10 best horror games with cute art style

True fear arises from the discrepancy between what a person expects and what is actually happening in reality. For example, seeing people at a crowded intersection isn’t scary, but seeing a lonely person in an otherwise deserted alley is terrifying. Rather than necessarily being afraid of the person themselves, the horror comes from the person being an unexpected variable in that particular scenario.

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Because of this, horror games primarily scare players by undermining their expectations. Some games do this by having a cute art style that contrasts with the spooky elements. But which games masterfully hide the true horror beneath a delightful veneer?

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pink


A screenshot from the game Pink

One of the many great indie horror games available on Itch.io is the short pixel horror game Pink. Released for free in 2020, the game follows an unnamed woman who lives alone in her studio apartment, which is almost entirely pink because that’s her favorite color. Throughout her house she has several potted plants that she waters and tends.

Despite the cheerful setup and the primary gameplay centered on cultivating plants, the player immediately realizes that something is wrong when the protagonist refuses to leave her apartment. Over the few days in the game, it quickly becomes clear that this is a post-apocalyptic world and the protagonist’s time is almost up.


A pet shop after dark


A screenshot from the game A Pet Shop After Dark

Developed by indie developer npckc, who also created the Spring-focused trilogy A year of springs, a pet shop after dark is a free visual novel meta horror game. Made for the Summer Slow Jams August 2020: Horror Games Game Jam, this game follows an unnamed woman who is hired to watch over a strange pet shop while the owner is away.

Before she leaves, the owner gives the protagonist three rules: she must water the plants, feed the seemingly invisible animals, and never turn off the lights. Although the game initially looks like a simple visual novel, the player eventually realizes that they must manipulate the game’s files to uncover the mysteries behind the store.


confess my love


A screenshot from the game Confess My Love

Released on Steam in 2017, confess my love is a freeware horror experience that follows a boy named Willie as he struggles to confess his love to his classmate Liza. When Willie wakes up after seemingly falling asleep in class, he finds that school is over for the day and Liza is one of the few other students left in the classroom, meaning now is the perfect time to see her say how he feels.

Like most horror games that don’t seem like horror games at first glance, the first playthrough, which only lasts a few minutes, is mostly harmless and comedic as Willie fails regardless of his choice. But the player is meant to keep playing to get all 20 endings, and each subsequent playthrough introduces new elements that slowly reveal the hidden darkness of this title.


Adventures in in in in


A screenshot from the game Adventures In In In In

Created for the Game Jam “RPG Paper Maker Jam 2”, Adventures in in in in is a short horror game released in 2021. After waking up in the middle of a forest with no memory of how he got there, a mouse NPC tries to simply return home, only to discover that the hero, Fluffy, and the rest of the world are slowly being corrupted by disturbances .

In order to save her village, the hero and the entire world in the game, the mouse must go on a quest to defeat the source of the corruption and restore the world to its original state. But as part of the game data, this task is easier said than done.

Strange phone


A screenshot from the game Strange Telephone

Inspired by the influential horror game Yume Nikki, Strange Phone is a 2019 surreal adventure game that follows a woman named Jill who is trapped behind a large door. With the help of a strange creature named Graham, who takes the form of an old telephone, Jill can call any six-digit number, transporting her to different worlds.


As she navigates the dreamlike worlds, Jill will find items and clues that may lead to her escape. With multiple endings, events, and mysteries, the player is encouraged to explore and slowly piece together the hidden narrative in the game.

Dreaming Sara


A screenshot from the game Dreaming Sarah

Another great game directly inspired by Yume Nikki is dreams sarah, This is a 2015 adventure platformer about a young girl named Sarah who is in a coma. To help her wake up, the player must guide Sarah through her dream world, talk to interesting NPCs and solve puzzles.

As Sarah discovers various items, such as the umbrella and the shell necklace, she will gradually unlock more areas to explore. Depending on what the player finds, they will get one of two endings.

Faust’s nightmare


A screenshot from the opening sequence of the horror game Faust's Nightmare

Inspired by the German playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust, Faust’s nightmare is a free RPG Maker horror game about a young girl named Elisabeth Faust whose father recently died. While visiting the Gothic mansion her father left her, she follows a black cat into the basement and encounters a demon named Mephistopheles, who greets her like an old friend. As Elisabeth tries to leave the house, she discovers that the door is gone and her aunt is gone.

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To escape from the house, Elizabeth makes a deal with Mephistopheles that the demon will let her find the exit by playing the demon’s game. If she is able to explore the house and complete all of the challenges, she will be free, but the catch is that Elisabeth cannot be nostalgic about this place for even a moment, or she will be trapped there forever. The Tim Burton storybook aesthetic and the game’s surreal story create a unique experience that will keep players mesmerized to the very end.

LiEat


A screenshot of the two main characters from the game LiEat

Created by Miwashiba who also developed other popular RPG Maker titles such as: 1BitHeart and the Alice in Wonderland inspired Alicemare, LiEat is an adventure RPG set in a universe where dragons are born from the desires of humans. Originally released separately for free as three short chapters, players can now purchase the trilogy as one game on Steam.

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Each of the three chapters follows a young dragon named Efina and her “father,” an impostor of many names and appearances. Efina has the power to physically manifest lies and ingest them as food. As they travel the world, staying in multiple mysterious cities and meeting a variety of characters, they will slowly uncover truths about their world and themselves.


misao


A screenshot from the Misao game

Considered to be one of the most famous RPG Maker horror games. misao is a 2011 survival horror puzzle game set in the same universe as another popular RPG Maker title: angry father. Three months after the disappearance of a young student named Misao, the entire school is sucked into another dimension by her spirit.

In order to save the students and teachers from being tortured and killed by demons, the main character, a fellow student named Aki, must collect Misao’s body parts and perform a ritual. As she investigates, she slowly learns the truth about what happened to Misao. 2017, Misao: Definitive Edition was released on Steam, which includes new scenes and the ability to play as the male version of the protagonist.

Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea


Wadanohara, the sea witch, tells her story right at the beginning of the game Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea

Another historical RPG Maker horror game is Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea, This is a fantasy adventure about a young sea witch named Wadanohara. After a long journey, Wadanohara finally returns to the Blue Sea with her three familiars, but her ex-familiar, a shark boy named Samekichi, tries to stop the group and warns Wadanohara to leave the Blue Sea.

Shortly after this confrontation, it is revealed that the Kingdom of Totsusa is attempting an invasion, and Wadanohara and her familiars embark on a journey to restore the six blue orbs that protect the Blue Sea. Eventually, it turns out that the invasion was caused by a misunderstanding and that something more sinister is going on behind the scenes.

NEXT: Top 10 RPG Maker Horror Games

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