During the recent Not E3 summer events, several upcoming horror games such as the HR Giger-inspired survival horror were revealed contempt and the David Lynch-inspired RPG Maker horror decarnation, featured “body horror” as a prominent part of the gaming experience. “Body Horror” is a horror subgenre that focuses on distortions of human or animal bodies through uncontrollable transformation, mutation, or disease.
Body horror has been a major recurring element in most horror games since the ’90s. But certain titles like Inside are particularly characterized by their grotesque imagery.
10 KEYCHAIN (2019)
Co-designed by Ivan Zanotti who also developed the meta horror games I’M AFRAID and mirror layers, and fran43 for the GMTK Game Jam 2019, KEYCHAIN is a short free indie game on Itch.io where the protagonist is a human bunch of keys. As they explore the strangely derelict building, they find keys and attach them to the keychain on her head.
The player must figure out which key belongs to which door while being chased by mutated creatures that resemble the protagonist. If the player uses the wrong key on a door, the key will break and the protagonist will take damage and turn into one of the monsters if they run out of keys. In addition to the unique gameplay mechanics, players will also be intrigued by the underlying symbolic narrative.
9 CHONDRIATIC (2021)
Created for the ScreamMortality Game Jam, CHONDRIATIC is a short free in-browser game from 2021 and one of the many great RPG maker games on Itch.io. The main character El is a hypochondriac, which means that she constantly worries that she has or will soon develop a serious illness.
One day the skin on El’s palm starts itching all the time, but the doctors can’t see anything on the hand. As she tries to sleep in her room, she notices that strange purple glowing mushroom-like things have now appeared on her hand. Despite being a brief experience, the game shows exactly how it feels to deal with this form of fear.
8th Growing Grandpa! (2022)
Developed by Yames who wrote several other well-received body horror games such as discover my body and The Well, Growing My Grandpa! is a 2022 horror game that primarily follows a young introverted girl named Adrienne who is struggling mentally because her parents are constantly fighting. During one of their fights, she is forced to stay in the basement, which was once the site of a strange scientific experiment.
After wishing for her dead grandfather’s return, she encounters a creature she calls “Grandpa”. To achieve her happiness, she must help him grow by feeding “Grandpa” and teaching him words, but she could easily face her downfall instead if she’s not careful. In addition to the horror elements, this game is an emotionally impacting story about dealing with loneliness and loss.
7 Garage: Bad Dream Adventure (1999)
One of the weirdest games from the 90’s is Garage: Bad Dream Adventure, This is a 1999 PC horror adventure game designed by Japanese surrealist Tomomi Yuki Sakuba. Corresponding hardcore gaming101, this game was originally a lost media until a group of 4chan users found it and now there is an official English version released in 2021 available for mobile devices. As a strange biomechanical creature, the player wakes up in the world of “Garage” and needs to find a way out.
To escape from this dark industrial world, the protagonist must find his “shadow” by talking to other characters, upgrading his own body parts and fishing for resources. Along with the uniquely eerie art style, players will wonder what the real meaning behind this metaphorical story is.
6 ANATOMY (2016)
Over the years, indie developer Kitty Horrorshow has created several surreal body horror-like games such as: chryza, But her most popular and critically acclaimed work is still 2016’s psychological adventure game ANATOMY. As the player explores a dark suburban home, they slowly uncover audio logs that explain how a home resembles the body of a living organism.
Uncovering these ribbons gradually transforms the house into a glittering mess with fleshy walls. Similar to their other games, ANATOMY creates a terrifying atmosphere by using PS1-like textures and excellent sound design. After the success of this game, many indie developers on Itch.io started incorporating similar design decisions into their projects.
5 Off (2008)
Inspired by Killer7, Final Fantasy, and myst, Out of is a surreal RPG from 2008 and one of the most famous RPG Maker horror games. Developed by Martin Georis, aka “Mortis Ghost” and alias Conrad Coldwood, the game revolves around the player himself, who is referred to as a separate entity by characters in the game as they aid the humanoid protagonist known as “The Batter”. ,” who is on a mission to clean up the game world.
Most people in the world are Elsens. When in their “burned” form, their appearance drastically mutates into horrifying creatures composed of a dark liquid. At the end of the game, the player can also witness The Batter transforming into a strange creature. These body horror elements are so impressive that fan artists have created many pieces based on their designs.
4 Parasite Evening (1998)
Created as a sequel to the award-winning novel of the same name by Japanese writer Hideaki Sena, Parasite Eve is a 1998 PS1 action JRPG that was filled with lots of excellently grotesque body horror imagery. When opera singer Melissa Pearse meets NYPD officer Aya Brea, Melissa’s dormant mitochondria awaken and she is taken over by Mitochondrial Eve. She begins using her powers to help other mitochondria rebel against their hosts, which can result in spontaneous inflammation or horrific mutations.
To stop Eve, Aya must use her own powers to fight her and the mutated creatures that are appearing all over town. Even years later Parasite Eve is known for having grotesque enemy designs. Although the game’s success led to two sequels, Parasite Eve II and the third birthday Both games unfortunately use a lot less body horror in comparison.
3 System Shock 2 (1999)
Released in 1999, system shock 2 is a sci-fi survival horror FPS action role-playing game and one of the most historically significant games of all time. Set several decades after the first game, this sequel follows an amnesiac soldier who awakens on the Von Braun spaceship, which is on its first-ever voyage. Shortly after waking up, another crew member, Dr. Janice Polito, the soldier, that the ship has been infected by alien parasitic worms that integrate creatures into a hive mind known as “the Many”.
Despite being controlled by the worms, some of the infected humans, known as hybrids, are still conscious and will beg the player to end their suffering as their bodies continue to attack them. Coupled with the fact that the Many are one large mass of bio-organic tissue, these enemies and their lack of control truly embody the horrors of the genre.
2 Inside (2016)
Created as a spiritual successor to the 2010 game limbo, inside is a 2016 award-winning 2.5D puzzle platformer where players control a boy in a dystopian society. While solving puzzles, overcoming obstacles, and avoiding dangerous people and creatures, the player slowly discovers that the game revolves around an organization that uses parasitic worms to enslave people.
After traveling through the Organization’s facilities, the boy arrives in a spherical prison for the Huddle, a lump-like creature made out of human limbs. Once the boy frees the creature, he becomes one with the blob and the player then controls the bio-organic mass to free it from the oppressive organization. Even while controlling the creature, players feel a sense of unease at the implications of playing as a terrifyingly sentient lump of humans.
1 Resident Evil series (1996-present)
Part of the reason body horror is such a prevalent genre in games can probably be attributed to its popularity resident Evil Franchise. Starting with the 1996 PS1 game Resident Evil, These games all follow different characters trying to survive against zombies and other mutant monsters.
Although the games use various bioweapons throughout the series, including various viruses and parasites, they all still feature humans transforming into nightmarish creatures. These uncontrollable mutations are truly terrifying to behold, and the monsters are so iconic that many people compare the body horror found in other games to the body horror found in the resident Evil Series.
NEXT: 10 Most Influential Horror Games Ranked
Star Wars: The Most Powerful Darth Vader Quotes
About the author