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Found 63 results

  1. If you're looking for something you might have missed in the horror game genre, one of the more obscure coming out for this Halloween takes the form of The Witch's House MV, a remake of an RPG Maker game originally released in 2012. The Witch's House follows in the footsteps of Japanese RPG horror RPGs that were more common back in the 16-bit days before Resident Evil reshaped the genre forever. Expect tons of creepy puzzles, unnerving dialogue, and a more freakish tone than one might expect from an retro indie pixel affair. The Witch's House tells the story of a young girl who awakens in the middle of a forest with no memories and finds herself drawn toward the titular house. Inside, she finds many insidious and deadly traps, strange denizens, and an engaging mystery that pulls players inexorably into the inky heart of the witch's abode. Developer Frummy, who returned with a small team to remake the original work, explained the effort that went into the remake, "I’m happy to announce that we’re finally ready to release the game. The Witch’s House MV is an RPG Maker MV remake of the original game, which was released back in 2012. We remade all the graphics, including map tiles and character sprites, and worked hard to enhance the atmosphere and 2D beauty in The Witch’s House. It took us five times as many hours to create this version, but we feel like we’ve finally managed to satisfy ourselves." Those looking for more from the remake need not fear (or maybe they need fear extra?) - there's a new difficulty mode that promises to challenge even the most hardy of horror fanatics. Unlocked by reaching The Witch's House's true ending, players can go through the game again with challenges that all but assure a grueling and gruesome slog full of unexpected death and decay. Frummy also hinted that the new difficulty mode might unlock some new elements of the story for those who brave its challenges. The Witch's House MV releases October 31 for PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. If you're looking for something you might have missed in the horror game genre, one of the more obscure coming out for this Halloween takes the form of The Witch's House MV, a remake of an RPG Maker game originally released in 2012. The Witch's House follows in the footsteps of Japanese RPG horror RPGs that were more common back in the 16-bit days before Resident Evil reshaped the genre forever. Expect tons of creepy puzzles, unnerving dialogue, and a more freakish tone than one might expect from an retro indie pixel affair. The Witch's House tells the story of a young girl who awakens in the middle of a forest with no memories and finds herself drawn toward the titular house. Inside, she finds many insidious and deadly traps, strange denizens, and an engaging mystery that pulls players inexorably into the inky heart of the witch's abode. Developer Frummy, who returned with a small team to remake the original work, explained the effort that went into the remake, "I’m happy to announce that we’re finally ready to release the game. The Witch’s House MV is an RPG Maker MV remake of the original game, which was released back in 2012. We remade all the graphics, including map tiles and character sprites, and worked hard to enhance the atmosphere and 2D beauty in The Witch’s House. It took us five times as many hours to create this version, but we feel like we’ve finally managed to satisfy ourselves." Those looking for more from the remake need not fear (or maybe they need fear extra?) - there's a new difficulty mode that promises to challenge even the most hardy of horror fanatics. Unlocked by reaching The Witch's House's true ending, players can go through the game again with challenges that all but assure a grueling and gruesome slog full of unexpected death and decay. Frummy also hinted that the new difficulty mode might unlock some new elements of the story for those who brave its challenges. The Witch's House MV releases October 31 for PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. Frictional Games, the developers behind Penumbra and Soma, have released a free update for their most famous title to date. Amnesia: The Dark Descent revolutionized horror with its physics-based gameplay and use of tension to make it feel like an ominous presence constantly pursues the player as they progress through a haunted castle. It was so successful that the classic first-person horror game changed the way games handled horror for years. The update adds a hard mode to the game for veterans looking for a new experience while replaying their dark descent. The hard mode disables autosaves, but don't worry! Players can still save - in exchange for four tinderboxes, the items that allow players to light the very important torches that illuminate the environment and restore sanity. In hard mode, dropping to zero sanity will kill the player. There will also be fewer tinderboxes and oil refills. Monsters will be faster, more alert, stronger, and more persistent when it comes time for them to hunt. And those hunts? They'll be more dangerous than ever with the removal of music cues announcing their presence.... If you're planning on conquering that hard mode, good luck. Since its initial announcement last week for traditional PCs and Xbox One, the update has been slowly extended across other platforms like Mac and Linux. Currently, Frictional has partnered with Blit Works to bring the mode to PlayStation 4 in the near future. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  4. Frictional Games, the developers behind Penumbra and Soma, have released a free update for their most famous title to date. Amnesia: The Dark Descent revolutionized horror with its physics-based gameplay and use of tension to make it feel like an ominous presence constantly pursues the player as they progress through a haunted castle. It was so successful that the classic first-person horror game changed the way games handled horror for years. The update adds a hard mode to the game for veterans looking for a new experience while replaying their dark descent. The hard mode disables autosaves, but don't worry! Players can still save - in exchange for four tinderboxes, the items that allow players to light the very important torches that illuminate the environment and restore sanity. In hard mode, dropping to zero sanity will kill the player. There will also be fewer tinderboxes and oil refills. Monsters will be faster, more alert, stronger, and more persistent when it comes time for them to hunt. And those hunts? They'll be more dangerous than ever with the removal of music cues announcing their presence.... If you're planning on conquering that hard mode, good luck. Since its initial announcement last week for traditional PCs and Xbox One, the update has been slowly extended across other platforms like Mac and Linux. Currently, Frictional has partnered with Blit Works to bring the mode to PlayStation 4 in the near future. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  5. The GameCube launched amid a wave of enthusiasm for a next-gen Nintendo console. The star of the launch line-up of games was a quirky little title by the name of Luigi's Mansion, the first game starring Luigi since the dud Mario Is Missing. With fluid animations and a fun ghostbusting mechanic, the horror-lite game became one of the biggest hits for the system. So, does Luigi's Mansion hold up well today? Is it one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Super Mario World 'Turning Terrors' by AeroZ (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01760) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  6. The GameCube launched amid a wave of enthusiasm for a next-gen Nintendo console. The star of the launch line-up of games was a quirky little title by the name of Luigi's Mansion, the first game starring Luigi since the dud Mario Is Missing. With fluid animations and a fun ghostbusting mechanic, the horror-lite game became one of the biggest hits for the system. So, does Luigi's Mansion hold up well today? Is it one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Super Mario World 'Turning Terrors' by AeroZ (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01760) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  7. Jack Gardner

    The Best Games Period - Episode 113 - P.T.

