As Halloween looms on the horizon of October, gamers are understandably searching for the creepiest interactive experiences out there. Thankfully, a lot of gamers won’t have to go looking too far to find spooks and scares, as there are plenty of mods for Skyrim available that can transform the game into something far more eerie. Some of these are quite simple, almost cute mods for a taste of Halloween hijinks, whereas others transform the game entirely into something far more sinister.
That is not to say that Skyrim itself doesn’t boast a fair share of creepy content. After all, retrieving the Mace of Molag Bal requires trawling the dark and murky depths of the House of Horrors storyline (a moral quandary that was so controversial that the “good guy” alternate ending mod for the quest has over 128,000 downloads). There are plenty of Skyrim horror mods for fans of fear to sink their teeth into (including a few involving the game’s vampires, too).
The Horror Over Skyrim — Shadow of Oblivion
A mod that takes not one, but two H.P. Lovecraft titles in its name, is obviously not one to be trifled with. As an incredibly comprehensive overhaul mod, it affects everything from race, to perks, weather, spells, NPCs, and items. Underlining all these horror credentials and content changes is a new set of music and sound effects to really drive home the horror that hangs over Skyrim in this mod.
Like the ambitious Skyblivion mod, this is basically a full overhaul of the original game. It makes combat difficulty an awful lot harder at a base level, and then takes that even further by adding over 200 unique NPCs, each boasting a full suite of magic items, spells, and equipment. These NPCs can be friendly or hostile, and it’s largely up to the player to decide if they should engage with the new cast of characters. Spells can now be used to manipulate the weather itself, which adds to the overall atmosphere of the mod.
According to the mod creator, Aria7, the aim of this content pack is to be unlike any of the other horror mods for Skyrim. Apparently, it is meant to make players feel like they’re in real danger, with threats coming from anywhere. One of the key complaints about Bethesda’s game balance in general is that NPCs and monsters often scale towards player level. While this does mean that the game could feel like an appropriate challenge at any level, what it normally ends up doing is making a world that feels less dynamic and lived in. The Horror Over Skyrim, like a few of the mods on this list, does its best to alter that balance to make the world feel much more textured.
Dark Dungeons for ENB
This mod does exactly what it says on the tin: it makes dungeons darker. With over 500,000 downloads, this stands as one of the most popular Skyrim mods that create a sinister atmosphere — and arguably make the game look how it should’ve originally. Finally, the early game explorations of Draugr-infested tunnels like Bleak Falls Barrow will be scary again. Seeing a desiccated skeleton-wraith fling itself from the darkness makes for much more potent frights than the unusually bright affair that Skyrim dungeons were before.
Into The Depths
Mods like Dark Dungeons for ENB pair perfectly with story-driven horror mods like Into The Depths. Into The Depths, the work of Nexus Mods user GLArtMods, is an absolutely terrifying little jaunt into the darkness of the Silverfall Mine, a new location added near the town of Riverwood. It is a translation of the original German mod “In Der Tiefe,” and boasts over 125,000 downloads, which is relatively impressive for a smaller scale story-driven mod. The mod creator’s other works include horror titles “The Virus” and “The Fifth Gate” — which also use Skyrim as a base game.
There are an awful lot of mods that make Skyrim like Dark Souls. That’s not wholly unusual, as Dark Souls‘ harder combat mechanics often feels like a more realistic and punishing version of The Elder Scrolls franchise. One of the reasons why there are so many of these Dark Souls combat mods out there for Skyrim is because by the endgame, Skyrim players can pretty much dominate any encounter they come across. This is, in part, due to Skyrim‘s combat balancing, where enemies tend to scale to player level.
To combat this, Darkend makes the original game much more like Dark Souls and the Demon’s Souls remake by transporting the player to an entirely new land. This new island is roughly the size of a smaller DLC for the game, and does not use Skyrim’s traditional quest system. Players navigate the adventure with their own intuition, and also piece together the story themselves. Enemies and encounters also do not scale with the player, to give the mod a much more challenging and natural sense of difficulty.
28 Days and A Bit 5
During the COVID-19 pandemic, an awful lot of people gained a new appreciation of the 2011 plague-horror classic Contagion. The film soared to the top of Netflix’s trending page, sitting as the platform’s top movie for many months. “28 Days and A Bit 5” captures the more anthropological element of this film (and of course the mod’s namesake 28 Days Later) by giving players complete control of a horrific disease outbreak within the world Skyrim.
While other horror overhaul mods remake Skyrim in a way that shows the game in a totally new light, 28 Days and A Bit provides a fascinating new mechanic that allows players to control what a spookier Skyrim might look like. As the name might imply, this plague is undead in nature, and players get a unique opportunity to control where that plague starts, and see how that first carrier of the contagion impacts the open world of Skyrim overall. It’s a really unique method of seeing how the systems underpinning Skyrim‘s world design interact and strain under an unstoppable zombie apocalypse, and is perfect for the more cerebral scare-seeker this Halloween.