2014 was a pretty good year for horror fans, with a number of titles across several platforms that provided scares and terror aplenty. Here we have a quick look at some of the best, including one which might have passed under the radar or the average gamer.
Alien: Isolationwas a much anticipated survival horror game which took the gloriously 1970s stylings of Ridley Scott’s classic science fiction movie and married them to a tense and exciting mix of stealth and action. The story is set between the first and second movies and sees Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, seeking the truth behind the baffling events which led to her mother’s disappearance. Travelling to a giant space station, the Sevastopol, along with a representative of the shady Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Amanda hopes to find the flight recorder from the Nostromo but instead discovers the station to be in a state of chaos. No prizes for guessing what’s responsible.
What follows is a superb exercise in true survival horror, where the player must use their wits to evade the supremely cunning and vicious alien which stalks the corridors of the Sevastopol. This isn’t a game for action junkies and instead the game creates a truly unsettling atmosphere where the player never really knows what’s going to happen next. The free-roaming alien is unpredictable and intelligent and it’s the sudden encounters with it which provide the game’s most thrilling moments, as you desperately struggle to outwit it using only minimal resources. Throw in superb visuals, which replicate the original movie’s look perfectly, and wonderfully complex audio design, and you have all the makings of a modern horror classic.
While not strictly a game in itself,
P.T.stands as a stunning entry into the horror genre and which bodes well for one of 2015’s most anticipated releases. P.T. is actually a playable demo of the forthcoming Silent Hills, which is being directed by Metal Gear’s Hideo Kojima, but which was not marketed as such when it was released on the PlayStation Network in August. Players who downloaded the free title found themselves awakening in a mysterious house which was plagued by supernatural occurrences but which simply consists of a single looping corridor.
There are no zombies or other such physical horrors here though, only those of the mind and it’s testament to the skill of P.T.’s makers and their understanding of what horror really is, that the game proves so utterly terrifying. The world created here is nightmarish but all too believable and as you delve into it, you’ll start to question your own sanity such is its haunting and psychologically unsettling nature. This isn’t a game which relies on cheap jump scares to create tension but instead provides true horror that shows just what the video gaming medium can do when it’s utilized by those with true vision and talent. Play it and prepare to be shattered.
Among the Sleepis unusual for a horror game as instead of a brave hero as the player character, it instead casts a two-year child as its protagonist. It’s a more complex experience than your typical title, and follows the tense and often heart-breaking journey of this toddler as he awakens one night to strange sounds in his house, only to wander off looking for comfort.
This journey takes him through an eerie landscape created almost entirely in his imagination but which is no less terrifying for this fact. Adding to Among the Sleep’s impact is the way it deals with deep, mature themes rarely tackled in games and which, when combined with the Paranormal Activity-style scares, result in a highly memorable horror event.
The Forestis a sort of even more twisted version of Day Z, a minimalist survival horror experience that casts players in the role of the sole survivor of a plane crash. At first the goal is simply to survive the nightmare of being trapped on an island but it’s not long before the real threat arrives, in the form of nocturnal cannibalistic mutants. However, in a neat twist, the mutants are not always a threat to the player and may even attempt to communicate with them, via strange effigies left out for them to find. The game features no real goal other than to survive and there are the usual crafting, trap laying and hunting activities to engage in, with multi-player added in as a patch in November 2014 (although it is currently rather unstable).
While nothing overly original, bearing marks of horror movies like The Descent and games like Minecraft and Don’t Starve, The Forest distinguishes itself by simply being damn scary. The mutants are genuinely terrifying but complex creations and while the tension leading up to an encounter is nerve-wracking enough, any actual meeting with them is a nightmarish experience that will leave you in tatters. When coupled with the extensive crafting system and wonderfully realised world that is yours to explore, The Forest becomes truly memorable.
Dying Lightactually released in 2015 but we’re including it here as it was originally scheduled for 2014 and finally dropped in January 2015. Whatever its release date though, this parkour-based open-world zombie epic stands as a fine slice of action/horror gaming.
Players are thrust into a stunningly released apocalyptic fictional city in South America, following a viral outbreak that has left much of the world as mindless, shambling zombies. The few survivors that remain must scavenge for supplies, while fending off the unwelcome attentions of the zombies and unscrupulous humans. Gameplay is focussed on fast-moving, free-running-style combat where the player must make use of a huge range of melee weapons and every aspect of the environment to dispense bloody death. The dynamic day/night cycle allows players to venture forth during the day to scavenge supplies and set traps, while darkness brings its own rewards but at the risk of even more aggressive zombies.
Dying Light is ambitious and vibrant, with incredibly satisfying combat, a massive world that is a sheer joy to explore, thanks to the parkour system, and rewarding co-op multi-player, and which doesn’t stint on the scares and shocks. If the real apocalypse is this much fun, then roll on the end of the world.
What games are hot this year you may check out in Upcoming Horror Games in 2015.