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Survival Horror

Underwater VR in Narcosis might wreck my shit

Oct 05 // Zack Furniss
Oculus Connect 2 was simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking for me. Sure, I'd be able to step into worlds I could hardly fathom, but one of those worlds was the bottom of the gods-damned sea. Scrambling from a prior appointment to the event's seventh floor, I came across the room that contained Honor Code's Narcosis. Steven and Alessandro had both spent time with the demo at previous events, but it was my turn to explore the depths of his survival horror experience. I knocked on the door, expecting someone named Lawrence (making the rookie mistake of confusing the PR person for the game developer). When an excitable, charismatic Frenchman named Quentin opened the door, I started to apologize and walk away, thinking I had intruded on someone's private quarters. He assured me I was in the right place and led me to a computer, placing the Oculus Rift on my head and an Xbox One controller in my hands. The Los Angeles fire-air threatened to break my immersion from the start, but I wanted to be afraid, and I tried to block out my surroundings as best as I could. Another developer from Honor Code, the measured and engaging David Chen, came in as I was adjusting to the controls. They both made sure I understood how to maneuver my diver and then respectfully remained quiet as I made my way through an aquatic facility. Since you're wearing a helmeted diving suit, the Rift feels thematically appropriate. Having this gadget on your head is less distracting and more of a natural extension. Being able to lean forward and see oxygen gauges just beneath your eyes helps you accept you're really in this environment. I was peeking around corners as I approached them, sure that some ungodly being, whatever was responsible for the flooding of this base, was going to drag me even further into the depths. My demo was largely similar to the one Alessandro saw, though I spent more time slowly wading through a cave infested with long-limbed crabs the size of cars. I launched flares at them, watching them flinch into the darkness. How I hated having to slowly approach them to sidle past them to progress. Wandering around the sea floor is what messed with me most, though. Looking up and having no ceiling (be it cement or stalactites) to protect me was all it took for the stomach-eels return. I could no longer just stare ahead and keep progressing; I was turning around to make sure nothing was chasing me every few steps. Heat-induced sweat on my brow and the acute awareness that I was alone in a room with two men I didn't know was enough to keep me from full immersion, but if I had been at home, I'm not sure how I'd fare. An hour of wandering through sea caves as murderous cuttlefish tried to latch onto my face might be enough to break me. Coupled with the "Narcosis Moments" that the developers mentioned (hallucinations stemming from oxygen deprivation), I might not survive long enough to write about this again. But as much as digital submersion frightens me, finishing these games is my way of conquering this bizarre fear. I hope to play Narcosis when it releases next year for the entertainment, horror, and catharsis it could bring me.
Narcosis photo
Digital submersion is my one true fear
The ocean has never been particularly terrifying to me. Contemplating on a beach and staring at the blue sprawl fills me with a sense of calm, not horror. Snorkeling in a Hawaiian crater was one of the awe-inspiring mome...

Aftermath photo

Want to play a zombie game by Romero? Check out Aftermath

The other Romero's son, that is
Sep 25
// Vikki Blake
Romero's Aftermath, George. C. Romero's MMO survival horror game, releases today in open beta. Film director George C. is the son of George A., who you'll know from feisty romcoms like Night of the Living Dead. The game offer...
Killing Floor 2 photo
Killing Floor 2

Make somethin' purdy in Killing Floor 2 and maybe win $1500

Make a gun skin! Or a dumb hat!
Sep 23
// Zack Furniss
Tripwire Interactive is hosting a Killing Floor 2 competition via Polycount called Guns 'n Gear. Anyone interested can create a cosmetic item or gun skin and attempt to win money/dosh. This contest began on Septembe...
Binary solo photo
Binary solo

P.A.M.E.L.A. looks like a beautiful yet depressing robotic future

Mass Effect + BioShock + Ex Machina
Sep 23
// Jed Whitaker
P.A.M.E.L.A. is the hot new indie game taking Steam Greenlight charts by storm, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. Surprisingly the game has a grand total of six artists working on it, according to this in-depth intervie...

Kickstarter photo

P.T. lookalike Allison Road turns to Kickstarter

Fingers crossed
Sep 21
// Jordan Devore
There's a chance Allison Road can fill the heartbreaking void left by P.T., and I sure am rooting for it. But it's going to be a real challenge for the small team at Lilith to meet such lofty expectations. The game's Kickstar...

