Five of the Scariest Flash Games of All Time
Ah, Flash. The word alone is enough to conjure up instant nostalgia. For a certain generation, it’s inextricably tied to the madcap internet days of the early aughts. It was the age of Badger Badger, Peanut Butter Jelly Time, and the Numa Numa guy. Back then, before Steam meant anything other than evaporated water, when the concept of ‘indie gaming’ was but a hopeful glimmer in some underfunded developer’s eyes, there was the Flash game. Surreptitiously played on a browser at the office or during IT class, Flash gaming was a world of raw, chaotic and sometimes even brilliant titles. And among them were a handful that were downright terrifying. In this list, we’re winding the clock back to resurrect five Flash game fright-fests from their restless slumber.
Escape the Boogeyman
Grab a spare set of underwear for this one. The premise of this game is simple; you’re trapped in an abandoned house, and the boogeyman is hunting you down. Completely unarmed, the only things between you and it are a labyrinthine series of doors and a flashlight with a rapidly draining battery. If the battery dies, it gets you. If you choose the wrong door, it gets you. There’s really no other way to describe Escape the Boogeyman as anything other than pure nightmare fuel. Who are you? How did you get here? There are no answers to these questions, and no time to ask them. All you can do is run, and beware the noises behind the doors.
A point-and-click trilogy developed by Ben Leffler, the Exmortis games are dripping (sometimes literally) with atmosphere and dread. The series starts with you playing as a nameless individual waking in the middle of a wood, unable to remember who they are or how they got there. Seeking shelter from the biting cold, you take refuge in a dilapidated cabin, only to find out that unholy events have been unfolding within its mouldering walls. From this grim premise, the series descends into a hell of blood and occultism as you come face to face with the apocalyptic forces of the Exmortis.
Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story Herbert West – Reanimator, this simple 2D shooter has you controlling the good doctor during a final confrontation against his murderous tomb legions. Armed with a revolver and a shotgun, you’re tasked with fending off the shambling undead for as long as you can. While there’s nothing particularly scary about the game per se, there’s something unnerving about the hopeless situation it puts you in. Fight all you want; the dead will eventually claim you as one of their own. Way before Call of Duty‘s Nazi Zombies mode did it, Deanimator is a reminder that if there’s anything that makes zombies scary, it’s their sheer inevitability.
Sadly, there’s no way to play this one anymore, but it’s getting a mention here anyway because of its novelty factor. Whereas the other Flash horror games on this list were all basically lone efforts by passionate solo devs, this one was actually funded by Doritos. Yup, that’s right, Doritos. As part of a marketing stunt for their Smoky Cheddar BBQ and Black Pepper Jack flavours, promotional packs contained a link to a website that could only be accessed from 6pm to 6am every day. When you accessed the website, the game would start. You were trapped in the titular hotel and had to escape, avoiding the deadly attentions of the inn’s fiendish guests. With a full live action cast, Hotel 626 also included a number of fourth wall-breaking tricks, like letting you use your phone to get a call with a hint on how to make it out alive.
The House series
Another point-and-click entry on this list, The House series by Sinthai studio consists of The House, The House 2 and a Halloween special. Each game takes place inside an abode where some great tragedy has befallen the previous occupants, with you assuming the role of an investigator brave (or foolish) enough to try and uncover what happened. But be warned; the dead do not rest easy, and your intrusion is not welcomed. Although heavy on the use of jump scares, The House games manage to create an effectively creepy atmosphere through their sound and art design, using photos of grungy interiors filtered through a monochromatic lens to make environments through which ghostly shadows flit and dart.
If any of these flash games interested you, be sure to check out DreadXP for more content, and be sure to add Dread X Collection 5 to your wishlist.