Home is the first game developed by indie developer Benjamin Rivers, and was originally released in 2012. It is a short horror title made with the premise of letting players choose their own interpretations of the game’s events. I am unsure how to feel about this approach to storytelling. On one hand, a good work of fiction should always involve some form of subtlety and allowing for multiple interpretations gives a work more versatility. On the other hand, actively trying to invoke “multiple interpretations” oftentimes comes across as if the writer wants to have an excuse to not finish writing the plot and addressing every plot point.Read more
I have a strange fascination with the “meta-horror” sub genre as of late. It is one thing to scare the player by having big freaky monsters jump out at them from behind the bushes and go “OOGEDY BOOGEDY BOOGOLY, but it’s another to use the player’s connection to something from their childhood turning fucked up to hit them on a personal level. It is because of this that I spent more time than justified reading those stupid gaming creepypastas that were about as scary as Donald Trump trying to walk up a flight of stairs without complaining.
I have already covered a fair few games based around this sort of premise, and despite the fact that it isn’t exactly something that’s never been done before, I do find that there is enough unique variance that makes me want to check all of these out. Duck Season is the most recent of these that I have tried out, and it was definitely something. Read more
Some times, the best things are those you don’t see coming. Prior to last week, I didn’t even know this game existed. Despite the fact that my reviews of visual novels tend to gain the most views, I haven’t found myself as familiar with the genre as some other visual novel fans. And honestly I have to ask, HOW is something as brilliant as this game not more popular? I get that it has only just now been released in the US, but you’d think that word of mouth would travel beyond language barriers.
Simply put, I have not been this floored by a game since I played Euphoria, and this game may be even better than it. Let that sink in… I wrote a thesis length essay on Euphoria… I was expecting to never find another work of fiction in any genre that blew my mind the same way. I don’t even know where to begin. Even though you obviously won’t see this piece until I complete it, right now I don’t even know how I’m going to. I just can’t think of the words to adequately describe my feelings towards this game, and describing my feelings towards games is my fucking job! Read more
Scratches: Director’s Cut is an updated port of an Argentinean point and click horror game, simply titled Scratches, that was originally released in 2006. The Director’s Cut of the game was originally released in 2007 and was released on Steam in 2011, only to later be removed. Looking it up, I was intrigued by what I heard about this game. There was very little that was mentioned about this game beforehand, but pretty much everything I heard was something good. Specifically what I heard that caught my attention was that it was a game that managed to scare people without including a single drop of blood. Yes this game is a T rated horror game, and not only does it have no blood, but there are not even any enemies or ways to die. Despite this, Scratches does an excellent job at building up suspense and being legitimately scary at some points.
Admittedly, I would not say it is the scariest horror game I have played, and I have not even played that many, but it does have a story that is very compelling and suspenseful. Unfortunately it is also pretty slow and takes a while to build up to where it gets really exciting, and considering that the gameplay is rather poorly handled, it means that it will not catch your attention right away. To add to this, the game is pretty short lived and somewhat uneventful. Overall Scratches is good for what it is and what it accomplishes. It manages to provide a compelling and creepy atmosphere without any violence despite being a bit slow. Read more
Serena is a very brief yet powerful point and click game that leaves a large emotional impact on the player. It has received a lot of support from the adventure fan community and has had some high profile people involved such as former Sierra staff member Josh Mandel, and the character Serena being voiced by Sarah Wilson, otherwise known as Pushing up Roses. This game was also the first to be developed by Senscape, who is headed by Agustin Cordes. When compared to Agustin Corde’s previous game, Scratches, Serena’s story is far more compelling and deep yet the game itself also has far less content. The one important aspect to note about Serena is that the game can be beaten in less than an hour. However, the game is free to play, and as a result, I cannot think of any reason not to recommend Serena. Read more
Neverending Nightmares was a rather interesting horror title released towards the end of last year for both Steam and Ouya. Right from looking at some screenshots, you can already see it has a unique art style as well as some frightening imagery. It also has a unique premise in that it is about a mental patient who has an unending series of nightmares as he struggles to awake from them. This is also a game that relies a lot more heavily on atmosphere than on mere jumpscares and traditional scares that try to assault your senses. Read more
Playing through Ib was a fascinating experience. Free to play RPG Maker horror games seem to be surprisingly common, and it surprises me that you don’t see many professional developers copying their format. There has always been something unappealing to me about most standard horror games. The kind that consist almost entirely of jump scares and “run and hide from scary monsters” moments. While that isn’t an inherently bad premise, It seems a tad boring to me to rely on assaulting the players senses rather than horrifying them through the content of the story. Read more
CW: Violence and Gore.
The (Mario) The Music Box series is just so insane and absurd that I can’t get enough of it. The first installment was a solid Corpse Party clone marred only by having button mashing prompts that will make your arms fall off before completing the game. I did have some other complaints about unresolved plot points and a lack of relevance to the Mario canon, and the sequel, (Mario) The Music Box – ARC, takes those criticisms into account… in the weirdest way possible.
The first (Mario) The Music Box was a fairly standard Corpse Party clone but (Mario) The Music Box – ARC decides to abandon any semblance of sanity that remained in this series… if there was any to begin with. Read more
I’ve talked about Misao: Definitive Edition a couple weeks ago. I did find that there was at least a marginal amount of appeal to that game, but it fell apart under close scrutiny and it becomes hard to recommend. Mad Father was originally released in 2012 as a freeware title and was the second game developed by Sen after the original version of Misao. Despite this, Mad Father received a remake for Steam before Misao did. After having played both games it is quite obvious as to why; Mad Father is an immensely superior title.
The reason that Mad Father is so much better than Misao can be chalked up to a much more consistent story with much stronger writing. I do not consider Mad Father a perfect game by any stretch and it certainly has its fair share of issues, but I will say that I found this one have much stronger substance in its content and there were at least a few genuinely scary moments. Read more
TW: References to Violence, Gore, and child abuse.
Lately I have had an interest in the “RPG Maker horror game” sub genre of sorts. The last one I covered was (Mario) The Music Box which I certainly enjoyed but my space bar did not. Prior to that the only other games I played of this type are Yume Nikki, LISA: The First, and Corpse Party Blood Covered (which wasn’t actually made in RPG Maker but probably could have been).
Games like Yume Nikki and LISA: The First are only tangentially connected to games like Corpse party, The Witch’s House, Ib, Ao Oni, Mad Father, and the subject of this review; Misao. The reason I say this is because those types of games aren’t explicit horror titles and are more so abstract walking sims with some very weird set pieces. I wasn’t crazy about Yume Nikki (although I can see why others are), I have quite liked the more straight up horror titles.
At the time of writing I have completed the Steam remakes of Mad Father and of its predecessor Misao. Despite the fact that Sen released their remake of Mad Father first, I decided to play Misao first because the original version was made before Mad Father. I am glad that I did so because it allows me to see how much was improved from one game to another. Read more