For the last year and a half, the world has been struck by… you know what, I probably don’t need to tell you what’s happening. For this year’s Halloween, why not play some horror games about virus outbreaks? It wont exactly take your mind off real life, but it would add a comforting layer of fictional detachment to the experience.
I put together a list of my favorite horror games with virus outbreaks, plus a few that don’t exactly fit the bill but are worth playing regardless.
First up is Pathologic 2. This 2019 horror game is a remastered version from the 2005 cult hit of the same name. Pathologic 2 will have you play as a traveling physician who, together with two other healers, ventures into a small town in order to uncover the mysterious new disease spreading through the population.
This new disease has destroyed several other towns and there is no known cure for it, so catching the disease means certain death. Naturally, as a medical professional, it is your job to save as many people as possible while trying to keep yourself safe from the disease. Staying safe is hard, the game is unforgiving, and the overall tension you will feel at all times makes for an unforgettable experience.
The Last of Us
Most of you are already familiar with this survival horror video game series and for good reason, as it is, in my opinion, a masterpiece.
In this series, mother nature has created a mutation in parasitic fungi known as Cordyceps, which infects insects. You’d think a parasite that infects insects is pretty non-threatening, but when those insects bite or touch humans the virus spreads. Quickly, half of the world’s population dies, in quite a horrible way too. If you get infected, the mushroom takes over your body, eats away at your flesh, and turns you into a blind, cannibalistic creature. So, taking that into consideration, I think our own virus outbreak is much less scary.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
A Plague Tale: Innocence is one of my absolute favorite games. It is more of a stealth action game, but it does have a lot of horror elements to it, and a healthy amount of jumpscares.
The game takes place in the 14th century. The world is suffering from a plague epidemic that has turned all rats into vicious little monsters that mutate and attack any living creature. You play as Amicia, a girl who is on the run with her little brother, hiding from the Inquisition. As Amicia, you will have to solve numerous puzzles, distract enemies, and evade hungry rats in order to get to safety. And you’ll have to do all this with your little brother right beside you, otherwise, he’ll start screaming, letting enemies know exactly where you are.
If you enjoy the game, you should know the sequel, A Plague Tale: Requiem is currently being developed and set to release in 2022.
The majority of the story of FromSoftware’s gothic masterpiece Bloodborne takes place in Yharnam, a city gripped by a deadly transformative disease. Initially advertised as the ultimate cure, a curative blood concoction has corrupted the majority of the population into blood-thirsty beasts, forcing the remainder to band together in a desperate bid for survival.
Bloodborne is a survival horror RPG game where people who contract the disease turn into monsters. You play as a Hunter of beasts, with this unfortunate role thrust upon you after a nasty blood transfusion ritual. As the game goes on, you will get to find out all of the city’s dark secrets, including the oddly big-pharma-esque origin story behind the beast plague. Fun, right?
Vampyr isn’t considered a horror game, but I certainly feel it deserves a spot on this list. It is scary and has nasty creatures in it; what else do you require of a horror game?
In Vampyr, an environmentalist extremist has decided to mutate the Smallpox virus in order to “deal with” the planet’s looming problem with overpopulation. Little did he know the mutated virus would soon go completely out of control, leaving only a handful of people around the world immune to its effect.
You will be playing as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a physician who was turned into a vampire and is now torn between his Hippocratic Oath – “Do no harm” – and his new bloodthirsty nature.
Bonus: Plague Inc.
Plague Inc. is definitely not a horror game, but if you’d like to reverse the roles, this game is perfect for you. Instead of playing the victim or someone trying to fix the issue, you are the plague itself, and it’s your job to infect the entire world population.
The game starts off very easy and you decide how the disease mutates, but then scientists and doctors will eventually figure out that something is up and you’ll be fighting against a cure in no time. Plague Inc. notably got a huge boost in popularity at the start of 2019, for some reason.
I am a huge fan of horror games, whether they feature virus outbreaks or not. If you want to keep the horror theme going, feel free to check out my list of short horror games, all of which are less than 10 hours long.