    Ephemeral, like the spooky apparition that froze the blood of players in-game, P.T. was here for a while and faded into the ether, killed by Konami. However, its memory lives on in the hearts of fans who rabidly unraveled its secrets and jealously guarded prized hard drives containing the game that is no more. Some even set out to completely remake the horror game from scratch, despite Konami taking down such projects, leading to full retail titles releasing with P.T. hiding in their DNA. But was it even a game? What was P.T.? With that question looming large over the discussion, can P.T. be considered one of the best games of all-time? Outro music: Silent Hill 'Nay Tomorrow' by Tamimi (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR00756) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  8. Ephemeral, like the spooky apparition that froze the blood of players in-game, P.T. was here for a while and faded into the ether, killed by Konami. However, its memory lives on in the hearts of fans who rabidly unraveled its secrets and jealously guarded prized hard drives containing the game that is no more. Some even set out to completely remake the horror game from scratch, despite Konami taking down such projects, leading to full retail titles releasing with P.T. hiding in their DNA. But was it even a game? What was P.T.? With that question looming large over the discussion, can P.T. be considered one of the best games of all-time? Outro music: Silent Hill 'Nay Tomorrow' by Tamimi (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR00756) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  9. The sequel to the Russian cult classic has donned its plague mask and begun its final march toward release. Pathologic 2 gives players twelve days to explore its mysterious and creepy open world, a land stricken with a deadly disease. While the people who reside there have become ever more paranoid and prone to extreme reactions to newcomers, something about the outbreak seems to have attracted the attention of otherworldly entities. The society presented in-game will almost certainly collapse, leaving players to navigate its ruins. Do you look out for everyone you meet or blaze your own violent trail? Either way, one of the core tenants of Pathologic 2 is a simple phrase: You can't save everyone. There will be unwinnable challenges to face where every choice brings with it a bitter downside. A variety of mysteries invite players to investigate. Uncover why your father, the town's chief doctor, was murdered and who killed him. There's also someone who might possibly be your twin who seems to be mixed up in the outbreak somehow. And as the adults join gangs and begin spreading death in their own ways, the town's children seem to be acting strangely.... Developer Ice-Pick Lodge will be showing the alpha version of Pathologic 2 at PAX West at the end of the month to those who attend the show. If you're interested in trying the game for yourself, you can sign up for alpha participation on the game's website. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  10. The sequel to the Russian cult classic has donned its plague mask and begun its final march toward release. Pathologic 2 gives players twelve days to explore its mysterious and creepy open world, a land stricken with a deadly disease. While the people who reside there have become ever more paranoid and prone to extreme reactions to newcomers, something about the outbreak seems to have attracted the attention of otherworldly entities. The society presented in-game will almost certainly collapse, leaving players to navigate its ruins. Do you look out for everyone you meet or blaze your own violent trail? Either way, one of the core tenants of Pathologic 2 is a simple phrase: You can't save everyone. There will be unwinnable challenges to face where every choice brings with it a bitter downside. A variety of mysteries invite players to investigate. Uncover why your father, the town's chief doctor, was murdered and who killed him. There's also someone who might possibly be your twin who seems to be mixed up in the outbreak somehow. And as the adults join gangs and begin spreading death in their own ways, the town's children seem to be acting strangely.... Developer Ice-Pick Lodge will be showing the alpha version of Pathologic 2 at PAX West at the end of the month to those who attend the show. If you're interested in trying the game for yourself, you can sign up for alpha participation on the game's website. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  11. Elijah Wood's company SpectreVision reminded everyone at E3 that their strange VR project Transference still exists and will be releasing later this year. While we didn't know much about it when it debuted in 2017, this year's showing revealed quite a bit about the game Wood described as a darkly twisted psychological thriller. Transference will tell the story of the unfortunate Hayes family whose minds have been linked by an experiment conducted by the father, Raymond Hayes. Players will flit between the three consciousnesses to see the perspective of each family member, but it rapidly becomes apparent that the data, their memories, are corrupted - and there's something else stalking through their minds. The darkly unsettling narrative hopes to achieve a disturbing atmosphere at least in part with its blended use of live-action and digital scenes. That's still not a ton of information to go on, but we will certainly learn more when Transference launches this fall for VR devices (PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) and the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sans VR.
  12. Elijah Wood's company SpectreVision reminded everyone at E3 that their strange VR project Transference still exists and will be releasing later this year. While we didn't know much about it when it debuted in 2017, this year's showing revealed quite a bit about the game Wood described as a darkly twisted psychological thriller. Transference will tell the story of the unfortunate Hayes family whose minds have been linked by an experiment conducted by the father, Raymond Hayes. Players will flit between the three consciousnesses to see the perspective of each family member, but it rapidly becomes apparent that the data, their memories, are corrupted - and there's something else stalking through their minds. The darkly unsettling narrative hopes to achieve a disturbing atmosphere at least in part with its blended use of live-action and digital scenes. That's still not a ton of information to go on, but we will certainly learn more when Transference launches this fall for VR devices (PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) and the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sans VR. View full article
  13. How far would you go to find your missing child with reality shattering around you? In Someday You'll Return, players take on the role of Daniel, a father attempting to track down his daughter, Stela, who ran away and never came home. The trail takes Daniel to a town in the Moravian wilderness tied to his past, a place shrouded in secrets and lies. Those mysteries and nebulous truths take on physical form, confronting and attacking Daniel. Some of those nightmares belong to the residents of the town, but some are born a little closer to home. As Daniel journeys through the Moravian forests (which have all been based on real-world locations in the the Czech Republic), he encounters a variety of off-kilter residents who offer insight into Stela's motivations for repeatedly running away. All of this sounds like there's something more going on behind the scenes - which makes it all the more Silent Hill-like. Someday You'll Return takes place in a first-person perspective and leans hard into psychological horror. However, it also plays more like a modern adventure game along the lines of Firewatch with some light survival elements. It looks interesting and unpredictable - the kind of game where you know there will almost certainly be a twist (or multiple twists), but what exactly that twist might be could be anyone's guess. Someday You'll Return will release sometime in 2019 for PC.
