Review: Home Sweet Home (PS4)

home sweet home(Soothing TV announcer voice, circa 1978):Constipated? 9 out of 10 doctors* recommend Home Sweet Home ($29.99) for fast relief. Easy to apply vie handy and discrete PSN download or in a GameStop exclusive retail version, this not at all soothing horror adventure game works within minutes so you can get back to doing the things you love. Remember – for fast relief, Just say Home Sweet Home…

Yes, that’s right. Provided you’re not a too-jaded horror game player who’s seen it all, this one will scare the living crap out of you. Well, given that poop isn’t supposed to be alive when it’s making a hasty retreat, that may be a good thing.  Here’s a funny for you: back about two years ago, I played the demo for this on PC and wrote about it, but kind of forgot all that because, hey, life happens. However, as soon as the game installed and I hit that start button, a sense of déjà vu followed by creeping dread washed over me. Eep. Yeah, this was not going to go well for my heart, folks.

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Oooh, choices!  Do I go left, do I go right, or do I go hide under a blanket after I turn the game off because I’m too freaked out to continue? *Sigh* ONWARD, as I have a review to write!

 

Anyway, to me, this game is SCARY, plus tax. How scary? Well, If Kriss Kross will make you Jump, you’re guaranteed to jump at least five times as much here if you’re easily frightened. You’re unarmed, many rooms are tight, detritus filled death traps where doors open to brick walls or other surprises of the surreal nature and worst of all, you’re often searching for clues to puzzles as the game’s box cutter wielding scary lady and a few other creeps do their level best to make you wet yourself. There’s nothing like being all stealthy and avoiding instant death for a few tense minutes, slipping between rooms and gathering clues to progress, only to finally unlock a door and jump out of your seat when something… nasty pops into view. And there’s a hell of a lot of nasty in this game.

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Lost in Vivo: The Walls, Close-in For Catastrophic Claustrophobia

(Thanks, Akuma Kira!)

 

Back in 2016, I pledged a few bucks to Akuma Kira’s Kickstarter for a new game he was working on called Lost in Vivo all because of the free and superbly devious Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion (Formerly Spooky’s House of Jump Scares), a game I recommend to anyone into horror because it will creep up on them in a surprising manner. In other words, don’t let the initially quite stupidly cute visuals and the rather simplistic but twisty corridors found in the first chunk of floors lull you into a false sense of security. Things get quite bizarre and eventually quite horrific as you descend into the darker, more hellish maps.

Anyway, fast forward to earlier Saturday morning when I got a download link to he completed build of Lost in Vivo from the developer via Game Jolt (an excellent indie site I VERY highly recommend along with itch.io  (the game can be found here) if you love to pore over dozens and dozens of great indies of all genres, many free or quite affordable). You’ll also see this one pop up on Steam soon (well, November 5th, thanks to Steam’s verification process taking longer), but if you need this faster, feel free to grab it from one of the other sites noted above for a measly ten bucks.

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Capsule Review: The Conjuring House (PC)

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Uh, mommy? Holy hell, The Conjuring House sure is scary when it needs to be (which is often). Developer RYM Games has a an almost killer game here that despite a few technical flaws (which are currently being addressed via patches that will hopefully improve the overall experience) is one near-total freakout of a game. Things get off to a scary start and the tension builds as the game follows the tried and true “Old Dark House filled with dreadful evil”  formula with some pretty hefty psychological horror and jump scares. Unlike some more popular horror titles, you’re unarmed and have to try and avoid or run from enemies whenever possible, the game has intentionally distant save points and yes, this leads to a few too many deaths whether or not you’re careless. On the other hand, when when things click, you’re playing half under whatever you were sitting on when you started with one eye opened because the other has shut itself closed.

Nevertheless, in its current form, some elements of the game aren’t quite as solid as they should be. Changing the default video settings immediately makes the game too dark to see and that default setting uses a post-processing effect that seems to add too much blur to the movement. Some well-done but lengthy cutscenes do a great job of storytelling, but can’t be skipped at all, so if you die  before one, you’ll need to watch the whole thing all over again. Add in those long treks and/or backtracking between those save points plus a single save slot and you get a recipe for frustration as well as fear of playing for some of the wrong reasons.

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Your brain will look and feel like this decrepit room right from the moment you gain control of your hapless non-hero.

