Near Death - interior

Near Death is a little too numb

Near Death begins when a woman crashes at the abandoned Sutro Station in the Marie Byrd Land region of Antarctica. There is no ceremonious setup, only the bare-bones facts of her situation: the temperature, the location, the condition of polar night, and the wind chill. She fumbles through the dark with the dim glow of a flashlight before finding one of the buildings of Sutro Station and uses a small personal heater to circulate warmth. Her situation only worsens as her contact cannot extract her in extreme conditions, and she resolves to find some way to survive or escape before…

Slayaway Camp

Slayaway Camp turns VHS horror into a cute, murderous puzzle

Slayaway Camp is a puzzle game about massacring hapless teenagers, and, perhaps fittingly, it comes from a place of aggression. “After a decade [of] making gems go clink and pegs go… Peggle at PopCap,” said Jason Kapalka, one of the founders of PopCap, and now returning to independence with Blue Wizard, “I had a lot of pent-up aggression and wanted to work on something really violent and gross.” A sliding puzzle game isn’t the most likely candidate to vent such vicious desires. And that’s entirely the point—Kapalka is looking to assault the sparkly, saccharine game genre with Slayaway Camp in action. As…

Power Drill Massacre

Power Drill Massacre brings grindhouse horror to videogames

From It Follows (2015) to Netflix’s Stranger Things, the themes and style of ’80s horror are slowly but surely making a comeback. So perhaps it’s no surprise that such inspirations are appearing among games as well, with the once-colossal genre of slasher movies influencing titles like Lakeview Cabin Collection, Until Dawn (2015), Dead Till Daylight, and the upcoming Friday the 13th. The works of developer Puppet Combo wears such inspirations on its sleeve. I recently had the pleasure of enjoying the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) for the first time last week, and realized what made the movie such a…

Universal Harvester

John Darnielle’s next novel is a horror story about fragmented video tapes

In the music he writes for the Mountain Goats, John Darnielle tells intensely specific stories. One song describes a breakfast of boiled peanuts the morning a parther leaves for good. Another, from the band’s most recent album, Beat the Champ (2015), mournfully describes a wrestling match in which the loser has his head shaved with a “cheap electric razor from the Thrifty down the street.” Darnielle’s first novel, Wolf in White Van (2014), is layered thick with references that situate it not just in a particular time or place, but inside a particular cultural niche, full of Conan the Barbarian comics and b-movie…

More details San Michele al Pozzo Bianco

The Goat, the Devil, and DOOM

The first time Black Phillip, a perfectly normal-looking goat, appears in Robert Eggers’ 2015 horror film The Witch, the viewer is struck with a sense of unease. This isn’t any fault of Phillip’s. If anything, he should be the most reassuring aspect inthe gloomy story of a 17th century family’s exile to the New England wilderness. Within an atmosphere of dread and fear, Phillip all but mugs for the camera in every one of his scenes. He gives his shaggy head a puzzled cock in the middle of a somber barnyard tableau with perfect comedic timing. He rears up to…

Ian's Eyes

Ian’s Eyes will have you play as a guide dog for a blind kid

When you’re the “new kid” the first day of school can be extremely scary. I’ve been the new kid at a new school in a new town. You have to quickly figure out a large number things in a short amount of time. You’re trying to figure out the layout of not just the school but the town too. You are trying to memorize names and attach them to faces. Trying to desperately find someone to talk to, someone who maybe will be a friend. That first day of school in a new town as the new kid was terrifying.…

zero time dilemma

Zero Time Dilemma cuts like a knife

Zero Time Dilemma wants to know how it feels to kill someone. To take someone’s life, whether it’s to ensure your own survival, or someone else’s. What it’s like to be driven mad when you end up in a situation like its protagonists—trapped in an underground shelter, where initiating six acquaintances’ deaths is the only hope for freedom. Zero Time Dilemma wants to answer these questions. But the truth of the matter is that it depends on who you are, where you are, and the context of the situation. And, of course, this being the Zero Escape universe, it also…

here they lie

Here They Lie might be the horror game VR needs

What happens when you combine nightmares, beards, the claustrophobia of VR, and leaving behind AAA development? Apparently, surreal horror games are born. Here They Lie, announced during E3 last week, is a new title for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR, developed by Tangentlemen Studios. The new studio is made up of other industry veterans, some former Call of Duty and Medal of Honor developers, as well as co-creative directors and lead designers Cory Davis (creative director and lead designer for 2012’s Spec Ops: The Line) and Toby Gard (designer of the original 1996 Tomb Raider and the iconic character of Lara Croft).…


An upcoming cyberpunk horror is about hacking into people’s fears

While Polish studio Bloober Team doesn’t have the most intimidating name in the world, their horror game released earlier this year, Layers of Fear, showed that they had a particular appetite for dread. Loaded as it was with Edgar Allan Poe clichés, Layers of Fear still hinted a certain mastery of perspective. The game’s strongest moments were when paintings and pedestrian items began to feel like instruments of a malicious trickster, a game where it felt like something was right behind you or crawling between the walls. Fear and its perceptions seem to be the driving force in their new…