  14. How far would you go to find your missing child with reality shattering around you? In Someday You'll Return, players take on the role of Daniel, a father attempting to track down his daughter, Stela, who ran away and never came home. The trail takes Daniel to a town in the Moravian wilderness tied to his past, a place shrouded in secrets and lies. Those mysteries and nebulous truths take on physical form, confronting and attacking Daniel. Some of those nightmares belong to the residents of the town, but some are born a little closer to home. As Daniel journeys through the Moravian forests (which have all been based on real-world locations in the the Czech Republic), he encounters a variety of off-kilter residents who offer insight into Stela's motivations for repeatedly running away. All of this sounds like there's something more going on behind the scenes - which makes it all the more Silent Hill-like. Someday You'll Return takes place in a first-person perspective and leans hard into psychological horror. However, it also plays more like a modern adventure game along the lines of Firewatch with some light survival elements. It looks interesting and unpredictable - the kind of game where you know there will almost certainly be a twist (or multiple twists), but what exactly that twist might be could be anyone's guess. Someday You'll Return will release sometime in 2019 for PC. View full article
  15. Jack Gardner

    Review: The Forest

    Armed with nothing more than an axe, a few cans of soda, and a paltry supply of medicine, I step out into a new world filled with beauty and horror in equal measure. The island I've found myself stranded on holds glistening ponds rife with exotic fish, fields in which rabbits and squirrels frolic together alongside giant lizards. Crocodiles swim in the lakes and deer cavort in the thickets of the woods. In many ways, this island seems a paradise; that is, until the sun sets and human horrors emerge from the earth. In The Forest, Endnight Games has carefully crafted a vibrant ecosystem in which players become disruptive interlopers and slowly descend, both figuratively and literally, into madness. Players take on the role of Eric Leblanc as he flies on a plane with his son, Timmy, to an unnamed destination. The airplane seems to hit turbulence in the opening scene before crashing violently onto a remote island. As Eric struggles to maintain consciousness, a strange human painted red wades into the wreckage and takes Timmy away. When Eric finally awakens, all he has are the supplies he can scavenge from the plane and its deceased occupants and his will to survive and find Timmy. The Forest becomes a game about survival and discovery after those initial opening minutes. Finding good places to set up camp, creating defensible positions, and developing sustainable ways of harvesting food and water are the absolute priority. To do all of that, players will need to master the crafting system to create structures, upgrades to their gear, and even entirely new pieces of equipment. It might also require some trial and error, as those opening days can be quite risky for a novice player. The biggest danger in The Forest comes at night. You see, for as idyllic and peaceful as the island can seem during the day, it's actually home to several groups of cannibals. They aren't automatically hostile at first, but with time their attitude will shift. This shift happens sooner if the player begins attacking them, building large structures, obstructing their patrol paths, or journeying into their underground catacombs. Once the cannibals become hostile, The Forest slowly ramps up the frequency and strength of their attacks. Players will need to turn to devious traps and fort layouts to keep themselves safe - but always remember that safety is relative in The Forest. As attacks become more potent, players will begin encountering a wider variety of cannibals, like ones that throw Molotov cocktails that can leave a base in flames or bombs that are capable of blowing a hole through your defensive walls. However, cannibals are not the worst thing that can crawl up into the surface world. Nightmarish conglomerations of limbs and heads occasionally roam the wild and catching their attention can prove to be incredibly deadly for the unprepared player. These behemoths can plow through defenses and traps with ease, leaving your carefully constructed bases in tatters. Even worse, they represent the primary threats once players have explored enough of the overworld and begin spelunking into the dark caverns that delve deep into the earth for treasure and resources. The possible treasures that await in the depths of The Forest's caves are certainly worth the risk. Improved axes, components to build explosives, hints at the history of the island and the origins of its twisted population, and gear that enables further exploration of caves can only be found by exploring the various nooks and crannies the cannibals have filled with their trophies and victims. The Forest does something interesting with its pacing and story. It initially hits hard with the horror of cannibalism on full display. Cannibals feast on their downed comrades, their caves and settlements hang bisected bodies and limbs everywhere, and they'll even build horrific displays in the night to mark their territory. However, over time, The Forest pulls a fantastically creepy and insidious slight-of-hand trick: These scenes gradually become mundane, normal - and there's always the option to fall into similar practices. Players can also turn to cannibalism and create effigies to mark their territory, blurring the line between the player and the monsters. Arming players with the ability to participate in cannibalism poses interesting moral questions: How far are you willing to go to survive? Have you really survived if you have abandoned the things that make you human? These questions tie in nicely with The Forest's climax which asks the player how far they have fallen from where they were when the game began. What sacrifice are you willing to make for something you see as yours? The Forest can be tackled solo or in a group with up to eight people playing simultaneously. The solo or duo experience seems more suited to players who value the survival horror experience and are looking for a more focused game. Playing with more than one other person lowers the tension while diving into caves or getting into scraps with groups of cannibals. However, it also makes building large settlements a more attainable goal. I'd encourage everyone to try both modes of play to see what suits their personal tastes best. After four years in Steam's Early Access program, The Forest finally looks great in an optimized state. The lighting effects as the day slowly cycles to night are especially great. Lighting in extreme darkness becomes a major hurdle since, oddly, being in the dark makes it difficult to see. There's no way around this by being crafty with the lighting settings; players simply have to make do with whatever light sources they can find. The all too real danger posed by darkness serves to make plunging into foreboding caves that much more frightening. It also highlights Endnight's impressive use of sound to convey the feel of locations, whether that's the creaking of trees in the woods, the drip of water in damp caves, or the maddened shriek of a blood-crazed creature in the woods calling for reinforcements. Conclusion: Going into The Forest blind and discovering the scope of its world, crafting system, and secrets was a really enjoyable ride through a new entry in the survival horror genre. It manages to toe the line between enjoyable building sim and the horror of monsters lurking in the dark. The story on its own isn't terribly interesting save for an impressive twist leading up to the end that might have been better served with more integration to the wider game. However, the mechanics and presentation of the game tell a story all their own that makes the core narrative stronger by association. At a mere $20, The Forest is a huge steal. I spent over 60 hours in it until I reached the end of the story, but I plan on diving back in with some friends to see what kinds of crazy contraptions and bases we can build in the dangerous wilds. The Forest is currently available for PC and is rumored to have a PlayStation 4 port on the way).
