10 cheap or free indie games that will terrify you this Halloween
Halloween is coming up, the time of spooks and scares. It’s this time of year that we like to dive deep into our favorite horror games. Now I could go on about Resident Evil and Man of Medan and other AAA gore-fests, but really the biggest strides in horror have been made in the indie-sphere in recent days, and indie-games are cheap. So don’t shell out sixty bucks for your next scare fest. Instead, try one of these ten indie titles that you can pick up for cheap, or even free!
Beware mashes up two genres that you wouldn’t expect would go well together: horror and driving. But if you think about it, you’ve probably been afraid in the driver’s seat of a car before. Heading down a dark road alone with nothing but your headlights on, stopping on the side of the road to rest your eyes and jumping when you hear something outside your window, that’s the kind of feeling that Beware seeks to reproduce, and it does a fantastic job.
Watching other cars try to run you off the road or being stuck in your driver’s seat while shadowy figures bang on your window are experiences that manage to make me scream out loud. If you really want to have a scare, play this with a driving wheel and watch as your fear fueled reactions cause you to drive right into a ditch.
You can download Beware’s in-progress build on Indie DB for free.
Doki Doki Literature Club
This is definitely just a free dating simulator where you try to romance four girls in an afterschool literature club. Write poems, share your feelings, read books,
drop the knife, and so much more! While the game can be…. Buggy at times… rest assured that the characters in this game are not sentient and cannot hurt you. Will you romance Sayori, the childhood sweetheart, Yuri, the mature intellectual, Natsuki, the free-spirited manga fan, or Monika, Just Monika, Just Monika, the class Monika and Monika of the Literature Monika? My favorite girl is Monika.
Faith is proof that you don’t need high definition graphics to scare someone to death. This two chapter game (soon to be three) is made only using graphics that you might find on old retro systems like the Atari 2600. However, its dark plot ties in Christian mythology in a similar vein to movies like The Exorcist and manages to chill you to the bone despite its low resolution. This is a game full of atmospheric horror that will leave you with a lingering sense of dread for days after you have played it. In fact, I’d say that it’s retro style graphic almost make it scarier than usual, as you fill in the gaps left by the graphics with your own imagination.
Mr. Hopps Playhouse
Another retro style horror game, Mr. Hopps Playhouse isn’t quite as atmospheric as Faith. It makes use of frequent jump scares and cheap shocks, but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying. On the surface, this is a game about a creepy childhood toy come to life. Dig deeper and you’ll find a much more sinister mystery. Can you find all the endings?
P.T. , the playable teaser for Konami’s now canceled Silent Hills was largely considered one of the scariest gaming experiences of all time. Unfortunately, after Konami had a falling out with Hideo Kojima they yanked P.T. off the PSN, never to be downloaded again. Unless you were lucky enough to save it to your PS4 and never delete it, you’ll never be able to experience this horror title again.
That is, unless you download P.T. Emulation by Artur Laczkowski. This is a near perfect recreation of P.T. in the Unreal Engine. Of course, some things are missing and many complex graphics have been replaced by video of the original experience. Still it’s pretty damn close and it can be download on Itch.io for free.
Do not grieve for the loss of P.T. because the truly scary thing is what Hideo Kojima is capable of when the reigns are taken off. Look forward to Death Stranding later this year!
Pony Island and The Hex
Both Pony Island and The Hex are an interesting breed of horror game, since they are essentially games about games. They channel their horror through the language of code, video game tropes, developer crunch, and more. Both are kind of strange multi-genre projects and both eventually break the fourth wall to drive their horror home. Pony Island puts you up against a poorly coded indie game made by Satan himself, while The Hex is a murder mystery whose roots can be traced back to the origin of the very game you are playing. You can pick them both up in a bundle on Steam for $12.
PRICE is a point and click adventure/horror/escape room style game. The premise is simple. You wake up in a locked room and want to get out and find your sister. As is the case with games like these, most of the horror is embedded within puzzles, with a greater and darker plot being revealed the deeper you go. PRICE takes it one step further with a very interesting meta-puzzle with a twist that I won’t ruin for you. The only real criticism I have is that the translation is a bit awkward, but not too awkward to be chilling. You can download PRICE on Steam for free and 100 percent complete it in an hour or two.
What would you do if you found a lost phone? Would you look through it? What if the phone’s owner was missing? Would you attempt to find them? This is the question that the Simulacra franchise asks of you. By navigating through a phone you get to see the innermost secrets of its owner, as well as the dark dealings that they may have been involved in. You can download Simulacra for $5 on Steam but if you really want to be spooked, download it on the Google Play or Apple App store. The mobile versions of Simulacra turn your phone into the missing person’s phone and that makes the experience so much creepier. You can also find a spinoff, Simulacra: Pipe Dreams, and the game’s predecessor, Sarah Is Missing, on both mobile stores for free.
Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion
This game does what it says on the tin. Wander around 1000 rooms and try to escape the Jump Scares around every corner. It’s just good dumb fun, or at least that’s what it wants you to think. You can probe the game deeper for secrets to uncover a darker plot…. which is still conveyed through fairly cheap and goofy Jump Scares nonetheless. Aside from being a startling experience, Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion is actually a challenge. 1000 rooms is a long way to go when monsters lurk at every turn. You can download Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion from Steam for free.
The FNAF Franchise
Look, you already know what Five Nights at Freddy’s is. It’s one of the most renowned indie horror franchises of all time. Sit in your seat, check your cameras, and hope that the terrifying animatronics won’t kill you. Much of the franchise can be purchased for cheap or even free on Steam. You can get the first five games for $30 in a bundle and the next few games are all free. The only expensive game in the franchise is the recently released FNAF VR and even that is only $30 itself.
Those are our recommendations for some cheap but terrifying indie horror games. What are your favorite cheap indie horror experiences? Let us know in the comments and come back next year when we give you another batch of affordable scares.