Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day #21: {Horror games}

Not that I do much research in these posts - 30 posts in 30 days may have stretched the limits of my ambition - but in the brief space of time that I did spend looking up stuff for this post it became very clear that I was under-prepared to write it. But, here it goes, with one caveat, this isn't a list of "the top horror games" it's horror games which I enjoyed.
So, no, Resident Evil is not here. Why? Because I have no love for Resident Evil, I tolerated the first one's scurrying about looking for crests and sh*t to open doors while listening to the weird moaning sounds of the zombies, and while there was tension there it was on the 'frustrating' side rather than the 'challenging' side of things.
I did like Resident Evil 2 though. Maybe it just got me at a better time, but it was a good game.
But after that the franchise lost me with its, by about the time "Resident Evil: Dead Aim" came out it wasn't a franchise worth following. OK, it might have picked up after that, but I never really played it again. I picked up 'Resident Evil 4' (Fun fact: there are 11 'Resident Evil' games between 'Resident Evil 2' and 'Resident Evil 4') and it was a decent game, but not enough to get me interested in following the franchise or story again.
Sorry, 'Resident Evil', as much of a corner-stone as you are to horror computer games you bored the sh*t out of me when you had the chance, smooshed that sh*t into the ground with your heel, and no amount of marketing can get me to sniff at it.

Anywho, in no particular order, here are some of my favourite horror games:


Home




Have you ever killed someone? Actually, don't answer that. Not only do I not want the responsibility of knowing, but I also don't think we have that sort of connection where we can confide that sort of stuff, you know? Thanks for understanding! Now as regards to uncertain murders and motives, 'Home' dumps you right into the middle of whatever you might have confessed. Did you kill some one? Are you a murderer? Where are you? What the f**k's with that cellar and the maps and the blood? All questions with uncertain answers in this game, your actions decide the back-story. Creepy as f**k.



The Walking Dead (seasons 1 + 2)


Games are escapist fun! Even games where the player makes the decisions ultimately play along a linear path made to entertain... right? I mean, no one would ever write a game where your poor choices are held against you at every turn by the other characters? And these other characters wouldn't serve as living memorials to your decision, twisting the knife of their feelings and wedging it deeper into you, leaving you cold and alone, struggling to survive in a story where zombies attacks are the least of your worries?
The Walking Dead does just that. If you have a will, this game will wear it down. If you have a heart, this game will break it. It will break it hard.
The story features different characters and settings to those from the tv series, which makes the fact that they can cram more character development and pathos into these games all the more impressive. Seriously, I still can't talk about the ending to season 1.



Left 4 Dead (1 or 2)


"Here's a gun, go shoot some zombies" is an easy concept to think up, quick to sell, but hard to execute. Left 4 Dead's main achievement is in making a ridiculously fun shooter, that it's co-op so you and 3 others can fight hordes of the undead through a series of familiar horror locations makes it a near perfect at it's job. Running, shooting, reloading, running zombies, and special zombie types infesting locations, all swarming in from all directions, cornering you and pushing you to moments of exhausted desperation, before the sweet release of death or a safe room welcomes you inside are all part of every level in this game which rarely lets up on the action.



Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth



Buggy, frustrating in difficulty at times, but it has to be recommended for its effort. So many games ape a Lovecraftian tone, but few really carve those ideas into anything concrete that legitimately feels like the source material. This game does, it's a success in tone and style, creepy, chilling, respectful of the source material without jamming too much in for the sake of showing off. Fans of games and Lovecraft can get behind this as being a standard-bearer which it'd be hard to imagine anyone rivaling.



Limbo




I promised myself that I wouldn't make any party/ broom jokes here, so I'll just say that the closest your back gets to the ground and the flattest you get in this game is when you've died and some dark shadow of a horror has killed you. You, a young child, who wanted nothing more than for some sense or light to arrive in the dark shadows of this game, will see no relief as this platformer moves you through a silhouetted landscape filled with giant spiders, collapsing ground, people who hate you, and brain controlling creatures waiting for you to walk beneath them.


Amnesia: The Dark Descent


Believe it or not, the sensible thing to do before you play this game is to pre-sh*t your pants - it'll save you being surprised by the warmth, odour, and texture of it later.
'Alien Isolation' owes a lot to this game, and this game did it more effectively with a far shorter play time. It has a plot, that I missed due to some whimpering, and an objective which I missed while cowering in one of the games hiding spots, or while running across the room in my house to turn on the lights because who needs to play games with the lights off? That's stupid, I'll turn them on if I want to, f**k you!



Among The Sleep


Hey, you play a toddler, and your adorable teddy friend acts as your guide! Super cute! Right?
WRONG! Pre-sh*t your pants! Do it now to establish a trend! Or if you get caught sh*tting your pants while playing try to pass it off that "the game was so engrossing that you lost yourself in the character of the child and your bowels loosened as your reached some sort of emotional sync".
As with 'Amnesia' a lot of time is spent cowering and hiding, dreading and fearing, just no.



Deadly Premonition



Ending on a slightly lighter note, Deadly Premonition is the Twin Peaks of computer games. It's been described as a "beautiful trainwreck", and it's hard to argue with that description. This game is both a piece of sh*t and deserving of every second of your time that it robs you of. It's a game that has you gunning down trench-coat clad killers in one sequence, distorted version of which stalk you and draw ever-nearer, and in the next scene a wheelchair-bound masked man is having his assistant advise you on the merits of eating a turkey, strawberry jam and cereal sandwich while a whistling carefree soundtrack plays over.
So, yeah, it's a weird one, an acquired taste, but one that rewards as much as it annoys.



Alan Wake



Where Deadly Premonition is a Lynchian fan-ficiton-inspired wet dream, Alan Wake is a Stephen King story without the... ummm, the Stephen King name on the box. I liked this game, It nails the tone of a (good) King novel, the graphics are crisp, it's divided into "episodes" which end with a darkening screen and a familiar song playing in the background like a tv show, and it just moves along at a nice pace. Real effort went into the atmosphere and it pays off in the way that Stephen King doesn't anymore.
Not pant-sh*ttingly scary, but it has some real unnerving spooky moments.



Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines



Vampires, those potentially creepy sh*ts. I mean, who knows what to make of them? Are they sexy, sharp eyed being of immortal seduction? Nosferatu-like freaks skulking in the shadows? Insane monsters whose minds slowly warps over the eternity of their lives? Handsome Socialites?
However you feel about them, this game makes it possible for you to recreate that image and play through an RPG in that style. Seriously, the choices here are staggering! The setting, so well realized! You can walk the streets or stalk them swinging a f**king mallet and sucking the blood out of everything that moves. As many RPGs are there are in the world there is nothing close to this game.

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