  16. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Review: The Forest

    Armed with nothing more than an axe, a few cans of soda, and a paltry supply of medicine, I step out into a new world filled with beauty and horror in equal measure. The island I've found myself stranded on holds glistening ponds rife with exotic fish, fields in which rabbits and squirrels frolic together alongside giant lizards. Crocodiles swim in the lakes and deer cavort in the thickets of the woods. In many ways, this island seems a paradise; that is, until the sun sets and human horrors emerge from the earth. In The Forest, Endnight Games has carefully crafted a vibrant ecosystem in which players become disruptive interlopers and slowly descend, both figuratively and literally, into madness. Players take on the role of Eric Leblanc as he flies on a plane with his son, Timmy, to an unnamed destination. The airplane seems to hit turbulence in the opening scene before crashing violently onto a remote island. As Eric struggles to maintain consciousness, a strange human painted red wades into the wreckage and takes Timmy away. When Eric finally awakens, all he has are the supplies he can scavenge from the plane and its deceased occupants and his will to survive and find Timmy. The Forest becomes a game about survival and discovery after those initial opening minutes. Finding good places to set up camp, creating defensible positions, and developing sustainable ways of harvesting food and water are the absolute priority. To do all of that, players will need to master the crafting system to create structures, upgrades to their gear, and even entirely new pieces of equipment. It might also require some trial and error, as those opening days can be quite risky for a novice player. The biggest danger in The Forest comes at night. You see, for as idyllic and peaceful as the island can seem during the day, it's actually home to several groups of cannibals. They aren't automatically hostile at first, but with time their attitude will shift. This shift happens sooner if the player begins attacking them, building large structures, obstructing their patrol paths, or journeying into their underground catacombs. Once the cannibals become hostile, The Forest slowly ramps up the frequency and strength of their attacks. Players will need to turn to devious traps and fort layouts to keep themselves safe - but always remember that safety is relative in The Forest. As attacks become more potent, players will begin encountering a wider variety of cannibals, like ones that throw Molotov cocktails that can leave a base in flames or bombs that are capable of blowing a hole through your defensive walls. However, cannibals are not the worst thing that can crawl up into the surface world. Nightmarish conglomerations of limbs and heads occasionally roam the wild and catching their attention can prove to be incredibly deadly for the unprepared player. These behemoths can plow through defenses and traps with ease, leaving your carefully constructed bases in tatters. Even worse, they represent the primary threats once players have explored enough of the overworld and begin spelunking into the dark caverns that delve deep into the earth for treasure and resources. The possible treasures that await in the depths of The Forest's caves are certainly worth the risk. Improved axes, components to build explosives, hints at the history of the island and the origins of its twisted population, and gear that enables further exploration of caves can only be found by exploring the various nooks and crannies the cannibals have filled with their trophies and victims. The Forest does something interesting with its pacing and story. It initially hits hard with the horror of cannibalism on full display. Cannibals feast on their downed comrades, their caves and settlements hang bisected bodies and limbs everywhere, and they'll even build horrific displays in the night to mark their territory. However, over time, The Forest pulls a fantastically creepy and insidious slight-of-hand trick: These scenes gradually become mundane, normal - and there's always the option to fall into similar practices. Players can also turn to cannibalism and create effigies to mark their territory, blurring the line between the player and the monsters. Arming players with the ability to participate in cannibalism poses interesting moral questions: How far are you willing to go to survive? Have you really survived if you have abandoned the things that make you human? These questions tie in nicely with The Forest's climax which asks the player how far they have fallen from where they were when the game began. What sacrifice are you willing to make for something you see as yours? The Forest can be tackled solo or in a group with up to eight people playing simultaneously. The solo or duo experience seems more suited to players who value the survival horror experience and are looking for a more focused game. Playing with more than one other person lowers the tension while diving into caves or getting into scraps with groups of cannibals. However, it also makes building large settlements a more attainable goal. I'd encourage everyone to try both modes of play to see what suits their personal tastes best. After four years in Steam's Early Access program, The Forest finally looks great in an optimized state. The lighting effects as the day slowly cycles to night are especially great. Lighting in extreme darkness becomes a major hurdle since, oddly, being in the dark makes it difficult to see. There's no way around this by being crafty with the lighting settings; players simply have to make do with whatever light sources they can find. The all too real danger posed by darkness serves to make plunging into foreboding caves that much more frightening. It also highlights Endnight's impressive use of sound to convey the feel of locations, whether that's the creaking of trees in the woods, the drip of water in damp caves, or the maddened shriek of a blood-crazed creature in the woods calling for reinforcements. Conclusion: Going into The Forest blind and discovering the scope of its world, crafting system, and secrets was a really enjoyable ride through a new entry in the survival horror genre. It manages to toe the line between enjoyable building sim and the horror of monsters lurking in the dark. The story on its own isn't terribly interesting save for an impressive twist leading up to the end that might have been better served with more integration to the wider game. However, the mechanics and presentation of the game tell a story all their own that makes the core narrative stronger by association. At a mere $20, The Forest is a huge steal. I spent over 60 hours in it until I reached the end of the story, but I plan on diving back in with some friends to see what kinds of crazy contraptions and bases we can build in the dangerous wilds. The Forest is currently available for PC and is rumored to have a PlayStation 4 port on the way). View full article
  17. Space is a pretty dangerous place. One wrong button press, one miscalculated trajectory and you could find yourself floating home. Sleepless Clinic's Symmetry wants to explore that bone-chilling scenario. Players manage a crew of space scientists as they struggle to survive after a catastrophic crash-landing on a distant planet. The end goal of the game is to escape the planet and return home. However, that goal becomes increasingly difficult to achieve as characters begin to suffer the effects of their situation. Hunger will begin to plague the crew eventually. Mental trauma from the crash will slowly seep in. Tasks will need to be completed that these researchers were never trained to accomplish. Players will have to balance all of the needs of individuals against the needs of the group as a whole. All of this set on a remote world with a hostile atmosphere. And all of that isn't even taking into account the deadly supernatural terrors that exist on the planet. Symmetry releases on February 20 for PC. View full article
  18. Space is a pretty dangerous place. One wrong button press, one miscalculated trajectory and you could find yourself floating home. Sleepless Clinic's Symmetry wants to explore that bone-chilling scenario. Players manage a crew of space scientists as they struggle to survive after a catastrophic crash-landing on a distant planet. The end goal of the game is to escape the planet and return home. However, that goal becomes increasingly difficult to achieve as characters begin to suffer the effects of their situation. Hunger will begin to plague the crew eventually. Mental trauma from the crash will slowly seep in. Tasks will need to be completed that these researchers were never trained to accomplish. Players will have to balance all of the needs of individuals against the needs of the group as a whole. All of this set on a remote world with a hostile atmosphere. And all of that isn't even taking into account the deadly supernatural terrors that exist on the planet. Symmetry releases on February 20 for PC.
