The best horror games were set on a boat

The best horror games were set on a boat

Horror is a genre that lives and dies with its atmosphere. The setting is a massive part of what makes it scary – or not, as the case may be. Ships have proven to be quite fertile ground for developers looking to provoke a sense of terror.

Related: Scary games set in water

Now, what could be scary about being trapped in a completely inhospitable environment, miles from any other civilization? Being on a craft with centuries of creepy folklore and superstition attached to it? Do you have just a few inches of steel or wood standing in the way of a watery grave? Nautical nightmares horror games will soon show you.


8/8 Below: Depths Of Fear

That’s the worst case scenario. It’s 1917 and you’re on the lower deck of a sinking ship. The vessel is taking in water, and the lower corridors are slowly filling up. Everyone else has evacuated and doors appear to have been locked to try to hold back the water. If you stay where you are, you will definitely drown.

How can things get any worse? Well, the paranormal is after you too. Something keeps trapping you in space, you get malicious invitations to Hell, and your actions in World War I come back to haunt you, literally. To be fair, it’s post-1912, so you should have learned your lesson about ocean liners being bad news.

7/8 Return Of The Obra Dinn

Dead men tell no stories, but you might be able to get some snippets of their stories. In Return of the Obra Dinn, you find yourself aboard a ship whose crew is dead or missing. Only corpses are there to greet you, but these morphing cadavers will help you solve the mystery.

Through the use of a strange stopwatch, you can get a vision of the moment of a person’s death. From there, you’ll be able to unravel the grim fate of each person on board.

6/8 Close to the Sun

A massive, perpetually cruising ship that serves as a haven for all the world’s greatest scientific minds as they work to advance humanity. You probably haven’t played many horror games if this prospect doesn’t set alarm bells ringing.

Related: The Best Evil Scientists in Gaming

Close To The Sun sees you take on the role of Rose Archer, whose physics genius sister Ada boarded Nikola Tesla’s science conference dream ship, The Helios, some time ago. She receives a letter from Ada, asking for help but glossing over the details. Upon arrival, you soon realize that everything has gone to hell, and some kind of experiment has messed up time itself. With most of the inhabitants dead, you must navigate the art deco nightmare with your wits. At least there are plenty of science jokes to enjoy.

5/8 Monster

When you start a game of Monstrum, you place yourself on an abandoned cargo ship in the middle of the ocean. As you might expect, there’s more to worry about in this rusty hulk than catching tetanus. There’s a creature on board—one of three, actually—and it’s looking for you. You must try to avoid it long enough to find a way to escape the ship.

In Monstrum, if you die, you die permanently. The ship will not have the same shape in successive runs, so don’t rely on your prior knowledge to save you. You just want to be a well-informed meal for the ship monsters.

4/8 The Lazaret

Human-shaped things that move when they shouldn’t be one of the horrors. This includes mannequins, dolls, and in the case of the short demo Lazaret, strange statues that have emerged from the sea.

As part of a rescue crew boarding a lost ship, you are confronted by a dead crew and dozens of distinctive, human-shaped statues. It gets worse. You soon discover that while many of the statues pose no threat, some will kill you. Both look exactly the same at a glance. How do you know which ones want you dead? You must whistle. If it whistles back, the statue is waiting to kill you. It is not often that you are asked to announce yourself to the monsters.

3/8 Sunless sea

Have you ever wanted to run away from a screaming, moving mountain, consider eating a crew member, and slowly lose yourself while also worrying about how well coffee prices will hold up in Vienna? Then Sunless Sea is the experience you are looking for. You take on the role of a steamship captain, sailing out into a vast underground sea called The Unterzee.

Related: Best Lovecraft-inspired games according to Metacritic

In addition to the ancient horrors that lurk in the dark, there are more mundane fears. Do you have enough fuel? Will the food last? Should customs find the illegal honey you’ve hidden in the cargo hold? Between that and one of your crewmates possibly being some kind of monster, it’s a stressful time.

2/8 Layer of fear 2

Luxurious ocean liners are famous places where nothing bad happens. At the beginning of Layers Of Fear 2, you find yourself in one of these luxurious vessels, although the corridors are closed, and some notes have been left, assuring you that you will not be disturbed.

You know you’re an actor and a director is encouraging you to go ahead and work on your character. When you do, you’ll learn a lot about the actor, and his history with a very similar ship, as the world twists around you. It’s definitely not just seasickness.

1/8 The Dark Pictures: Man Of Medan

A few lost ships are better off remaining lost. Dark Pictures: Man Of Medan is a cinematic adventure game inspired by the supposedly true story of the Ourang Medan, a ship that was found floating with all its crew dead.

In the game, you take control of a group of would-be divers who run into some local pirates and end up meeting the infamous ship. On board, they are attacked by horrible phantoms and must try to make choices to keep as many of the crew alive as possible. Unless you want a higher kill count in your horror game, you can set out to wipe out as many as possible.

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