Halloween games for people who don’t like horror

As mentioned in my post about Project Zero, I’m a big wuss when it comes to horror games. My other-half can play them in the dark and not even flinch – but I’ll be left thinking about them long after the PC or console has been switched off, my imagination going into overdrive.

So what’s a cowardly girl to do when this spooky time of year comes around? My usual solution is to make Pete play while I hide from the safety of behind a cushion, because I enjoy the kind of stories shared through the horror genre although I don’t like being on the controls myself. I grew up reading books by Stephen King and Dean Koontz from a far-too-early age and this has made me terrified of monsters lurking in the shadows, yet also strangely intrigued by them.

But sometimes you don’t want to sit back and watch: you’d rather be in control of a game yourself. And the great thing about video games nowadays is that we have so much choice; there’s something out there for absolutely everybody regardless of how much a scaredy-cat you are. Here’s my list of recommendations for people like me, who want to get involved in the Halloween fun this weekend but would rather it didn’t involve them being scared witless or awake all night.

Catherine

Altus’ Catherine isn’t a horror in the conventional sense but it still gets pretty dark. The gameplay is split into two sections: the daytime segment where protagonist Vincent interacts with friends and other patrons at the Stray Sheep Bar, and the foreboding nightmares where he must solve block puzzles to climb a tower and escape from falling to his death. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to Vincent’s story as it chooses to focus on moral ambiguity, so you might find yourself questioning some of your choices.

Costume Quest

Go back to the Halloweens of your childhood with Double Fine’s Costume Quest, a cartoony RPG about a group of young kids out trick-or-treating when a sibling is kidnapped by a monster. Each of them wears a costume and their imagination takes over in the turn-based battles: they transform into giant versions whatever they’re dressed as and are granted appropriate super-powers to match. It’s a fun game which isn’t too hard to complete and will remind you of the excitement of eating far too many sweets.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

If you decide to pick up this point-and-click for Halloween, do yourself a favour: get the original version of Gabriel Knights: Sins of the Fathers by Sierra Online rather than the 20th Anniversary Edition by Phoenix Online Studios. That way, you won’t miss out on the excellent voice-acting by Tim Curry and some of the sleaziest so-bad-they’re-good lines ever in a story about a series of murders related to voodoo. Nathan from Gaming Omnivore recently played this for our game-swap so check out his thoughts on the game in this post.

Gone Home

The opening of Gone Home by Fullbright has all the makings of a horror situation: a thunderstorm, an abandoned house, rooms shrouded in darkness and many niggling questions. There are several moments where it feels as though you’re being followed – such as the part where you must go down into the basement – but there’s really nothing scary here. What you’ll find instead is a sincere story about teenage love and finding yourself, along with some of the best voice-acting in video games I’ve ever experienced.

Night in the Woods

Night in the Woods by Infinite Fall is another game which contains nothing scary in the conventional sense. Instead, it manages to capture the hollowness of moving from the warmer months into autumn and winter, along with the uncertainties and pressures of real life. The story is told through a cast of wonderful characters that make it worth playing. A special mention for Candy: I love the way the story hints at her being more than just a mum, and how she’s dealing with issues she’s trying to keep her daughter shielded from.

The Bunker

If you’re a fan of full-motion video (FMV) games like me, check out The Bunker by Splendy Games for a tale about the last remaining survivor in a nuclear bunker who’s shielded from the outside world. And if you’re in the Essex area, why not plan a trip to the Secret Nuclear Bunker in Kelvedon Hatch before you do so? Getting the chance to visit the place where the title was filmed made it even more creepy for me and the atmosphere in real-life is just a heavy as the feeling I got when playing the title: dark, and full of memories and ghosts.

The Room series

The Room by Fireproof Games is one of the best puzzle series ever made. It’s amazing how much atmosphere is packed into each instalment – even more so when you consider that the games were originally made for mobile. Although the sharp piano notes in the background and the dust motes in the air speak of loneliness, it feels as though there’s always someone watching you. The visuals are realistic yet somehow hazy, which gives each episode a dreamlike quality: it’s almost as if you’re inhabiting a room straight out of your imagination.