  19. Happy Halloween everyone! It's that wonderful time of the year when we grab a bowl of candy, kick back, and try to scare the pants off of ourselves. In the spirit of the holiday, we've put together a list of some effective horror games that will chill, thrill, and fill you with dread. Most of you are probably familiar with the Alien: Isolations, the Amnesias, the Outlasts, and more of the horror giants that dominate the genre, so this list will be made up of some of the lesser-known titles that still manage to hold some surprises. Without further ado, here's your definitive list of interesting indie horror games presented in no particular order! Duskers If there is one lesson that the movie Alien taught us it is that few things are as scary as average joes just trying to survive in space. Duskers takes that premise and runs with it in a gripping, survival horror roguelike. As a lone salvage operator using technology that would be right at home in a 70s sci-fi film, players must attempt to eek out a living by investigating wrecked ships. However, those ships can only be explored and salvaged using remote controlled drones. Players need to juggle the control of the drones with hacking into the wreck's systems and also avoiding the unknown terrors that lurk in the bowels of these seemingly abandoned vessels. As it progresses a mystery slowly unfolds in the form of corrupted ship logs and strange environments. Meanwhile, dangers threaten to kill off the drones, the only tools available to sustain the player. Drones must be controlled by typing and hopping between them can be an absorbing task. The tension and learning curve created by the purposefully clunky retro interface lends itself to the horror - it really does feel like you're watching as your drones are taken out one by one with hope fading as each one goes offline. Duskers is available on PC. The Last Door Are you a fan of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos? Do you have a soft sport for the works of Edgar Allen Poe? The Last Door draws upon both of those giants in the realm of literature to create its own rich contribution to the horror genre. The Game Kitchen, the devs behind The Last Door, have actually created two seasons of this niche horror title, each consisting of four episodes. The first season follows the investigation of Jeremiah Devitt after he receives a letter from an old school friend and journeys to visit - only to find that an insidious force is at work and seems to be targeting his old associates. The second season serves as a direct sequel to the first, but to explain more would be to provide spoilers. While The Last Door certainly possesses some shortcomings commonly associated with retro adventure games, the journey and surprising effectiveness of its growing sense of dread are well worth the effort to overcome the game design obstacles that occasionally rear their heads. The Last Door Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Andorid, iOS, and PC, both as standalone collections and in-browser. Lone Survivor Lone Survivor released back in 2012 as a side-scrolling survival horror title. It attempts to walk the line between stealth and combat while painting a gruesome, engrossing world that constantly invites the player to question the sanity of the protagonist and the veracity of the world. The story centers on a nameless man in a surgical mask who must survive in a monster-filled apartment complex with no apparent logic to its construction. Players explore the world, encountering baffling characters and disturbing scenes. The game isn't so much a tour de force journey as it is a lengthy soak in madness. Its atmosphere has a darkly hypnotic effect that beckons players into Lone Survivor's twisted depths. It can take a little while to feel the title's hooks, but give it a chance in good faith and Lone Survivor will reward persistence. Lone Survivor is available on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and Wii U. OverBlood We've talked about OverBlood before. To be honest, it probably doesn't belong on this list because it simply isn't that scary by today's standards. What it lacks in spine-tingling thrills, OverBlood more than makes up for in sheer entertainment value as a so-bad-its-good game. Admittedly, people who enjoy playing games that are so bad they transcend badness and come back around to being worth playing represent a very, very niche group. But, if that's the kind of thing that you're looking for - the Troll 2 of video games - OverBlood definitely possesses the hapless charm necessary for a great night of failed scares and amazing character moments. OverBlood tells the story of Raz Karcy, a man jettisoned from cryo containment only to find that he was never supposed to wake up. Mysteries unfold and friendships form as he begins to explore a seemingly abandoned research facility. OverBlood is available on the PlayStation One and PSN. The Forest While The Forest has been available for several years now, it is unique on this list in that it remains in Early Access on Steam. While many might be put off by the mere association of Early Access-ness, The Forest has both come a long way since its initial release and offers a unique horror experience. Players take on the role of a man who survives a plane crash on a remote island only to find that his son has been kidnapped by the cannibals that inhabit the island's underground caves and come out to hunt at night. A pretty straightforward set up, right? Things get complicated by the fact that The Forest is an open world crafting/survival game at heart. Players will need to survive in the wilderness, construct a base of operations, and learn to survive the hair-raising night attacks by the island's blood thirsty humans. The result plays like a fusion between Outlast and Minecraft. In fact, it's entirely possible to succumb to the island's ways and become a cannibal yourself and abandon the central rescue mission. I don't hear The Forest talked about much, but if you are put off by the fact that it remains in Early Access, keep an eye out for it to officially release sometime in the near future. The Forest is currently available in Early Access on PC and will be coming to PlayStation 4. View full article
  20. Happy Halloween everyone! It's that wonderful time of the year when we grab a bowl of candy, kick back, and try to scare the pants off of ourselves. In the spirit of the holiday, we've put together a list of some effective horror games that will chill, thrill, and fill you with dread. Most of you are probably familiar with the Alien: Isolations, the Amnesias, the Outlasts, and more of the horror giants that dominate the genre, so this list will be made up of some of the lesser-known titles that still manage to hold some surprises. Without further ado, here's your definitive list of interesting indie horror games presented in no particular order! Duskers If there is one lesson that the movie Alien taught us it is that few things are as scary as average joes just trying to survive in space. Duskers takes that premise and runs with it in a gripping, survival horror roguelike. As a lone salvage operator using technology that would be right at home in a 70s sci-fi film, players must attempt to eek out a living by investigating wrecked ships. However, those ships can only be explored and salvaged using remote controlled drones. Players need to juggle the control of the drones with hacking into the wreck's systems and also avoiding the unknown terrors that lurk in the bowels of these seemingly abandoned vessels. As it progresses a mystery slowly unfolds in the form of corrupted ship logs and strange environments. Meanwhile, dangers threaten to kill off the drones, the only tools available to sustain the player. Drones must be controlled by typing and hopping between them can be an absorbing task. The tension and learning curve created by the purposefully clunky retro interface lends itself to the horror - it really does feel like you're watching as your drones are taken out one by one with hope fading as each one goes offline. Duskers is available on PC. The Last Door Are you a fan of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos? Do you have a soft sport for the works of Edgar Allen Poe? The Last Door draws upon both of those giants