|Ultimate Carl (ultimatecarl) wrote,|
@ 2012-10-20 05:40 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||freeware, gaming, horror|
Last Updated November 11th, 2012
WARNING: Considering that these are horror games, some of them may contain very violent or otherwise disturbing images and concepts. I would consider everything on this list to be at least a PG-13 equivalent either due to the content or the nature of the experience in general, with some the entries leaning more towards 18+. This list also contains screenshots, and while I'm trying not to spoil anything or traumatize anyone, there's probably going to be some blood and/or monsters and stuff in some of them. ...Also I'm kind of foul-mouthed in my comments sometimes, heh. If any of this sounds no good to you then please do not click past the cut/scroll down!
For the purposes of this list, scaring/unsettling the player must be one of the major design or thematic directions of the game. So for example, while Yume Nikki may have some unsettling moments, they don't make up the bulk of the gameplay or atmosphere and scaring the player was clearly not the developer's main intent. Likewise, Survival Crisis Z contains many horrific elements (zombies, limited resources, bleak prospects for the future, overwhelming odds), but these are merely trappings for what is otherwise an RPG-ish action game. Also no lame single-jumpscare BS "solve this puzzle, make sure to look cloOH A ZOMBIE FACE" games.
Really that's just an arbitrary classification system for my own benefit. I don't consider myself some kind of authority on what games are and aren't horror, it's just that when I'm in the mood to play a "horror game", I want something that's consistently frightening in both intent and practice rather than something with only a few scares in one level like Thief 3, an action game with horror tropes like the Castlevania series, or just random mindfuckery like Killer7. Besides, if we leave the category too open, there'd be no end to what I can list!
The list is divided into categories and then alphabetically within those. I'll include my personal thoughts with any games that I've actually played, but take those with a grain of salt! After all, opinions are just that - opinions. You may love something that I dislike, and as someone that's finished every Silent Hill by myself in the dark with headphones, my idea of "not that scary" might be very different from your own!
The 4th Wall
Bizarre first-person platformer/wanderaround with a unique yet vague visual flair. Is a remake of an older version which is still available on the same website, but it's suggested you play the remake first.
Absolute classic Lovecraftian interactive fiction game.
Ao Oni Series
Bizarre series of Japanese adventure/puzzle/chase games made with RPG Maker. Translations available. Shitton of spinoffs and fangames.
Short, atmospheric first-person wanderaround where your objective is to recover the eponymous briefcase and escape with it. Haven't played it yet so I'm not sure about much else.
Short first-person puzzler similar to Amnesia about lighting up your house with candles after the power goes out. Honestly I found it almost as cute as scary...
The Chzo Mythos
A four-game series of oldschool type-and-click adventure games by Yahtzee. Some of the puzzles get very obtuse and frustrating, but the writing is brilliant and the atmosphere is astounding considering the format and humor the author is better known for today.
Successful enough that it got a PC remake and a PSP port/remake that made it to the US, but the original was a Japanese RPG Maker maker game still available for free and with an English translation available.
Very atmospheric first-person Russian wanderaround. Still in development, but a playable demo is available and worth a play!
Haven't actually played this one, yet, but it looks like a third-person zombie shooter set on a liner out at sea. So... Kind of like budget RE4 on a boat.
Ugh, why did this have to start with a 'D' so it would end up so early on the list? I'm kind of loathe to include it at all, but it's kind of fascinating and technically fits the bill. Basically, a Korean (I think?) sidescrolling loli guro escape/torture sim. Yeah. Needless to say, violence nudity and other general fucked-up warnings go here. Haven't actually played it, but as I understand it's hard as hell and almost every failure results in some long, unique, extremely violent (and sometimes semi-sexual) cutscene of your character's death. Scary mostly in the sense that it leaves you with a very sick, dreadful feeling in your stomach. Has a "sequel", Xenophobia.
Neat little adventure made in RPG Maker. Originally German, but has a translation patch.
Adventure game in the style of old-school Sierra games. Started this one a while back but never got too far.
First-person wanderaround a la Hide and Slender by Utah's EAE Master Games Studio Program.
Gritty, gory first-person shooter that doesn't sacrifice action or atmosphere. Seems to be a little troublesome to get working for some, though.
Honestly, including this one at all is kind of a spoiler, but it's great and well worth the short play. There's also a paid version on Steam now that adds updated graphics, backgrounds, and achievements.