Review: SOMA

Sep 21 // Caitlin Cooke
SOMA (PC [reviewed], PS4)Developer: Frictional GamesPublisher: Frictional GamesRelease Date: September 22, 2015MSRP: $29.99 In SOMA you play as Simon Jarrett, an unlikely fellow trapped inside a deep underwater facility named PATHOS-II. The machines are strangely talking like people, monsters wander the corridors aimlessly as if looking for something or someone, and most of the systems are completely shut down. The complex is clearly in disarray, and it’s up to you to make it through alive and discover what caused the collapse of the facility. There is little guiding Simon in his exploration through PATHOS-II save for Catherine, a scientist you find via a comms link. She is virtually the only guide you have in the game, explaining what you need to make it through to the next area. However, most of SOMA rests on your ability to parse through notes and other aspects of the environment to discover what might need to be done next.   The environment is highly interactive with lots of care in the details -- practically everything can be examined, from sketches and magazine articles to ancillary objects, all of which give more flavor to the atmosphere and in some cases provide hints for how to move forward in the game. Simple controls also make it easy to focus on the story and interactivity of the world, allowing you to hone in on your ability to discover and learn bits of what happened to the facility. The general flow walking through the facility is very natural, and despite the story and gameplay being fairly linear, it never actually feels forced in this way. There’s no journal, written objectives, or anything of that kind -- exploration (and sometimes Catherine’s guidance) grants you more insight into what you need to do next. Maps are only provided in some larger areas, and are fixed in one place, so relying on memory is key -- especially when hiding and running from monsters. SOMA has no combat, but this doesn’t mean that it lacks action. The game finds clever ways to make your brain work, from solving interesting puzzles to having you navigate maze-like environments filled with monsters -- or sometimes both at the same time to keep you on your toes. Puzzles err on the side of being a bit easy, but are integrated seamlessly within the plot and environment (via old computers, mechanics, and other elements), so nothing seems out of place. Monsters are carefully placed in certain areas and are typically one-offs -- i.e., you’re only dealing with one at a time. If you run into one (or if one runs into you), Simon will instantly pass out and wake up in the same location, sans monster, but with an impairment that renders your screen dizzy and altered. There are several “healing” points throughout the levels that can remedy your dizziness so you’re not shambling around for too long. However, if you’re still dizzy and don’t avoid the monster safely the second time, it’s game over and you’re back to the beginning of the area. [embed]311740:60456:0[/embed] The monster designs are unique and frightening, ranging from human-like robots to creepy underwater disco-ball-headed humanoids and twisted abominations, each having their own patterned behaviors and rules. For example, some monsters are blind so sneaking around is possible, but for others, looking straight at them will cause an instant death. Thankfully, there is  a way to detect them -- if any monster is in close proximity to Simon (even through walls), your screen starts to distort and turn to static, and will grow worse as they get closer. Save for one particularly nightmarish portion where you are trapped in an extremely dark maze full of monsters chasing you about, SOMA has a good balance between exploration, puzzles, and these monster bits. I was however a bit disappointed that there were only a few monster types in the game, and most of them only make one appearance. I liked that they kept things new but would have preferred to see some re-appearances down the line, especially because the monsters were so creative in their mannerisms and design. It's delightful they didn’t overuse the whole “run away from the monster” shtick to boost tension at every given turn. Sometimes just being in a desolate, dark environment surrounded by water and metallic-sounding creaks is enough to cause fear and tension in itself. The atmosphere does plenty good on its own creating jump scares from utilizing lighting, sounds, and other ambient elements. The man vs. machinery theme is also extremely unsettling -- often times creating disturbing images of human bodies being leeched. SOMA is executed extremely well across the board from the plot, to the ease of gameplay, all the way up to the voice acting. I felt immersed and anxious the entire ride, and although the story isn’t 100% tied up or concrete by the end, it leaves players some room to interpret what may have happened and what’s to come -- and what is right or wrong. It pushes you to think about the nature of being human, and at a few points forces you to make tough decisions based on your morals and what you believe to be right. The beauty, however, is that nothing is right. No matter how you proceed, there’s always a piece of you left wondering if you chose correctly. SOMA gets everything right about the the survival horror genre. It’s like someone created the perfect video game mixtape -- a little bit of abandoned underwater atmosphere from BioShock, detailed environments a la Gone Home, and (of course) the frenzied monster mechanics from Amnesia. Even if you dislike non-combat-oriented games, I dare you to give it a try.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
SOMA review photo
Sci-fi excellence
What makes us human? Is it our physical body, our intellect, our spirit -- or all of the above? These questions permeate an underwater world where everything’s gone mad. The machines have lost it, taking over all that w...

