We’ve been doing for three years and can’t imagine a better group of ghouls to be writing for. Here’s lookin’ at you, kids. In honor of this most terrifying holiday, we here at OSG1 have put together a special Halloween edition of our little blog publication. What follows is a no-holds-barred selection of a handful of our favorite horror games – strategy or otherwise – cherry-picked from varying genres such as old-school Point-and-Click, Adventure / Survival, 3rd Person and FPS. Read on, if you dare.
Horror video games can be all over the place – hit or miss – and although the majority either swear by this genre or hate it, it’s nigh impossible to ignore it altogether. It’s not difficult to understand why people dig this shit, though, as the video game medium has evolved into absurdly exaggerated spectacles mainly due to its humble beginnings, and now, dual and quad-core PC/ console hardware makes it possible to deliver subtle and sophisticated facial animation (think LA Noire). Thing is, when this cool shit was the stuff of dreams, we interacted with faces in a simplistic yet even more satisfying manner – think Phantasmagoria (which scared the ever loving shit out of me as a kid). I probably don’t have to tell my fellow OSG1’ers that human nature revels in violence, sex, and the awesomeness that is sexy violence, however, it is fear that fires up those neurons with an even greater frenzy. Fight or flight. Play or pussy out.
Without further ado, let’s get on to the scary shit. Each of these titles had us either quivering in a ball whispering “make it stop, mommy!” or drove each of us temporarily insane with murdurous visions of murder. Filling our brains and expanding into every neuron our brains contain. Each game in this list takes a different approach to horror, some slapstick and some dark and psychological – but they were all compelling enough to be considered fun and compelling. That’s something we think all gamers, horror fans or not, will appreciate.
1. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (Point and click – 1995)
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (IHNM) was originally adapted from a short story of the same name by elusively controversial Sci-Fi writer Harlan Ellison. Although the game is old-school point-and-click adventure, it’s by far the most seminal of the four in my opinion. The game showed how high-level graphics and nuanced facial expressions were wholly unnecessary in creating deep-seated terror in a gamer through psychologically unsettling storytelling. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, where Allied Master Computer (AM) AI built by the superpowers (USA, Russia, and China) to fight the war for them has all but wiped out the human race. If you’re thinking Terminator sounds awfully similar, you’re not along – Ellison has actually accused James Cameron of ripping off his story that went on to be one of the best sci-fi films of all time. Play it.
2. Silent Hill 2 (Adventure – 2001)
Silent Hill 2 is in a horror league all its own. It is arguably the smartest horror title of the 2000s and easily the best of the Silent Hill series. Unlike its peers, which I actually really dug when I first played it ten years ago, Silent Hill franchise doesn’t pile on zombies and flesh-eating creatures that you need to battle through. Instead it delivers the most impressive psychological horror experience ever seen in a video game, on par with my longtime-favorite Phantasmagoria. When you fire up Silent Hill 2, player becomes Harry Mason who visits the town of the same name when he gets news that his old lady (wife) Mary has passed away. This is when shit gets real – think Groundhog Day, but in hell. The days aren’t repeating – it’s even worse – once you enter the house, Harry becomes physically cut off from the rest of the world while evil creatures lurk outside the grounds of the house. We find out that the world Harry is in, is his own mind, created by the fears and insecurities deep inside his psyche. It’s some deeply scary shit, and happens to be eerily accurate with how human nature functions, if not a bit hyperbolic. I mean, everyone has insecurities, but when was the last time your fear of a homeless dude approaching your car caused nightmares? Don’t answer that.
3. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Survival Horror – 2010)
And we’ve arrived in the present. It’s mostly agreed on by fans of Amnesia: The Dark Descent to classify the title as a First-Person survival adventure – player is Daniel. As Daniel, you’ve been either rufied or tricked or otherwise demonically-mindwiped, waking up in a castle-of-horrors with no explanation. The game is tits for fans of both old-school Point-and-Click Adventure and younger kittens who dig 2010-and-up Survival Horror games. Think of Momento – yeah, the one with Guy Pierce – you find yourself exploring the castle to discover clues about yourself as well as the ancient evil that resides there. The exploration mechanics combine nicely with the Survival Horror aspects of the title. As you move through, demons drain your sanity whenever you are in the dark – and the only real way to maintain a grip on reality is to remain in the light and away from the fiends chasing you. Think of them as vampires, but less nice. The coolest (or shittiest) part is that Player has zero weapons. That’s right. It makes the progression abso-fuckin-lutely terrifying. Cool UI design like limited lighting make the game fun and beautiful to look at. When you aren’t crying blood, that is.
We hope this mini-guide helps you on your path to demonic and Hallo-rific enlightenment. If you aren’t completely wasted this Hallow’s Eve, jump on your PC like the dedicated intro-gamer your mother wanted you to be and scare yourself silly with one of these titles. If you don’t – well – we have a contract with Freddy. You’re already being watched. Happy Halloween!