This tense co-op horror game just hit Steam, and it’s under $5

Being with your friends can both ease or heighten the tension of the best horror games, as the likes of Lethal Company and Phasmophobia continue to prove. One great addition to that dynamic is games that pick up on your team chatter and react to it, something newcomer Panicore is very much about. But another welcome feature is a low cost of entry, especially when you’re convincing your friends to try something new, and Panicore delivers there too with a launch Steam sale and a free demo you can play right now.

Panicore is the second game from ZTEK Studio, which earned a ‘very positive’ Steam rating with its initial outing, The Devourer: Hunted Souls. In Panicore, you and your pals are a team of “urban explorers” who love to scavenge and traverse their way through abandoned locations in search of everything from lost history to potentially valuable trinkets and treasures. As you might expect from any good horror game, however, this quickly turns to trouble when unseen forces trap you inside a particularly fabled building.

Rather than other games in the genre where you’re scouring for resources or information about the dangerous entities within, your number one priority in Panicore is simply to escape with your lives intact. In order to do so, you’ll have to search the environment for items and clues, with each area offering multiple different potential paths out if you’re able to uncover them. You’ll have to tread carefully, however, as both your footsteps and your voice can be heard by the dangerous creatures lurking in the dark.

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The Panicore demo, which features just four player co-op rather than the full game’s five, has been subject to “months of hard work, testing, and feedback from our amazing community,” ZTEK Studio says as it unveils the full release of Panicore on Steam. “Thank you for your continuous support, your love, and your enthusiasm. You are the reason we are motivated to keep going.”

The version 1.0 launch of Panicore features a whole heap of additional features to dig into. There are new environments to escape, each with its own threats and escape routes. Every hostile creature has its own traits, and the enemy AI has been improved to make them smarter. To help you combat this, player movement has been improved, and new QTEs and stun mechanics should help you get out of sticky situations.

There’s also enhanced visuals and lighting, a progression system with achievements to unlock, the ability to collect money during your escape attempts to unlock new character skins, and more ways to hang out in the lobby playing minigames while you wait for everyone in your group to be ready. With a low starting price and an additional discount thanks to a Steam sale, you shouldn’t have too much trouble organizing a squad.

Panicore - A man looks up at a giant mouth filled with teeth.

Panicore is out now on Steam, with a 10% discount at launch meaning you’ll pay just $4.49 / £3.86 through Friday June 7, or $4.99 / £4.29 after that. You can also download the free Steam demo to try it out first.

Note that while save data and settings from the demo might carry over to the full version, ZTEC recommends deleting your save before starting the full game for the optimal experience. The team is also still continuing its work on The Devourer, but decided to develop Panicore as a smaller new project to improve its skills and keep fans busy between chapters. If you’re looking for something new to spook your socks off, head here to take a look at it for yourself.

Alternatively, have a browse through the best co-op games in 2024 for plenty more options – many of which should keep your socks firmly in place. We’ve also rounded up the best relaxing games on PC, in case you need something to take your mind off the monsters.

You can also follow us on Google News for daily PC games news, reviews, and guides, or grab our PCGN deals tracker to net yourself some bargains.

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