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Nothing beats the low, low price of free. Free food tastes better, free knowledge comes easier, and free entertainment lasts longer. And when it comes to free games, like free-to-play survival horror games? Well, they’re pretty awesome too.
Finding a game that is truly free these days is a difficult task. After all, developers deserve some compensation for their skill and time, but it’s more than that. Games that bill themselves as free are just a diminished version of their paid counterparts, with only a few levels or characters. And the entire time you’re playing, the game is advertising its paid version with all its bells and whistles.
That’s not free. That’s a gimmick.
You don’t feel like you’re playing a free game; you’re playing a glorified demo.
The games on this list are well and truly free. Free. You get to enjoy the entirety of this game for zero payment whatsoever.
1. Ultimate Custom Night
Here we have yet another edition in the Five Nights at Freddy’s series. Ultimate Custom Night is a horrifying amalgamation of the best and worst challenges, mechanics, and characters from the previous FNaF games. It’s everything memorable about the series wrapped up in a small yet disturbing package.
The strength of the FNaF series has always been its intense jump scares. One second you’re studying a detail in the background. The next, you’re jumping out of your chair as Golden Freddy screams in your face.
Ultimate Custom Night capitalizes on the scares with minimal gameplay. Choose from the best characters across FNaF’s seven games and select their difficulty rating from 1 – 20. Then, try to survive.
From the safety of the manager’s office, you will have to keep your eye on multiple security cameras, the AC temperature, the power system, a global music box, the ventilation system, and several security doors if you want to make it through the night. It’s not easy, and your stress levels will only grow higher when you see familiar demonic animatronics peeking in from the corner of your screen.
This game got us more than once with its jump scares. Shocked is probably the best word to describe our reaction every time we die. But we were also frustrated. The controls aren’t the most intuitive, and we frequently didn’t understand what the game wanted from us. Once we understood our role was to act as a babysitter and babysit our demented children, gameplay went much smoother.
Download Ultimate Custom Night from Steam.
2. Friday The 13th: Killer Puzzle
Truth: the concept of this game did not thrill us. Friday the 13th and puzzles? With a goofy slant? Come again?
More truth: we loved playing this game.
The puzzles were relatively mild initially and made us think the game would be little more than an idle clicker. But as we progressed, the puzzle levels grew increasingly harder. They placed enemies on the map, expanded the map, and added obstacles and hazards to trip us up. We found ourselves relishing the challenge of higher levels as we hunted down stupid campers or mean correctional officers.
In Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle, players jump into the shoes of Jason Voorhees himself and hurry around several locations, killing as many campers–or whoever is in your way–as possible. Players unlock different weapons, like hockey sticks and kayak paddles, keytars, and different Jason skins. Work your way through puzzles themed to other locations, like icy prisons or classic lakeside campsites. All while doing everything Jason’s mother tells him to do. After all, he’s nothing if not a good son.
Download Friday The 13th: Killer Puzzle from Steam.
3. SCP: Containment Breach
We can’t talk much about horror without mentioning SCP at some point. And though it’s an older title these days, SCP: Containment Breach is still a great game with intense terror and the basest elements of survival.
What’s worse than being trapped down in an SCP basement during a containment breach? Being trapped down in an SCP basement during a containment breach with no weapons or map.
SCP: Containment Breach has players take the role of a nameless inmate in the SCP containment facility, deep underground. In the beginning, some nice SCP guards help you out of your cell, and you think it’s not going to be so bad with some muscle around. But very quickly, you are left to fend for yourself amid macabre creatures of unknown origin.
Avoid being eaten, maimed, or smushed as you traverse the labyrinthine tunnels of SCP’s facility. All kinds of monsters are chasing you, from monsters that only move when you blink to skinless creatures that sound like fellow humans offering aid.
Are the graphics terrible? Sure. Someone has to say it.
But the horror is not forced or artificial in any way. And it’s clear to see the influences this free game has had on horror titles that have been released since. Bottom line: many paid survival horror games these days don’t measure up to the pure rush of SCP: Containment Breach.
Download SCP: Containment Breach from Steam.
4. No More Room In Hell
No More Room In Hell is the realistic zombie apocalypse game you’ve been waiting for. And it’s free.
Above all else, No More Room In Hell strives to be authentic. There’s no HUD, and the game isn’t going to give you hints as you move along. Healing isn’t something that happens in seconds, and reloading takes focus; you don’t just slap a clip of rounds in and start shooting again. The game aims to be as realistic as possible, forcing you to use all your senses—don’t lick or smell your computer, though—to survive. Listen to your teammates, count how many bullets you have left in your clip, communicate your targets, and strategize your supplies.
This isn’t Back 4 Blood or Left 4 Dead and even Nazi Zombies. These are George A. Romero zombies: slow, methodical, and relentless. The good news is you won’t be defending yourself from mutations or sprinting zombie variants. The bad news is it’s not as easy to survive as you might think.
The zombies are slow, yes, but they hit hard. You’ll die in 3 hits or less. And with every hit, there’s a chance you can get infected. That’s right; you’re not immune in No More Room In Hell, so act accordingly.
No More Room In Hell is also the only zombie game you’ll find that features zombie children.
And we thought Left 4 Dead 2 was edgy with female boomers.
In No More Room In Hell, you’ll be facing the most realistic outbreak around. The sequel, No More Room In Hell 2, should be out in October 2022. But it’s already hit years’ worth of delays, so don’t hold your breath.
Download No More Room in Hell from Steam.
5. Doki Doki: Literature Club!
Okay, okay. We know what you’re thinking. A visual novel? What the what?
Listen to us—just listen for a minute. This game is brilliantly twisted and perfectly disturbing. The writing is gripping, and the horror is truly horrifying. We were leaning away from our screens while reading some of the text, chills breaking out on our skin.
With most survival horror games these days, you know what you’re signing up for when you download the game. The title is spooky, the enemies are already foreshadowed, and the opening cutscene prepares you for what lies ahead. Be it zombies, demons, or self-aware animatronic dolls.
Not Doki Doki.
What you think you’re getting with Doki Doki is a light visual novel with some cute anime girls to keep you company.
You actually get a wild ride through different realities that have bloody suicides, murderous children, and demi-gods bent on imprisoning your soul for eternity.
You play a student who’s just joined the Doki Doki Literature Club to get better at poetry. Most of the game has you sharing your poems with your classmates, the aforementioned cute anime girls, and them sharing their poems with you.
Things get weird when you read their poems and find out that each cute anime girl is severely mental. Like, psychopathic, lock your doors, don’t make eye contact mental.
Things only escalate from there when the game starts intentionally glitching, making you think something is wrong with your system. Text and fonts will change abruptly, characters will glitch like they’re in the matrix, and the game will trick you into thinking it’s repeatedly rebooting.
This game was disturbing in all the right ways.
And remember—Just Monica. Just Monica. Just Monica.
Download Doki Doki Literature Club! from Steam.
Why not add these free-to-play survival horror games to your collection?
This short list lists some of the best free-to-play horror titles available. If you dig further into the niche, you’ll find some real gems, and in some cases, you get what you pay for; the graphics won’t wow you, and the gameplay will feel like it belongs in 2013. But to each their own.
But if you’re looking for scares, nightmares, and lasting trauma, you don’t have to pay a cent, nor do the gamer friends you drag along into the dark with you. Also, be sure to check out 5 Survival Horror Games Coming in 2022.