It’s that time of year again! Time to cuddle up in your Snuggy with a bowl of popcorn and the biggest stack of horror movies you can get your mittens on. Happy weekend before Halloween! To celebrate (on time, this time around), I’ve compiled a list of the top ten scariest games that are totally free, so you can have a grand old time fulfilling your spook quota when the big night comes, without spending a cent!
For this top ten list, I tried to include games feeding on all types of fear — classic blood, guts and zombies; abstract, dark, and atmospheric; and of course, horror that appeals to real life (e.g. the widespread fear of algebra and teachers thereof. Then again, maybe this is just me). That being said, it really is quite difficult to compare them all in the same list. Consider the numbers irrelevant. Anyway, without further ado, I present:
The only sound you can hear over your own breathing is the ring of a piano note resonating in the cold air. The sky is black, everything is black but the white snow falling slowly seen through your hazy vision. Roaring sirens far off accompany the high beams of enormous search lights roving the distant skies. They are after you. And so you must hide.
Andrew Shouldice’s short, indie game, made for Super Friendship Club’s Justice Pageant, involves two objectives: one, to find all five “locations” throughout the map, and two, to avoid being captured by your pursuers. What really works in “Hide” is that every aspect is tailored to make you feel alienated. The graphics are shoddy and low-res. You can’t see anything until you get up close to it. You have no idea who’s following you, only that they speak in some indecipherable language and that if they find you, the game’s over.
Whether you are scared by this game or not varies in proportion to how much you are immersed into the environment. Playing it focused on gameplay (as I did the first time), as in a lot of art games, limits the enjoyment you can reap out of this experience. But if your attention goes to your surroundings and the idea that you have no grasp of your own identity and that something maligned is out to get you, the blood starts racing. And the game itself does a good job of getting you in that state — you play what sounds like a man, breathing heavily and walking slowly. The sheer tension of being chased by something unknown that comes out of no where and yet not being able to move fast enough to outrun it is a factor that really fits this game into the horror genre into its own niche. Some say the game has a similar style to Amnesia: The Dark Descent — but through it’s impressive and creative delivery, “Hide” stands out all on its own.