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Found 8 results

  1. During gamescom 2014, a playable teaser for the upcoming psychological horror game Silent Hills was released on the PlayStation 4. The project is a collaboration between Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro. I finally had a chance to play through the demo this week and, while P.T. certainly nails key horror genre elements, it has a number of baffling design choices. P.T. seems to take cues from games like Outlast and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The majority of the interactions players have with the environment is simply walking around. Essentially, the player character is a passive observer to the disturbing scenes and sounds of the environment. Players are able to move and look at different objects with the camera. A cursory examination of the different buttons reveal that none of them seem to perform any function, with the exception of a slight zoom of the camera by pressing the right analogue stick. This is important because it turns out the only way to progress in P.T. is by looking at specific objects. The problem is that P.T. occasionally changes the rules. There is one occasion in P.T. when players are supposed to intuitively know that they need to press a specific button while looking at an object. Unfortunately, the game has already established that the buttons serve no function, which makes it all the more frustrating that this is one of only two times in P.T. where players are required to press a button. At one point the demo requires players to find several scraps of a ripped up photograph. This would be fine if it was clear that the player should be looking for scraps. For a while I assumed that I was just supposed to be looking at unique objects in the hallway, because I found two by zooming in on a teddy bear and a potted plant. It wasn’t until I looked up a guide online that it was clear that I was looking for small, hidden pieces of that picture. Persistent players will eventually reach one of the most perplexing requirements of the demo; a part which has been commonly referred to as the “final puzzle.” To proceed, players must have a headset or microphone plugged into the PS4 controller. There is no indication for this; presumably players were just supposed to figure this out on their own. With the headset/mic in hand, players have to hear or compel a baby to laugh three times by looking at various objects or moving in certain ways. There are a variety of strategies that people say work, but all of them are pretty dang obscure (there are over eleven methods of unlocking the end of P.T. in this IGN walkthrough). Kojima is known for keeping his projects a surprise until just the right time, and has even admitted that he thought it would take the internet longer to figure out the secret to unlocking the ending of the demo. To me, this seems like confusing design for the sake of being mysterious. Perhaps that was entirely the point and I am being hard on P.T. because I don’t understand it. But I think that there are some decisions here that need to be called out. In particular, the ending of P.T. is not a puzzle, nor is any part of P.T. for that matter. Inconsistent controls and obscure requirements for what happens to be plugged into the PS4 controller aren’t puzzles. Good puzzles are like a Rubik’s cube. Most people understand how a Rubik’s cube works and what the goal is almost from the instant they pick it up. It is intuitive. The puzzle is figuring out how to use the simple mechanics of the cube in order to solve it. But what if there was occasionally a hidden rule to Rubik’s cubes? What if it was decided that at a very specific point in solving one you had to make a turn of the cube using only one hand? What if in order to officially have solved the cube you had to do your best impression of Freddie Mercury? Now imagine that you eliminate the Rubik’s cube and replace it with wandering around a creepy hallway. There is no puzzle there, just a weirdo having a hand around and occasionally acting like a terrible Freddie Mercury impersonator. That’s what trying to play through P.T. is like. Just because something is difficult to figure out doesn’t make it a puzzle. One of the reasons I am hounding this issue is because genuinely ruins the experience of being freaked out. Being trapped in a haunted hallway is terrifying. Being trapped in a haunted hallway where nothing happens for twenty minutes while you are trying to figure out how to get a door to open is just frustrating. In video games, frustration trumps horror. This comic by artist Bryce Corbett (warning: harsh language) perfectly sums up how many people have experienced the teaser for Silent Hills. The design creates unintended frustration, and that seems to me like a fundamental flaw. It might seem like I am being a bit hard on P.T. Like I said earlier, the atmosphere is electrifyingly uncomfortable. The environment consists of a hallway, a cement chamber, and a bathroom. Using that limited scope, it deftly manages to be unnerving, demonic, and horrifying without relying overly much on jump scares. Baby wails, guttural muttering, static-laced radio broadcasts regarding murder, bugs crawling on moldering walls, and piles of trash on the floor all work together to make the area uncomfortable. There are little details like bars on the windows, an abundance of abstract paintings, a swinging ceiling light that give the affair a sense of surreal dread. Despite my concerns, I am optimistic about a new Silent Hill game. I am hoping that most of the design decisions in the teaser reflect Kojima’s penchant for dramatic reveals and secrecy, not his vision of the full game. Honestly, I call out Kojima as being the largest name attached to the project with a history of game design. It could be that these decisions came from Guillermo del Toro. Who knows? Either way, the atmosphere of an exceedingly terrifying experience is already in place, there just needs to be a competent game behind the visuals and sound to back it all up with something that doesn’t rely on guesswork, luck, and strategy guides.