Bonus game: SOMA

It may seem strange to include this one on today’s list because it’s an entry in the horror genre in the true sense, but I’d recommend giving SOMA by Frictional Games a try – if you’re feeling brave enough after turning on the Safe Mode, of course. This will allow you to experience the title’s creepy atmosphere while removing the risk of in-game death. What’s truly scary about it isn’t the monsters but the questions it will force you to ask yourself, and you’ll stay thinking about them long after you’ve put the controller down.



Are there any other games you’d recommend for scaredy-cats like me at Halloween? Tell us about them in the comments below and, if you’d like to witness me hiding behind a cushion while Pete plays Amnesia, come join us over on Twitch this Saturday.

Until Dawn: community choice stream

Playing Until Dawn with the help of those watching was a highlight of our GameBlast19 stream in February. We decided to schedule another stream for Halloween after receiving requests from blogger-friends to continue our playthrough – and that spooky time is now here.

If you don’t fancy trick-or-treating and the thought of playing a horror game on your own leaves the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end, why not head over to Twitch and join us from 20:00 GMT for a couple of hours. We’ll be streaming Until Dawn each evening through to Sunday and we need your help in making the ‘best’ decisions to keep our characters alive. Who will be the first to meet their doom? Will the Wendigos take them all down? Will I pass the controller to Pete while I hide behind a cushion? Let’s find out.

We’ll then be tackling Supermassive Games’ next title The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan for GameBlast20 if we’re brave enough after thus experience. Our challenge will see us playing video games for at least an hour each day for 50 days straight from Sunday, 05 January 2020, before ending that period with a 24-hour marathon session from Saturday, 22 February 2020. Further details will be coming next week, and in the meantime you can check out the link to our dedicated GameBlast20 page in the menu at the top of the screen.

To all you ghouls, ghosts, spooks and spectres, we wish you a very happy Halloween.   👻



Scary-not-scary gaming moments

It’s Halloween on Thursday and we all know what the majority of gamers will be doing: turning off the lights and picking up the controller for a jump-scare-filled horror title. I like to mix things up a bit here though. For example, last October I made my other-half watch trailers for the worst entries in the genre according to Steam – and we’re still scarred from the experience.

For this Halloween, I’m once again offering something a little different. Forget about those horror games considered to be the most frightening: this year I’m looking at releases outside of the genre that still manage to spook the pants off of us, yet weren’t actually designed to be scary. Several of my blogging friends were willing to get in on the action and reveal their gaming weaknesses, so here are the titles that got the hair standing up on the back of their necks.

If you haven’t yet played any of the following games and intend to do so, I’d recommend navigating away from this post now and coming back later. There are some spoilers in the following paragraphs.

Far Cry 3 – submitted by Will from Geek Sleep Rinse Repeat

“In Far Cry 3, just like other Far Cry games, you’d need to ‘collect’ animal skins in order to be able to upgrade things like pouch storage. One of the better upgrades required you to kill sharks. Most of the time you could see the sharks from land so you’d know if they were out there waiting for you. What I used to do was stand in the shallows and shoot arrows at them until they were dead, then I’d wade in to the water and quickly claim my prize. I specifically remember one occasion where I’d been shooting at a shark and I finally saw it go limp and start to sink, I quickly swam out to grab and noticed that I was in an area that was actually pretty deep, and the shark was sinking fast. Utter panic came across me as I scrambled to grab it (I wasn’t letting it get away, I’d worked too hard), but it was just sinking and sinking in to the dark murky depths and I bottled it, I quickly turned around and swam as fast as I could back to the shore all whilst feeling terrified that there was a shark following me about to bite my behind (there wasn’t). It was at that moment I decided I didn’t need any upgrades that required shark skin.”

Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse – submitted by Jonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog

“Honestly, I have a hard time coming up with an example. I think perhaps due to me playing so many horror games and me being a reviewer, I can always detach myself and look at it from a gameplay standpoint or design decision. I totally didn’t get scared of the ghost in Freddi Fish 2 when I was younger, naaaaahhhh…”

Gone Home – submitted by Kim from Later Levels

“The opening of Gone Home has all the makings of a horror situation: a thunderstorm, an abandoned house, rooms shrouded in darkness and many niggling questions. As a 1990s teenager who used to watch The X-Files and mess around with ghost stories, the scene in the living room with the flickering television felt all too familiar. And that moment when you have to go down into the basement – I was sure something would be waiting there for me. There’s nothing scary within the game but it makes me feel as though I’m being followed.”

