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.
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I saw the trailer for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawn Guard and pretty much went, ‘Hrmmm, vague, vampire like monsters with some soul eating involved. Pretty neat but maybe not enough to get me to play again,’ and then I saw the part with crossbows. My reaction changed. ‘HOLY FUCKING CHEESE TRIANGLES! CROSSBOWS. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! I WANT A CROSSBOW AND MOUNTED COMBAT!’ is what I said.
So, in light of the Dawn Guard trailer showing me the fucking weapon I wanted to use since Oblivion, I decided to play Skyrim again. Seriously, Morrowind was so good on weapon variety, story, quests and other crap and Oblivion just kinda sucked. AND IT DIDN’T HAVE CROSSBOWS. CROSSBOWS ARE AWESOME. Nothing makes you feel more like a vampire hunter than a top hat, woodaxe, Abe Lincoln beard and a crossbow.
I had lost my old save file when I upgraded my computer, so it was a fresh start which was part of the reason why I didn’t go back and play it after I got my new pc. I was bored of Skyrim and I didn’t want to go back to pissing around with no perks, skills, armour or cash. Nor did I want to do the quests again. So, I ignored it, played Pokemon TCG, MW3 and the surprisingly enjoyable Warlock: Master of the Arcane. However, this week I saw that trailer and I decided to play it again.
Holy crap man. I have never seen so many dragons with ADHD. I’ll be fighting a dragon, who just swooped down on me while I was on my way to a quest and it’ll kill my horse. Then it’ll engage every other target in a five hundred yard radius. I’m left chasing this fucking flying lizard around, bow in hand, screaming ‘COME BACK HERE! I JUST WANT TO TALK AND TO TAKE YOUR SOUL SO I CAN SHOUT MORE!’. Other than that, it’s been good to replay.
There’s just something so very satisfying about sneaking up behind someone, covering their mouth with your hand, tilting their neck forward to spill blood away from you and give more throat to slash and then cutting their throat and leaving them to bleed out on the cold, damp floor.
Or firing an arrow, watching it sail through the air and embed itself in some fool’s skull. Their head is smacked back in a shower of blood and then they hit the floor. Their muppet friend just looks at the dead body and goes, ‘Huh? Is someone there?’. Awesome.
The gory combat of Skyrim makes up for those terrible inventory searches for potions and annoying guards. I mean charging across at a guy, blocking his attack and then slashing his head off has a nice feel to it. Or just slamming your sword so far through a guy it pops out the other side.
I like Skyrim for all of that gore and combat. But I really appreciate the way every little aspect of your character’s journey can just be turned into some sort of rp-ing fanfic. I mean the story just writes itself. Take my current character. He’s the Dragonborn, soon to be head of the Thieves’ Guild, Legate of the Imperial Legion and an assassin of the Dark Brotherhood. This guy leads like seven secret lives! I’m hard pressed to lead one, non-secret life.
So, I’m taking another look at Skyrim and you know what?
I’m liking what I’m seeing.