The best horror games aren’t afraid to take weird concepts and make them work in wonderfully terrifying ways. A good example of this is Choo-Choo Charles. Developed by Two Star Games, this survival horror game revolves around a train with a face and spider legs that tries to hunt you down and kill you.
Most of the gameplay focuses on exploring the open world in a separate train that can be upgraded to build a super weapon against the demonic locomotive. The main goal is to complete missions, find three eggs to summon Charles, and defeat the Hungry Engine once and for all. Those who enjoy these wild horror experiences can play this and many similar games as well.
7/7 Five nights at Freddy’s
Choo-Choo Charles is inspired by the far more child-friendly cartoon Thomas the Tank Engine, which fits a theme that many horror media take to twist something that is harmless and kind to children into something far more sinister. One of the most iconic horror games that followed this path is Five Nights At Freddy’s.
Although it’s spread out into an entire series, the original focused on you working the night shift at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza and standing guard at the security cameras as technical issues begin to unfold. You have to follow where the animatronics are going, otherwise you will be hunted.
6/7 Dead Space
It’s easy to feel hopeless at times in survival horror games like Choo-Choo Charles. That feeling couldn’t be more prominent in Dead Space, the iconic 2008 game from EA that got a remake 15 years later. This was the first scary adventure of Isaac Clarke, an engineer who is forced to fight aliens after the entire crew of his ship is killed.
The action-focused game has many gruesome monsters that will jump Isaac at almost any angle due to the zero gravity atmosphere. You have to think through all your actions, as simple maneuvers like reloading your weapon will leave you vulnerable to any enemy preparing to strike.
5/7 Inside the back rooms
Despite being much less open than Choo-Choo Charles, Inside The Backrooms provides the same amount of incentive to explore the winding hallways that all look eerily similar. The good news is that you can work together with some friends who can join you in your search for an exit.
The early access horror game is based on a popular copypasta, with rooms matching similar descriptions of the original post. The main focus is to search these areas for items to collect that may lead to a clue or puzzle solution on how to proceed. But there are entities lurking in the game. You just have to learn how they behave.
4/7 Bendy and the Ink Machine
Choo-Choo Charles may destroy a special children’s cartoon, but Bendy and the Ink Machine are out to destroy them all. The game takes place in Joey Drew Studios, a fictional workshop home to the animator of the same name. It was abandoned, until you are invited back.
You play as Henry, who is visiting after retiring from animation. Now the workshop does strange things like filling with ink and splattering with creepy figures that seem to have come straight from the drawing boards. The game is divided into five chapters and follows an episodic structure, so you can at least take in the horror in bits.
3/7 Lunch lady
Ever since Slenderman became a phenomenon, some horror developers have embraced the idea of players having a short task that is made much more difficult by the surrounding situation. Despite using the same “collect pages” format as the aforementioned Slenderman, Lunch Lady makes it work well.
Up to four friends can work together online to wander around the school at night and collect 10 pages. Meanwhile, the lunch lady is on the hunt, and she’s not afraid to charge anyone she sees. The game has implemented options like difficulty settings and a proximity chat to make people really feel like they are walking towards and away from each other.
2/7 Poppy Playtime
With the theme of destroying childhood memories, Poppy Playtime takes place in an abandoned toy factory. And yes, there is variety to the different toys that will make your time at Playtime Co. to hell. But what makes Poppy Playtime stand out in the genre is the unique mechanics of the Grabpack.
Using these two hands, players can reach things from a long distance and use them to hack certain electrical circuits to solve puzzles. So even if things feel scary, at least you have a tool that makes you feel powerful. The first chapter is free to play for those who don’t want to pay for a horror.
1/7 Siren Head: Awakening
Speaking of cultural phenomena, artwork by Trevor Henderson became a social media sensation simply referred to as Siren Head. As the name suggests, it is a tall, skinny creature that has a siren for a head. With this came many games, including Siren Head: Awakening.
Like Choo-Choo Charles, Siren Head Awakening is all about exploring and finding missing parts for your vehicle, only you won’t be able to arm the car against Siren Head. Along the way, you’ll also pick up notes that will add to the sinister lore of an already chilling situation.
Choo-Choo Charles is now out on PC.
NEXT: First-person horror game to play if you like Resident Evil: Village