Most people would agree if I said that last generation (PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, Dreamcast) was one of the best, if not the best, for horror fans. We were treated to Silent Hill 2/3/4, Fatal Frame 2 and 3, Rule of Rose, Manhunt, Call of Cthulhu, Eternal Darkness, Siren, The Suffering, and so many other classics. This generation hasn’t been so bad either…but its focus is more geared towards action.
The Condemned series, Alan Wake, Dead Space, and recently Silent Hill: Downpour have been the prime examples of current-gen survival horror. It’s a shame that there are so few examples, because last generation was booming with horror, and it was a great time for horror fans to get into console gaming. So, what happened? Why has the horror genre evolved into a sub-genre of action gaming?
Resident Evil 4 redefined the horror genre with a heavy emphasis on gun play and reflexes, ushering in a new era of “scary action”. Don’t get me wrong, I played Resident Evil 4. A lot. I’ve done my share of obsessive playing with that game. Over 25 playthroughs of it. That being said, Resident Evil 4 was the game that revolutionized horror this generation in gaming.
Resident Evil 5 was a terrible Resident Evil game, but a pretty good 3rd person shooter. It aimed to follow the style of Resident Evil 4′s game play and even incorporated the ‘real-time’ inventory system. Unfortunately, the scares were scarce, and it was evident that developers like Capcom felt the weight of appealing to ‘new’ popular trends. And this is why great survival horror is hard to find.
Major developers and publishers aren’t willing to take a risk.
Has anyone here played Slender? If you haven’t, you should check out our review of it by Richard Wood. Slender is a game that was made by Mark J. Hadley (Parsec Productions) and its free to download! The reason why I note Slender here is because it is effectively scary as hell. You play a woman who goes out to find 8 notes scattered about a forest. The trick here is that you can’t let your curiosity get the best of you. No matter what, you will want to look back. And you’ll see the Slenderman behind. Waiting. Stalking. You can download Slender on its website.
Indie games have been paving the way of creating great survival horror experiences this generation. One example of a popular indie horror game is Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Amnesia has become outrageously popular, becoming the subject of memes and viral videos, and even has a sequel on the way. Amnesia was an incredibly well made game that establishes an incredibly creepy atmosphere. It was a risk to make, because of how vulnerable your character is and how different it was compared to other games at the time. For those of you reading who have played Amnesia, I heavily recommend Penumbra, a game made by the same developer and it has a great setting as well. You can buy Amnesia at your local game store(or on Steam) and you can buy Penumbra here.
There are so many other indie horror titles I can easily recommend and not all of them are standalone games. You can download Nightmare House 2, a great Half Life 2 mod that’s just freaky. It’s also free!
The beauty of indie gaming is that it isn’t afraid to take a risk. Although it can be said that major developers have more to lose, it’s too safe and it’s almost uninspired how we’ve gone through the motions of waiting for the next Call of Duty or for the new big Resident Evil. With indie gaming, we, the audience, don’t have as much to lose either. Most of these horror games are for free or for very little. If a big developer decided to take a risk and make a scary game like these on the list, we could be in for a treat.
There are so many more indie horror titles to find online, but I wanted to give you some of the ones I thought were top-notch and really delivered some chills. Enjoy!
SCP: Containment Breach. All I gotta say is, think ‘Weeping Angels’ from Doctor Who and you’ll get idea of what this is about.
The Path. Think Little Red Riding Hood, but with temptation and multiple storylines. It’s $10, but it’s worth it.
Anna. Although flawed, this is a promising game from Italian developers Dreampainters. It is $10 and this is a fairly new game, just released a few weeks ago. This game is really eerie and doesn’t fail to set a sense of dread.
Paranormal. A game largely inspired by shaky cam films such as Paranormal Activity and the Blair Witch Project. Every haunting in this game is unique! It’s not out yet, but you can preorder it for $20 or donate more on its Kickstarter page. This game looks exciting and its goal is to be released by Halloween 2012.
In addition to these PC exclusive titles, I also offer Xbox 360 horror games you can find in its indie marketplace. The links in the names are to trailers or ‘Let’s Play’s of the game. You can find these games in the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Decay: You wake up after a suicide attempt…that you don’t even remember doing. There are also further installments of this series and it is a well done series. It’s a point and click adventure, also! Those are always fun.
A Madman’s Guide to Happiness: You play as a police detective who is going through the laptop of a suicide victim. You’ll try to discover why he had taken his life. It’s incredibly bizarre and it’s really freaky…really freaky.
Soul: This game makes you play as a recently deceased soul who must explore and go through the trials of Hell in order to find a place in Heaven. There are some real ‘WTF’-worthy moments in this gem.
And with that, I’ll wrap things up. I hope you all enjoyed the cheap to free indie games on this list. I would also love to hear opinions and read some comments. Feedback is always welcome!
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