It’s that time of year where ancient legend tells us that the walls between the land of the living and the dead are thinned and the dearly departed may walk among us. Many a ghost or ghoulie is bound by its past to an object, person or place of particular importance, and aren’t quite so free to wander abroad. That’s a shame indeed, how can they be expected to go trick-or-treating if they’re stuck inside all day?
Gaming is awash with its own ghost stories, not all of which were put in their by the writers. In this week’s Top 10 we’ll be focusing on the ones that were actually put in the game intentionally.
Towers define a skyline, they change the cities that they occupy because they quite literally stand out. Because of that they also tend to help define games, they can be focal in stories, a more literal climax in climactic moments, or they could be simple but iconic background detail.
A tower is a symbol, a statement, and a genre of game in its’ own right. So join us as we take this opportunity to appreciate their place in gaming.
For once we decided we’d actually talk about the games themselves, not an element within gaming. So this time around, we thought we’d do the Top 10 indie horror games.
Be it a horrific story courtesy of a story from Creepypasta, or a unique experience delivered to the world by a small team, the indie horror scene has become one of the most innovative areas on the market.
Sadly though it is filled with imitators to the originals, clones if you will. Today though, we revel not in the clones but in our Top 10 indie horror games. Oh we also have some would be contenders as well, but the top 10 are 2spooky4me.
Now I’m spooked… But this is horror, my friends. We move on – To be horrified.
10. 5 Days a Stranger
Created by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, 5 Nights a Stranger is a point and click horror adventure game where you uncover what is happening in the house that you are all stuck inside.
You play as Trilby, a cat burglar who wears… A trilby. He’s a pretty damn good cat burglar and he doesn’t actually mean ill-will on anyone, he’s pretty much a perfect gentleman in all honesty. He investigates the strange happenings of the house, the guests he’s staying with and how to escape the house. Undead, machetes, manacles – this game is thrilling yet simple. A nice combination to play through. Quite soft on the horror but it’s intriguing and worth a look.
9. The Binding of Isaac
Roguelikes are not exactly known for their tension-building atmosphere and gut-wrenching terrors, but what the Binding of Isaac brings to the table is an altogether different type of horror. Driven into the basement of his house by his delusional mother, Isaac discovers quickly that he was not the first to have been cast into the darkness in obeisance to the divine voices in her head.
Demons, spectres, and too many of Isaac’s undead brothers and sisters to count have been lurking beneath his feet, and the only weapons at his disposal are his anguished tears. Headup Games helped see this independent game see the light of day, but a bigger better remake is on the horizon.
A psychological horror mystery of sorts, where you walk through a house, some dark and dank places, the outside and more. But why are you doing this? You’re walking so you can find out what happened last night, as you just can’t remember.
Then you finally arrive Home. The realisation of everything dawns over you and you’re clear in your head what you need to do. But what do you do? This game changes depending on what you click on and see. Your character comes to different conclusions with different possible ways of ending the game. It’s short and sweet – just how I like my horror games!
7. Don’t Starve
A horror survival game, where the goal is literally to not starve. Taking a dark theme, within a dark randomly generated world, the goal is basically to survive as long as you can, or find the story when you’re in the game and play through the story that way.
From spiders and Beefalos, to pigmen who are pretty damn useless and men with names like Wilson and Maxwell, this is the game that we hoped Tim Burton would produce. Instead he didn’t produce this game, but we got it anyway!
6. SCP Containment Breach
All you need to know about SCP Containment Breach can be found in the SCP Containment Breach wiki. Seriously, this is a free indie horror survival game… That has a damned wiki.
You play as a test subject who’s there during… Well a containment breach! There are many SCPs around the facilities, some are friendly and some are hostile. The goal is to be able to guide your test subject through the facilities and basically not to be killed by SCP-173. This game has a concept similar to Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels – SCP-173 is deterred by being looked directly at. Throughout the game, your character blinks. Whenever line of sight is broken, the SCP can move towards you. Good luck, as this game punishes you for irresponsible blinking!
5. Penumbra Trilogy
If you expected to see Amnesia in this line-up you are going to be disappointed. Frictional Games first series was just as terrifying as its’ most famous work. You investigate an abandoned facility in Greenland, that naturally turns out to be less than unoccupied. Hungry dogs guard the doors, and they are lethal in their own right, slabs of meat and scavenged pickaxes are little help, and the dogs are only the beginning.