  2. During gamescom 2014, a playable teaser for the upcoming psychological horror game Silent Hills was released on the PlayStation 4. The project is a collaboration between Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro. I finally had a chance to play through the demo this week and, while P.T. certainly nails key horror genre elements, it has a number of baffling design choices. P.T. seems to take cues from games like Outlast and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The majority of the interactions players have with the environment is simply walking around. Essentially, the player character is a passive observer to the disturbing scenes and sounds of the environment. Players are able to move and look at different objects with the camera. A cursory examination of the different buttons reveal that none of them seem to perform any function, with the exception of a slight zoom of the camera by pressing the right analogue stick. This is important because it turns out the only way to progress in P.T. is by looking at specific objects. The problem is that P.T. occasionally changes the rules. There is one occasion in P.T. when players are supposed to intuitively know that they need to press a specific button while looking at an object. Unfortunately, the game has already established that the buttons serve no function, which makes it all the more frustrating that this is one of only two times in P.T. where players are required to press a button. At one point the demo requires players to find several scraps of a ripped up photograph. This would be fine if it was clear that the player should be looking for scraps. For a while I assumed that I was just supposed to be looking at unique objects in the hallway, because I found two by zooming in on a teddy bear and a potted plant. It wasn’t until I looked up a guide online that it was clear that I was looking for small, hidden pieces of that picture. Persistent players will eventually reach one of the most perplexing requirements of the demo; a part which has been commonly referred to as the “final puzzle.” To proceed, players must have a headset or microphone plugged into the PS4 controller. There is no indication for this; presumably players were just supposed to figure this out on their own. With the headset/mic in hand, players have to hear or compel a baby to laugh three times by looking at various objects or moving in certain ways. There are a variety of strategies that people say work, but all of them are pretty dang obscure (there are over eleven methods of unlocking the end of P.T. in this IGN walkthrough). Kojima is known for keeping his projects a surprise until just the right time, and has even admitted that he thought it would take the internet longer to figure out the secret to unlocking the ending of the demo. To me, this seems like confusing design for the sake of being mysterious. Perhaps that was entirely the point and I am being hard on P.T. because I don’t understand it. But I think that there are some decisions here that need to be called out. In particular, the ending of P.T. is not a puzzle, nor is any part of P.T. for that matter. Inconsistent controls and obscure requirements for what happens to be plugged into the PS4 controller aren’t puzzles. Good puzzles are like a Rubik’s cube. Most people understand how a Rubik’s cube works and what the goal is almost from the instant they pick it up. It is intuitive. The puzzle is figuring out how to use the simple mechanics of the cube in order to solve it. But what if there was occasionally a hidden rule to Rubik’s cubes? What if it was decided that at a very specific point in solving one you had to make a turn of the cube using only one hand? What if in order to officially have solved the cube you had to do your best impression of Freddie Mercury? Now imagine that you eliminate the Rubik’s cube and replace it with wandering around a creepy hallway. There is no puzzle there, just a weirdo having a hand around and occasionally acting like a terrible Freddie Mercury impersonator. That’s what trying to play through P.T. is like. Just because something is difficult to figure out doesn’t make it a puzzle. One of the reasons I am hounding this issue is because genuinely ruins the experience of being freaked out. Being trapped in a haunted hallway is terrifying. Being trapped in a haunted hallway where nothing happens for twenty minutes while you are trying to figure out how to get a door to open is just frustrating. In video games, frustration trumps horror. This comic by artist Bryce Corbett (warning: harsh language) perfectly sums up how many people have experienced the teaser for Silent Hills. The design creates unintended frustration, and that seems to me like a fundamental flaw. It might seem like I am being a bit hard on P.T. Like I said earlier, the atmosphere is electrifyingly uncomfortable. The environment consists of a hallway, a cement chamber, and a bathroom. Using that limited scope, it deftly manages to be unnerving, demonic, and horrifying without relying overly much on jump scares. Baby wails, guttural muttering, static-laced radio broadcasts regarding murder, bugs crawling on moldering walls, and piles of trash on the floor all work together to make the area uncomfortable. There are little details like bars on the windows, an abundance of abstract paintings, a swinging ceiling light that give the affair a sense of surreal dread. Despite my concerns, I am optimistic about a new Silent Hill game. I am hoping that most of the design decisions in the teaser reflect Kojima’s penchant for dramatic reveals and secrecy, not his vision of the full game. Honestly, I call out Kojima as being the largest name attached to the project with a history of game design. It could be that these decisions came from Guillermo del Toro. Who knows? Either way, the atmosphere of an exceedingly terrifying experience is already in place, there just needs to be a competent game behind the visuals and sound to back it all up with something that doesn’t rely on guesswork, luck, and strategy guides. View full article