in the realm of literature to create its own rich contribution to the horror genre. The Game Kitchen, the devs behind The Last Door, have actually created two seasons of this niche horror title, each consisting of four episodes. The first season follows the investigation of Jeremiah Devitt after he receives a letter from an old school friend and journeys to visit - only to find that an insidious force is at work and seems to be targeting his old associates. The second season serves as a direct sequel to the first, but to explain more would be to provide spoilers. While The Last Door certainly possesses some shortcomings commonly associated with retro adventure games, the journey and surprising effectiveness of its growing sense of dread are well worth the effort to overcome the game design obstacles that occasionally rear their heads. The Last Door Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Andorid, iOS, and PC, both as standalone collections and in-browser. Lone Survivor Lone Survivor released back in 2012 as a side-scrolling survival horror title. It attempts to walk the line between stealth and combat while painting a gruesome, engrossing world that constantly invites the player to question the sanity of the protagonist and the veracity of the world. The story centers on a nameless man in a surgical mask who must survive in a monster-filled apartment complex with no apparent logic to its construction. Players explore the world, encountering baffling characters and disturbing scenes. The game isn't so much a tour de force journey as it is a lengthy soak in madness. Its atmosphere has a darkly hypnotic effect that beckons players into Lone Survivor's twisted depths. It can take a little while to feel the title's hooks, but give it a chance in good faith and Lone Survivor will reward persistence. Lone Survivor is available on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and Wii U. OverBlood We've talked about OverBlood before. To be honest, it probably doesn't belong on this list because it simply isn't that scary by today's standards. What it lacks in spine-tingling thrills, OverBlood more than makes up for in sheer entertainment value as a so-bad-its-good game. Admittedly, people who enjoy playing games that are so bad they transcend badness and come back around to being worth playing represent a very, very niche group. But, if that's the kind of thing that you're looking for - the Troll 2 of video games - OverBlood definitely possesses the hapless charm necessary for a great night of failed scares and amazing character moments. OverBlood tells the story of Raz Karcy, a man jettisoned from cryo containment only to find that he was never supposed to wake up. Mysteries unfold and friendships form as he begins to explore a seemingly abandoned research facility. OverBlood is available on the PlayStation One and PSN. The Forest While The Forest has been available for several years now, it is unique on this list in that it remains in Early Access on Steam. While many might be put off by the mere association of Early Access-ness, The Forest has both come a long way since its initial release and offers a unique horror experience. Players take on the role of a man who survives a plane crash on a remote island only to find that his son has been kidnapped by the cannibals that inhabit the island's underground caves and come out to hunt at night. A pretty straightforward set up, right? Things get complicated by the fact that The Forest is an open world crafting/survival game at heart. Players will need to survive in the wilderness, construct a base of operations, and learn to survive the hair-raising night attacks by the island's blood thirsty humans. The result plays like a fusion between Outlast and Minecraft. In fact, it's entirely possible to succumb to the island's ways and become a cannibal yourself and abandon the central rescue mission. I don't hear The Forest talked about much, but if you are put off by the fact that it remains in Early Access, keep an eye out for it to officially release sometime in the near future. The Forest is currently available in Early Access on PC and will be coming to PlayStation 4.
  21. It's almost Halloween! In honor of the scariest of holidays, we tackle Frictional Games' landmark horror title Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Developed by a small team that had previously created the Penumbra series, Amnesia: The Dark Descent released in 2010 arguably creating the biggest waves in the waning horror genre since the release of the original Resident Evil. It featured Daniel, an amnesiac who awakens in a gloomy castle with a note from his past self urging him to make his way to the heart of the castle complex while avoiding a malevolent entity bent on his destruction. It possessed no combat mechanics, instead purposefully disempowering players, encouraging them to run and hide from the various dangers throughout Castle Brennenburg. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Splatterhouse 3 'Call of the Mask' by Beckett007 (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01772) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  22. It's almost Halloween! In honor of the scariest of holidays, we tackle Frictional Games' landmark horror title Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Developed by a small team that had previously created the Penumbra series, Amnesia: The Dark Descent released in 2010 arguably creating the biggest waves in the waning horror genre since the release of the original Resident Evil. It featured Daniel, an amnesiac who awakens in a gloomy castle with a note from his past self urging him to make his way to the heart of the castle complex while avoiding a malevolent entity bent on his destruction. It possessed no combat mechanics, instead purposefully disempowering players, encouraging them to run and hide from the various dangers throughout Castle Brennenburg. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Splatterhouse 3 'Call of the Mask' by Beckett007 (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01772) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  23. Jack Gardner

    Review: Outlast 2

    Horror films hold onto the golden rule: Never show the monster early. You can see it flit about in the shadows; the camera can linger for a while on a pair of glowing eyes as something stalks the protagonist; but never display the monster if you are trying to build the tension and subtle horror that lies beyond jump scares. Outlast 2 revels in shoving players face-first into the most awful things it can think of as if to say, "Isn't that gross and weird? ARE YOU SCARED NOW?" Its lack of nuance represents a step backward for Red Barrels. Red Barrels greeted the world with Outlast back in 2013. The horror title received acclaim for its tense structure and story line that slowly descended into madness. Players were pulled into the world of a seemingly abandoned asylum as seen through the eyes of an intrepid journalist. Combat was nonexistent, meaning players could only run and hide from the various antagonists they encountered. The fact that the asylum housed all manner of inmates led to a very interesting, deliberate grey area when it came to horror. Some inmates would become hostile, others would not. This resulted in tense moments, fueled by a fear of the unknown. Those moments of uncertainty, when constrained within the linear story and structure of Outlast, represented some of its best attempts at horror. Outlast 2 tells the story of Blake Langermann, a journalist and camera man, who works with his journalist partner and wife, Lynn. Together, they decide to pursue a story about the mysterious murder of a pregnant woman in a desolate region of Arizona. As they fly above the region in a helicopter, a mechanical failure causes the chopper to go down, stranding the both of them in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, the two of them have fallen into the middle of a conflict between two opposing cults who believe Lynn holds the keys to the end of the world. Blake sets off to rescue Lynn and escape the manic cult members. Outlast 2 moved away from the more interesting, murky elements of horror. Instead, it commits to subjecting the player to gruesome scenes and scenarios – shock