If Amnesia got you by the innards and twisted, Penumbra is absolutely worth your time. You may not be quite so helpless, but you’ll still spend more of the game running and hiding than trying to fight.
4. Killing Floor
Co-Operative Survival Horror game. Yeah Killing Floor is a bit of a silly name, but ignoring the fact that the name implies the floor is on a murderous rampage, this is the ultimate zombie killing experience for all you indie gamers out there. Available on Windows, Mac and Linux – as well as even having a game on the Ouya, Tripwire Interactive were on a winner when they approached the developer of the original Killing Floor mod.
Zombies, blood, gore and guns galore, this game is fun with a capital F. Get your friends together, be prepared to jump occasionally as zeds approach you from all directions and remember to weld the bloody door.
3. Slender: the Eight Pages
Once this game was made and released, that was it. All hell broke loose as just about everyone went ahead and made a Slender clone, much in the same way that everyone made a Flappy Bird clone. There’s no harm in clones, as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
Still Slender: the Eight Pages started it all off. You run around a forest trying to collect… Well… Eight pages. All the while, you’re being chased down by this being with no face. If he catches you, don’t expect him to give you any hugs – He will kill you… But not before giving you a screen of static and his face. Well, at least you get to see the handsome fellow before you die, I guess.
Lost and alone in a dark forest, a small boy awakens. The world he inhabits is filled with vast, silently shifting spiders, mind altering parasites, and sadistic little killers. The game is entirely monochrome, there is no music, very little sound at all, drawing you in deeper to a world that will kill you on a whim. Limbo contains very few jump-scares, but it’s style is chilling, designed to tap into your every childish fear and scrape your nerves raw.
Limbo is the first, and currently only title by Playdead, and was greeted with wide acclaim and several rewards. Their next title, Inside, looks like it’s going to be self-published as well, and looking at the early trailer you should be afraid already….
1. Five Nights at Freddy’s
It’s just a simple security gig, sit in a cushy office in a pizza place with “cute” animatronic bears and ducks and whatnot, keep an eye on the security cameras. Oh, and by the way, those adorable mascots were implanted with some weird AI, and if they catch you at night as they wander around they will assume you’re a mascot out of costume, and try and stuff you into one of the vacated empty bodies.
Scott Cawthon brings us a horrifying game. There is no escape, you can only hope to spread your limited power around to keep yourself protected from the nightmarish teddies that stalk the night, mocking smiles leering at you through the monitor, and through the door.
The next two titles are worthy contenders to be in our Top 10 indie horror games list, but we had to think realistically. For the time we spent playing, to the innovation and the likes these two just missed our list.
However, we thought we’d still go ahead and mention them as we felt they are good candidates and heck, perhaps one or two you won’t know of!
Escape from Lavender Town
Most people steer clear from this game as it’s a freeware game that you can get from websites like GameJolt. It comes as just a standalone .exe file which of course could potentially have been malicious – but when I heard of the game I decided the risk was worth it. Plus, others had played it before and didn’t yet die.
The premise of Escape from Lavender Town is simply to wander around Lavender Town and listen to the various residents of Lavender Town. They explain the weird circumstances and you can listen to the oddly chilling Lavender Town music with the infamous hidden frequencies re-adjusted for the game. Once you finish reading, press escape and it’s all over… Honestly. Go ahead and give it a try today. I promise you, it’s not that bad.
Fair is fair, this isometric hack-and-slash is not a horror game, but Grim Dawn – created by the remains of Iron Law’s Titan Quest team – has a very strong horror theme. An apocalyptic punk-styled world overrun by the undead, demonspawn and worshippers of Elder Things, your hero is possessed and released by an otherworldly horror that leaves you with the power to use their portals against them.
It’s not scary, but it’s a brilliantly dark game with some fantastic Diablo-style gameplay. It’s in ongoing development after a very successful Kickstarter campaign, but you can buy it now and get access to the ever expanding content.
I hope you all get some sleep tonight, as these horror games will leave you either on the edge of your seat or sleeping with one eye open.
But not to fear, we’re going to tone down the scares a bit now…
Oh no, it’s the day of all the blood!
Join us again next time for another Top 10 – and as always, join in the conversation! What are your favourite indie horror games? Did we cover it? Do you agree with our above list and hey – go play some of the free ones. You know you want to!