The Silent Hill Retrospective: Silent Hill 3

Sep 19 // Stephen Turner
At its heart, Silent Hill 3 is about a girl coming of age. From the opening nightmare sequence, we’re treated to very familiar horror iconography: blood red hues, a fascination with blades, of something foreign inside the body, and a cute mascot in disturbingly lifeless poses, all set in an abandoned amusement park. Heather’s journey home takes her through teenage hangouts and public places, their dark sides brought to the fore, all the way to Silent Hill and deep within. Little Red Riding Hood by way of Dario Argento, if you will. Her survival depends on a reconciliation between childhood and adult life, with her former selves being these literal, separate slices of life. By the end, Heather is not Alessa, nor Cheryl, but its through their remembrance that she ultimately becomes her own person, able to make her own decisions in life. On the other side of the coin, there's Claudia Wolf, the story's misguided antagonist; a colourless imitation of a reasonable young adult, preferring the comfort of blind faith over autonomy. Adulthood, or at least what we find of it in Silent Hill 3, is represented by the messes of men. Douglas Cartland is a walking list of mistakes, whereas Vincent Smith takes a perverse pride in belittling the ignorant few. One seeks redemption, the other deals in exploitation. The cast might be minimal, but it works for the duality on display. Lines are drawn and lesson are learned. Douglas, himself, finds redemption through parental guidance, something he thought he'd lost, a lifetime ago. [embed]311452:60439:0[/embed] As a direct sequel to a fairly obtuse original, past events are recalled and plainly deconstructed. Riddle speak is deftly cut down by barbed tongues, infallible fathers are shown to be weak and vulnerable (breaking down our own hero worship in the process), and The Order is explained in definitive detail. It's this clarity that ends up being vital to Heather's character growth. Particularly telling is how her descriptive texts turn from dismissive to thoughtful, reflective and empathetic, along with the bloodstains that are eventually splashed across her pure white jacket. The Otherworld returns to its original form, now a higher-definition of improbable locations, foetal-like defects and rattling heads (for his final game, Masahiro Ito's designs were part-freakshow, part-macabre fairytale). It's a harsher world, full of abattoir tiles and maddening works of art, an intensity that almost goes overboard in places; bringing back the surface level scares that were missing in Silent Hill 2. It's visceral, but it needed to be that way. The Otherworld doesn't adapt, it grows with its protagonist. And it's most obvious in the way the skeletal walls and beasts of raw flesh develop rippling layers of skin as you progress. The Otherworld is a fearful representation of pregnancy and birth, all of which ends with an abortion of sorts. For a series that prides itself on subversion, Silent Hill 3 is rather transparent with its humanist values. Both pro-choice and nihilistic towards religion, the messages come through clearly at the most shocking of times and even breaks the philosophical fourth-wall when needed (note how Vincent usually addresses the audience through POV angles). At one point, the player is asked to forgive or condemn Claudia's actions, and the answer doesn't lie in the usual act of altruism. Silent Hill 3 will always be most famous for the line, “They look like monsters to you?” but that's always been a sly misdirection at best, or a love letter by a dev team on their way out. Personally speaking, it’s a symptom of why Silent Hill 3 never crawled out from Silent Hill 2's shadow; the constant post-modern distractions took focus away from the bigger picture. But you could also argue that it was down to a waning interest in survival horror, or an emphasis on unrefined combat, badly paced locations, or even the re-use of assets for a quick turnaround. And none of these would be wrong, either. That said, especially after replaying it for this retrospective, Silent Hill 3 is a game in need of re-appraisal. The tired, introspective tone from the developers is actually more relevant now than on release. Heather Mason also manages to be a strong female character, one that earns that title, rather than put on a pedestal from the get-go. And this was in 2003, remember. The Otherworld was as close as we were ever going to get an HD remake, complete with so many hidden details and huge advancement in character design. And it's rarely said enough, the haunted house section is completely underrated in the way it pulls the rug from underneath the player. Hey, maybe, ironically, it's a reconciliation with the past speaking. In any case, no matter where you place it – best, mid-tier, worst (personally, mid-tier) – Silent Hill 3 signaled the dying days of "Team Silent," but there was one more oddity that would send us tumbling down the rabbit hole and into a realm of existentialism that hasn’t been explored in video games since.
Silent Hill photo
'It's about your birth.'
Silent Hill 3 is a mean-spirited game, but then that was always the point. In order to value her future, Heather Mason is dragged, kicking and screaming, through the muck and mire of her past. Yes, she’s given the tools...

Resident Evil photo
Resident Evil

Capcom announces multiplayer Biohazard Umbrella Corps

Hope you like multiplayer in your horror
Sep 15
// Joe Parlock
Capcom has announced Biohazard Umbrella Corps for the PlayStation 4 at the Tokyo Game Show. The game is an online competitive shooter, and it will be released to celebrate the Resident Evil’s 20th anniversary. We’ll give you the trailer as soon as it becomes available. So, a competitive multiplayer shooter to celebrate a survival horror series’ 20th year. Weird.
SOMA photo

SOMA handles horror differently than Amnesia

Frictional compares the two
Sep 03
// Jordan Devore
In June, I told myself to stay away from watching and subsequently covering any more trailers for SOMA. That was going well -- until today. Curiosity got the better of me, but at least this "Environments" trailer is abstract ...
Resident Evil 0 photo
Resident Evil 0

Resident Evil 0's Wesker Mode is absurd

Look at him run!
Sep 01
// Jordan Devore
The Resident Evil series is no stranger to silly modes, and I'm glad to see Capcom continue down that path with Wesker Mode in next year's Resident Evil 0 HD remaster. Uroboros? Uroboros. In the new mode, Albert Wesker fills in for Billy Coen and oh my god, his sprint is hilarious.
Resident Evil photo
Resident Evil

Resident Evil Origins Collection is coming to PS4, PC and Xbox One

Resident Evil Remaster and RE 0 HD
Sep 01
// Laura Kate Dale
Rejoice PS4, PC, and Xbox One owners: Resident Evil Remaster and the upcoming Resident Evil 0 HD are coming to your big shiny gaming machines as Resident Evil Origins Collection. The new collection, which packages the pa...
Until Dawn photo
Until Dawn

Having trouble loading Until Dawn? You're not alone

PS4s are too scared to load it
Aug 26
// Vikki Blake
The PlayStation Network is preventing some early adopters of Until Dawn from playing the game.  According to reports on reddit, most gamers are able to download the game without incident, but on launch, they're info...
Fatal Frame Wii U photo
Fatal Frame Wii U

Fatal Frame Wii U is an eShop exclusive in North America

Aug 24
// Jordan Devore
Fans speculated that Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water would be a digital-only release on the Wii U eShop in North America. Unfortunately, they were correct. Nintendo confirmed its launch plans (October 22, $49.99) in a 2015...