horror. These certainly make for an uncomfortable experience, but they lack the subtlety and pacing of its predecessor or the gold standard of modern, defenseless horror, Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Several things contribute to making Outlast 2 a grueling slog to play through: world structure, how players progress through the setting, and what makes for good horror. A large portion of Outlast 2 takes place in the outdoors. You would think that this would make for an interesting dynamic; many horror games thrive on a tightly controlled, linear structure, but taking place without physical barriers seems to fly right in the face of that. The situation seems like a great opportunity to reinvent the horror genre with a more open world approach to design. Despite having access to the open air, Outlast 2 keeps to a more traditional structure, a perfectly sound, reasonable decision. Unfortunately, the implementation of this structure hurts more than helps. It ends up creating confusion in Outlast 2’s perpetual darkness. Outlast 2 wants players to run in specific directions to specific areas in the dead of night with only a grainy camcorder to reveal the way. Ideally, the design of the world would usher players in those desired directions, toward those important areas. Too often, Outlast 2 drops the ball and becomes a confusing, frustrating exercise in trial and error in the woods and fields. In pushing stealth and hiding as the main mechanic, Outlast 2’s design leads to players avoid the obvious routes and stick to the outskirts of any given area – until they are forced into those pathways, which triggers enemy aggression. If this is the approach the game wants to take, why bother having open, outdoor segments at all? Players are often given no time to learn an area, no time to strategize – unless they die repeatedly to scout out the proper route. This has the effect of reducing the horror as players become more familiar with any given area, something that should be the exact opposite of what the developers want players to experience. Outlast 2 seems to be strangely aware of this deficiency, however. To counter these more open, frustrating segments, the game puts players through cutscenes and areas of minimal interactivity that deal with highly uncomfortable and twisted scenarios, like living through a crucifixion. Doubtlessly this approach will appeal to some in the horror community, but I personally found it desensitizing after a while. That desensitization, that cheapening of the horror inherent in Outlast 2’s violence might just be the title’s biggest problem. Instead of leaving the player to feel a growing dread or an uncertainty about their surroundings, Outlast 2 opts to try going bigger and more horrible the farther that players progress. This immediately becomes a problem because Outlast 2’s starting point begins at what might in other games be part of the horror highlight reel. Within the first hour players encounter a pit of dead children, tortured people in cages, ritualistic killings, sexual assault, and more. Where else can the game go from there? It turns out that it can go quite a few places, but the staged scenes intended to shock the player become less scary and more of a grueling chore than anything else. And that’s a shame, because the story of Outlast 2 might be one of the best things it has going for it. Repressed memories, working through trauma, how people live and survive after experiencing tragedy, all of those themes present some interesting questions throughout Outlast 2. Unfortunately, experiencing that story might be really difficult for people who are either turned off by the violence – not just because of the graphic content, but also that it eventually becomes so routine and, frankly, boring. Conclusion: Instead of feeling scared or tense, I fell into a rut with Outlast 2 of just trying to make progress, and the intended scares wound up feeling flat. In other words, Outlast 2 reveals its hand too early; it breaks the golden rule and puts its hideous monster on full display in the opening minutes and never lets up until the very end. Some might find that exhilarating in a horror game – others, like myself, might find it dull compared with other titles in the genre. Outlast 2 was reviewed on PC and is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
  24. Jack Gardner

    Feature: Review: Outlast 2

    Horror films hold onto the golden rule: Never show the monster early. You can see it flit about in the shadows; the camera can linger for a while on a pair of glowing eyes as something stalks the protagonist; but never display the monster if you are trying to build the tension and subtle horror that lies beyond jump scares. Outlast 2 revels in shoving players face-first into the most awful things it can think of as if to say, "Isn't that gross and weird? ARE YOU SCARED NOW?" Its lack of nuance represents a step backward for Red Barrels. Red Barrels greeted the world with Outlast back in 2013. The horror title received acclaim for its tense structure and story line that slowly descended into madness. Players were pulled into the world of a seemingly abandoned asylum as seen through the eyes of an intrepid journalist. Combat was nonexistent, meaning players could only run and hide from the various antagonists they encountered. The fact that the asylum housed all manner of inmates led to a very interesting, deliberate grey area when it came to horror. Some inmates would become hostile, others would not. This resulted in tense moments, fueled by a fear of the unknown. Those moments of uncertainty, when constrained within the linear story and structure of Outlast, represented some of its best attempts at horror. Outlast 2 tells the story of Blake Langermann, a journalist and camera man, who works with his journalist partner and wife, Lynn. Together, they decide to pursue a story about the mysterious murder of a pregnant woman in a desolate region of Arizona. As they fly above the region in a helicopter, a mechanical failure causes the chopper to go down, stranding the both of them in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, the two of them have fallen into the middle of a conflict between two opposing cults who believe Lynn holds the keys to the end of the world. Blake sets off to rescue Lynn and escape the manic cult members. Outlast 2 moved away from the more interesting, murky elements of horror. Instead, it commits to subjecting the player to gruesome scenes and scenarios – shock horror. These certainly make for an uncomfortable experience, but they lack the subtlety and pacing of its predecessor or the gold standard of modern, defenseless horror, Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Several things contribute to making Outlast 2 a grueling slog to play through: world structure, how players progress through the setting, and what makes for good horror. A large portion of Outlast 2 takes place in the outdoors. You would think that this would make for an interesting dynamic; many horror games thrive on a tightly controlled, linear structure, but taking place without physical barriers seems to fly right in the face of that. The situation seems like a great opportunity to reinvent the horror genre with a more open world approach to design. Despite having access to the open air, Outlast 2 keeps to a more traditional structure, a perfectly sound, reasonable decision. Unfortunately, the implementation of this structure hurts more than helps. It ends up creating confusion in Outlast 2’s perpetual darkness. Outlast 2 wants players to run in specific directions to specific areas in the dead of night with only a grainy camcorder to reveal the way. Ideally, the design of the world would usher players in those desired directions, toward those important areas. Too often, Outlast 2 drops the ball and becomes a confusing, frustrating exercise in trial and error in the woods and fields. In pushing stealth and hiding as the main mechanic, Outlast 2’s design leads to players avoid the obvious routes and stick to the outskirts of any given area – until they are forced into those pathways, which triggers enemy aggression. If this is the approach the game wants to take, why bother having open, outdoor segments at all? Players are often given no time to learn an