CGC Reacts….IN HORROR…. AGAIN (Opinion)

Updated: Feb 19

What is scarier than a list of horror games and our opinions on them? Why, a second list of horror games and our opinions on them! Spooktober wasn’t enough in our eyes and we here at CGC decided to share with you, just how much horror games mean to us.

A few new wrinkles this time (though we highly recommend checking out part 1!) to spice things up. As may have been apparent previously, horror is subjective matter. The creative ways developers can instill such terror is more unique and varied than perhaps any other medium.

The act of playing the game, knowing the player must be the catalyst for every action/reaction can create interesting dynamics, whether that's through gameplay systems, level or sound design but usually a mix. These are just a few of some such examples that persist that further stand out as unique pieces in their own right.

Vincent Greene – State of Decay

Platform: Xbox 360, PC, Xbox Gamepass

Developer: Undead Labs

Genre: RPG, Survival Simulator

Release: June 5th, 2013

As a big fan of everything zombie I was naturally intrigued by State of Decay. The prospect of entering a zombie laden world with the added layer of permadeath just sprinkled on top for good measure had me more than a little excited. This element to State of Decay's gameplay makes every moment more heightened, the risk to reward balancing act is something you will have to take into account every single time you step outside of the walls of whatever safe haven you have decided to lay down roots in.

Each time you venture out on a mission you are edging ever closer to your impending doom, every run could be your last, every decision you make better be the right one or there will be no coming back for you. The only way you respawn in this world is as a flesh-eating zombie, that will be left to be dealt with like all of the rest of the undead. No matter how adept you think you have gotten at surviving in this post-apocalyptic landscape, death is always lingering, waiting around the corner, one bite away from ending it all.

In many ways it shares a lot of its DNA with The Walking Dead, as soon as you grow attached to a character that is usually when the cruelest of fates befalls that very same person. It is a raw, unforgiving world that chills you to the bone, it makes you earn every little inch you gain, but the losses along the way will be unmeasurable. It is not only terrifying, but also a post-apocalyptic proven ground, it is the survival of the fittest, a death filled Darwinian world that there is no escape from. 

James Desmond – Haunted PS1 Demo Disk

Platform: PC / Itch (dot) io

Developer: Various

Genre: Horror, Atmospheric, Dark, Collection

Release: n/a

I am going to cheat a bit here but bear with me. The Haunted PS1 Demo Disk is a collection of horror themed games cobbled together by various indie developers over on itch (dot) io. This is a website dedicated to celebrating all the weird and wonderful minds of the world that may otherwise not get the time of day, especially in the competitive gaming industry space.

PC players have been benefiting from this site for years and it has even been home to some indie darlings like Celeste or Night in the Woods. But I digress, with this demo disk, some like minds decided to curate a selection of horror-based titles all with a wide variety of genres. Tickling the nostalgia bone by wrapping it up in the guise of the PS1 demo disks you used to know.

The hardest thing about describing these short vignettes is the variety they offer. I could speak at length about Tasty Ramen by Siactro. A First-person game where you are stuck inside a supermarket trying to find the keys to escape. All the while attempting to avoid evil, sentient packets of dried ramen. You wouldn’t think that would scare the bejesus out of you but nonetheless I was freaked good and proper.

For the purposes of this reacts alone, I could have chosen to speak about Heartworm by Vincent Adinolfi, a nostalgic fixed camera trip down Silent Hill lane. It’s foreboding atmosphere and slow methodical pacing instills the kind of fear that’s hard to shake afterward. The low poly count only adds to the tension as the reality of this world (and the others you inhabit) already feels off kilter and unsettling.

All these vignettes cover a wider swathe of topics, genres, feelings, and each one is unique. The best way I can describe these titles is by saying nothing at all and instead insisting you give them a try. I went in blind and was pleasantly surprised and horrified in equal measure and I highly recommend those curious enough do the very same.

Paul Mason - Dante’s Inferno

Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Developer: Visceral Games, Electronic Arts, Behaviour Interactive

Genre: Hack and slash

Release: February 4, 2010

Dante’s Inferno is not so much a horror game in execution—it’s very much an action-orientated, high octane affair. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be influenced by horror, and wear that influence on it’s sleeve.

Inspired by Inferno, part of the Divine Comedy, you play as Dante—a Templar—who fights through the circles of hell to save his partner Beatrice. Throughout your hellish venture, you face legions of demons and furious denizens of the Lake of Fire. This is where the horror elements come in. Particularly in relation to the boss characters—they are grotesque and likely to unnerve, rather than scare. King Minos is an unsightly beast, ànd Cerberus, has a horrifyingly mocking quality attributed to it’s devilish grin. While there are few moment to moment scares, Dante’s Inferno offers truly inspiring. fiendish visual design. The atmosphere found in the many levels of Hell is daunting, suitable for the eternal torture it’s residents face.

There is something particularly attractive about this game as an Irishman, as it depicts such a savage interpretation of Christian hell. Catholicism is embedded into us from a young age without any choice in the matter. While I would consider myself to be a staunch atheist, there is a certain lure surrounding religious themes in gaming for me—especially the more vicious and unrelenting renditions facets of faith.

With spooky season in full swing, you could do a lot worse than delve into the infernal trappings of Dante’s Inferno. Light on horror, heavy on horror influence and exploration of religious themes.

State of Decay image taken from here

Dante’s Inferno image taken from the press kit here

Haunted PS1 Demo Disk image taken from here

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