Grand Theft Auto V – submitted by Chris from OverThinker Y

“My other-half cannot deal with being chased. By anything. Auto-scrolling levels in Mario, the mosquito thing in Rayman, anything that pressures you to move quickly is just immediately terrifying to her. She leapt out of her skin the other day in Grand Theft Auto V when she was hiding from the cops and one just suddenly showed up right behind her!”

Yakuza Kiwami – submitted by Brandon from That Green Dude

Yakuza Kiwami has a system called Majima Everywhere. After a certain point in the story, Goro Majima will will roam the streets looking for you so he can fight. There are times when he will just pop up out of nowhere like a inside bin or from a manhole cover. You can get a detector that gives out a noise when Majima is near by. Whilst this is helpful, the noise fills me with dread everytime it goes off because it doesn’t tell me exactly where he is. So now I know he’s near but where he is exactly I don’t, which is terrifying.”

Night in the Woods – submitted by Michelle from A Geek Girl’s Guide

Night in the Woods has a few moments like that. The least spoilery one is when Bea runs away from a college party and Mae has to chase her down the dark alleys. It’s kind of intense for an otherwise not intense game.”

Red Dead Redemption 2 – submitted by Niki from TriformTrinity

“At some point in Red Dead Redemption 2 you will end up in the Bayou Nwa, not far from the esteemed city of Saint Denis (reminiscent of real life New Orleans in Louisiana). Here at one point I was doing some simple hunting for a perfect alligator pelt to upgrade my camp, where around early evening with some heavy fog coming in from the North on the road I suddenly see the sad visage of a person hanging from a tree. What’s weird about this is that while the person is clearly gone from this world, he has some strange carvings on his body. Being the curious adventurer I am, I jump of my horse Roach (yes, all my rides are called Roach in games, thank The Witcher) and walk up to investigate.

“As I look closer to at the body, the camera being close enough I don’t think much else other than how weird it is out here in the Bayou. Turning around is when the scare hits me. With no sound whatsoever, three men had walked up behind me all wearing torn, tattered clothes and a mixture of mud with white paint. Machetes in hands, they still without saying a word begin walking towards me clearly showing what their intentions are. I quickly drew my volcanic pistol and with the use of Dead Eye, shot all three before running off to Roach, riding out of the swamp faster than the wind could carry me.

“The Night Folk are a scary group and I do not look forward to meeting them again. As they are looking to maybe be practitioners of Voodoo that can have dire consequences of the ones they aim it at.”

Dragon Age II – submitted by Ellen from Livid Lightning

Dragon Age II has one of the most horrifying events I’ve stumbled across in a non-horror game… Basically, a Blood Mage serial killer decides he wants to get his dead wife back. To do this, he kills off a bunch of women and combines their body parts into a Frankenstein-like creation. The final piece? Leandra’s (Hawke’s mom) head. Hawke at least gets a few parting words with what’s left of her (or his) poor mom, after murdering that twisted freak.”

Ecco the Dolphin – submitted by Luke from Hundstrasse

“One moment that always gives me shivers is in the otherwise nature-tastic bizzare-fest Ecco the Dolphin for the Sega Mega Drive. I guess it’s just one of those sections that freaked me out as a child and for some reason stuck around into adulthood. For those not familiar with Ecco, it’s a game that’s filled with plenty of ‘scary’ elements; sharks, spider crabs, octopi. But nothing makes me want to get in and get out as much as the moment when you meet ‘Big Blue’: a huge blue whale swimming deep under the polar ice-cap in the Cold Water stage. Weirdly though ol’ Blue himself is a friendly character that Ecco has travelled the ocean to see, but something about that huge whale sprite floating there under the ice makes me shudder every time. Unlike the rest of the stage, the scale of Ol’ Blue-features really gives the impression that the plain blue background isn’t just a colour, but rather an expanse of water devoid of features stretching on and on. It’s like stepping in to a really big room and suddenly being aware of how much space there is around you… *shudders* I’m going to stop talking about it now.”

