The Horror Games That Time Forgot
For as long as humans have been telling stories, they've loved to scare the bejeesus out of each other. From the old ghost stories round the camp-fire to the latest Paranormal Activity movi,e being scared in a safe environment is one of life's great pleasures for many people. Video games were always going to get in on the act, with the added level of interactivity meaning that you're really involved in the scaryness. Arguably, games are the most effective medium for scares that there has ever been. So, with Halloween here, lock your doors and turn the lights off as we look at the horror games that time forgot. Everyone knows Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but what about these lesser known examples of the genre. How many have you dared play?
This 1989 NES/Famicom game from Capcom is often said to be the first Survival Horror game. From a top-down perspective the player controlled a group of five characters wandering a terrifying haunted mansion. Each character has a unique special sets of skills (Liam Neeson style) and if they should die during the game, they can not be brought back to life. Often cited as one of the main influences on the original Resident Evil this 8-bit game (based on a horror movie of the same title) never made it (officially) out of Japan.
One of the earliest 3D games, this 1992 PC game from Infrogames would also prove to be highly influential. Again set largely in a spooky mansion and inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft, the game went onto spawn several sequels and a distinctly less successful 2008 reboot. Most terrifyingly of all however it was turned into an apparently terrible duo of films directed by worst director in the world™ Uwe Boll. It wasn't the film itself that scared audiences however, it was the fact that somebody keeps giving that clown money.
The Playstation game released in the west as Clocktower was actually the second game in the series, and known as Clocktower 2 in Japan. A point and click adventure from 1996, the game put players in the heart of a slasher-movie scenario. Taking control of a variety of characters, the aim was to escape from the evil Scissorman, a Jason/Michael Myers type, and offered a selection of good or bad endings for each character. The concept was due to be turned into a movie by the late David R Ellis, director of Snakes On A Plane, but has been put on hold following his untimely passing.
In 1999, Square tried to combine Survival Horror with more traditional RPG elements, and Parasite Eve was the result. The Playstation game put gamers in the shoes of Aya Brea, a NYPD officer who encounters Eve, a lifeform made up of mitochondria that gained self-awareness. Eve is able to control the mitochondria in other life forms and is able to mutate them or cause spontaneous combustion. The game actually acts as a sequel to the 1995 novel of the same name, which was translated into English by Vertical in 2005.
Also known as Project Zero, this Playstation 2 game went on to spawn several sequels in Japan, but had much less success in the west. The game followed main character Miku searching for her lost brother, armed with a camera able to fend off ghosts. A very similar set up to the later Luigi's Mansion, but a very different game! Famed for it's extremely creepy atmosphere, this is one for true horror connoisseurs.
Starting off as a dojin (fan-made) game for an obscure 16-bit Japanese computer, Corpse Party eventually made it's way onto PSP and PSN. A top-down adventure in a similar style to Sweet Home, the spooky goings-on this time in a haunted, abandoned school called Heavenly Host Elementary. Because if Ringu taught us anything it's nothing is quite as freaky as Japanese ghost children....
Think Silent Hill set in 1930's England and you won't be a million miles away from this obscure PS2 game. It was born out of a desire by developer's Punchline to create a new type of horror game, that concentrated on psychological horror over blood and guts and gore. Generally viewed as an interesting but flawed game, controversy over some implied sexual content led Sony to decline releasing it in the US. Atlus stepped in to release it instead but gamers elsewhere weren't quite so lucky. It was banned outright in Australia, while The UK distributors decided to cancel the game themselves following a tabloid campaign (falsely) claiming the game contained sadomasochistic content. That's Brit tabloids for you- never let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good story.
This DS game from Renegade Kid was pretty unusual on Nintendo's dual-screen hand-held for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was a horror game, and secondly it was a FPS. Combining these two genres proved pretty damn effective, especially as you could play it in the dark with headphones on and feel incredibly immersed. Set in a creepy psychiatric ward, the game sold more than 100,000 copies, and even spawned a sequel in 2010.
How many do you remember? Tell us about your fave Scary game experiences!