Creating the Illusion of Life – PC – Bendy and the Ink Machine – 2017

20200324225231_1.jpgBendy and the Ink Machine
PC
Joey Drew Studios / theMeatly Games
Genre: Survival Horror
2017

I was never a fan of black and white cartoons. I’ve read plenty about them as I’ve grown up, though. From the likes of Betty Boop and Felix the Cat and some of the outliers around them, the cartoons of the 1920s and 1930s have always been interesting to me from afar. Like films from the same era, though, it’s been tough for me to sit down and try to watch them. Maybe it’s the lack of colored animation and film. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re relics now.

Maybe it’s the fact that they feel a little too smooth and- dare I say it- creepy.

It didn’t strike me until now, but there’s something both intriguing and unnerving about cartoons from the early era. Some of them toyed with fire and brimstone, and the voices are just a little too pristine and emotive. I can’t really put my finger on why the more historical offerings from the animated era of that time aren’t of interest to me, but I grew up on cartoons from my parents’ era around the 1970s and 1980s. I know a person or two who study the beginnings of animation, though, and while it’s interesting to hear them talk about it, it’s still not something I’ve taken a step back into myself.

The first time I saw Bendy and the Ink Machine, though, I knew that its visual style, dependent on the style of animation from the early days of its inception, was something that might hook me. When it first came out, I wasn’t completely sure what its angle was. It seemed sort of action-oriented. Then again, it could have just been some game angling at folks who enjoyed that old style of art, whatever it might have been. Then I heard it was creepy.

I dig creepy games.

As soon as I had it in my possession, I decided I needed to play through it and check it out for myself. Not only was I trying to play more indie games, but Bendy had been gaining popularity in merchandising and on my social networks. Even if I didn’t enjoy it, I knew when I was booting it up that I would get to know what was so special about it that it had gained such immense popularity in such a short time. Continue reading

That Fine Line Between Derision and Admiration – Nintendo 3DS – Creeping Terror – 2017

20190413100028_1Creeping Terror
Nintendo 3DS
Nikkatsu Corporation / Mebius / Aksys Games
Genre: Point-and-Click Horror
2017

The beautiful thing about the survival horror genre is that there are always developers trying to innovate and find new ways to break through the separation between the player and the distance of the screen to send shivers down spines and adrenaline through the roof. It gets tough with so many hands in the pot, though; for every Eternal Darkness, there is a The Ring: Terror’s Realm.

What happens when Japan’s oldest surviving film studio decides to jump into the ring, though? Nikkatsu Corporation is just that company and knowing quite a bit about films, it makes sense that they would eventually want to strike out into other media. Their first game to the development credit appears to be a PS Vita game from 2016 called Tokyo Tattoo Girls. While it doesn’t look up my alley, it genuinely seems like a strange first step for a company that’s been around for over 100 years.

Their second effort (so far as I can find, at least) was 2017’s Creeping Terror and it appeared on its surface to be a Clock Tower homage, which was the perfect draw for me to look further into it. As a fan of a number of games in Aksys’s catalog, it seemed like a safe enough bet that I’d at least enjoy it for a little while. It’s hard not to be wary as a horror fan, though. Some companies just throw some dark corridors together, slap some stickers on the outside comparing their game to “x”, and lure unwitting hopefuls into a web of mediocre and uninspired jump scares with nonsense plots.

Not that I’m jaded- but I had some hesitation heading into Creeping Terror. Continue reading

It’s Like a Totally Filtered Reality – XBox One – Blair Witch – 2019

Blair_Witch_video_game_posterBlair Witch
XBox One
Bloober Team/Lionsgate Games
Genre: Survival Horror
2019

Not all horror movies lend themselves well to their respective genre. Some efforts with popular movies like The Ring and Ju-On fall flat almost immediately while franchises like Friday the 13th and Evil Dead have produced offerings that, while not critically stellar, appealed to their audience and resulted in stronger showings. The reception of movie-based games, in general, has been all over the map.

When the Blair Witch film was announced to be released in 2016, sixteen years after the second film had slipped into theaters and directly into cult status, it came as a bit of a surprise to audiences that another entry was on the horizon. Another surprise came when an announcement was made about a game being developed for the same franchise coming out in 2019. Considering the quick obscurity of the trilogy of games developed for the PC in the early 2000s, taking another step into the gaming pool was an unexpected venture to hear about at first.

Headed up by Bloober Team, the creators of prominent indie titles like Layers of Fear and Observer with input from Lionsgate Films, the developers of the Blair Witch films, it seemed like after the decent reception for the film a few years before, the formula could be perfect to strike at the Blair Witch and her reign of terror again. Given the impact the initial trailer had, it seemed like the game could land on either side of the quality fence- but given that the game hit the XBox Game Pass, I figured it was as good a time as any to find out for myself how well the end product turned out from one of my favorite horror films growing up.
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Fear Twice Over and Doubled – Playstation 2 – Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly – 2003

TitleFatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
Playstation 2
Tecmo
Genre: Survival Horror
2003

While I’m still catching up with my batch of games from the Halloween season last year, it’s been a goal of mine to play through some of the major series of the horror genre since I started up the blog. Fatal Frame’s been among the goals since the beginning since I’ve only played through the first two despite owning the rest of the series. Given my recent look into the original Fatal Frame, I was excited to check out the second game again. Full honesty: I haven’t played it since high school and my memory of it was fuzzy but positive.

Now, Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly is one of the heralded possessions for horror collectors on the Playstation 2, though it hasn’t quite hit the heights of Rule of Rose or Kuon. It falls squarely into the crosshairs of “relatively affordable” and “rare enough to require hunting for a genuine copy”.  It has a strong reputation as one of the scariest horror video games available- period. The few vivid memories I had of the game before my replay were of some choice scares so I couldn’t really fight that reputation myself. Again, though- it had been a while.

Since October felt like the perfect time to make some headway into the Fatal Frame games, I figured I’d dig out my copy of the fabled Crimson Butterfly and see if I could dust off some of the cobwebs on my memories from years ago.  Continue reading

Brilliant Madness in Your Final Hours – Playstation 2 – Clock Tower 3 – 2003

Title.jpgClock Tower 3
Playstation 2
Sun Corporation/Capcom
Genre: Survival Horror
2003

There has been a lot of conversation about how great the horror library on the Playstation 2 was in circles I chat with. A lot of these games have hit “cult” status outside of Silent Hill and Resident Evil with a few folks talking about Fatal Frame since it’s managed to continue producing entries up until last generation. In between those games, though, sit titles like Rule of Rose, Kuon, and the follow-up to a little series that found its footing in the US on the first Playstation console: Clock Tower 3.

After the rights to the Clock Tower series switches hands, it fell into the Capcom stable alongside Resident Evil, lending the series a little steam to get attention for its third game. Publisher name aside, the game announced that Kinji Fukusaku who had directed Battle Royale just a few years prior would be in charge of the cutscenes among a handful of other known industry names, some of whom had worked on Capcom’s major series before. The investment in the game’s production was deep, and it seemed like both the developers and the publisher had a lot of resources to draw from.

The last time Clock Tower had changed hands, though, we got a mess of a game with Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within. Understandably, people had a lot of hope for the new game with the names attached to it but were still sore from trusting that the last Clock Tower would live up to the first two games. Personally, my memories of the game were a little hazy, save for a few scenes here and there. In my unofficial pilgrimage to relive some of the games I grew up on and to complete my playthrough of the series entirely, I dug out my copy of Clock Tower 3, booted it up and decided to take a swing at it with some experienced but fresh eyes.
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