We all know about Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Dead Space, but several other lesser-known titles can conjure up a sense of dread with the best of them. Here are a few lesser known horror games on PC and Mac worth checking out.

DayZ  (PC)

Even if the protagonist is an everyman, most zombie games turn you into a death-dealing maestro within a matter of minutes. Not DayZ. Surviving this post-apocalyptic setting is nearly impossible. Created by Dean Hall, this Arma II mod takes the tactical realism of the base game and injects it with a healthy dose of infected. You must scavenge the 225 square kilometer open world to find water and food and, if you come across a group of undead (who have heighted senses of smell and hearing, but not sight), your best bet is to stick to the shadows because firing weapons attracts more zombies. To survive longer you should find a group of people you can trust, but beware players you don’t know. They may end up being bandits more interested in killing you and harvesting your scant supplies than adding another mouth to feed.

Play If You Like: 28 Weeks Later

Cry of Fear  (PC)

The Half-Life engine may be over a decade old, but this mod proves it can still deliver effective thrills. In Cry of Fear, a hoodie-wearing teenager named Simon awakens in a dark alley with a hazy memory of how he got there. As he desperately tries to find his way home through the city, a series of nightmarish sequences make him question his sanity. Though it’s a first-person shooter, the constant inventory management and world exploration call to mind the early Silent Hill and Resident Evil games. The ‘90s-era graphics may turn off many, but the cinematic pacing, tension-heightening sound effects, and grotesque monsters make this a worthy download for horror fans. It only takes a few minutes to realize that creators Team Psykskallar know how to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. 

Play If You Like: Silent HIll

Lone Survivor  (PC)

This indie title from Superflat Games shoehorns the survival horror aesthetic into the body of a 2D side-scrolling game, losing none of the mood or tension in the transition. When a virus turns most of the world’s populace into disfigured monsters, the protagonist locks himself in his apartment. After he runs out of supplies, he must don a surgical mask to stave off infection and venture forth into the deadly world. The gameplay largely consists of combining items to solve puzzles and bringing supplies back to the apartment, where you can sleep to avoid descending into madness. Along the way you’re subjected to several haunting hallucinations that make you start to question what’s real.  

Play If You Like: I Am Legend

Amnesia: The Dark Descent  (PC, Mac)

Though it’s been out for two years and received countless awards, we still come across people who haven’t heard of Amnesia. All horror fans should put down whatever game they are playing and pick this up immediately. This exploration-based, first-person experience from Frictional Games tests your sanity by throwing you into the dimly lit corridors of a 19th-century Prussian castle where guttural growls echo down the halls and every sound makes you feel unwelcome. With no weapons at your disposal, your only safe move is to flee into the light provided by candles and chandeliers. Wander too far into the darkness or witness a macabre supernatural act, and your Lovecraftian sanity meter starts to drain. No game this era has packed so many scares into such a suffocating environment. We can’t recommend it enough. 

Play If You Like: The House on Haunted Hill 

Slender  (PC, Mac)

Born from a fake paranormal image shared in the Something Awful forums, the Slender Man meme has exploded in popularity. Since 2009, it has spread through the 4chan boards, served as the subject of several DeviantArt fan illustrations, and even inspired the creation of the Endermen in Minecraft. This video game tribute to the faceless man by Parsec Productions throws you into the woods with only a handheld camera and a flashlight. Your goal? Collect eight pieces of paper before suffering the wrath of the Slender Man. As you collect pages, the danger grows, which is reflected in the tense music, heavy breathing, and the distorted camera image that signals the Slender Man’s presence nearby. If you catch a glimpse of him, turn away and try to escape. Hopefully, the fresh load in your pants won’t slow you down too much.  

Play If You Like: The Blair Witch Project

Do you have other horror game recommendations? Share them in the comments below.

Update: At the behest of your requests, I've added the links to these games so you know where to get them...