Published on March 9th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
History of Horror Games: Exodus to Independence
With the AAA game business opting for more hybrid gameplay and easier combat, the already niche and waning genre of horror seemed lost. It would take innovation and dedication to bring about new games, which is a huge risk to big publishers. But just as all seemed lost, the unexpected rise of the recently migrated horror game came about in 2010 when Limbo and Amnesia were released to much praise.
Limbo is a side-scrolling platform-puzzle game, with the mechanics of Little Big Planet, the visual aesthetic of Dark City and the unforgiving nature of Another World. This came to XBLA and gained popularity as a difficult and atmospheric “Game as Art” piece.
Amnesia is a first person adventure game made by the team who created the Penumbra series on PC. As the title suggests the story follows a man with amnesia exploring a castle. It features an insanity mechanic whereby you must mediate the main character between shadows and light, shadows increasing insanity and light attacting creatures. You are unable to fight enemies and must escape from them when encountered. Amnesia is currently one of the most popular modern horror game and is often cited as the most terrifying not just of this generation, but of all time.
Corpse Party on the PSP was a long time coming and is a remake of a visual novel made on RPG maker back in the late 90’s. It is a Japanese game with typical J-Horror style tropes and is set in a school with a group of people all of whom can be killed in a multi-branching story.
2012 has had its own crop of indie horror starting with the internet creepypasta Slenderman and SCP-087 both being certified their own games in Slender The 8 Pages, a minimalist game in which you collect 8 pages while attempting to evade the Slenderman and eponymously titled SCP-087, a first person game based around suspense.
A mod of open world shooter Arma II was released called Day Z, making a transformation into a zombie survival game with online multiplayer. It’s good to see a “real” survival aspect in a zombie game, but it’s going to be a while before the game is properly functional, as it currently stands, glitches and exploits hinder the experience.
Another game with survival mechanics is Lone Survivor, a 2D side-scroller with stealth and resource management, set in an apartment in an infection post-apocalypse of some form, the player must learn to stay alive.
Home is also a 2D side-scroller but is an adventure with story branches, like Lone Survivor, it has a driven and thematic narrative with elements of the psychological ramifications of being in a horror environment.
If you’re looking for cheap or free indie horror games I suggest checking out Indie Games top 10 2012 horror games or this list of horror games on Youtube all completely free.
There are a couple of games this generation that haven’t made an appearance in a while, like Clocktower and System Shock, there are also some that never saw our shores like Generation Xth Code Hazard, (which fans are now translating) a Wizardry style RPG horror and the 4th instalment in the Project Zero series, Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, a Wii game co-developed by Suda-51.
With the success of these current titles horror for 2013 is looking to be spectacular.
I’ve already mentioned some of the bigger titles in my feature on the Metro website, but you can also find some of the other great titles as well as some just released on Survival Horror Online and The Astronauts to play in 2013 list.
However there are still a couple of games that aren’t on those lists, for example:
Darkwood, what I’m coining as horror’s answer to Hotline Miami. It features perma-death, something that isn’t often employed in games that makes the game experience much more frightening.
Song of Saya, a Japanese visual novel with multiple endings, this game has been around for a while in Japanese but is now getting an English translation thanks to JAST USA, you know, the folks behind Boob Wars localisation…
Stranded Deep, a game currently on Steam’s Greenlight about a plane crash survivor in shark-infested waters.
The PC and indie scene is really leading the pack, it’s brilliant that we can look forward to these successful games, especially after the recent malpractices within the industry and how generic and stale a lot of new titles have become. With such great and interesting concepts coming in these new games this year it’s not all doom and gloom after all. (Or maybe it is?)