The Halloween season is the best time for watching movies and playing games. After all, horror is a genre pillar, featuring a myriad of permutations and variations. But you wanna know what’s even scarier than horror itself? How much you’d have to spend to get your hands on a big-budget horror game. Scares are scares, but let’s not go giving ourselves heart attacks here. In order to keep your intake of horror on a more sensible level, you should try one of the various free horror games available on Steam. All of the scary fun, none of the scary costs. Here are some of the best free horror games on Steam.
Best free Horror games on Steam
You wanna know what’s really scary about this game? The copyright troubles. This game used to be called Spooky’s House of Jumpscares, but then the devs got a C&D from some company trying to trademark the phrase “Spooky House.” Truly, there are few monsters as terrifying as lawyers. Legalese aside, though, Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion takes a simple concept, that being a series of rooms full of jumpscares, and expands it outward into a living maze full of super-creepy beasts and horrors. Hopefully, you can keep your head on straight for all 1,000 rooms.
I think we’ve all had at least one moment where we’ve snuck up behind a friend and shrieked in their ear to make them jump. It’s a very raw, mischievous kind of thrill, and if it’s one you take particular pleasure in, you and a friend will enjoy Hide and Shriek. Both players are placed in a large school with the goal of sneaking up and spooking each other. The twist is that both players are invisible, so you need to be hyper-aware of small disturbances in the world around you, from floating objects to opening doors. Getting a spook in that state is guaranteed to elicit a proper scream.
Horror itself is a universal concept, but it’s always kind of interesting to experience it through a different cultural lens. Gingko, for instance, is a brief student demo that draws on Eastern Asian horror themes in its design. The world in which it takes place is twisty and ephemeral, made more so thanks to your magic needle that can literally sew up the fabric of reality. It’s also populated with yokai, some benign, others far less so. If you want a quick scare of different flavor you’re used to, Gingko is a fascinating experience.
I have enough unresolved childhood traumas as it is, so I’ve always given the Five Nights at Freddy’s games and their murderous, rusty animatronics a bit of a wide berth. That said, if you find the base concept behind the games interesting, that being outwitting a bunch of monsters operating on very specific patterns and habits, you don’t necessarily have to play the mainline games to get that. Ultimate Custom Night allows you to assemble your very own murderous animatronic situation, filling a derelict pizzeria with automatons from all over the series, plus some original ones. You can customize their behaviors and difficulty levels, as well as the tools and avenues available to both you and them to create your ideal gameplay setting.
With familiarity is supposed to come comfort. It’s why your own home is comforting; it’s your space, you know what’s supposed to be there and what isn’t. So what would happen if that space not only began changing outside of your volition, but turned outright hostile toward you? Well, you’d get We Went Back. Set in a fully enclosed circular space station, We Went Back places you in a time loop as you’re forced to traverse the same lap through the station over and over. As you observe the environment and solve escape room-style puzzles, things will begin to distort. Pay close attention; subtle changes will soon give way to abject horror.
Visual novels are a dime a dozen, especially on Steam, but there’s something kind of… existentially terrifying about them. Imagine if your world existed for the sole purpose of another’s self-satisfaction, and that you had little if any agency in it. If you got the opportunity to influence that world, control it for yourself, how far would you be willing to take it? It’s that very concept that Doki Doki Literature Club explores, with some pretty heavy and unsettling themes lurking beneath its unassuming anime girl cover. Even if you already know the game’s big twist (and it’s kind of hard not to, given the attention it’s gotten), it’s still worth experiencing for yourself.
Among Us may have popularized the old werewolf dilemma with its cute and funny aesthetic, but I guarantee if you were actually in a situation like that, you’d be one step from snapping. Deceit is similar to Among Us in that it places two murderous traitors amongst a group of six survivors, but rather than accomplishing small tasks, you need to progress to the end of a maze while obtaining items and forming alliances. The traitors need to carefully sabotage the survivors’ efforts to progress and strengthen themselves for the moment when the lights go out and they get the chance to go feral and devour them.
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