Top-down 2D Lovecraft-y shooter by Frictional, creators of Amnesia.
Interesting "lost in your own head" simulator/adventure game made with RPG Maker as an homage/fangame of Yume Nikki. YN is overall a very dreamy, trippy experience, and while some of that comes through in .flow as well, .flow is clearly intended as a much darker, more violent and horrific game.
Forget Me Not Annie
First-person puzzler where you play as a girl and summon her magic (creepy) teddy bear! Looking forward to playing this one.
Ghoul's Forest 3D
First-person game where you play a hunter charged with killing three "ghouls" in a dark forest. Hard as hell and mostly jumpscares. A standalone remake of the Ghoul's Forest mod series.
Hidden in the Shadows Series
Interesting little adventure game made by one guy in a custom engine. Because of that I want to cut it some slack (and I will cut the rather Engrish-y script some slack since the creator is not a native English speaker), but the game isn't exactly amazing: the controls are needlessly bizarre, items are almost impossible to distinguish from the backgrounds, finicky pixel-perfection is needed to interact with certain objects, and the whole thing reeks of cribbing from Amnesia. Has a sequel that I haven't played yet, but it looks like more of the same. Evidently a third game in the series is in a very early alpha as well.
Very cool first-person adventure/collection game with a unique art style. Slender seems to have taken a lot of pages (hurr hurr) from it.
Very nice RPG Maker (are you noticing a pattern, yet?) adventure game with a translation patch and multiple endings. Amazing atmosphere for an isometric game, surprisingly engrossing story, and very clever puzzles that don't err into the territory of frustratingly difficult.
Imscared - A Pixelated Nightmare
First-person adventure with a neat graphical style that appears to mess with the player even outside of the game.
Somewhat generic first-person haunted house sim. Lots of jump scares, kind of creepy but not terribly imaginative.
Awesome puzzle game game with a translation patch. Like Eversion, even including this one on the list in he first place is kind of a spoiler. More of a full multi-media experience than a straight horror game.
Short first-person adventure that definitely demonstrates the "less is more" concept. Amazingly creepy for how modest and simple it is.
Atmospheric first-person wanderaround where you're looking for your son. I found it kind of boring and anticlimactic, kind of like a less artsy and more overtly creepy Dear Esther.
First-person maze exploration game. Mazes are randomly generated and you have to try and escape.
Classic top-down escape game. Sounds a bit cheesy and, well... It kind of is, but you might be surprised how well it can get to you!
First-person maze exploration game very much like Labyrinth above, though I'm not sure which came first. You're shown a map at the very beginning and can mark walls with an "X" as well as solve a few small puzzles. Try to find your way through while creepy shit happens, that sort of thing.
A Mother's Inferno
Unique first-person adventure designed by some Danish students. Very psychedelic, which actually doubles as a warning because there's a lot of intense, flashing lights in this game.
The One Night Trilogy
Series of three RPG Maker adventure games. I've only played the first and it was quite a while ago, but I remember enjoying it.
First-person haunted house/found footage simulator with some fairly unique mechanics. While the final release costs money, some of the earlier betas are available for free. That means that you're probably getting a little more content than a normal "demo", but a lot of it is way less polished.
Penumbra 2006 Tech Demo
Hardly a demo and more of an actual short first-person adventure, made by Frictional, probably best known today for Amnesia. Before Amnesia, however, Frictional made the Penumbra series, and before even that they made this tech demo. The "demo" is thematically similar to the beginning of the first Penumbra game, but none of the puzzles or areas are reused in the final product, making this into a disconnected precursor of sorts. Clever design, historically interesting, and very atmospheric.
Phobia - Fear of the darkness
First-person puzzler that reminds me a bit of Amnesia in a more modern setting.
Surprisingly eerie first-person adventure thriller.
Very cool first-person exploration game based off of The SCP Foundation, specifically SCP-087. A remake of the original SCP-087 game.
SCP Containment Breach
Another very cool first-person exploration game based off of The SCP Foundation. Still in beta and being updated, just recently received a Halloween update so the game can actually end now! Very unique mechanics, amazing atmosphere, and if you're a fan of the original stories it's very cool to experience them.
First-person adventure/collecting game based on Slender Man. Personally I wasn't a fan (I'll spare you the diatribe) but the internet is shitting its collective pants over this one and I can't deny that it's effective. Has a sequel in the works and a renamed remake in the Source engine on the way.
Pretty much exactly what it says on the tin.
