Here comes another horror game contender for the P.T. throne

One of the primary pleasures of European horror from the 70s is the sheer amount of wandering that takes place. In France you had erotica auteur Jean Rollin and his undead ingenues padding barefoot around mist-shrouded moors; in Italy, the more overtly perverse Dario Argento was stalking actresses through baroque ballet schools and haunted apartment complexes. Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) is full of luscious landscape photography and endless strolls through the wilderness.  Don’t Look Now, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Psychic—there’s simply no end to the interminable, dreamy walks to nowhere that dominate these movies. Part of this is simply the nature of tension-building; for there…


Now this is a videogame worthy of Beksinski’s haunting paintings

If you look upon the mournful, decaying figure sat atop that webbed plinth above and don’t immediately think of Zdzisław Beksiński then you aren’t familiar with his work. And if that’s the case then you might not fully realize the appeal of Scorn, the videogame that this concept art informs. Time to change that. What Beksiński did with bone haunts. He was a Polish artist, best known for his many paintings, especially the gothic fantasy that dripped from his brush during the 1970s and 1980s. But Beksiński’s gothic fantasy isn’t like any other: forget about crows, full moons, and vampires. He rarely spoke…

Dead End Road

Horror lurks behind the nighttime driving of Dead End Road

There’s something existentially terrifying about driving at night. For my money, it has to do with that unpleasant combination of velocity and darkness. The swath cut by your headlights is only enough to catch fleeting images. Is that a hitchhiker you see on the side of the road, or an unnervingly convincing scarecrow? The red eyes in the darkness ahead might be the taillights of a truck, or something much worse. Like any great horror film, a highway at night gives you only glimpses of what’s actually there; it lets your imagination do the rest. I should mention here that,…

Sylvio 2

Sylvio 2 and the ghostly terror of analog technology

Sylvio was a humble ghost-hunting horror game in the foggy, abstract lineage of Silent Hill. It also boasted an indelible protagonist in soft-spoken Juliette Waters. Her resolve through all manner of supernatural phenomena makes you, the player, feel a bit better about the screaming ink-black blobs milling about as you investigate an abandoned amusement park. Using EVP recording equipment, you can capture the whispers of the dead on analog tape, scrubbing back and forth to pinpoint clues about how each spirit met their end. Yeah—Sylvio is a game about helping ghosts find peace. Now designer Niklas Swanberg is back on…


The RollerCoaster Tycoon ride that takes 3,000 in-game years to complete

For all its lighthearted charm, RollerCoaster Tycoon has been oddly capable of indulging the morbid propensities of its players over the years. There’s not a player out there who isn’t guilty of picking up their tiny little park guests and dropping them in the Swan Boat lake, or trying to design a deliberately broken ride that would end up crashing in a storm of fire and metal at least once. Perhaps it was the fact that this otherwise cute sim game could let you do these destructive things in the first place that made players experiment so. There’s another means of torture that some particularly creative…

Letter To A Friend

The terror of a videogame made to look like a silent film

There’s no guessing as to where Letter To A Friend gets its look. The grey, flickering lights; the darkness heavy and consuming as miasma; everything out-of-focus, fuzzed and grainy as if seen through an old, dying lens. The creator needn’t say that its “visual references come from expressionistic silent movies and old analog recordings” for us to know that is the case. It’s a staggering recreation that speaks for itself. Or rather, it doesn’t speak at all, and that’s part of what makes it so creepy. Everything from the frail shutter speed to the exposed scratches, dust, and hair that makes…


A creator of SOMA on the surprising merit of Until Dawn

Sometimes, a big budget game comes along that, despite an almost Duke Nukem Forever-esque level of development redos and challenges, finally reaches your videogame system only to impress rather than disappoint. It’s so rare that it almost feels like magic when it happens. But the question is: how come a game like Until Dawn—originally created for the PS3 and with the expressed intent of tricking you into believing Playstation Move wasn’t useless—transforms into a beautiful butterfly while games like Duke Nukem Forever turn into steaming piles of shit? It must be those fickle videogame gods at it again, arbitrarily deciding who goes to heaven and who is Duke Nukem Forever. Of course that isn’t…


You may not eat your greens ever again after playing this food horror game

I’m struggling to eat bananas these days. It’s Facebook’s fault. The damn thing is ruining my diet. I logged on one day to an auto-playing video of a spider breaking its way out of a banana. The devil of a thing pierced the skin from the inside of its fruity carriage and crawled out of it, into my nightmares. Now every time I bite into a banana I expect to feel hair and legs in my mouth. This is a problem I have now. Luckily, I’m not such a big eater of carrots. For if I were I think playing…


Adam brings an unusual perspective to bleak black-and-white horror

It’s rare to see an isometric horror game. The 3/4 perspective affords more visibility than what is conducive to most horror scenarios, where the possibility of things lurking in the darkness or just around the bend helps heightens the tension. But in Adam, at least what’s shown in its only available trailer, ceilings are cutaway to reveal the contents of other rooms, like an old RPG or adventure game. A halo of light illuminates the titular character, emphasizing the darkness around him, but we can still see. In place of the mystery another perspective might offer, Adam must find its…