendo 3DS , Android , Nintendo Switch , Xbox One , Xbox Series X , Xbox Series S

April 22, 1996


Survival Horror

Corpse Party is a survival horror game created using the RPG Maker tools. It was initially released for the PC in 2006. Its remake, Corpse Party: Blood Covered and Corpse Party Blood Covered: Repeated Fear on PC, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo 3DS, and the Switch.

Horror fans should not underestimate it because of the simplistic-looking 2D sprites. Corpse Party is a strange and often disturbing horror game. While the visuals are low budget, the sound design isn’t, and playing the game with a good set of headphones is enough to draw any player into its horrific story.

11 Parasite Eve 2

A Tense Merging Of Survival Horror And JRPG Mechanics

Parasite Eve Main Character Looking in the Mirror

Parasite Eve 2
September 12, 2000

Square Product Development Division 5

Survival Horror , Action RPG

Released in 2000, Parasite Eve 2 is a survival horror RPG that drops the first turn-based active time battle system. As a result, the gameplay is more in line with survival horrors like Resident Evil and complemented by the atmosphere and jump scares.


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Interestingly, Parasite Eve 2 was directed and written by Kenichi Iwao, who also wrote and directed Resident Evil. Developers Square wanted the sequel to be more in line with Capcom’s popular horror series and was a departure from the RPG mechanics of the first game.

10 Resident Evil Village

Superb Big Budget Action Horror

Resident Evil Village Mother Miranda

Resident Evil Village
May 7, 2021

Survival (dupe) , Horror

Released in 2021, Resident Evil Village is available on last and current-gen platforms. It was one of the most hotly anticipated horror games since its predecessor. While not as frightening as the seventh entry, Village is a more tense game in its execution as an action horror.

As a horror game, Resident Evil Village is more comparable to the action-oriented Resident Evil 4 in terms of action and atmosphere. However, when it comes to scares, Resident Evil Village still throws them at the player with remarkable effect.

9 Clock Tower 3

A Classic Survival Horror With Excellent Pacing

The villain grabbing the girl in Clock Tower 3

Clock Tower 3
March 18, 2003

Survival Horror

Clock Tower 3 is a survival horror launched for the PlayStation 2 in 2003. Despite the Clock Tower series being one of the most influential horror series in the 1990s, it never gained the same recognition as Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

While the third entry was not a commercial success, it is praised as the best and the scariest game in the series. Granted, the game is short compared to its rivals, and the control system uses the same tank controls familiar to the genre at the time. However, the tension never lets up with no padding in terms of storytelling.

8 Resident Evil Remake

A Visually Stunning And Superior Version Of The PS1 Classic

Chris aiming his pistol

Resident Evil (2002)
April 30, 2002

Capcom Production Studio 4

Survival Horror

First released on the Nintendo GameCube in 2002, the Resident Evil remake is still one of the most effective survival horror games ever. It uses pre-rendered backdrops, but thanks to its incredible attention to detail and stunning visuals, Resident Evil looks impressive in HD on modern consoles.

The level design is still as superb as ever, with its interconnected areas that open up similarly to the Dark Souls series. Players introduced to the series via Resident Evil 7: Biohazard or Resident Evil Village should play this gem.

7 Siren: Blood Curse

Atmospheric And Visually Impressive Horror Remake

using stealth in Siren

Siren: Blood Curse
July 24, 2008

Survival Horror

Siren: Blood Curse was released exclusively for the PlayStation 3 in 2008. It is a remake/retelling of Forbidden Siren from 2003. Blood Curse was released episodically before getting a full disc release in 2008 as a complete set. Blood Curse was an early experiment in episodic gaming content, and it was well implemented due to the TV show-style execution of the narrative.

It places the player in the shoes of several protagonists in different but intertwined scenarios. Each scenario is creepy, with the dread of not knowing what is hiding around the next corner. The incredible art and character design are complemented by wearing a good set of headphones to show off its excellent sound design.

