An Eerie Echo of Time and Place – PC – Perception – 2017

20181006201905_1Perception
PC
Deep End Games/Feardemic
Genre: Survival Horror
2017

Having lived in New England my entire life, I’m no stranger to films that involve the Boston and general North Shore areas of Massachusetts.  Given that authors like Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft also center quite a bit of their work around the New England area, there is plenty of horror related literature to reference that center around Maine and Rhode Island.  Gaming has also recently had a few prominent settings in the area, notably Fallout 4 which takes place in The Commonwealth a.k.a. Massachusetts.  In most media, you only have to look in a general direction to find work that centers around this section of the country.  I mean, it’s been around long enough to gain some kind of attention.

I had originally heard of Perception at PAX a couple of years back and while I didn’t get to check out the demo, my friends did and raved about it.  I threw it on to a list of games I would keep an eye on and when I looked into it, I realized that not only did the game take place in New England, but it was also developed by a company based right out of Boston.  From that point, I don’t think the game fell off of my radar until I purchased it during a sale on Steam.

Given my backlog, I had tried getting into the game once before and wound up distracted by other things in my life (and probably other games, to be honest) but given the time of year, I’ve been trying to work through some of the spookier games in my library.  I settled on the fact that I owed it to myself to play through Perception to see if my initial hype could be lived up to, especially given the unique mechanics of the game that I had heard so much about.
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The Challenge From Beyond – MS-DOS – Alone in the Dark – 1992

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Alone in the Dark
PC
Infogrames
Genre: Survival Horror
1992

Back in the 1990s, horror aficionado and computer programmer Frederick Reynal was given the privilege of sitting at the helm of a horror project for Infogrames.  As a fan of George Romero and Dario Argento, he and his team wanted to create a game that placed a character into a foreign environment and required them to puzzle out a way to survive.  At the time, it was a concept that hadn’t been done in this particular manner. It would use 3D graphics and strive to create the fear that even a small gesture like opening a door or reading a book could end up with your character’s untimely demise.

Alone in the Dark was the product of that effort.  Billed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first 3D survival horror game, its influence can be found throughout the genre to this day in games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and various other games that has since leaned into action-horror; a move that this series would take itself much later in its lifespan.  To say that Alone in the Dark is responsible for the majority of the mechanics and efforts in the horror genre as we know it would be an apt, if not understated, conclusion to make.

Time has done a number of a variety of the trailblazers in video game history, however, and given how Alone in the Dark looks based on screenshots alone, it might be worth it to wonder how it holds up now and which influences- innovative or not- are just as novel now or may have needed some improvement from the get-go.
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Turn Away from The Darkness – Playstation Portable – ObsCure: The Aftermath – 2009

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ObsCure: The Aftermath
Playstation Portable
Hydravision Entertainment/Ignition Entertainment
2009
Genre: Survival Horror

There are certain things that a horror movie needs to be effective, especially in the slasher genre.  First, there needs to be a discernible villain or danger; something that will strike fear into the viewer when it appears or is referenced by the characters.  Having a group of characters who are, for the most part, relatable and likable helps you want to root for the ‘heroes’ to survive and triumph over their circumstances.  Atmosphere is another element that cannot be underestimated, whether it is terrifying because of a lack of familiarity or because it is a familiar setting that has been invaded.

Cobbling together a survival horror game is the same way.  In 2005, Hydravision Entertainment released a game by the name of ObsCure, which was heavily influenced by 1990s horror films like The Faculty.  It introduced co-op horror in an effective way and made for a fun experience (which you can read my review of here, if you like).  Like any decent horror movie, it left the door open for the potential sequel, even if just a crack.  In 2008, ObsCure: The Aftermath hit the shelves for the Playstation 2, Wii, and Windows.  The next year, it hit the Playstation Portable, and in just the past few years, it arrived on Steam.

While ObsCure was a delightful horror romp with a few flaws here and there, did ObsCure: The Aftermath manage to capture the same magic that it’s progenitor created?  Let me save you the trouble:

No.  No it did not.

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A Gift That Gives Quite A Bit – Playstation 4 – White Day: A Labyrinth Named School – 2017

White Day:a labyrinth named school_20180202145814

White Day: A Labyrinth Named School
Playstation 4
ROI Games/Sonnori
Genre: Survival Horror
2017
There are a thousand and one ways to scare an audience. In writing, you’re limited by the reader’s imagination- but the imagination is a powerful tool in this case. Filmmakers are limited by budget but with skill and creative angles and production, even the most mediocre offering has its moments. When it comes to video games, there are still limitations, but the sky is the limit when it comes to effects, locations, and most other elements. There are a variety of styles to be experienced from the years of exploring themes and methods of exacting terrifying encounters in electronic worlds.
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is a remake of a game from 2001, but this is the first that the United States has seen of it on consoles or in a full translation. Between the county’s interest in foreign horror offerings and gaming, there have only been a few titles that were made originally in Asia and remade for worldwide distribution (Corpse Party being another recent example) but they have been appearing every so often to the excitement of horror fans.
Given the fourteen years the US waited for White Day to hit consoles, how did it transition into the ever-growing library of chilling games that we’ve been seeing over the past few years- and was it worth the wait in any case?

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Your Friend ‘Til the End – PC – Tattletail – 2016

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Tattletail
PC
Waygetter Electronics
Genre: Survival Horror
2016

Video game horror has a lot of different flavors.  While there are plenty that rely on atmosphere and a number that rely on intense or grotesque action, recent years have brought us a slew of games that rely on the classic anticipation and jump scare combination.  The most famous of these, of course, is Five Nights at Freddy’s, but a number of other titles have come about in a similar vein.

Without any warning, Tattletail appeared on Steam with a bright and cheerful commercial straight out of the nineties starring the titular (horrifying analog of a Furby) Tattletail.  Based on the trailer and price, I couldn’t justify not giving this game a try.  Originally, I had bought it and started on it with some friends in tow, because horror is always better with an audience.

Since this game came out less than a year ago, I guess there’s no point in asking if it holds up over time.  The question, then, is how does it hold up in the now growing genre of traumatic animatronic horror?

As with most current games, please be aware that I’ll try to avoid any spoilers I can for this game, but there may be spoilers within.

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