Rayman Origins – submitted by Dan from nowisgames.com

“Thinking about the scariest game I’ve played which shouldn’t be scary, my choice feels like a strange one. The fear was real, the tension, the screaming. Five seconds into a YouTube video, to remind myself of what I was writing about, this was all it took to bring it all back. ‘Wanna play Rayman?’ I would ask the wife. ‘NO, NO I DON’T’ would be the reply.

Rayman Origins shouldn’t be scary, but it was. In fact it still is, we can’t go back, even after eight years. My wife and I enjoyed this game on the PS3 when it released, right up until we started trying to complete the Treasure Chase challenges, which are peppered throughout. These involve running at high speed, dodging all sorts of obstacles, just catch up with a treasure chest and claim the treasure. Simple, right?

“Small children are supposed to be able to do this!” I would scream as we got so close to the end of the levels, on more than one occasion. If it wasn’t me plunging to my doom, it was the wife. We were also frequently responsible for the others demise! So confident was she that I was to blame for our suffering, she tried to do them on her own and still failed, screaming all the way, as I looked on aghast! I recently set up her dust coated Wii in the living room. Curious about the Rayman games she owned before we met, I asked her to play Raving Rabbids for me. I will never forget the look in her eyes at the mere mention of Rayman.”

So is this post a celebration of how many effort developers put into the atmosphere and feelings of their games, or our cowardice? You decide! And if you’re in the mood for more scary-not-scary gaming moments, then check out this great post by Athena over at AmbiGaming. Whatever you do for Halloween this week, I hope you have a spooky time – and tell us about your own freaky gaming moments in the comments below.

Horrifically bad: worst horror games

There are plenty of articles dedicated to the best horrors in honour of Halloween. But what about those at the other end of the scale: releases so toe-curlingly bad that, rather than covering your eyes in fright they have you laughing at the screen in disbelief?

As if making ourselves watch the trailers for the worst-rated games on Steam earlier this year wasn’t painful enough, my other-half and I recently decided to subject our minds to a special extended Halloween edition. Read on to find out about the worst-rated titles with a ‘horror’ tag currently on the platform and our reactions to them. Prepare to be scared… or probably not.

10.   Bunker 58

Steam rating:   Negative (0%)
Example review:   What the game description on the store page should be: ‘After playing this game, you will question yourself how much the devs value their reputation, and how far will they go to pursue their dreams.’

Kim:   “Oh look. Zombies, now there’s a surprise. Hang on a minute – did that zombie just run through a wall?”

Pete:   “Yeah. This looks absolutely terrible.”

Kim:   “It just seems really boring, like the same thing over and over again.”

Pete:   “I wouldn’t play it even if it was free.”

Kim:   “What, no jump-scare ending?”

Pete:   “Now I’m really disappointed.”

9.   SECTOR

Steam rating:   Very Negative (19%)
Example review:   I’d rather have someone squeeze my nipples until they lactated than ever even look in this game’s general direction ever again.

 

SECTOR, video game, box art, spaceship

Kim:   “Ok, I can’t seem to find a trailer for this game anywhere so you’ll just need to look at the description and screenshots for this one. *Reads description out loud*

Pete:   “If you’re not going to have a trailer and are going to rely on your write-up, you’re going to need to come up with a better description than that. I’ve not even seen the screenshots yet and I already don’t want to play the game.”

Kim:   “And now for the screenshots!”

Pete:   “I don’t really want to see them.”

Kim:   “Tough. *Shows screenshots*

Pete:   “I still don’t want to play it.”

8.   VIGIL: Blood Bitterness

Steam rating:   Very Negative (17%)
Example review:   No other game quite has the gameplay or graphical stylings that this does. However it soon becomes apparent WHY no other game has these.

Pete:   “Well he looks about as evil as my arse. I’m sure Frank Miller appreciates the Sin City rip-off but the rest of us aren’t so bothered.”

Kim:   “I kind of like the way it looks though. I wonder why the reviews are so bad?”

Pete:   “Because it’s quite obviously s**t.”

Kim:   “Ok, it seems as if the majority of people on Steam are complaining about technical issues. They’re reporting a lot of bugs.”

Pete:   “I suppose ‘buggy as hell’ sounds about right for a horror game.”

Kim:   “Maybe we’ll skip over this one too then.”

7.   The Tower

Steam rating:   Very Negative (16%)
Example review:   This isn’t a game, it’s a poorly designed chore. An actual chore wouldn’t have you bumping into invisible walls the entire time.