6 Resident Evil 2 Remake

A Cinematic And Thrilling Remake Combines Action And Horror

Mr X in Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2 (2019)
January 25, 2019

Released in 2019 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the PC, the Resident Evil 2 Remake is a ground-up reimagining of the 1998 original. It is the second game in the series to receive a from-the-ground-up remake after Resident Evil launched on the Nintendo GameCube in 2002.


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The Nintendo Switch is home to several remakes that fans shouldn’t miss.

Unlike the first remake, Resident Evil 2 dropped the traditional fixed viewpoints and tank controls. Instead, the game uses a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective in fully 3D environments. The Resident Evil 2 Remake was a spectacular revisit to Racoon City for fans, making the wait worthwhile. Not only is it one of the scariest games of the generation. It is one of the best and has some of the best visuals on the PS4 and the Xbox. Mr. X stalking Leon and Claire all over the Police station makes for some of the scarier and more intense moments in gaming.

5 Zero Escape Series

A Disturbing Visual Novel Dark Puzzles And Gut Wrenching Decsions

participants in Zero Escape The Nonary Games

  • Platform: 3DS, DS, iOS, PC, PSVita, PS4, and Xbox One.
  • Released: 2009
  • Developer: Spike Chunsoft

The Zero Escape series is a trilogy of visual novel horror games called Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Zero Escape Virtue’s Last Reward, and finally, Zero Time Dilemma, launched in 2009, 2012, and 2016, respectively. The series has appeared on the PlayStation Portable, Vita, PS4, Nintendo DS, 3DS, and the PC.

To go into too much detail about the series would spoil it. However, the premise is like the Saw movies, where the player has escape rooms locked behind twisted puzzles. Moreover, the player will have to make challenging moral choices that affect other characters and their fate in the story.

4 The Evil Within Series

Gruesome Horror From The Creator Of Resident Evil

The Evil Within 2 preparing for a fight

The Evil Within
October 14, 2014

Third-Person Shooter , Survival Horror

TheEvil Within and its sequel, The Evil Within 2, were released in 2014 and 2017 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. They were developed by Tango Gameworks and headed by Shinji Mikami. Shinji Mikami previously worked on Resident Evil,Resident Evil 4, and Dino Crisis.

His expertise in the survival horror genre is on full display in The Evil Within series. The first is a compelling horror experience with the jump scares of Resident Evil and the psychological tension of Silent Hill. The sequel was an improvement with a more open world with several jump-of-the-seat moments. Mikami stepped down as a director for The Evil Within 2, but he did serve as a lead producer, and his style and flair are still evident.

3 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Terrifying Survival Horror And An Update On The RE Formula

Grandma Baker

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
January 24, 2017

Survival Horror

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was released on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and the PC in 2017. It is the second Resident Evil title to appear on this list because it was such a departure from its predecessors. Moving away from action horror and back to survival horror, RE7 brought back the puzzle-solving and exploration from the older titles.


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However, RE7 implemented a new first-person perspective and made it PlayStation VR-compatible. As a result, it is one of the most claustrophobic and terrifying VR experiences ever made and a demonstration of what VR is capable of. Even with recent hits like the Resident 4 Remake and Resident Evil Village, the seventh entry is arguably scarier than both because Ethan feels more vulnerable in the seventh entry.

2 Silent Hill 2

Iconic And Scary Psychological Horror That Holds Up Today

James looking in the mirror

Silent Hill 2
September 24, 2001

Survival Horror

Developed by Konami and originally released on the PlayStation 2 in 2001, Silent Hill 2 remains a favorite among survival horror fans nineteen years later. Where horror games like Resident Evil and Dino Crisis focused on jump scares, Silent Hill 2 takes the psychological approach, using sound and tension.

Although it is not short of jump scares, Silent Hill 2 is unnerving, and the foreboding atmosphere is only elevated further by the incredible sound and art design. For now, it is best played in the remastered Silent Hill HD Collection released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012. Or fans can wait until the Silent Hill 2 remake from Bloober Team. The studio is not Japanese but has developed recent hits like Layers of Fear, The Observer, and The Medium.


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