It might be hard to believe for people that didn’t …
Based on designer Matt Gilgenbach’s battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, Neverending Nightmares is a psychological horror game that amplifies feelings of unease through repetition in a minimalist setting. Personally, this was the most difficult game for me to finish because of the content. There were several moments when I just had to stop and seriously question whether or not I could feasibly finish the game. I am a little squeamish around blood, which is why I refuse to see most horror movies right now, and Neverending Nightmares artistic style made sure you knew there was blood on screen.
Among the Sleep returns players to a time when they had merely two years of world knowledge under their diaper. At this tender age you are just beginning to hold conversations, everything is new and exciting, and imaginative play is how you spend most of your day. Of course, sometimes life gets a little scary. Among the Sleep uses the perspective of a two year old protagonist to remind players just how frightening the world can be, especially when dealing with traumatic events. Be warned. This game looks cute and creepy, but it deals with pretty heavy topics like alcoholism and child abuse.
EA’s sci-fi horror doesn’t so much wear its influences on its sleeve, but rather takes them to a tailor and makes them into a three-piece suit. Its protagonist, for instance, is named Isaac Clarke – an eye-rolling, brow-beating reference to two of science fiction’s heavyweight authors, and its premise is, essentially, Event Horizon. But despite all this, it all works really rather well.
When Resident Evil arrived on the scene in 1996, it changed horror gaming forever. The almost unheard of genre known as survival-horror exploded into the stratosphere as one of the industry’s greatest success stories, and one of gaming’s most well-known franchises was born. Even as the original title was a fantastically unique and incredibly frightening experience though, it also had a shortlist of readily apparent problems. From the meme-worthy cheese of the voice-acting and dialogue to the ill-advised live-action opening at the game’s outset, Resident Evil in its first iteration lacked the confidence and clarity of vision to reach the true heights it was capable of. All of that would change in 1998.
Over the many years since the SNES and PSX had their day in the sun, their legacy and influence have still been felt with regular validity. Legend of Zelda games are still compared to SNES classic, A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy games are still measured by the stick of Final Fantasy VII, and exploratory action-platformers are leveled into a prestigious subgenre known as “metroidvania”.
The idea of psychological horror is one that has resonated strongly with audiences for as long as horror has been a genre. First introduced by the narrative titans, HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, the notion of psychological horror carried with it a feeling that was intensely unsettling: the idea that we may have more to fear from within than without.
When tasked with choosing a particular horror game from the long and distinguished list, Condemned: Criminal Origins sticks out for a number of reasons. It was one of the best Xbox 360 launch titles, it had a nice CSI-style investigation system, and it let you smash tramps in the face with a brick. All good, valid grounds to recommend the game to others, and yet none of them come close to the one overarching element that everyone who played it will remember.