Killing Floor 2's Incinerate 'N Detonate update feels damn good

Aug 20 // Zack Furniss
Killing Floor 2 (PC [previewed], PlayStation 4)Developer: Tripwire InteractivePublisher: Tripwire Interactive Release date: April 21, 2015 (Steam Early Access)MSRP: $29.99 As per the name of the update, the main draw here is the return of the Demolitionist and Firebug perks. In the past few months, most available perks had trouble taking down sub-boss enemies such as Scrakes and Fleshpounds. If you didn't have someone playing as Support with an AA-12 shotgun, chances are you weren't going to survive (put your dicks away, I'm not saying it was impossible, tough guys). In such a team-based game, it felt odd to be pigeonholed in this manner. Demolitionist fills a much-needed gap in Killing Floor 2's cooperative structure. Having the big guns necessary to tackle the big specimens feels long overdue, but it's much appreciated. You'll start off with sticks of dynamite, a utility knife, and the first tier weapon: the HX 25, a grenade pistol that may be my favorite in the entire game thus far. It launches a short-range horizontal cluster of grenades that explode on contact, and encourages strafing to properly group oncoming attackers. Having to change the way you move and think about lining up your shots separates this perk from the others in a pleasing manner. You have to reload between every shot, but the destructive power contained within more than justifies the increased pucker factor.  The second tier weapon is the C4, which I haven't got much of a feel for yet. You can deploy up to eight of them and then set them off in the order you set them. I imagine creative players will have fun rigging doors to blow, but I usually skipped C4 to get to the third tier M79 grenade launcher more quickly. You don't need to be as careful with this one as you do with the HX 25, since you can shoot from a farther distance. It doesn't work very well in a panicked backpedal, since you need to have a certain amount of space between you and your target for the round to explode. You'll still do damage with a dud round, but you won't take out the group in front of you like you were probably hoping. The final Demolitionist weapon is the RPG-7, which you've used in every game with guns ever. It's welcome here, even if I miss the LAW from the original Killing Floor. It launches one rocket at a time, which makes a missed shot a painful experience. You'll mainly want to save this for Scrakes, Fleshpounds, and the boss, Hans Volter. On a solo match I was able to take out Hans with three rockets, but they've already nerfed it somewhat since then. As much fun as it was to obliterate the boss so quickly, it's better that they took it down a notch. Don't worry, it still feels immensely powerful, just not ridiculously so. Perk skills for the Demolitionist include explosive resistance, being able to rig doors to explode when you weld them, and increased damage when using weapons from other perks. There seems to be less of a sure a build than with the previous classes. I only reached level six so I could only choose between supplying teammates with grenades and having my dynamite explode on contact. Even at this low level, I felt integral to every team I played on. Firebug occupies a similar role to the Commando perk: you're the garbage man, taking out the trash so your friends can take on the bigger meatsacks. You start out with Molotov Cocktails, a Fireman's Knife, and a makeshift flamethrower called the Caulk 'N Burn. It's a caulking gun that emits a short-range stream of flame that cooks weaker Zeds in seconds. It's easy to burn through all of your ammo before the wave is over but careful conservation eventually comes naturally. Once you have enough dosh (Killing Floor money), you can get the Trench Gun, a pump-action shotgun with incendiary rounds. This is the only weapon in the update that feels a bit underwhelming to me so far. The flame rounds are pretty, but feel ineffective. Next up is the Flamethrower, which is as enjoyable to use as I was hoping. Watching the never-ending onslaught of Zeds charge through your wall of flame only to keel over just in front of you remains a pleasurable (demented, horrible, what's wrong with me) experience. It sort of invalidates the Caulk 'N Burn though, since it's better in almost every way. The star of the show is the fourth tier weapon: the Microwave Gun. This high-tech laser beam feels straight out of Turok, replete with the oh God gross gore. It heats up enemies, covering their skin in what looks like gingerbread dough, making them expand until they just...pop, leaving entrails and other viscera strewn about. Some of the Firebug skill choices seems obvious: why would I choose to Flaritov (Molotovs become better light sources in dark areas) when I could have Fully Stocked (purchased weapons have full ammo)? Later skills seem more difficult to pick from, such as when you have to choose either increased range or splash damage. I wasn't able to try any of these skills, so maybe I'll be singing a different tune in a few weeks. Firebug, while entertaining, can't hold a candle to Demolitionist. I like having more options so I appreciate every perk, but a class that specialized in bosses was sorely lacking. I see myself rocking the grenade pistol for quite some time. And that's just the perks! The two new maps, Evacuation Point and Catacombs, are vastly different from each other. Evacuation Point is a more urban environment with plenty of open spaces and long tunnels to funnel Zeds through. There are only a few areas that you can get cornered, and there always seems to be an escape route. Catacombs is my new favorite map. It's an Ossuary under Italy, with tight corners and almost no light. It's the first map where every light can be shot out or accidentally blown up, and tension runs high when you can't see anything. It's fortunate then that one of the new perks is about creating meat torches, no? There's a host of other improvements that continue to make Killing Floor 2 feel more finished than the average Early Access title. The reworked audio includes meatier sound effects and also adds additional hit markers on the enemies. Whereas before there was really only a difference between head shots and body shots, metallic implants on the Zeds now make clanging sound effects. Shooting Hans' power core on his chest now does more damage than body shots. It's nice to be choosing to shoot somewhere other than chest or slightly above the chest. Upon ending a match, whether by defeat or victory, you're greeted with a results screen. Awards are handed out for various achievements such as killing the most specimens and getting the most assists. You can see which team member is doing the most damage, and how much experience you earned for each perk. Map voting has now been implemented as well so players can actually choose where they're going for the next round.  As if Killing Floor 2 wasn't gory enough, there's now the optional Nvidia FleX toggle that simulates soft tissue and fluid interaction. Just wait until the first time you launch a grenade into a group of Zeds and see the satisfying meat explosion. Do I sound crazy? I sound crazy. You need a beefy graphics card to handle FleX on high (they recommend a 770 or higher, which is what I'm rocking), but even with the extra giblets abound I didn't see a performance drop. If you want to get close to all that gore, you can try the new Berserker skill tree. Since the perk was underwhelming at launch, it's been completely re-worked. It has more damage resistance and you now have to choose between being stronger with normal strikes or doing massive damage with counterattacks. Since I've seen both styles of players, I know these changes will be appreciated. I still haven't mastered the parry. Some Zeds now have unblockable attacks (denoted by a fiery outline on their weapons) so Berserkers will have to stay on their toes. Berserkers (as well as Commandos) also have night vision instead of flashlight now. No more 'wasting' a skill slot! Dual pistols have also made their return, though the Gunslinger perk that will utilize them has yet to be implemented. Using their ironsights feels great; instead of holding your hands out a little further to zoom like the previous game, you aim with your right hand while the left remains in place. While the concept of dual-wielding is and will always be silly (he said while previewing a game with mutants taking over Europe), it's a great compromise. There are two crossover characters for players who own Red Orchestra 2 and Chivalry. The first is Anton Strasser, a soldier of the German Wehrmacht. He was cryogenically frozen by Hans Volter during World War II and now he's pissed. The second is a LARPing knight who played too much Chivalry before the Zed outbreak (seriously, that's what it says in his bio). He comes with his own unique weapon for the Berserker perk, a Zweihander that easily cleaves through Clots. As long as one player has this character, he can share the weapon with anyone on the server. This way the crossover bonuses are purely cosmetic. In a cool final touch, when Hans comes out for the final wave, he's introduced with a title card and a strategic hint. It's minor, but makes him seem more imposing. I look forward to when there are multiple bosses on rotation and each one gets their own little introduction. The Incinerate 'N Detonate content update is a shot in the arm for Killing Floor 2. Since the only problem I had with it before was that there wasn't enough to do, this was exactly what I needed to put it back into my regular rotation. While we don't yet have the release date for this update, it shouldn't very far from now. It's now in the QA stages, so as soon as final balancing touches are in place, it should be in your hands. I'm happy to say it was worth the wait. Now if I could just get the Sharpshooter perk back...
Killing Floor 2 photo
Killing Floor 2 has been available through Steam Early Access for almost exactly four months. Upon its initial release, I was already surprised by how fluid and satisfying the cooperative horror shooter felt. Cleaving my...

