Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Spoopy Games: Random One Offs

As I've said, I was addicted to Resident Evil. I'd always flip through my Official PlayStation magazine looking for the words Resident Evil clone, I would write down the name of the game, and keep the list in my wallet for anytime I went to Babbages with some extra cash.

I ended up getting a lot of random horror games for the PlayStation 1 and 2. This learned behavior has followed me through to today.

Even though horror games have become more popular thanks to the rise of indie games and hot demos like PT, I still have fun hunting down the lesser known games.

So this list is essentially a mix of things that I didn't know were going to be important at the time and things that are still little known or played that have a special place in my heart. 

Overblood (1996)

I picked up Overblood from the local Blockbuster in 1998. It was one one of those staff picks end caps around Halloween and said, "Just like Resident Evil." 

I couldn't wait to get home and play a Sci-fi horror adventure. 

What I got was an insanely obtuse adventure game. I never was able to figure out how to leave the first five rooms. It's a game that has always sort of sat in my hall of shame. I have a copy of this sitting in a CD binder still and really the only thing keeping me from booting it up and checking it out again is the 3 minutes it takes to hook my PS3 back up. 

F.E.A.R. (2005)

FEAR (I'm leaving the punctuation out for now on) went straight for the psychological scares. You never knew if you heard what you thought your heard. Your hair would stand up whenever you saw the lights start blinking out. And when you thought you would finally get a break from the tension, you would end up in incredibly challenging firefight with AI that would learn from you. 

I've been chasing the feeling of being hunched over my computer, scared shitless well into the early morning ever since the first FEAR. Unfortunately, every game in the franchise gets slightly further away from what made the first game so great. 

Cold Fear (2005)

Cold Fear was a random Steam pickup. There's this episode of the X-files (Dod Kalm) that I've always loved and feel like it was underappreciated. It takes place on an abandoned naval ship where anyone that drinks the water on board starts going through rapid aging. 

There was something about how cold and lonely the ship felt that always stuck with me. Cold Fear is essentially that episode with monsters. 

I played this game probably too late. It was 2014, almost a decade after it came out. All the controls feel exactly as you would expect a PlayStation 2 game to feel. 

Obscure the Aftermath (2007)

Obscure the Aftermath was a completely blind bargain bin pickup. It's got this weird feel to it. It's like they took the idea of the teenager horror movie tropes from Maniac Mansion, bought a bunch of already created assets, and then threw them together in this third person, tank controlled, couch co-op game. 

I'd like to go back to Obscure the Aftermath. I really didn't give it enough time, but what I did give it, I really enjoyed. It had the feel of a Deadly Premonition / Swery sort of game, but was before it's time. People hadn't rediscovered how great Twin Peaks was and now they seek out that brand of weird.

Countdown Vampires (1999)

This game was ahead of the 2000's macho-cool-guy stereotype. Spiky-haired, ripped shirtless guy with tribal tattoos is working in a casino on New Years Eve. Then this black liquid spills out and everyone turns into zombie vampires.

The cutscenes for this game looked to be the level of a SquareEnix RPG. It was a cool haunted house setting in a casino where no one played slots. It was a strange setting to feel so eerie.

I got home, I popped the disk in, I watched the opening cutscene and my anticipation grew... and then the main character talked and sounded like a thirteen year old boy.

The game itself wasn't terrible, it just wasn't anything new. But I had limited money at the time and I had to talk myself into loving the crap out of it. 

Rule of Rose (2006)

This game wasn't even on my radar at all. By the end of the PlayStation 2, I just couldn't keep up with all the games coming out, so I stopped trying.

A buddy of mine sent me a care package when I broke my leg that had a few games in it. Rule of Rose was one of them. What I found was a very charming, intriguing mix of David Lynch and Silent Hill.

I've been trying to find where I stored the game. My backwards compatible PS3 died at some point and I packed away my PlayStation 2 games. If I can find it, used copies of this game are going for $100 now. 

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)

You're probably sick of hearing about this game, but Amnesia: The Dark Descent is still one of the
scariest games I've ever played.

I sat on the couch with my roommate at the time, PC plugged into the TV, 10 foot USB cords strung across the room. I'd control, he would tell me what to do. We didn't talk about anything else during our play sessions.

Generally we would explore the castle for 2-4 hours until finally our bodies trembled with exhaustion from being scared.

Frictional Games put out some major game play additions after I finished the game, but I haven't had the energy to go back. I really want to. I really really do. I just remember how it sucked me in and zapped my energy away every time I did. 

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