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.
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.
TW: References to violence, gore, suicide, cannibalism, child abuse, and murder.
Though I have yet to play many of them, I have always held a special interest in fan games. It is especially interesting to see what fans can do with an existing property with nothing other than their own money and free time, and it is especially noteworthy how many have managed to create an experience on par with or better than the original creators can.
Or you could be like (Mario) The Music Box and have nothing to do with Nintendo’s flagship series aside from having Mario and Luigi in it. It’s quite fitting that “Mario” is in parentheses in the title of this game because this game is not really about Mario. Of course one can get the impression that the last type of game that would be appropriate for Mario is a Corpse Party clone, but even still there is so little that has to do with the Mario series involved.
For a game with such a unique premise, I found myself rather let down by Pony Island. When just about every horror game in existence is based solely around the concept of “run and hide from scary monsters,” one would start to gravitate towards more unique horror games. I always have had a preference for games that can unnerve and scare the player through its sense of atmosphere, storyline, and events rather than just having you run from invincible enemies. That is not to say there is anything inherently wrong with the latter, it is simply that horror games seem to forget that there are other ways of being scary.
One of my favorite horror games is a 2008 platformer called Eversion. Yes you read that correctly, a horror platformer. What I enjoyed so much about this game was just how it created a dark and unnerving atmosphere based around simple platforming mechanics and no cutscenes or dialogue, and without gimmicky mechanics like tank controls that just make the game more tedious; the game was still as accessible as any other platformer.
Pony Island is a game that looked similar in concept to Eversion in many ways. Both games are ones that put up a facade of being a cutesy light hearted title, only to contain something dark and sinister underneath. If you haven’t caught on by now then I will just spell it out for you; Pony Island is not a game made for young girls about ponies.
Tw: Suicide and gore.
Blue Whale is a…weird game, and it is also a creepy one. I’m not entirely sure how to wrap my head around this game given that I can barely tell what it is trying to do. I wouldn’t quite say that it is a bad game but I can’t exactly recommend it due to a variety of reasons.
If one hasn’t caught on based on the title, Blue Whale has the same title as a rumored app that tasks teenagers with tasks meant to wear down their mental state over the course of 50 days until ordering the participant to kill themselves on the final day. There is no concrete proof that such an app ever existed but I do think that a horror adventure title based on a teenage girl playing said game makes for an interesting concept. Unfortunately this game is only loosely based on the rumored app and does not make great use of its premise.
Splatterhouse 2, known as Splatterhouse Part 2 in Japan, was a good game, a serious improvement over Wanpaku Graffiti if you even consider the games comparable. I would definitely consider it to be among the all time greats of the Sega Genesis, and would strongly recommend it to those whom are fans of Genesis library given that it is often overshadowed by… just about every Sega published title on the system. Whether I would consider it a better game than the first Splatterhouse though, I am undecided on.
TW: Violence and… oh fuck it, I’ll let the cover of the Turbo-Grafx 16 version speak for you.
This last October, I bit off a bit more than I can chew with the planned Halloween themed content. My initial plan was to review both Euphoria and Sweet Home within the month of October, but I kinda botched that when I tried to simultaneously juggle
If you live outside of Japan, you likely don’t know of many JRPGs prior to the 16 bit era. Hell, you may not even know of many DURING the 16 bit era either. Until Final Fantasy VII popularized the genre with its cinematic CG cutscenes and enormous marketing budget (not that the game had no merits in story or gameplay, but plenty of other games did to), even the most popular JRPGs in Japan were a niche attraction in the west. JRPGs retailed for up to $80 at the time without adjusting for inflation, and publishers often could not afford quality localization teams. A majority of games localized by Ted Woolsey, for instance, were handled within a month and had to cut several sentences down. The fact that games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV & VI, and Super Mario RPG had such strong scripts regardless really shows a testament to his ability, which allows me to cut him some slack for how bad Breath of Fire’s was (and also because Capcom themselves did a much worse with Breath of Fire II). Oh, and if you were in Europe then you likely never got ANY of these games.
Well, this is the final VGM of the month and I am feeling hella satisfied that I managed to get a Halloween/horror themed VGM up each week. Yes, “Appetite” counts since Starless IS one of the most horrifying games ever created (albeit for all the wrong reasons), and “The Eye Awakens a Jungle” is a pretty freaky track even if Earthbound isn’t a horror game (although mu training, brain surgery on children, and Giygas should be enough to qualify it). So, what better way to end off this month than with a final boss theme from Namco’s arcade horror classic, Splatterhouse?
I have stated in the past that I have grown tired of people asking whether or not games can be art due to various reasons. One of the main reasons that I dislike this topic’s consistent appearance is because it seems to be causing a general insecurity on the part of a lot of developers. The more that people believe that games are not art, the more people will sacrifice quality in an attempt to make an artistic statement simply because they think the latter is more important. Normally the best case scenario is a well designed game with a pretentious story that tries too hard to be deep and the worst case is having a game that uses bad game design as an excuse to support said pretentious story. Eversion, however, manages to be a game that actually succeeds in using its gameplay as a story telling tool and being fun at the same time.