Until Dawn photo
Until Dawn

Hey, Until Dawn kids: Your winter getaway is a very bad idea

*Sigh* You won't listen
Aug 18
// Brett Makedonski
I urge you, Until Dawn kids: Don't go on that winter getaway. It seems like a lot of fun, but it won't be. It's not all drinking and partying and sexing. There will be a scary guy in a scary mask doing scary things. Your fri...

You don't need a GamePad to play ZombiU

Aug 18 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]306573:60033:0[/embed] Still, it's not anywhere near a deal-breaker. The Xbox One controller and DualShock 4 are serviceable in their one-button press menu summoning. It all just requires a little bit more care. Honestly, if you're playing Zombi carelessly, menu navigation is the least of your concerns. There are some other slight drawbacks in the Xbox One version of Zombi. Textures and character models seem a bit outdated, which can be expected from a game that launched before current consoles released. Also, the frame-rate tends to dip when action gets too thick. Those annoyances are nothing too detrimental to Zombi, though. The captivating environment and the unique survivor-after-survivor gameplay easily overshadow the flaws. And, we shouldn't view the switch from GamePad to regular controllers as a downgrade; we should view it as a fantastic opportunity for a wider audience to experience everything Zombi has to offer.
Zombi impressions photo
Well, just 'Zombi' now
To date, ZombiU has been one of the best (and only) non-Nintendo published Wii U exclusives. It has turned into something of a cult classic, as many have praised the way that it felt more like a survival game and resiste...

RE2 Reborn canceled photo
RE2 Reborn canceled

Fanmade Resident Evil 2 remake canceled

In the nicest way possible
Aug 17
// Nic Rowen
A bit of bad news with a silver lining, Capcom's recent announcement of an official remake of Resident Evil 2 has indeed put the kibosh on Resident Evil 2 Reborn; a promising looking fan remake made with Unreal 4. On the...
Until Dawn photo
Until Dawn

Can you stay alive for two minutes of live action Until Dawn?