Slender Man's Shadow Series
Series of like a billion Slender knockoffs.
Slime Bomb Knight
Great third-person shooter set in a prison. You play as an inmate and your actions dictate his personality/ending. A bit heavier on the action than the scares, but it still has some great moments and very tense atmosphere. Was originally released on consoles as well, but the PC version was released as freeware a few years back. Here's hoping they do the same for the sequel eventually!
Basically Russian, multiplayer Slender clone (are you getting sick of these yet?) with a werewolf.
Short first-person puzzler with a very unique and awesome visual style.
The White Chamber
Short sci-fi point-and-click adventure game with multiple endings. Very atmospheric, no jump scares. Puzzles are fairly intuitive and you shouldn't get frustrated.
The Witch's House
Cute little RPG Maker adventure game with a translation patch. Took me about 45 minutes to finish the game and get both endings without looking anything up, but some of the puzzles were rather annoying and the game has an irritating tendency to hand out game overs constantly (save often!) with instant-death action sequences that are nearly impossible to succeed at without knowing what's coming beforehand. Personally, I wasn't scared or even so much as unnerved even once (and I actually thought the game was hilarious - it made me laugh out loud multiple times) but it evidently really bothered some people. I thought the "true" ending was extremely effective.
1916: Der Unbekannte Krieg
Okay, the first paragraph on the homepage makes this game sound metal as fuck. And you know what? It is.
Really more like those BS interactive "art" deals than a real game. Still, short and creepy.
Neat, short little point-and-click adventure. Kind of easy to accidentally misclick and miss otherwise simple solutions, but nothing too frustrating and includes a walkthrough. Very nice atmosphere, no jump scares.
A series of three point-and-click games. Pretty simple puzzles/gameplay, almost entirely shitty jump scares.
Short nonsensical point-and-click "adventure" "game". Basically just click madly until you stumble upon whatever random thing you're supposed to arbitrarily click to continue and get rewarded with cheap jump scares.
Cool, short and unique little isometric exploration game.
More from the creator of Exmortis above. Same type of game, different name.
Isometric exploration/survival game in a desolate future. Jump scares mixed in with creepy bits. Neat gameplay and multiple endings.
Story of the Blanks
Yet another game that kind of spoils the surprise just by telling you that it's a horror game at all, but still surprisingly effective. Contains ponies if that bothers you.
Where am I?
Short but interesting little game made for the Ludum Dare. Atmospheric and creepy, but I felt like it was too much buildup.
Doom II - The Ghoul's Forest Series
A series of three Doom II WADs where you play a hunter charged with killing three "ghouls" in a dark forest. Hard as hell and mostly jumpscares. Has a standalone remake in Ghoul's Forest 3D.
Doom II - Unloved
Made for GZDoom. Still has the run-and-gun gameplay of Doom (and it's hard as hell to boot), but the mod is legitimately unsettling and has some amazingly oppressive environments and a lot of scary moments.
Crysis - The Worry of Newport
Unique little Lovecraftian mod if for no other reason than it's a horror mod for Crysis of all things.
Half-Life - Afraid of Monsters: Director's Cut
Surprisingly very creepy and quite lengthy horror mod. Combat starts out sparse but ramps up later without sacrificing any tension. Mostly jump scares, but good ones. The older, original version of the mod is still available. Storyline is kind of weak, but there are multiple endings.
Half-Life - Cry of Fear
Newer mod by the same creator as Afraid of Monsters. Very similar (and in my opinion not quite as good) but still very scary. Cutscenes are basically The Room: The Game.
Half-Life - Mistake Series
Series of two mods set in an insane asylum. Minimal combat, short maps. Very nice atmosphere and very unnerving but not really very scary.
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 - Aberration
Action/horror mod that reminds me somewhat of Nightmare House 2.
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 - Centralia
Atmospheric and neat-looking little mod still in development.
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 - Ghost Hunt 2
Note: Requires not just Ep.2, but also base Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode 1. Also possibly Garry's Mod? I can't remember. A rompy little "haunted house" type of map with no real objective. There's also lots of other little scary maps made for GMod.
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 - Grey
Same creator as Mistake, and he's clearly improved a lot even if it is still pretty derivative scares.
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 - Nightmare House 2
Rips off of FEAR a hell of a lot, but still pretty neat. NH2 has an "intro" which is basically an updated remake of the first, but if you're interested and have the original Half-Life, there's a download for the original on the page too.