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News

Japanese horror game has an air of Studio Ghibli about it

“At night every town…changes” the new trailer for Yomawari tells us. The idea in this upcoming PlayStation Vita-exclusive, from Japanese studio Nippon Ichi, is to take on the role of a young girl whose sister and dog have gone missing. Despite her fears, the girl is determined to find her loved ones, even if it means traversing her town while it’s warped into a different place by the cover of darkness. With the company of only a flashlight, the girl must overcome multiple obstacles; monsters and darkness are scattered throughout her journey. The horror and stealth of the game are made immediate…

neardeath1
News

Creators of The Novelist want you to avoid freezing to death next

Orthogonal Games, the studio behind 2013’s The Novelist, has announced its next project, called Near Death. It presents a simple premise: Your plane has crashed in Antarctica. You’re cold, you’re alone, and it’s dark. There’s an abandoned research station within walking distance. Try not to die. It’s an effective hook, evoking the excitement and immediacy of the first BioShock‘s (2007) opening sequence, in which the game’s protagonist finds himself half-drowned in the middle of the Atlantic only to see a mysterious lighthouse in the water nearby. The major difference is that Near Death has no Rapture (the game’s underwater city) for its protagonist to…

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Review

Layers of Fear can’t transform the tortured artist trope

On January 2nd, George R.R. Martin came clean with his readers about his progress on the sixth book of A Song of Ice and Fire (1996-present): Winds of Winter would not be published before season 6 of Game of Thrones (2011-present) goes to air on HBO. Readers could choose not to watch the show as it is released, but as any basically sociable person with a stable Internet connection knows, dodging Game of Thrones spoilers is a hopeless occupation. Martin explained his disappointment in a long post on his blog with an apology that laid bare some of his anxieties…

lavender town
Feature

The lingering appeal of Pokémon’s greatest ghost story

The myth goes that when the first Pokémon games came out in Japan back in 1996, over 100 children who played it committed suicide. Others suffered nosebleeds or brutal headaches, or became irrationally angry when their parents asked them to take a break. Eventually, a commonality between the incidents was established—players started feeling the effects when they reached Lavender Town, home of the Pokémon graveyard, and the one dark segment in an otherwise light-hearted game. Furthermore, most of those affected had been wearing headphones instead of relying on the Game Boy’s tiny little speaker. It was eventually determined that Lavender…

ANATOMY
News

ANATOMY is a masterpiece of cassette tape horror

The scariest part of The Exorcist (1973) for me wasn’t all the bedroom acrobatics and green puke, it was a much subtler scene. In it, Father Karras sits before large spinning reels as they playback the recorded voice of possessed 12-year-old Reagan MacNeil, all of it incomprehensible gurgled groans and anguished, hoarse throatiness. Karras wants to know what language it is and the guy who’s assisting him has the answer: “It’s a language alright.” He pauses. “It’s English.” Turns out Reagan was speaking English in reverse. It then cuts to Karras later that night, lit by the low light of…

THE-WITCH
News

The Witch isn’t an empowerment narrative and that’s why it’s great

Before, I was not a witch. But now I am one. — Margaret Atwood, author of Half-Hanged Mary and descendant of accused witch Mary Webster The Witch, described simply by its first time writer/director Robert Eggers as a “New England fairytale,” tells a story we’ve heard many times and in many different ways—but with one crucial difference. The ancient, devil-loving hag who wreaks havoc on good, devout Christians is, of course, a tale as old as most countries. More recently, though, it’s also been reapproriated to incorporate everything from Arthur Miller’s metaphorical scapegoats to the WB’s Halliwell sisters (and whatever the hell Strega Nona and…

Visage
News

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…

SCORN
News

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
News

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,…