It's not impossible
Aug 17
// Brett Makedonski
Since the beginning of time, sexy teens have been going out into the woods to do naughty things and get slaughtered. It's the circle of life. This time-honored tradition is well-documented in many films of the 1980s. Until D...
Banned Memories photo
Banned Memories

Banned Memories: Yamanashi resurrects lo-fi PS1 horror

Party like it's 1999
Aug 10
// Zack Furniss
After spending a couple of years writing for, I became fairly jaded with horror games in general. You can only cover so many games where you explore dark corridors with naught but a flashlight while watching&...
Rare Replay Sundown photo
Rare Replay Sundown

Rare's cancelled horror title Sundown looks hellish

This isn't your dad's Rare
Aug 04
// Jed Whitaker
Rare Replay is available now and includes unlockable videos of canceled games with concept art, stories, and gameplay that have never been show to the public. Unlocking the videos means completing various challenges and...
Zombi photo

ZombiU hits PC, PS4, and Xbox One next month

Is it too late?
Jul 30
// Jordan Devore
Early Wii U owners should know all about ZombiU. Depending on who you ask, it was a decent to great zombie survival game and a much-needed one at that. Years later, Ubisoft is bringing it to other platforms -- PC, PlayStatio...

Review: Five Nights at Freddy's 4

Jul 24 // Nic Rowen
Five Nights at Freddy's 4 (PC)Developer: Scott Cawthon Publisher: Scott Cawthon Released: July 23, 2015MSRP: $8.00 The setup of Five Nights 4 intentionally replicates the design of the first game. The original cast is back, their avenues of attack directly mimic their first outing, and the general layout of your besieged room is the same, making this entry feel like closing a loop. But, this time instead of haunting a creepy knock-off Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, they're spooking up your home instead. There are no more security cameras to monitor, no more batteries to fuss over. You're just a little kid with a flashlight, scampering between the two doors into his room and whatever might be lurking in his closet (or right behind him). The type of sense you rely on has been inverted: instead of keeping an eye on things, this time you'll be listening for whatever is out there. When you creep up to a door you have to pause, wait a moment, and listen for any kind of breathing or noise in the darkened hallway. If you hear something, you need to shut the door as fast as you possibly can. If it's clear, shining your flashlight down the hall will ward off anything stalking towards you. If you're wrong though, and the monster is right there, and you shine your flashlight right into its toothy mechanical face, well, it's is the last thing you'll ever do. What this means mechanically, is that you need to absolutely crank up the volume to reliably hear things. Headphones are nearly required. Of course, the jump scare death animations are as loud as ever. Do you see where this is going? Sonic fucking boom. If you want to know if this game made me yelp, or jump, or spill my coffee and send me trudging to the kitchen for a roll of paper towels while I swore angrily under my breath -- yes, it did. Of course it did. It's a cycle of protracted periods of peering into the darkness and intensely listening to absolutely nothing interrupted with SUDDEN. LOUD. JUMP. SCARES.   [embed]296612:59683:0[/embed] It's an easy, dull, and obvious trick. The final refuge for a game that has run out of any other ways to scare people. Don't think of anything new and clever, forget introducing any kind of gameplay twist, or carefully establishing tension or mood. Just take the basic components, crank up the contrast, pump up the volume, and jam the severity. It's trite, lazy even. I'm not sure how the inevitable Five Nights at Freddy's 5 will be able to top this kind of “subtlety.” Maybe it will come with a pair of electrodes you attach to your testicles, so it can administer 5,000 volts of spookiness every time something goes “boo.” *BZZZZZT* What, did that make you jump? Sissy. There are a few other tricks. Monsters introduced in later nights operate with slightly different rules, and by the time the fifth night rolls around, you'll be sprinting all over the bedroom trying to keep things locked down. Unlike previous games though, the rules don't feel tight. Things are sloppier, with more guesswork and chance baked into the experience. When I died, I often had no idea what I did wrong. And if I'm being honest, when I succeeded I wasn't always sure why. Frustrating deaths and unearned victories are equally unsatisfying in their own way. The animatronics' logic was never clear enough to me to come up with a reliable strategy to keep them at bay. I supposed that could be intentional, a way of always keeping even seasoned players on their toes, but I think that's giving the design credit it doesn't deserve. More than any other Freddy game so far, I just felt exasperated and annoyed playing through Five Nights 4.   