Sunday, 30 October 2011

Horror Gaming

(This is a post I put up on the Games, Simulation and Media blog for my course, I'm putting it here too since it might be of interest to the two of you that read this...)

Once more the ages-old tradition of Hallowe'en falls upon us and in this day of constant media bombardment we find ourselves confronted with a myriad choice of how to spend our evenings. At our age the prospect of Trick or Treating is somewhat less desirable as it had been during our younger years (though I'm sure I'm not alone in my desire to recapture those days of youth and head out with my treat-bag in hand and terrible handmade costume hiding my true identity, a spring in my step and a hope in my heart that the elderly aren't too concerned with the health of the modern youth and well-stocked up on fruit and sugarless sweets) but we are still open to a whole library of possibilities, a veritable multi-verse of heroes, heroines and monsters at our disposal, for our pleasure and entertainment in the forms of films, books and, of course, games. Which leads me to my question: 
What is your horror game of choice?
Are you an Umbrella Company Insurgent or a survivor of Silent Hill? Do you wish to investigate the strange goings-on of Japanese villages or solve the mysteries of the Scissor Killer? Or is your palate simply satisfied with the hardcore violence of the walking dead found in cities, malls or mining ships?
Present us with a list of your top five horror/hallowe'en games and we'll see how those of us who have no other plans will be screaming away the wee-hours of the horror-night. I shall even supply you with mine.
5.  Resident Evil Series - something I have grown up with since the release of it's first title, though I feel the horror aspect of the recent turnouts of Capcom's most successful franchise have been lackluster, their enjoyment never wanes whether you're facing a hoard of Djini or the unfortunate residents of one of Umbrella's many facilities. From the deserted halls of the Arkley Mountains Mansion to the jungles of Africa and beyond, Resident Evil has managed to span many places since the release of the T-Virus in mountains around Raccoon City and I'm sure it hasn't stopped yet.
4. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare - An addition to the excellent Western-based adventure game from the company that brought you Grand Theft Auto, Undead Nightmare brings an amazing and surprisingly novel view of the zombie genre by setting it in an age that knows nothing about such things. In addition to protagonist John Marston's uneducated and often hilarious outlook during the apocalypse, UN also presents gamers with a true survival horror challenge, severely limiting ammunition and other helpful items and putting you at risk of not only the walking dead, but also the undead counterparts of RDR's sprawling wildlife and a host of additional mythical beings from the Four Horses of the Apocalypse to El Chupacabra. This has so far been my game of choice over the Hallowe'en weekend and it has presented many, many hours of enjoyment and not a few frights.
3. Parasite Eve - a hugely underrated series that ran in the shadow of Square  Soft's hugely successful Final Fantasy Series (of which I am a huge fan) Parasite Eve is one of those rare concoctions that spans most of the mediums of entertainment. Beginning as a book, Parasite Eve is a Japanese novel from writer Hideaki Sena that tells a tale of our roots in the form of our own Mitochondria given consciousness and power enough to ultimately overrun humanity. A spiritual sequel was presented in a Japanese film a few years after the book's release and eventually continued once more in Square Soft's PSX title of the same name in 1998 (it even spawned two sequels itself that continue the storyline of the game's protagonist in 1999 and 2010) which contained enough shocks and scares that it forever changed the world's view of Square's so-far friendly face.
2. Dead Space - Another recently game from EA, Dead Space sets itself apart from most other survival horrors through its combat system. Set on the supposedly deserted mining ship Ishimura, its dark and foreboding atmosphere, coupled with its host of horrific monsters and edge-of-your-seat scare tactics was taken a step further into the realm of horrifying gameplay when the player first discovers writing on the wall of one room informing them that the only way of defeating these creatures was to remove their limbs. Scarce ammo, unpredictable appearances and precision aiming for the most gruesome killing method makes Dead Space one of the scariest and greatest games released in the last decade in my opinion and its subsequent sequel did nothing to lose this already auspicious position in my top-five.
1. Silent Hill Series - For those of you already familiar with this title I don't need to further my explanation as to its position at the top of my list. Those of us who have braved the world of Silent Hill and come out relatively intact will shudder at the very utterance of that doomed town's name and I'm sure I'm not alone when I awake in the early hours of some mornings after playing them. Silent Hill epitomizes horror gaming, with its spooky locations, its spine-tingling music and its downright disturbing creatures, the stories told of the inhabitants and unfortunate passers-by of this Mid-Western American town will forever hold a special place in my mind: locked away in a box with heavy chains, placed in the corner of a dark room at the back-most part of the must unused areas of my memory.

So please, leave your lists in the comments below so we can see what scares us, and perhaps what draws us to such games.