It’s Halloween again everybody, and there’s two things we love about this spooky holiday: being scared, and getting free stuff. Now thanks to your pals at GameWatcher you too can have something for nothing. You can always spend money like a chump on expensive horror titles like Resident Evil, The Evil Within, Five Nights At Freddy’s and Super Mario 64 (that piano!), or you can read on and check out the Best Totally Free Super-Scary Horror Games on PC!
Why It’s So Scary: Formally known as Spooky’s House of Jump Scares, it was forced to change its name by someone trying to copyright the term ‘Spooky House’, proving that copyright law is true horror. The game itself doesn’t initially look scary, with cute anime ghost host Spooky, simple cardboard pop-out spiders forming the jump scares, and sub-Quake graphics.
Far too quickly though you’ll realize that this is all a setup. Amusing jump scares give way to unease followed by dread followed by pure desperate terror as you flee through a maze of doors from some of the worst nightmares in gaming - in many ways this is the game equivalent of movie The Cabin In The Woods, featuring as it does pretty much every horror ever made. Items, notes, the environment and even playable arcade games build up the back story but nothing is more scary than when the music kicks in and OH GOD WATCH THE PUPPET
Why It’s So Scary: The best horror comes at you slowly. The best horror twists your expectations. Doki Doki Literature Club, like Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion, for a long while seems cute before things take a dark turn. For the longest time the game appears to be a Visual Novel Dating Sim, full of sweet anime girls with odd habits. But it's all a ruse. You get to know the characters, start to like them, maybe even one catches your eye?
True horror involves people you know. True horror feels like it could happen in real life. True horror makes you feel trapped. Doki Doki Literature Club manages to hit these too. Soon the game itself starts to turn against you, as you start peeking behind the curtain and find the characters aren't as sweet as they seem and watch helplessly as the game actively starts re-writing itself. This sweet anime Visual Novel will stick with you long after you stop playing... if you ever did. Poor Sayori...
Why It’s So Scary: Heavily influenced by P.T. (which was also free incidentally, just not on PC), while Minds Eyes is nowhere near as polished it’s certainly goddamn scary. It’s set in a single apartment with a few rooms, doors, and a lot of questions, such as “why is one door boarded up?”, “what’s in the safe?”, and “what’s with that creepy picture oh god why are its eyes open now?” As you explore things will start to happen. I don’t really want to give away more than that.
The English is poor, sometimes you have to hit the proper trigger for something to happen, and the running animation is the funniest thing ever, but once the lights turn off you’ll be more scared than you’ve ever been before. You can even watch me play it if you like, and don’t mind noisy keyboards.
Why It’s So Scary: One word: mannequins. You're already creeped out, aren't you? Urbex, and it's prequel game Midnight Shift, has you trapped in a deserted warehouse at night - and it's not deserted enough. There are lots and lots of mannequins, and because this is a horror game, you'll soon be seeing things move out of the corner of your eye, noises from afar... and you'll be watching every mannequin you see. It's a bit short, but in this case... that's a good thing.
Why It’s So Scary: Best described as a first-person Silent Hill, Cry of Fear is the most “proper” scary game in this list. By that I mean it’s a decent size, it has exploration and combat, it has save points and progression, and it’s bloody terrifying. The monster design is both excellent and sickening (one of the creatures cuts their own throat rather than let you kill them), the constant pervasive darkness unnerving, and the certainty that literally nowhere is safe combines into a superb horror title. Get it then play the first five minutes and try not to jump out of your seat. I did.
Why It’s So Scary: It's Cuphead meets Layers of Fear. In the abandoned old cartoon animation studio behind popular character Bendy, something strange has been unleashed. There's ink dripping from the ceiling, strange messages on the walls, the cardboard cutouts seem to be... moving? And oh god, what happened to Bendy's friend Boris?
Bendy and the Ink Machine is a very stylish horror, with excellent scares and a unique hook - who would've thought a cute cartoon character would be terrifying? The downside is that only Chapter 1 is free, and the other chapters have to be paid for. They're quite cheap at least, but it might be worth waiting until the game is complete before you dive in.
Why It’s So Scary: Perfection isn't scary because of the frequent jump scares, the tension, and the underlying sense of dread, loneliness, and oppression (although they certainly make it more scary). Perfection is scary because it roots out your own insecurities and reminds you that maybe you shouldn't be perfect. Then of course there's the fact that the whole thing's terrifying, and the vaguely Bioshock or Prey-like design is actually pretty cool. Just don't peep in too many rooms.