The emphasis on carefully listening for every creak and groan in the darkness isn't just a lame way to manufacture easy scares. It's also a way to ruin one of the greatest pleasures I've had with the series, namely playing the game with an audience. While others sneer at Freddy's for being pure Twitch/YouTube bait, I've always understood it. I get why these games are fun to watch because I know how well they play in the living room with a couple of spectators and rotating victims. There is a real joy in playing these games with someone else or two in the room to watch you screw up. To have a small chorus whispering “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit...” behind your shoulder as the tension mounts. Of having someone to exchange nervous glances with when the doors stop working and it's 5 AM going on 6 AM and there is just the tiniest chance that you might roll over to the next day before Freddy pops out and – “OH GOD HE'S IN THE ROOM!” Those were moments I missed while I played Five Nights 4. What I'd think about while I was all hunched up in my chair with a pair of headphones clamped on tight. The memories that made me feel like a traitor whenever I violently shushed anyone in the room who made even the slightest distracting peep. However you played the previous games, know that this Five Nights is purely for the lone wolves and streamers out there who don't mind strapping on their pair of overly-expensive, sound-canceling Beats By Dre. But enough about how I resent the bargain-basement scares and penny-ante tricks the game uses to provoke a response from you. Enough about how this game is profoundly annoying and deeply unimaginative on a mechanical level. As a person who has followed the series since its start, the most damning part of this boondoggle of a game is how it absolutely folds under the pressure of its own established narrative. After all the teasing and hints, the essay-length forum posts and amazing fan-made theory videos that manage to be more entertaining than the games themselves, the promise that THIS Freddy's will be the one to finally answer the series long-standing questions -- it completely flubs the landing. All of the world building and story momentum generated by the first three games lurches to a disappointing stop, like a wind-up car gummed up with carpet lint. Yes, the infamous “bite of '87” is finally addressed in Five Nights 4. But like so many smoke monsters and Cylon replicants, the mystery was always better than any answer the series could reasonably provide. You see it, say “meh” to yourself, and retroactively wonder what the big deal was in the first place. The fact that this kind of anti-climax is common doesn't excuse Five Nights 4 of its wet noodle narrative and limp “reveals.” If anything, all of those previous failures should have been taken as cautionary tales, the value of mystery should be known and respected by now. Some questions are better left unanswered. It doesn't help that the way the game wraps up heavily implies that the events it depicts should not be taken literally. Yes, the tired old “it was all a dream/nightmare, or maybe a metaphor, or like a weird trippy memory, I don't know” trope is dusted off once again, so nothing is particularly clear. That's without getting into how the chaotic mass of prequels, reveals, and reinterpretations the games have constructed now threatens to collapse into a superdense black hole of no-longer-giving-a-shit at this point. I almost broke out a whiteboard trying to figure out the series' mythology at this point. “Okay, so this game is set in '87 to see the infamous 'bite,' around the same time as the prequel events in Five Nights 2. But it's also BEFORE the murders of the children that haunt Five Nights 1 and what you find out happens with Springtrap in Five Nights 3. The Purpleman doesn't really have a role, but he does show up in a cameo. Wait, are the kids in the last cutscene the eventual murder victims? Oh god, I'm seeing spots. Is this a migraine, or am I having a stroke? Do I need to call 911? If I die, are they going to find my body splayed out in front of a computer with a bunch of crazy notes about Five Nights at Freddy's? Am I going to end up as some shitty urban myth about how Five Nights totally killed a reviewer?” This game is stressful in all the wrong ways. The now familiar Atari-esque mini-games appear between chapters to deliver their payload of exposition and spooks, but all the menace of those scenes has been lanced and drained by repetition. There is a new sort of mini-game between nights where you play Weeping Angel stop-'n'-go with an animated plush doll. Stop him on a specific mark and you can knock two hours off the next night. Let him get too close or run out of time and, you guessed it, JUMP SCARE! It's the one new addition Five Nights 4 brings to the table, and it feels like the shadow of a reflection of an afterthought. You don't need to play this game. Even if you've been invested in the series up till now, it's just going to disappoint you and rankle your nerves. The interesting gimmicks have been completely rung out of the franchise; this game is imaginatively bone dry. The louder, nastier jump scares that are left are just a crass attempt to try and distract you from the lack of innovation. The story, the ongoing mystery of Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria, and the strange goings-on surrounding it are best left to your personal headcanon or favorite fan theory. You'd be better served experiencing Five Nights at Freddy's 4 the way it was obviously intended to be enjoyed. By going on YouTube and watching some twenty-five-year-old, dressed like a fourteen-year-old, scream and cry his way through the game like a seven-year-old. The game truly has come full circle. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Five Nights 4 Review photo
This guest has overstayed its welcome
Well, it's been a few months, time for another Five Night at Freddy's game I suppose. I don't like to be cynical. I don't volunteer to review games, and pay for them out of my own pocket, hoping that they'll disappoint me and...

