Although horror-themed games are released all year long from developers and publishers of all sizes, the number definitely increases as the Halloween season approaches. I’m currently playing a few quite interesting to downright too damn creepy titles that should keep you up at night if you’re into that sort of thing. I’ll divide this into a few parts because my inbox is a bit loaded with what’s looking like some really fun games of varying degrees of scariness. Let’s start with five for now:
The Conjuring House (PC) – Holy #@*+. Well played, Morocco-based RYM Games, well played. Here’s a game that knows what it wants to do (make you too scared to keep playing) and it gets right to it with the scary stuff after an extended opening cinematic sequence that gets your heart pumping before handing you control in the middle of a chase sequence. Gee, thanks. So far, the game is absolutely dripping with atmosphere and the Unreal 4-powered visuals definitely get the job done. That said, the English translation needs a bit of tweaking as some awkward text mars the experience when it doesn’t match the spoken dialog. Still, this is going to be one of those games that sucks players in and should keep them jumping long after they’re done. It’s out September 25 on Steam, so keep an eye peeled (or else). I’ve got my fingers crossed for solid console port (PS4, please) if only to keep further away from the screen. Or: playing this on my laptop has been pretty damn frightening with those blasted creeps right up in my face, yahhhh!
Layers of Fear (PS4/PC) – This one’s a game I’ve wanted to try for a while and so far, I’m not disappointed in how well it delivers its scares. While it’s got a few quibbles in interacting with some objects in the environments, Bloober Team’s blend of psychological horror and mystery elements as seen through the mind of a tortured artist with some deep-rooted issues is compelling enough to keep me hooked in. Also of interest is where the story takes you and the realizations that the character you’re playing is the “monster” here. I’m expecting this one to linger in the mind for a bit after completion, but I’ll hold that thought for a full review. I also see that there’s DLC for the game that expands the story with a new character, so that may get a look if the main games does its job well enough (and I think it will).
Lovecraft’s Untold Stories (PC) – One of many H.P. Lovecraft inspired games out or on the way (it’s kind of insane how many games based on or around his work are popping up this year and next), this one’s a really solid effort from developer Blini Games. A sprite-based action/RPG with procedural levels and addictive rogue-like gameplay, this is one of those games that will chomp away at your time as you explore and deal with those assorted cultists and nightmare creatures coming at you constantly. It’s a good thing ol’ H.P. is long-dead worm food, or he’d probably want a hefty cut of the profits. That said, I’d gather those Elder Gods would want a larger stake in all this madness… as in the entire world under their tentacles, (eek).
HEVN (PC)- Set for a September 24 release on Steam, this first person sci-fi/adventure game from Seattle-based indie developer Miga is a slow burner that while not a true horror game, has your character Sebastian wake up disoriented on a seemingly abandoned space station and have to figure out that the hell went wrong. There’s a bit of System Shock sprinkled throughout and the gameplay is more of a “figure out how to progress” experience where exploration and examination of everything are key to unlocking doors and getting to the good stuff. So far, the “horror” elements are of the trying to make sure Seb stays alive (there are survival elements to attend to) and keep his cool when enemies (of the extraterrestrial and robotic types) make their appearance. It’s not a super high action title when compared to more frantic shooters, but will be a fine enough time for those who prefer exercising their grey matter as much as their trigger fingers.
I’m Not a Monster Demo (PC) – Other than the unsettling Beholder: Complete Edition, I hadn’t heard much about indie dev Cheerdealers until I got a Steam code for this demo and was floored by how they nailed the look and feel of a 50’s sci-fi pulp magazines and too many “B” movies to count. While the demo requires an online connection and is focused on playing with others (nicely or otherwise), the game is worth a look for its presentation and interesting strategic gameplay that fans of The Thing should appreciate. The scares here come from not knowing who’s going to transform into a killer alien or when and when it’s YOU that gets transformed, the game isn’t over at all as you get the chance to infect or dispatch the humans left on the map.
Amusingly enough, I found out that Cheerdealers has indeed, already made a game inspired by that excellent John Carpenter remake called Distrust, which means I’ll need to give that a try at some point. Oy, my aching backlog, but so goes it when there are too many games to play and they keep crawling into my inbox.
Back with more shortly.