You’ve forgotten to buy a costume, your pumpkin has gone soft, and it’s probably going to be cold and dark on Halloween. Let’s be honest, there’s not much of an incentive for going outside on Monday night so why not stay at home with these free horror titles?
Ships are one of the most common locales for horror stories; they are vast, creepy, and there’s no escape if something goes wrong. Flash Frozen, an award-winning title, plays on each of these traits by casting the player in the role of a passenger trapped on a sinking ship – with an icy antagonist hunting them down.A first-person game made in the Unity engine, Flash Frozen has the player fighting off hypothermia as their situation deteriorates. The title has echoes of games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, in that you’ll have to run from your enemies if you want to survive and you’ll spend most of the game jumping at your own shadow.
The popularity of free horror titles owes a great deal to games like Ascension – it’s a brave, gorgeous game that wears its retro influences on its sleeve. Beginning in a meadow at dusk, Ascension is a side-scrolling adventure that focusses on a groundskeeper separated from his daughter after an accident. As night falls, strange creatures emerge.
It might be a little slow for some tastes but Ascension is a must-play for fans of similar titles, Home and Lone Survivor. It manages to be creepy by limiting the players’ viewpoint to the width of a torch beam, which means that it’s not always easy to tell what you’re sharing a room with. There are also no weapons so running is your only defense.
Online casinos have a long tradition of including seasonal themes and imagery on their reels and online slots from 32Red UK are no different. Halloweenies, for example, is a five-reel game with 20 paylines. The machine includes two mini games – a coin bonus board (Pick a Pumpkin) which activates whenever three pumpkin decals land on the reels, and a free slots game, beginning with the appearance of three pink rabbits. And to celebrate the holiday in style, 32Red offers players to earn their share of a £20,000 Halloween bonus until the end of October.
Monster Mania, which you can also play at Instacasino, is a colorful five-reel, nine-payline game in a similar vein. There’s also Peek-a-Boo 5 Reels, a 40-payline slot machine with a ghost-hunting theme, and So Many Monsters. The latter is a popular game online, and can be played at Lucky247 as well. Newcomers to slot machines don’t even have to make a deposit to play on many sites, as you can sign up and practice for free.
Lurking is a unique game that forces the player to choose between being able to see and remaining hidden from enemies, as the world around them only appears when they make a sound – but it’s these same audio cues that alert monsters to your presence. The result is an incredibly claustrophobic experience.
If you’re feeling especially brave, you can play Lurking with the Oculus Rift and a microphone (to make your own noises). The creator is also working on a follow-up game, Stifled, which is a multi-award-winning title currently making the rounds on Steam Greenlight.
Bad Dream is something different altogether. A minimalist point-and-click adventure, this strange adventure is split into six different ‘dreams’ that offer around 20 minutes of gameplay apiece, with locations varying from a graveyard to a hospital. The game is presented as a series of drawings in which you’ll need to find clues and objects to aid your progress.
Bad Dream is definitely an acquired taste but the various episodes are sufficiently short and creepy to enhance any Halloween party. However, Bad Dream’s greatest achievement is its atmosphere; the game somehow manages to be both suspenseful and deeply unsettling despite – or because of – its unusual presentation.
Notes of Obsession
Superficially similar to Gone Home, a game about finding answers to a missing family in their own home, Notes of Obsession is a class project by 17 students from Skövde in Sweden – and it’s a remarkable achievement; the game could easily pass for a AAA title, despite the fact that it costs nothing at all.
It’s a risky thing to say, given the caliber of the competition, but Notes of Obsession is a great alternative to the cancelled P.T. and the delayed Allison Road. A unique gameplay mechanic involving a music box means that you never know what horrors your actions might invoke until the music stands playing.
If you don’t do anything else for Halloween this weekend, make sure you download one of the above titles – and turn the lights off.