  3. On September 4 the survival horror title Outlast will be hitting the digital store shelves for the PC. If you are planning on picking it up, all pre-orders are discounted at 20% off of their $20 retail price. In addition to the discount, developer Red Barrels will be participating in a PAX Prime panel on horror titled, "Are You Afraid? A Guide to Survival Horror." Presumably, the pannel will be about how to not poop your pants while playing upcoming survival horror titles like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, The Evil Within, and Outlast. We had a chance to play around with Outlast at E3 and it has some very effective scare tactics. Outlast will also be releasing for the PS4 either late this year or early next year.
  4. On September 4 the survival horror title Outlast will be hitting the digital store shelves for the PC. If you are planning on picking it up, all pre-orders are discounted at 20% off of their $20 retail price. In addition to the discount, developer Red Barrels will be participating in a PAX Prime panel on horror titled, "Are You Afraid? A Guide to Survival Horror." Presumably, the pannel will be about how to not poop your pants while playing upcoming survival horror titles like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, The Evil Within, and Outlast. We had a chance to play around with Outlast at E3 and it has some very effective scare tactics. Outlast will also be releasing for the PS4 either late this year or early next year. View full article
  5. Today, Red Barrels announced a release date and price for Outlast, the scariest game we played during E3. The chilling experience of playing as wayward reporter Miles Upshur as he ventures through a supposedly abandoned asylum for the criminally insane captured the attention of many in the video game press, garnering the title numerous awards and praise for its immersive audio and disempowering design choices. Red Barrels even touts the survival horror title as having the honor of being E3's “Most Likely to Make You Faint.” Outlast will be released via Steam and digital download for PC on September 4, 2013 at the price of $19.99. The PlayStation 4 version seems to have been delayed, but in the meantime best start mentally preparing yourself for one of the freakiest horror titles since Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
  6. Today, Red Barrels announced a release date and price for Outlast, the scariest game we played during E3. The chilling experience of playing as wayward reporter Miles Upshur as he ventures through a supposedly abandoned asylum for the criminally insane captured the attention of many in the video game press, garnering the title numerous awards and praise for its immersive audio and disempowering design choices. Red Barrels even touts the survival horror title as having the honor of being E3's “Most Likely to Make You Faint.” Outlast will be released via Steam and digital download for PC on September 4, 2013 at the price of $19.99. The PlayStation 4 version seems to have been delayed, but in the meantime best start mentally preparing yourself for one of the freakiest horror titles since Amnesia: The Dark Descent. View full article
  7. One of the indie titles on display at the Sony E3 booth was a game called Outlast. I stopped by to play Red Barrels’ heart-pounding descent into horror on the PS4. While waiting to play the game I took the opportunity to chat with a couple of the Outlast developers. With their goal being to “make the game as scary as possible,” I was told that Outlast relies heavily on paranoia, drawing upon the hair-raising Amnesia: The Dark Descent for inspiration. I was also told that they designed the game with somewhat unpredictable AI. Even while playtesting the game multiple times, enemies would do the unexpected and create organic scares. This means that few of the moments in Outlast are predetermined, scripted events. Scenarios employ an “ease in, ease out” where a scripted sequence will introduce a new enemy and their motivation, then concluding with another scripted sequence. In between these two segments, the AI will take over and direct the enemy’s actions for the majority of the gameplay segment. In Outlast, players take on the mantle of independent journalist Miles Upshur as he breaks into a remote asylum for the criminally insane in Colorado. Miles is on the trail of a compelling news story after receiving an anonymous tip that something was happening at the asylum. This is the situation in which I assumed control of Miles and began playing. Being a journalist, Miles’ constant companion throughout the game will be his trusty camera, through which he views almost all of the horrific