Five Nights 4 photo
Five Nights 4

Five Nights at Freddy's 4 released early

Surprise! But not really!
Jul 23
// Jordan Devore
The new and almost certainly not final installment of Five Nights at Freddy's has released a couple of weeks earlier than expected. It's available for $7.99 on Steam. Given the events of the last game, Five Nights at Freddy's...
Coming this summer photo
Coming this summer

Full blown Resident Evil 2 fan remake in Unreal 4

Basically Resident Evil 4, playable soon
Jul 21
// Steven Hansen
Italian studio Invader Games is coming up on its summer release of its non-profit remake project, Resident Evil 2 Reborn. The playable alpha missed its October 2014 release, but is now in Unreal 4 instead of Unity, and will ...

The Silent Hill Retrospective: Silent Hill 2

Jul 18 // Stephen Turner
Silent Hill 2 was always more of a character study than any other game in the series. Whereas Silent Hill used its cast to drive the story forward, the sequel firmly kept its protagonist in focus. The world literally revolves around him, from location to creatures; a deconstruction of a seemingly infallible man. His quest is examined through existential conversation and perspectives, as Team Silent (or at least this iteration) comments on survival horror heroics and the audience’s passive tendencies towards empathy. At its core, Silent Hill 2 is about two adults dealing with loneliness and compromise. James is unable to move on from his dead wife as her sexualised doppelganger, Maria, adjusts to his ideals. You might not think it, but their companionship takes many of its cues from film noir. The broken man struggles with the femme fatale; a fate that can only end in destruction. For all its surrealist theatrics, one of Silent Hill 2’s most memorable scenes happens to be the sparsest. It’s a brilliant example of visual storytelling in a video game as Maria tells an uneasy story under a single light bulb and between bars. A schizophrenia plays out under washed features and fluid shadows. The duality on both sides of the room suggests two prisoners, not one. Without revealing too much, you completely understand the characters without being told what to think. [embed]296234:59589:0[/embed] Perceptions are constantly challenged in James Sunderland’s new world. The town draws in an eclectic cast of runaways, each with their own conflicted reasons for being there. And it’s through them that our protagonist is slowly shaded in and exposed, along with our own participating flaws. The brattish Laura recalls the parental fears of Silent Hill, but also provides a catalyst for Maria’s maternal instincts. Eddie Dombrowski, all sloven and immature, highlights our own dismissive stance towards imperfection. And then there’s Angela Orosco; a layered subject of meta-commentary and character complexity. Just because we save her from the Abstract Daddy, it doesn’t mean we’ve saved her from years of sexual abuse or the murder that finally breaks it. The best we can achieve is an understanding of her desperation and hopefully find genuine sympathy for her self-judgemental inabilities. For Angela, The Otherworld is a Biblical hell, quite unlike the world seen from James' perspective. The Otherworld is no longer the industrial nightmare of before. Gone are the obvious sirens, the collapsing machinery, and the reflections of a childlike mind. Now it’s just damp, moldy, and earthy, full of soil browns, fleshy whites, and dank greens. Akira Yamaoka’s soundtrack deals in regretful synths and piano-led sorrows instead of blaring cacophonies as James pieces the world together. Instead of schools and fairgrounds, we find apartments and date nights; the little reminders of domestic life. Rather than being the outsider looking in, James is confronted by his own subconscious. Repressed images become disturbing manifestations of the self. They scream with distorted female voices and click their heels in the dark. The Pyramid Head – now a defanged mascot of the series – is this relentless, mysterious force, a puzzle that can only be solved at a distance. It’s as much as an embodiment of The Otherworld as it is James’ dark half. Silent Hill 2 is a flawed game by today’s standards; sharing the rough gameplay of its predecessor and the Japanese attempts at Americanised dialogue. But that does not make its success overrated. It’s like that one landmark album that influences a hundred more, each one a little more refined than the last. What Team Silent did, or whoever you deem this development team to be, was to introduce audiences to the idea of cinematic codes and keys. They highlighted the need for more complexity in our characters, to show relatable ideas in unfamiliar ways. Silent Hill 2 is a milestone in video game narrative. Sure, maybe not in dialogue, but in the mise-en-scène of every location, every dress code, and every creature. It’s a game that says a lot without actually saying much at all. That opening 20 minute walk into town was everything you need to know about Silent Hill 2’s intentions. At times you were apprehensive, reluctant, lost in the unknown. But you kept going because you had to know how it all ended. You were James Sunderland without even realising it.
Silent Hill 2 photo
In our special place...
It started with a worried look in mirror dimly lit. For Silent Hill 2, this was a statement of intent; a progression in not only hardware, but also in narrative. Out went the B-movie horror about gods and the occult, and in i...

The Last of Us photo
The Last of Us

Naughty Dog devs thought The Last of Us would ruin the studio's name

It obviously didn't
Jul 14
// Brett Makedonski
The Last of Us was the game that proved to a lot of people that Naughty Dog could handle a mature narrative. Its writing explores the human condition and examines the child/guardian protective emotional bond. Upon relea...
Five Nights at Freddy's photo
Five Nights at Freddy's

Five Nights at Freddy's 4 coming August 8, free content update on October 31

Five Nights at Anthrocon DLC imminent
Jul 13
// Joe Parlock
Love it or hate it, Scott Cawthon’s Five Nights at Freddy’s series has been a huge success, and now we know when the fourth game in series is coming. Thanks to an email sent to YouTuber Dawko by Cawthon and posted...

Resident Evil 0 N64 prototype shows how far remaster has come

Jul 10 // Kyle MacGregor
Resident Evil 0 prototype photo
A long, long way
Today, Capcom took a trip down memory lane, reanimating some old footage of a Nintendo 64-era Resident Evil 0 prototype originally shown at Tokyo Game Show in 1999. The following year, the publisher reworked the project for n...

Don't Starve photo
Don't Starve

Here's what Don't Starve looks like on an iPad

It's out today for $5
Jul 09
// Chris Carter
Don't Starve was announced for the iPad platform yesterday, and soon, you can buy it! It's $4.99, and will only work on "at least" an iPad 3 or iPad mini 2 with iOS 8 and up. Courtesy of a new trailer, you can get a better l...
Don't Starve photo
Don't Starve

Don't Starve: Pocket Edition probably won't actually fit in your pocket

Above: so glad they put me in-game
Jul 08
// Joe Parlock
Everyone’s favourite shaving simulator Don’t Starve is coming to iPad! The inaccurately titled Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition does two things: Includes the base game and Reign of Giants, both optimised for to...

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