The horror genre of gaming maybe isn’t as popular on YouTube as it once was, and maybe there’s a reason for that.
There are an absolute tonne of games that reached peak popularity thanks to the likes of PewDiePie, Markiplier, JackSepticEye and more, but lots of the games’ OG fans resent the ‘fake’ screams and jump-scares reactions on YT, leading to sharp decline of interest.
Here are some of the most fun/unique/exciting/terrifying games that are now remembered for their YouTube Let’s Plays, and not for their gameplay.
Five Nights At Freddy’s
Full disclosure: I like Five Nights At Freddy’s and I’m only a little bit ashamed of that.
When the original game first released it pretty much was just jump-scares, and YouTube absolutely ran with it, smashing videos out all over the place.
There wasn’t a YouTuber out there who hadn’t recorded at least one attempt of one of these titles, and so it got old pretty fast.
Just as people started to lose interest, one part of YouTube got into the sweet theory period, where channels like The Game Theorists really went to town on the lore of these supposedly-vapid games.
Then things just went full-on downhill, and FNAF became the Fortnite of horror, with toy ranges, clothing, books and lots of other things for kids even though really this is a game about child abduction and murder, and not just fuzzy bears and rabbits jumping at you.
FNAF might be well and truly dead at this point, and it’s probably down to the screamers on YT who appealed to younger audiences. Thanks, guys.
The Amnesia games, specifically The Dark Descent, represent the crème de la crème of YouTube horror. You could argue that Amnesia is the game that rocketed PewDiePie to success, with its creepy atmosphere, tension, dark corridors and – oh God – that water section.
Yep, same as with FNAF, when YouTubers saw the success of bigger channels with games like Amnesia, it became the go-to title for everyone to stream, record, or scream into their monitors at.
As the nearly unheard-of game grew to amazing success thanks to YT, its sequel was released (and almost universally panned) and now, half a decade later, it’s still a classic, but it does have that YouTube-success stink about it…
In another jump-scare-centric game that YT took too far, Slender: The Eight Pages, was probably one of the most-fun (the first time, at least) and worst-designed game of all time.
Basically all you needed to do was collect eight pieces of paper that loosely told a bit of a story, whilst being stalked by Slenderman himself.
Naturally this was a screamer, with lots of YouTubers faking their reactions to get clicks, and it meant the game lost popularity really damn quickly.
Admittedly, this one has a lot less meat to it than any of other games on this list, so maybe it just died out because there’s actually no replay value here. *Shrug*
Oh Outlast, the game that convinced me I needed a PlayStation 4. This is a pretty seminal horror title nowadays, often cited for popularising the found-footage use-a-camera-for-maximum-spooks in gaming.
This was a title that genuinely would have you jumping out of your skin in fear, but it’s definitely lost its charm after the 19th million time we’ve seen a YouTuber fake-scream their way through this asylum. It also failed to capture the same magic with its sequel, and now it’s rarely seen and rarely heard of.
Layers of Fear
I’m definitely not sorry that I didn’t enjoy Layers of Fear like the rest of the planet seemed to. I had high hopes for this horror, but it got boring for me very quickly, with poor jump scares and a thin plot.
However, Layers of Fear became one of the most popular YouTube horror Let’s Plays for a while, with over-the-top-screaming, fake understanding of basic puzzles, and lots of shock quickly followed by laughter.
By the time it came to the Nintendo Switch, this game was dead in the water.
And now to the weird horror that’s disguised as anything but horror. Baldi’s Basics pretends to be an educational game, but in fact is something like Slender meets the schoolyard.
Again, YouTubers like Markiplier found pretty decent numbers when uploading titles like this, but just looking at the comments section for a game like this shows that people are watching, not for the gameplay, but to see a YouTuber ‘scream’ and sh*t themselves. *Sigh.*
Doki Doki Literature Club
Another of my personal favourite titles, Doki Doki Literature Club is a bit of a mixed bag, because without the success of people like PewDiePie playing this on his channel, this horror disguised as a dating sim probably wouldn’t have seen as much success as it did. After all, it doesn’t really scream ‘horror’ at you…
Once you know where the scares and the fourth-wall-breaking action come in, you could argue there’s not too much scope for a lot of people to play this game themselves.
I did want to play it after watching a Let’s Play though – but maybe because it’s free on Steam. Would I have paid for this game? Probably, but only if it was dirt-cheap.
Price aside, this game became YT’s flavour of the month – much to the annoyance of its dedicated Reddit fanbase – and then flopped out of existence. Sorry, Monika.
Granny was never really that good a game, but it was a little spooky and so it qualified for YouTubers as a title that would get younger players liking, sharing, commenting and subscribing.
Its widespread popularity happened just as quickly as it ended, and now Granny is – hopefully – in the past.
Hello Neighbor got a lot of people really hyped when early-access footage came to YouTube. It was horror but quirky, still jump-scary, and still worth screaming at.
Unfortunately, with so much of the gameplay shown on YouTube before the game even launched in full, when the time did come people were sort of…over it.
Don’t get me wrong, Hello Neighbor has, and probably will always have, a dedicated fanbase. But its YouTube rise before release led to it being old news when it actually came out.
What games do you think were ruined by YouTubers, young gamers, or the YouTube audience? Let us know in the comments!