Pete:   “Well that doesn’t look that bad, compared to the other ones anyway.”

Kim:   “Considering all these games come up under a search for ‘horror’ on Steam, I’m really surprised at the lack of jump-scares we’ve had so far.”

Pete:   “The developers were just trying to build the atmosphere with that trailer.”

Kim:   “Sounds as if you’re contemplating buying it then.”

Pete:   “No. No I’m not.”

Kim:   “Let’s move onto the next one then, shall we?”

6.   VERGE:Lost Chapter

Steam rating:   Very Negative (16%)
Example review:   One of those games that even if they paid you to play would be considered a horrible waste of time.

Pete:   “Surely if you had several dismembered bodies hanging from chains from the ceilings, the floor wouldn’t be spotless would it?”

Kim:   “Maybe they cleaned up before we arrived.”

Pete:   “What is this game? A zombie-type thing?”

Kim:   “*Reads description out loud*… but is it really abandoned? ”

Pete:   “Well apart from the monsters and the cleaner, obviously not.”

Kim:   “I hope they get paid well.”

5.   Age of Survival

Steam rating:   Very Negative (15%)
Example review:   [insert negative review here]

Pete:   “A dude threw sticks at an elephant.”

Kim:   “I can’t believe we’ve just watched a trailer where some guy takes ages to craft a beating stick, which then just turns out to be a branch.”

Pete:   “It’s quite obvious that the person who did the backgrounds isn’t the same person who drew the sticks.”

Kim:   “So this is a horror game about sticks then?”

Pete:   “And elephants. And there was a helicopter.”

Kim:   “Nope. Still not getting it.”

4.   The Culling 2

Steam rating:   Very Negative (15%)
Example review:   If you for some reason bought this game, remember that it is possible to get a refund.

Pete:   “Yet another battle royale game. It wasn’t really horror though, was it?”

Kim:   “Yes it was. It’s an example of how horrifying it is that developers want to continue ripping off Fortnite.”

Pete:   “Still wasn’t horror though, was it? Although I suppose any game where you’re shooting someone is now classified as a horror. I expect more from the genre.”

Kim:   “Can we go back to Bunker 58? At least that game had zombies.”

Pete:   “Would you really want to go back?”

Kim:   “On second thought, maybe not.”

3.   Skyscraper Simulator

Steam rating:   Very Negative (6%)
Steam rating:   Very fun, if you like watching paint dry.

Pete:   “Another one. How is this horror?”

Kim:   “Either the Steam tags are screwed or the reviewers have been having a bit of a joke.”

Pete:   “I don’t know what’s worse: the game itself, or the fact they’ve marked it as a horror. Someone call Trading Standards and get that sorted out.”

Kim:   “The game is so bad, that even the backing track sounds like a death march.”

Pete:   “It just wasn’t a horror. I don’t understand. Why is it in the horror category? Why is it there? And why would building a skyscraper be entertaining in a video game anyway?”

Kim:   “Sweetheart, I think you just need to let this one go.”

2.   GASP

Steam rating:   Overwhelmingly Negative (19%)
Example review:   The only good thing about this game is that after the insufferable torture that is GASP, they were kind enough to plant a massive tumor in my head to end my misery.

Pete:   “What was that that just hit his head?”

Kim:   “*Laughs hysterically*

Pete:   “He must be the unluckiest astronaut alive.”

Kim:   “*More hysterical laughing*

Pete:   “*Joins in with hysterical laughing*

Kim:   “That has to be the funniest thing I’ve watched in a very long time.”

1.   Flatout 3: Chaos & Destruction

Steam rating:   Overwhelmingly Negative (12%)
Example review:   After playing this game, buying a noose seems like a great idea.

Pete:   “Hang on, didn’t this one come up the last time we looked at bad games on Steam? The one with the really bad physics.”

Kim:   “Yes, this is the one. Still got dem physics.”

Pete:   “Apparently it’s one of the best driving games of the year according to the trailer.”

Kim:   “But notice how that’s not even a quote – the line isn’t attributed to anybody. The developers just slapped the text in there.”

Pete:   “And also notice how it’s still not a horror game.”

Kim:   “So much for a great Halloween post.”

