I don’t know what it is with the last 12 months or so but I’ve noticed a lot more of these horror survival games being released. Instead of a game placing you in a Fantasy Movie or an Action Movie, you are now the start in a psychological horror movie. You are our survivor and you’re now solving puzzles, running like hell and FREAKING THE FUCK OUT BECAUSE WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?
I mean let’s take a look at some of the titles being released. The big ones are Allan Wake and The Walking Dead. I suppose you can throw Amnesia in there as well. These are games where there is still combat involved but a lot more of puzzle solving, stealth and running are involved too. It provides a nice change to what you usually do in a game. Usually, if you have an enemy or a series of enemies, you smash through them with your M4A1 or your mighty magical war-hammer. You don’t turn off your torch and fucking leg it.
But that’s the kind of thing these new games are trying to promote. Less fighting and more running. Less frustrating and more frightening. Puzzles and little details too. It’s no longer a case of, proceed to objective A, kill enemies then look for the huge fucking neon sign which says ‘OBJECTIVE’ or the mini-map and quest tracker which say ‘Go to Red Rock and break 15 boxes of Plague Contagion!’. It’s more, listen to creepy music and noises, look for a key, use key to open a door and then find a way to turn to the power back on. ONLY THEN TO SEE THE FREAKY LITTLE GIRL WITH KNIVES FOR EYES.
These horror survival games kinda remind me of the original Half-Life. Now, the original Half-Life was one hell of a game. You spent your time alternating between two types of game-play; puzzle solving and shooting. You would shoot aliens for a little bit and then need to figure out how to cross the electrified water. Then they’d throw you a jumping puzzle. It was good though. Puzzles, fighting and jumping. Gordon Freeman is probably one of the few action heroes with a physics degree.
While these new games retain some of that Half-Life feel, a lot of them are now focused on stealth and turning your torch off. It’s more avoiding danger and finding a way out rather than finding your way to danger and blasting your way out.
Beyond the game-play differences there’s also the fact that many of these games are relying on Kickstarter projects and donations to get off the ground. Games like the SCP variants are some relatively freaky games and they’re free. The guy who knocked up the original SCP did in two days during lunch-breaks. It’s a staircase simulator but it’s still plenty freaky.
So, I’m stuck wondering why there’s this change to this genre because usually these things follow a pattern. But I guess maybe people just wanted something different, maybe they wanted to scare themselves a little.
Now, while I don’t deal overly well with scary stuff, at least not the incredibly gory stuff, these games provide a cool alternative to the wash of action games and make for some great Youtube Let’s Play vids.
On a side note, I really hope someone makes a sandboxy RPG from The Stand by Stephen King. Something about being a survivor in the post super-flu world catches my attention.