Retro Monday: Horror Games

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Feeling the urge to dabble in a bit of suspense and gory thriller games on this particular night? Well fortunately for most gamers, recent years have seen a surge in games that come from the horror genre, with titles such as Dead Space and Amnesia being available, ready to scare the pants of a hapless player.

Of course, horror games were more of a niche genre several years go, with the majority of the decent titles being downright mind-scarringly scary. Join us as we take a look at some of the creepiest games to ever be published on a compact disc.

Phantasmagoria


Back in the mid-nineties, when point’n click video games had reached their height of their popularity, came a game that strayed from genre expectations.

Instead of the usual wacky hijinks and far out stories that predecessors had used to achieve popularity, Phantasmagoria was a serious game with some truly frightening gameplay that unfolded over the course of a massive seven disc odyssey.

Stuck in a mansion with her demonically-possessed husband, Adrienne Delaney has to figure out a way to survive his violent mood swings, as well as exorcise the demon and get to the bottom of the mystery of the mansion that she recently bought.

A terrifying and gripping story, Phantasmagoria set the stage for future cinematic experiences which would leave gamers with a shock of white hair.

The Dark Eye

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A lot of games use creepy scenarios and build up the suspense in order to scare players, but PC game, The Dark Eye, was just creepy from the beginning, thanks to its unique visual design.

Featuring a mixture of stop-motion animation and claymation, the denizens of this weird universe were highly exaggerated characters, mixed in with some poetry by the original 18th century poet emo himself. Edgar Allen Poe.

With certain locations waiting to be explored so that plot-points could be triggered, players could take as much time as they wanted to, in order to solve several eery mysteries, but spending too much time in this game world might just leave your sanity on the edge when the end credits roll.

Alone in the Dark

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Most gamers will think of a certain horrid, thumb-destroying mess of insanity that was released a few years ago when the phrase, Alone in the Dark is uttered.

And while that title is a horror game for all the wrong reasons, it’s history dates back much further, all the way to 1992.

Featuring then revolutionary, groundbreaking 3D graphics, Alone in the Dark took place inside a haunted mansion, with players getting to choose their protagonist. With the empty house crawling with demons, ghosts and the undead, players had to use anything and everything to survive the experience.

Another game that was ahead of its time, Alone in the dark successfully mixed cinematic horror with groundbreaking gameplay, years before future titles could be lauded for such accomplishments.

Clock Tower

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You’ll find a lot of games that feature an unstoppable evil, just waiting to tear you apart, no matter how much ammunition you fire into them. Such persistent foes have become a staple in horror games today, but the one title that really emphasised a need to run like hell, had to be Clock Tower.

Another 2D point ‘n click title, Clock Tower was different due to the fact that it emphasised stealth over random exploration. Run around too much and you would attract the attention of a mysterious stalker, a serial killer by the name of Bobby, who happened to be brandishing a very large pair of scissors.

Suspense and a constant feeling of dread were just some of the hallmarks of this weird psychological thriller, with players never being sure just how exactly they were going to survive the experience.

I have no mouth and I must scream

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Imagine being trapped by a malicious computer program, whose sole desire in its digital existence is to torment you. As one of five human survivors kept alive by the brutal AI system AM, players had to solve more puzzles and delve into a grey area of moral thinking, something not touched upon too much in gaming today.

Based on a story by renowned science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, and with input from him, this was one title which was bizarre and thought-provoking, the multiple endings available also made players think hard about their final choices, as they either managed to damn themselves, humanity or both to extinction if unsuccessful.

Resident Evil

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Numerous films, spin-offs, sequels and merchandise, and it all started here, in one zombie-infested mansion. The original Resident Evil was a game that was entirely new for its time, making full use of the then burgeoning PS1 hardware available, to present an action-packed venture into true survival horror.

Not without controversy, critics deplored the games use of copius amounts of blood, and realistic depiction of violence. But for those gamer brave enough to adventure through a certain mansion, it was to be the start of a beautiful friendship with a game that redefined the horror game genre.

Barbie Horse Adventures

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Never before, has a game managed to psychologically scar so many people before. Responsible for thousands of gamers locking up and hurling their consoles into the ocean, in order to escape the nightmarish visuals that the DVD contained, Barbie Horse Adventures was directly responsible for the great video game crash of 1994, even though it was only published in 2003.

An international inquest was set up in order to find the culprits responsible, but when Interpol raided the suspected headquarters of the people behind the game, they only found some leftover cheese, a pentagram and a traumatised goat left behind in the warehouse.

With every copy of the game rounded up and shot into space, most gamers breathed a sigh of relief that the ordeal was over, but were still apprehensive that the creators behind such a digital atrocity could one day return with something far worse.

Last Updated: October 31, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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