That’s all we can take for now – we’re going to lie down in a dark room for a while and recover. If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations on making it through and have a excellent Halloween!

Creeped out: spookiest video game moments

As discussed in my Question of the Month response last week, it’s often the strangest things that scare us. We all have those gaming moments that have stuck with us, the memory of which only surfaces during the dark of night, scratching at the corner of our brains and making our hair stand on end…

In honour of Halloween and all things eerie, Brandon over at That Green Dude posed a question to the community recently: what is your spookiest video game moment? Below is the list of my own, which includes a few expected horror titles; but there are also a few less obvious releases that may just surprise you.

Warning: some spoilers are included below so if you haven’t played a title, you may wish to skip forward to the next entry!

1993: Myst

Myst, video game, Achenar, bedroom, Mechanical Age, tiles, poison, cage, torture chamber

Since receiving my keys from the Kickstarter campaign, I’ve been working my way through the Myst games recently. Replaying the original not only reminded me how much I loved it but also how much Sirrus and Achenar made my skin crawl. Reaching the Mechanical Age and finding their bedrooms revealed more about the brothers but it was Achenar’s space that I found particularly disturbing when I was younger: a hidden door to a secret torture chamber exposes an electric chair, bottles of poison and even a rotting head. These siblings are twisted.

1995: Shivers

Shivers, video game, ghost, spirit, water, Ixupi, river, boat

This was the title I chose for my Halloween QotM answer recently. It looks somewhat laughable now but as a teenager with an overactive imagination, left with a small group of friends alone one day, our first encounter with the evil Water Ixupi while navigating our boat on the underground river into Professor Windlenot’s Museum of the Strange and Unusual brought us all out in screams. Although we laughed it off, that night I went around our house turning every single light on and was extremely relieved once my parents arrived home.

1996: Resident Evil

Resident Evil, video game, dogs, window, hallway, corridor, broken glass

The original Resident Evil has appeared on numerous lists across the internet this Halloween, including Bandicoot Warrior’s own QotM response. It was the first real horror I played as a teenager and the bit I’ll always remember is the scene that sticks with most gamers: that moment when the mutant dogs come crashing through the window, splintering the glass and snapping at your heels. As well as genuinely terrifying the hell out of me and taking a few years off my life, it showed that horror games can be just as frightening as films.

1998: Sanitarium

Sanitarium, video game, Innocent Abandoned, statue, angel, man, child

This point-and-click isn’t exactly a horror, but its atmosphere is incredibly unsettling and I remember feeling constantly on edge while playing it. As if putting the player into the bandages of a man who wakes up in a derelict asylum with no memory of how he got there wasn’t creepy enough, the Innocent Abandoned scene with its ruined playground full of horribly-disfigured children who keep talking about ‘Mother’ is unnerving. The backwards clock and haunting music just add to the sense that everything is ‘off’ and you need to get out of there as soon as possible.

2008: Dead Space

Dead Space, video game, necromorph, alien, blood, spacesuit, astronaut, gun

Come on, admit it: you screamed too when that first ‘dead’ necromorph jumped up and started attacking you on board the Ishimura. After reading Fitzy’s recent post about Dead Space over on Game Time, I know I’m not the only one who started cautiously approaching the corpses throughout the dark corridors from that point onwards. I love the way Dead Space manages to capture a perfect feeling of dread, isolation and claustrophobia, and it’s the title that started my fondness for space sci-fi. As Fitzy said: “Once bitten, twitchy and paranoid forever.”

2015: STASIS

STASIS, video game, man, John, surgery, spine, blood, computer

Time for another space science-fiction now: how would you feel if you had to perform dangerous surgery on yourself while still awake, in order to remove a chip that’s wrapped around your spine? Utterly petrified, that’s how. This particular scene in STASIS had me squirming in my seat and looking away because it’s very uncomfortable to watch. It’s gory but not overly gratuitous –well-handled in terms of both timing and how it fits in with the title’s storyline – but it’s some pretty-messed-up-stuff that will stick with you.

2015: SOMA

SOMA, video game, chair, robot, body

SOMA leaves the player questioning what it is that makes us human through a storyline about scanning human intelligence. Say the body you’re currently in is failing and you’re offered the opportunity to be copied into a new one. Which version of you then takes precedence? Should the old version be terminated? If both copies should be allowed to live, how do you come to terms with there being multiple versions of yourself in the same space? And how would you feel if you found out you were the copy? These thoughts are far scarier than any blood and gore.

