This is it guys; the last of week of October! Hallowe’en is in a mere three days! Throughout this month we have been posting one horror article a week, but this week we will be posting two! You lucky devils, getting spoiled again.
We’re calling it ‘Hallowe’ek Horror’…see what we did there?
Todays post is all about celebrating those horror games that don’t get the same recognition as the ‘Resident Evils’, ‘Silent Hills’ and other world famous examples of the genre…many of these games are every bit as good as their more famous siblings, many are even more impressive. Here’s just a small selection of my favourites.
‘Dino Crisis’ (1999)
Ibis Island, 2009. The Secret Operation Raid Team (SORT) has sent an agent, Tom, to investigate a research facility. During the recon mission, he learns that Doctor Edward Kirk, a world-renowned scientist who was reported dead three years ago, is leading a secret weapons project within the facility. SORT sends four agents (Regina, Gail, Rick, and Cooper) to acquire Kirk and return him to custody.
This is the premise behind one of the greatest horror games ever made. Imagine ‘Resident Evil’ meets ‘Jurassic Park’ and you are on the right path. ‘Dino Crisis’ was directed by legendary horror game Director Shinji Mikami who once described it as ‘Panic Horror’ and Mikami was very keen to distance it from his more famous series.
He was correct in doing so as ‘Dino Crisis’ was no clone; it pushed the entire genre forward and brought in some genuine innovations including QTE sequences (what were called “danger events”), the ability for the dinosaurs to hunt Regina down using her blood (this included coming through doors), an invulnerable adversary and booby traps.
You’d be surprised how much more frightening a hunter is when they can (and do) chase you throughout a game world…the raptors do not mess about.
All of these innovations were introduced into the ‘Resident Evil’ series and as a result the ‘Dino Crisis’ games were abandoned after two sequels (that were progressively worse). The first game is often regarded as an experiment for the resi series. One that if it didn’t pay off wouldn’t hurt the franchise…a real shame as this game offers some very real scares and a tense atmosphere of dread.
Play this game, any way you can!
‘The Thing’ (2002)
Base on the 1982 movie of the same name comes this 2002 PS2 game from Computer Artworks and although may look like your standard third-person, squad based shooter; delve deeper and you will find a survival horror that is utterly unique.
The game employs a NPC system that is deeper than any other squad-based action game I can think of. There are three classes for them; medics, soldiers and engineers – you need a team that has one of each at all times; you cannot let them die. Sounds easy doesn’t it?
Not so easy. The game employs an infection mechanic; although they are scripted to get infected at specific points to further the narrative they can and will get infected prior to this pre-determined point. This leads into the games other major mechanic the trust/fear system.
This has four levels red, amber, green and 100%. This level dictates how they will act around you; 100% they’ll obey all orders but let it drop (by not healing them, giving them ammo etc) and they’ll behave differently…they’ll start suspecting you as the titular ‘thing’. If you do nothing to stop their descent into madness they’ll enter “crack-up” state and go mental, killing you, your team mates and themselves. You must be on the watch for any signs they don’t trust you. Or worse. It creates an overwhelming sense of fear and suspicion that is unavoidable. It’ll play on your nerves and tire you out emotionally.
‘System shock 2’ (1999)
Remember those bits of ‘Bioshock’ that had you on the edge of your seat with it’s flashing lights, glimpses of enemies and terrifying sounds all combining to make you near poop yourself? Imagine that spread over a 12 hour campaign…
…what you are imaging is’ System Shock 2′! Ken Levine’s magnum opus.
This game marries first-person shooting with survival horror and action RPG to great effect. You are trying to single-handedly stop a genetic infection aboard a spaceship and stop the AI ‘Goddess’ SHODAN.
What makes ‘System Shock 2’ so terrifying though is the relentless, pessimistic atmosphere that is consistently building your expectations and fear. The ship is strewn with corpses, other evidence of a massacre and ghostly apparitions. The game also goes to great lengths in ensuring you know that you are the only living human left on the ship…this sense of isolation is conducive to an absolutely terrifying scenario that was unrivaled until ‘Alien: Isolation’ this year. The combat also rewards planning and strategy rather than twitch skills…taking the player out of their comfort zone and making them adapt to the situation in front of them.
You will never relax.
‘Deadly Premonition’ (2010)
Swery’s polarising masterpiece is a game that is as horrifying as it hilarious!
Welcome to ‘Deadly Premonition’!
Cast as Special Agent Francis York Morgan you must investigate the ‘Raincoat Killer’ in a town called Greenvale. Marrying open-world sandbox gameplay with survival horror was a risk, but it works, everyone has their own routines and you can literally follow them around and watch their day. So far, so not terrifying.
At times the player will have an encounter with the ‘Raincoat Killer’ and this will kick start the horror! You may have to complete a QTE, a chase or a hiding sequence to survive…these are seemingly at random and it makes every encounter a tense affair as you wait to see what your fate is…and it works!
When we couple this with the ‘other world’ that constantly affects Greenvale we create a very ‘Silent hill’ atmosphere that is terrifying. Night-time is something to fear in ‘Deadly Premonition’ – it’s like being a child, out of your depth and hoping mum and dad come home soon…like a child everything is ridiculously light hearted and it has an effect on you! Everything is questioned and you start to suspect everyone.
Well done SWERY!
There we have a small collection of horror games that are oft-forgotten! Have we left out your favourite? Tell us in the comments below guys!