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The Horror of Too Many Scary Games (is a Good Thing to Have), Part 2

You’re either back for more… or you fell asleep reading that first part and just woke up in time for part two. Well, here you go, then. Some of today’s entries are coming out after October, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less frightening. Anyway, here are six more games to look forward to (unless you’re too freaked out to want to try some of the scarier ones, mua-ha-ha-haaaa!):

 

 
Home Sweet Home (PS4/PSVR/Xbox One) – If the trailer is any indication, this could be one of the downright scariest stealth/horror games of the year. I missed out on the PC version of this truly scary-looking Thai horror game from Bangkok-based indie dev Yggdrazil Group Co.,Ltd, but my pals at Mastiff Games seem voraciously intent on putting me under the couch with this upcoming PS4 and Xbox One port. The PS4 version will support VR as an option (I’ll take my scares flat, thank you much) and if you prefer your games on a disc, this one’s going to be a GameStop exclusive in addition to a standard digital download on PSN and Xbox Live. I may have to shell out for the disc version, as this one certainly looks scary enough to be a keeper. That and I want to have the option of maybe loaning that disc to a friend or two who hate horror games but are slowly coming around. Then again, I have the feeling that this might be one of those games that sends them back down the ladder to being too skittish to fire it up.

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Review: Don’t Knock Twice (PS4)

DKT_PS4.jpegWales Interactive’s Don’t Knock Twice is an “all-in” game if ever there was one. While it can indeed be played without the PSVR headset and during the sunnier daytime hours, the game works best when you wall yourself (Amontillado or not) up all alone in the dark (heh) completely wrapped up in those goofy goggles and a decent set of headphones. Being afraid of the dark and having the additional fear of things that go bump in the night also go a long way in making this mild experience in terror a bit scarier.

On the other hand, if you’re one of those really jaded people who think all horror games need to be gory undead shooting galleries or have stuff jumping out at you every ten seconds, you may not totally grasp what the fuss is all about when the game finally ends somewhere about an hour to hour and a half later. Is the game perfect? Nope. Does it do what it intends to do? Yep. If you let yourself become immersed in the mood it aims for, it’ll get under your skin and make you a bit jumpy for a tiny slice of time. You’re not going to use the (overused) word “innovative” here at all to describe this one. You’re getting a short and creepy horror experience that’s not going to wear out its welcome when all is said and done.

 

 

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Review: Detention (PS4)

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Detention BlockWhile thematically similar to The Coma: Recut from Devespresso Games, Red Candle Games‘ excellent Detention ($12.99 on PSN) manages to add a more psychological as well as historical tone to its scary elements. Set in a 1960’s era Taiwan during the horrfic period of martial law known as The White Terror, the game works extremely well as a short but solid game experience that gets as much mileage from its frightening imagery as it does with its somewhat timely political allegory

This isn’t a “survival horror” game in the zombie-packed Resident Evil vein and while it has a more similar vibe to the early, more thoughtful (but weirder) Silent Hill games, there are no weapons to wield here or a need to stock up on healing items for your trip through this virtual hell-space. This one’s a pure side-scrolling horror adventure game where you’ll need to avoid or appease the freakish ghosts you’ll encounter as you try and escape from the nightmare that Greenwood High has become.

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The Evil Within 2: Perfect For Your Fright-day the 13th

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Confession time, again: other than dabbling with a friend’s copy for about 20 minutes or so back when it was launched, I didn’t play the original The Evil Within. Between my ridiculous backlog and other busyness, I never got around to getting to that game and its assorted freakish frights. Well, here we are some time later and guess what? The Evil Within 2 didn’t wait for me to even think about playing the first game before it popped up to say “Hi!” and it looks as if I might need grab this at some point or it’ll come to get me. Help!

Of course, if I don’t get the game, no one will notice, right (he said, looking around and then checking all the closets and under furniture for something that might come get him at some point)?. And here I was, saving up my pennies for Wolfenstein: The New Colossus (which has “Timeliest Game of the Year!” flashing over it in bright neon lights for some reason). Oh, Bethesda, you keep it up with this stuff and I’ll need to start carving holes in my schedule like a pumpkin. Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way (and neither should you).