2017: Stories Untold

Stories Untold, video game, House Abandon, text adventure, monitor, lamp, desk, keyboard

When I played text adventures as a kid, there was always that feeling that if you looked up from the screen you’d start to see elements of the game in the real world. This is exactly what Stories Untold recreates. I had to resist the urge to look over my shoulder as I played through The House Abandon episode and found it difficult to stop myself expecting my phone to ring when the handset does in-game. For a simple and unassuming release, it creates an awful lot of atmosphere through a number of very clever moments that I won’t spoil by saying more.

So there you have it: eight moments from both horror games and other genres that left me spooked. Let us know which gaming scenes sent a shiver down your spine in the comments below.

Shivers down your spine (a QotM answer)

October’s Question of the Month is brought to you by Ian from A Geeky Gal: long-time blogger, video game player, anime watcher and all round lovely lady. To find out more about him and his site, as well as how you can get involved, take a look at this post.

It’s often the strangest things that scare you, and what frightens one person won’t affect another in the slightest. This has been proven by October’s QotM thanks to some curious responses: rather than give typical blood-splattered horror answers, many people have mentioned releases outside this expected genre when talking about the video games which have made the hairs stand up on the back of their necks.

I understand where they’re coming from. I’ve been creeped out when entering dark rooms in the Greenbriars’ house in Gone Home; on edge while dealing with Sirrus and Achenar in Myst despite them being safely trapped away in Linking Books; and shocked by the unexpected foes found in the mines of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. In-your-face frights are scary and will certainly have you screaming, but it’s often those more subtle things which will stay in your mind afterwards and haunt your dreams…

After convincing my parents I had far too much coursework to go to a family party, I’d been left home alone one evening in the mid-90s. But rather than getting out the books, I invited a small group of friends over to keep me company and we ended up playing a video game after they saw the stack of boxes piled up next to the CRT monitor. I’d visited the gaming stall at our local market just a few days before to pick up something to see me through the summer holidays, so now was a good time to start it.

We huddled around the screen to see where this adventure would take us, the sun slowly setting through the window turning the room gradually darker. Shivers‘ story started when our teenaged character was dared by their friends to spend the night in the grounds of Professor Windlenot’s Museum of the Strange and Unusual. The fact that the place was considered to be haunted ever since its creator’s mysterious disappearance 15 years earlier wasn’t a deterrent, and after solving a few puzzles we found ourselves standing inside the grand building.

Unfortunately for us however, we weren’t alone. In 1980 two ‘nerds’ had broken into the museum themselves and accidentally released ten Ixupi from a set of ancient ceramic vessels from the Moche Valley. These evil spirits were lurking within chemical elements such as sand, metal, wood and electricity, and were intent of sucking the Ka (life-force) out of anyone they came into contact with. You can probably now figure out what happened to the Professor and the nerds…

As we solved puzzles to get further into the building, everyone in my own group was trying to keep their cool. We had to hunt down each vessel and its corresponding cover then use them to trap the correct Ixupi before sunrise, without them lashing out and stealing away our limited amount of Ka. We all let out a scream the first time we encountered one of the spirits at the underground river and it attacked us – before trying to cover it off and laugh it off because the game was ‘stupid’. You know how it is with teenagers.

Shivers, video game, ghost, spirit, water, Ixupi, river, boat

The first thing I did after my friends left for the night was go around the house with the family dog in tow and turn on the light in every single room. The skin prickled on the back of my neck each time I heard an unexpected sound and my overactive imagination was certain there was somebody there with me. I sat in the living room freaking out and was kind of grateful when my parents and younger brother arrived home, even if my dad did tell me off about the lights and for wasting electricity.

When I watch videos of Shivers now, I find it laughable I could find something as silly-looking so scary back then. But the story played on my mind and I found excuses to not be left alone for a long time after that summer evening. Even now as an adult I have a recurring dream every once in a while, where I’m searching for something unknown through a large building full of hundreds of rooms while something is stalking me… could it be the Ixupi?

Just one question: who on earth thought it would be a good idea to imprison evil life-sucking spirits inside some incredibly-delicate and extremely-breakable vases?