Funhouse of Horror 2012: Top 10 free scary games on Download.com (part 1)

Budget gamers don't have to look any further for cheap thrills this Halloween season. Five games -- Inside, 1916, Dark Ocean, Hide, and Erie -- aim to scare the pants off you.

It's the Halloween season, and Download.com has you covered with a collection of the greatest free horror games in our extensive (and unusual) catalog. If you're a fan of free games and/or horror, you've come to the right place. The games are in no particular order. Start with any one you feel like, or do a Halloween Gauntlet and run through them all in one night, alone in a dark room, with your back to an open door.

10. Inside

(Credit: CNET)

The story behind this game is as enigmatic as the game itself. From the developer's description, Inside was made in four days. No game page nor developer's site exists. You are stuck inside a building trying to make your way out, armed with only a flashlight. Explore every shadowy corner, darkened room, and frightfully long hallway as you desperately seek the exit.

Inside is a simple game but that's no reason to write it off. If you are afraid of the dark, Inside is the game for you. Inside had us cringing every time we approached a door. It is one of the shorter but more frightening one on this list.

  • Scare Factor: 9/10
  • Creativity: 6/10

9. 1916 - Der unbekannte Krieg (PC, Mac)

(Credit: CNET)

The Download.com directory is chock full of World War II games, but rarely do we get one set in the First World War, not to mention one with a horror element to it. In the midst of the Great War, you play a young German soldier as he navigates the trenches. With bodies of fallen comrades lying all around and shells constantly dropping, surviving the trenches is no easy task...then the pack of dinosaurs arrives. Your objective is to make your way through the trenches while avoiding bombardments, mustard gas, and velociraptors (no joke) to find the exit ladder.

1916 is not the average war game. The music and visual styles are impressive for an indie game -- overall, it does a terrific job creating a gruesome atmosphere. Our German-speaking readers will enjoy an even higher level of immersion as everything in 1916 is in German. The dinosaurs add an surreal element but that's a good thing. The true horror is that there isn't an English version yet.

  • Scare Factor: 7/10
  • Creativity: 8/10

8. Dark Ocean

(Credit: CNET)

Disappointed fans of the Resident Evil series who didn't get their scare fix in Six might find some consolation in Dark Ocean. The action takes place aboard an ocean liner where something has gone horribly wrong. (SPOILER ALERT: Everyone on the ship has been turned into zombies!) You play a young woman, a lone survivor who must find a way to escape the nightmare and solve the mystery of the infection. (Why not, right?) It's not like she has better things to do, like keep on living.

You navigate your way through the liner armed only with trusty flare guns and a flash camera. The camera flash can temporarily stun undead assailants, but it must recharge. Your flare gun can set them ablaze but ammo is limited. Years of survivor horror have prepared us for all sorts of Zombies Apocalypse scenarios, so we found Dark Ocean not too scary, but there's a decent amount of shock factor to make up for it. You might notice a sly nod to older games in the action-horror genre in one familiar scene. Final verdict: not too shambling for indie zombies, but not the scary sprinting zombies either.

  • Scare Factor: 6/10
  • Creativity: 7/10

7. Hide (PC,Mac)

(Credit: CNET)

At first glance, Hide appears to be a simple scavenger hunt. Underestimate Hide and you could be in for a nasty surprise. Beneath its 8-bit texture, Hide is an amazing thriller game. It continuously builds suspense without allowing the player a moment's rest using simple visuals and well-timed sound effects.

The task is simple. Collect five pieces of paper with less than cheery writings on them -- all done while trudging through a snowy forest with air-raid siren blaring that would bring tears to any Silent Hill's fan. Also be sure to hide (name drop!) from the mysterious figures tracking you through the woods. Hide is one of those times when it's not a good idea to go toward the lights.

  • Scare Factor 8/10
  • Creativity 8/10

6. Erie

(Credit: Utah Game Forge)

Not too often do we see professional quality games as freeware on Download.com. Thanks to the distributing platform Desura and the University of Utah, you can play Erie for no charge. In the first-person action game, you are Oliver Victor, a Red Cross Investigator sent to find locals who have been slowly disappearing after their neighborhood nuclear generator had a slight meltdown. Upon arrival, Oliver realized that his rescue mission has quickly turned into a race for survival.

Beyond the outlandish setup (why didn't Oliver call the police or why did he waltz into a nuclear power plant in the middle of a meltdown...without a radiation suit), Erie's creators know a thing or two about scaring their players. The graphic and sound are a cut above the other games on this list. The Unreal Engine has been twisted and manipulated to give players a convincing scare. If visuals are high on your list, Erie is definitely (dare we say it) eerie enough to check out.

  • Scare Factor: 8/10
  • Creativity: 7/10

Look forward next week to more bad puns and more horrifying (and possibly horrific) free games when we release the second half of our top 10. Got a scary game of your own that you want to share? Sound off in the comments.

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