-GW

Review: The Coma: Recut (PS4)

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The Coma Recut PS4Ah, high school days. The loads of homework, Salisbury “steak” and canned veggies for lunch, getting shoved into lockers by bullies, and that curvy teacher you’ve got a secret crush on transforming into a hideous axe-wielding demon-thing who will try really hard to chop you to pieces after hours…

Wait, what?

Okay, that last bit is why you’ll be way up too late on a school (or work) night and all bleary-eyed and freaked out in the morning if you’re playing The Coma: Recut. This remastered version of the Korean survival-horror cult classic, The Coma: Cutting Class manages to be pretty scary stuff from developer Devespresso Games and publisher Digerati. If you’re a fan of games such as Clock Tower (both the Super Famicom original and its first sequel on the original PlayStation), this one’s well worth snapping up.

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Review: Perception (PS4)

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Your perception of Perception as a horror game will go a long way towards fully enjoying the experience it offers. It’s more a first-person adventure game with horror elements where developer The Deep End Games uses lead character Cassie Thornton’s blindness as a means of both physical and mental exploration.

Cassie is drawn by recurring nightmares to abandoned mansion Echo Bluff and as she’s completely blind, her own perceptions are being challenged. The unconventional visual presentation, use of echolocation, and mix of mystery and time travel are all plus points here. There are flaws as well, but for the most part the 5 to 6 hours you’ll spend as Cassie should please the more open-minded horror/mystery adventure game fans out there.

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Cassie’s trip through the seemingly empty mansion is hampered by the presence of The Presence, not so nice angry spirits (who don’t bring presents, by the way) that change up the initially tap-happy caning she does into memorizing rooms and whacking objects as little as possible. While this adds tension to the experience, some parts of the game end up being learning experiences thanks to an auto-save system that forces slight to moderate backtracking and replaying areas if you end up getting Presenced to death.

In other words, you’ll likely need to unlearn your first half hour or so of gameplay and rely on memory and/or using an optional guidance system that points you in the proper direction while still allowing exploration. That said, some of the game’s scares are somewhat avoidable by popping into assorted hiding spaces until trouble passes while others may make you jump a bit based on your level of immersion. Of course, if you’re not easily frightened, the game may seem light on scares unless you want to encounter them.

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Night Trap Returns! Be Afraid… Be Very Afraid (Or Not)


 

Night Trap tells the story of five teenage girls spending the weekend at the Martin home. As a member of the Special Control Attack Team, your job is to monitor the home and protect the girls using an intricate system of cameras and traps as it is being invaded by vampires.

 

I am laughing my fool head off writing this, but hey – a happy me is a good thing these days. Screaming Villains, based out of Newport Kentucky, is teaming up with Limited Run Games to bring the classic and at the time of its release 25 years ago, “controversial” Sega CD FMV (Full Motion Video) game Night Trap back as a remastered PS4 and Xbox One title. I’ll be a lazy git and let you read the Wikipedia page so you can see what the fuss was all about, but what was considered an MA-13 (or Mature) rated game back in 1992 is now a Teen-rated experience with not a thing altered. Digital Pictures created what was supposed to be (and is) a campy take on the horror genre, but for years the game has had a hilariously overblown reputation thanks to it being pulled from stores in some areas.


 

My own memories of it are the game being quite amusing but pretty difficult without a guide of some sort and not at all scary or bloody. The plot has you trying to save a bunch of cute 90’s gals at a slumber party from oddly dressed vampire creeps by setting traps inside the house and activating them before the girls are attacked. It’s all pretty corny, harmless “B” movie fluff that might surprise modern gamers when they see how goofy it all is. As in all that government fuss and bother did was make a so-so game a classic of sorts that still gets people talking. Amusingly enough, the game is about as scary as an empty plastic bottle on a windowsill.

For some reason, during the 90’s and into the early 2000’s a handful of gamers thought the 3DO and PC versions had bits of nudity or actual gore in them despite the fact that no such footage was shot. Coupled with the game’s rarity once pulled from shelves, helped drive prices up considerably. Working in an indie game shop for about five years, I fielded more than a few questions and kicked down as many of those rumors as I could, but you know how some people get when they really believe something that’s clearly untrue. Anyway, go download the super-cheeseball main theme and set your digital clocks for sometime soon, as the game is set for a mysterious “Spring 2017” release.

-GW