events taking place within the asylum. The camera is his only tool, allowing him and the player to see in the darkness. The downside of this is that the camera runs on batteries. If you run out of batteries, your ability to see in the dark is drastically reduced and you are left very vulnerable. One of the hooks of Outlast is that there is no combat. You cannot fight the enemies, you can only run, hide, and pray that they don’t find you. After checking the front door of the asylum and finding it locked, Miles decides it would be a great idea to break in through an old set of scaffolding which leads up to a window. Upon entering, he sees blood all over the floor. For some suicidal reason he is undeterred and pushes on, despite seeing bodies and obvious signs that something has gone horribly wrong. By the time Miles figures out that the asylum is one of the worst places on earth it is too late and he is trapped in the depths of the asylum with some of the worst and most twisted criminal minds on the loose. Not all of the enemies will want to kill Miles immediately. This trades on the paranoia that Red Barrels wants to provide. Some of the inmates will have different reactions toward Miles ranging from benevolence to apathy to murderous hatred. The question most survival horror fans must be pondering: Is Outlast scary? Horror, like humor, is a subjective thing. However, in my time with Outlast I physically jumped, was unnerved, and made involuntary noises. The atmosphere is taut and nails the feeling of being in an abandoned building full of lunatics. As for the lunatics in question they were incredibly effective as nightmare material. In my estimation: Yes. Outlast is very scary and you can look forward to being terrified and entertained. Outlast will debut on PC at the end of summer, while the PS4 version will release in early 2014. Currently there are no plans to bring the title to Xbox One.
  8. One of the indie titles on display at the Sony E3 booth was a game called Outlast. I stopped by to play Red Barrels’ heart-pounding descent into horror on the PS4. While waiting to play the game I took the opportunity to chat with a couple of the Outlast developers. With their goal being to “make the game as scary as possible,” I was told that Outlast relies heavily on paranoia, drawing upon the hair-raising Amnesia: The Dark Descent for inspiration. I was also told that they designed the game with somewhat unpredictable AI. Even while playtesting the game multiple times, enemies would do the unexpected and create organic scares. This means that few of the moments in Outlast are predetermined, scripted events. Scenarios employ an “ease in, ease out” where a scripted sequence will introduce a new enemy and their motivation, then concluding with another scripted sequence. In between these two segments, the AI will take over and direct the enemy’s actions for the majority of the gameplay segment. In Outlast, players take on the mantle of independent journalist Miles Upshur as he breaks into a remote asylum for the criminally insane in Colorado. Miles is on the trail of a compelling news story after receiving an anonymous tip that something was happening at the asylum. This is the situation in which I assumed control of Miles and began playing. Being a journalist, Miles’ constant companion throughout the game will be his trusty camera, through which he views almost all of the horrific events taking place within the asylum. The camera is his only tool, allowing him and the player to see in the darkness. The downside of this is that the camera runs on batteries. If you run out of batteries, your ability to see in the dark is drastically reduced and you are left very vulnerable. One of the hooks of Outlast is that there is no combat. You cannot fight the enemies, you can only run, hide, and pray that they don’t find you. After checking the front door of the asylum and finding it locked, Miles decides it would be a great idea to break in through an old set of scaffolding which leads up to a window. Upon entering, he sees blood all over the floor. For some suicidal reason he is undeterred and pushes on, despite seeing bodies and obvious signs that something has gone horribly wrong. By the time Miles figures out that the asylum is one of the worst places on earth it is too late and he is trapped in the depths of the asylum with some of the worst and most twisted criminal minds on the loose. Not all of the enemies will want to kill Miles immediately. This trades on the paranoia that Red Barrels wants to provide. Some of the inmates will have different reactions toward Miles ranging from benevolence to apathy to murderous hatred. The question most survival horror fans must be pondering: Is Outlast scary? Horror, like humor, is a subjective thing. However, in my time with Outlast I physically jumped, was unnerved, and made involuntary noises. The atmosphere is taut and nails the feeling of being in an abandoned building full of lunatics. As for the lunatics in question they were incredibly effective as nightmare material. In my estimation: Yes. Outlast is very scary and you can look forward to being terrified and entertained. Outlast will debut on PC at the end of summer, while the PS4 version will release in early 2014. Currently there are no plans to bring the title to Xbox One. View full article
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