area, no time to strategize – unless they die repeatedly to scout out the proper route. This has the effect of reducing the horror as players become more familiar with any given area, something that should be the exact opposite of what the developers want players to experience. Outlast 2 seems to be strangely aware of this deficiency, however. To counter these more open, frustrating segments, the game puts players through cutscenes and areas of minimal interactivity that deal with highly uncomfortable and twisted scenarios, like living through a crucifixion. Doubtlessly this approach will appeal to some in the horror community, but I personally found it desensitizing after a while. That desensitization, that cheapening of the horror inherent in Outlast 2’s violence might just be the title’s biggest problem. Instead of leaving the player to feel a growing dread or an uncertainty about their surroundings, Outlast 2 opts to try going bigger and more horrible the farther that players progress. This immediately becomes a problem because Outlast 2’s starting point begins at what might in other games be part of the horror highlight reel. Within the first hour players encounter a pit of dead children, tortured people in cages, ritualistic killings, sexual assault, and more. Where else can the game go from there? It turns out that it can go quite a few places, but the staged scenes intended to shock the player become less scary and more of a grueling chore than anything else. And that’s a shame, because the story of Outlast 2 might be one of the best things it has going for it. Repressed memories, working through trauma, how people live and survive after experiencing tragedy, all of those themes present some interesting questions throughout Outlast 2. Unfortunately, experiencing that story might be really difficult for people who are either turned off by the violence – not just because of the graphic content, but also that it eventually becomes so routine and, frankly, boring. Conclusion: Instead of feeling scared or tense, I fell into a rut with Outlast 2 of just trying to make progress, and the intended scares wound up feeling flat. In other words, Outlast 2 reveals its hand too early; it breaks the golden rule and puts its hideous monster on full display in the opening minutes and never lets up until the very end. Some might find that exhilarating in a horror game – others, like myself, might find it dull compared with other titles in the genre. Outlast 2 was reviewed on PC and is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC View full article
  25. Marcus Stewart

    Feature: Review: Perception

    Perception forces players to confront two of humanity’s greatest fears: the fear of the dark, and the fear of the unknown: As Cassie, you’re blind. Perpetual blackness shrouds the world. Striking objects with her trusty cane paints an echolocation-produced blueprint of her surroundings to explore an eerie haunted mansion. Unfortunately, a malevolent spirit inhabits the house, honing in on Cassie if she makes too much of a racket. A clever and devious horror premise for sure, but Perception only takes full advantage of it a handful of times. Perception sits firmly within the subgenre of “run and hide” horror titles popularized by Amnesia: The Dark Descent. However, Cassie’s lack of sight ratchets up the tension. A doll’s laughter or the strained creak of an door opening becomes exponentially more frightening when you can’t see where it's coming from or its source. I highly recommend playing with a good pair of headphones since the finely-tuned sound design not only helps pinpoint a sound’s location, but it routinely sent shivers up my spine. Perception falters when it relies too much on rote jump scares; it shines brightest when the uneasy atmosphere and subtle frights do the heavy lifting. Cassie explores the mansion in an attempt to piece together disparate elements from her dreams. Along the way, she relives the tragic stories of the house’s former inhabitants over its centuries of existence. My favorite, and perhaps the saddest, tale involved a paranoid wife desperately seeking a means to reunite with her husband, a soldier stationed overseas during one of the world wars. One way or another, the house drove its owners to madness, which effectively sold my surroundings as an omnipresent threat I wanted no part of. Additionally, the house completely morphs its appearance every chapter to reflect the time period of the story being told. Though some of the general layout remains unchanged, you aren’t backtracking through the exact same areas–a neat touch that kept exploration interesting. Interacting with objects unlocks much of Perception’s narrative beats. Seeking these items out, and exploring the house in general, can be both a rewarding and tedious process. Everything is pitch black unless you make noise, so expect to be banging things fairly often. The limited “sight” only lasts a fleeting couple of seconds before the world fades away again. While that does its job of selling the sensation of being blind (or, at least, how it feels to be Marvel’s Daredevil), this occasionally makes it easy to get lost in the large house. One mission tasked me with finding matches located upstairs. However, I routinely passed the inconspicuous staircase entrance because I kept missing sight of it before my sounds faded, not to mention the limited vibration range. Such situations may frustrate less patient players. Having to remember previously visited rooms and mentally mapping out corridors and entryways routinely jumps back and forth between feeling novel and tedious. I repeatedly hit the same areas just to confirm that a kitchen was indeed a kitchen. Perception isn’t a game for everyone as it requires a special kind of patience on top of possessing bravery. Though I generally felt proud of myself for competently navigating an area, other times doing so felt like a pain in the butt. If nothing else, I walked away from Perception with a greater appreciation for my vision, and that’s likely part of the point. Disappointingly, the game doesn’t present enough inventive scenarios that highlight the main premise. Most of the game revolves around the same basic formula: walk around, make noise, listen to memories, fetch an item to solve a light puzzle. Perception had two stand-out sequences. The first was a heart-pounding romp through a bubble-wrapped nursery where Cassie must hide while inevitably making noise. The second was a chapter centered around robotic, evil dolls that roamed the house, some of which even toted guns (I’m terrified of creepy dolls, so I tensed up the whole way through). While moment-to-moment gameplay is solid, nothing else came close to feeling as creative or memorable as those two moments. Considering the concept’s potential, I’m bummed to see the idea be somewhat squandered. Even though the game presented regular warnings to keep as quiet as reasonably possible, I felt I could make quite a bit of commotion before triggering an appearance by the ghost. It only spawned once (outside of scripted sequences) throughout my entire playthrough, despite not being particularly frugal with my noise-making. Though that made exploration less of a pain, it also eliminated some of the desired anxiety when I realized I could get away with more than I maybe should have. It felt like a tricky balancing act that the developer had trouble nailing. Players need to be able to make enough sound to get around somewhat smoothly, but there also needs to be a constant fear of doing so. Conclusion If you’re looking for a novel spin on the helpless horror sub-genre, Perception is worth a look. The game purposely intends to make players feel impaired, so your mileage on fun varies depending on how much you’re willing to put up with bumping around in the (mostly) darkness. But if you’re up to the challenge, Perception can be a genuinely hair-raising experience. Overall, Cassie’s frightening romp through darkness stands as a respectable horror outing that should make for a unique offering for fans of the genre. Perception was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and is also available now for Xbox One and PC. It releases on Nintendo Switch later this year. View full article
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