Why It’s So Scary: The shortest game on this list is also the one that’s most likely to make you reevaluate your life. At 10-15 minutes it’ll hardly make a dent in your computer time, and yet it’s nail-biting as you wait for the thing to happen. I’m not going to spoil anything, but you know something is going to happen just on the little you know already – and that’s enough. The graphics are sub-Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion and the most tense part is actually outside the game, but you will never forget your brief time in Moirai as it forces you to confront what type of person you really are. And that’s the scariest thing in the world.
Why It’s So Scary: 30 minutes of gameplay and it’s a point-n-click adventure game with digitized actors reenacting a man’s first date with a cute lady while on holiday in Portugal? With ducks? That’s about the un-scariest thing I can think of. Which, of course, is where the best horror lurks. I won’t spoil any more of it, which like Moirai and Doki Doki Literature Club will already have you anxiously anticipating the thing that has to happen. Seriously, just play it, don’t be put off by the red herring adventure game part, the puzzles are quite straightforward and there are only a few locations. And be prepared to play it again afterwards. And DON’T TRUST THE DUCK.
Why It’s So Scary: The second shortest game on this list, The Static Speaks My Name is deeply disturbing in all its implications. It doesn’t give any answers and there are no monsters hunting you, but all of the questions it raises have nothing but terrifying answers. What is the static? What’s that stain in the microwave? Who is that man? Why are the doors and windows boarded up? What is the meaning of the palm trees? Who really are you? Even the title is an enigma. It’s intensely creepy and perfect horror fodder.
Why It’s So Scary: Off-Peak isn't so much scary as it is sinister and weird. It's surrealist art in game form really, as you explore a gigantic twisted train station, full of odd characters and bizarre goings-on. There are some really creepy moments, but mostly the game is about exploring, talking to the locals, finding all the weird little secrets and then - somehow - escaping. It's evocative and you won't be able to stop seeking out the weirdness. The more expansive sequel The Norwood Suite is out now, but you'll have to pay for that.
Why It’s So Scary: Sometimes it’s reality that offers the deepest chills. Serena is a first-person Myst-style point-n-click adventure set in a small cabin where the male protagonist tries to figure out what’s wrong with his memory and what happened to his wife, Serena. The results will undoubtedly shock you, especially if you’re in a long-term relationship. It’s not sheer terror for the most part, but unnerving? Definitely. Merely a creaking floorboard had me on edge. It’s a simple game with a lot of clicking, but well worth playing.
Why It’s So Scary: Blameless is a first-person adventure game that tells the story of a man knocked unconscious and locked in a room by a mysterious assailant, and his attempts to free himself before his kidnapper returns. The feeling of being constantly watched and/or hunted pervades Blameless, and while the puzzle solutions are occasionally obscure (you have to scan every corner and object to see if they’re useful) it’s definitely both stressful and scary. The ambiguous ending (was he? Wasn’t he?) didn’t help either. Certainly worth a play, and I like how there are multiple puzzle solutions. Plus I’ve never jabbed a garage door opener that fast in my life.
Why It’s So Scary: As a great lover of Ancient Greek myths the idea of a modern horror title set in the Minotaur’s labyrinth with a tragic story that builds to the creation of snake-headed turning-people-to-stone monster Medusa is an idea that greatly appeals to me. It’s definitely styled after Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and that’s a very good thing indeed as it forces you to desperately run and hide from the monster lurking in the halls.
Scary as it is, Medusa’s Labyrinth comes with one big caveat: it’s free because it’s only the beginning of a much larger game that will sadly probably never come. Consequently the credits will roll just as it’s getting interesting and you’ll be left gagging for more. Still, a fascinating look at a game-in-maybe-progress and a scary one too.
Why It’s So Scary: Unlike the rest of the games on this list despite featuring ghosts and the prospect of imminent death it’s not actually scary in and of itself, in fact it’s more tragic than anything. Nevertheless the themes and ideas Port of Call builds to sent a chill down my spine that’s now permanently attached. The choice that you’re forced to make is something I would never want to face. It’s a simple little game with no jump scares, but these ghosts will haunt you for a good long while.
Why It’s So Scary: Depends. Do you find being trapped alone in an abandoned funeral home with only the world’s worst flashlight and a load of freaky killer ghosts scary? Wait, that’s everyone? Oh, good news, Black Rose is the horror game for you. Yes there’s not much to the environment, there are no checkpoints, and it’s a bit of a key-hunt game, but the second that coffin screamed the only thing I cared about was running, fast. Be prepared to play the beginning a few times, and to run. Run. Fast.
There are other free horror titles on PC, but these are the best, the most interesting, and the ones that actually ran on my PC with either no problems or just a little getting in touch with the developer to make sure I’d installed it correctly.
Nevertheless despite requiring no money upfront they still can be counted among the best horror games on PC, and if you’ve spent all your cash on candy and fake spider poo then any of these will keep you entertained this Halloween. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about the duck, though.