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Issue 4
March 2009

Dare you read on...?
My goodness.  You'd think it were October, wouldn't you?  But no.  The videogames industry has seen it fit to provide its scares early this year.  Probably to tie in with the Hallowe'en merchandise that will inevitably find its way into the shops six months earlier than necessary.  You know how it is.

Games are in an interesting position when it comes to horror.  A far cry from the passive nature of reading a Stephen King novel or sitting back in front of a Wes Craven film, this medium forces us to become involved, to invest in a character, to experience the real fear of the story's protagonist.

This heightened engagement with the narrative should mean that computer games have the most potential to shock, spook and chill to the bone, but largely - and perhaps disappointingly - this often isn't the case.  There are notable exceptions, of course.  Who doesn't remember SHODAN's merciless tones in System Shock 2, or the terror of realising what happened in Thief: Deadly Shadows' Shalebridge Cradle?  But for every S.T.A.L.K.E.R., there's a ShellShock 2.

Cryostasis does it fairly well this month, with its slow-burning atmosphere and careful pacing.  The Path is rather creepy, as expected, though it isn't really a traditional horror title.  But F.E.A.R. 2 is likely to disappoint many players in this department, even if it is a highly polished shooter for the most part.

Perhaps Resident Evil 5 will get our hearts pounding again.  Martin Stoddart's not played much of it yet - hence our review coming next issue - but, while not quite convinced by certain mechanics, he's rather taken with its on-edge sense of panic.  Or maybe Korsakovia will be the one to push the boundaries.  Despite its humble nature as a Half-Life 2 mod, designer Dan Pinchbeck seems to know what he's doing, and if his last release Dear Esther is anything to go by, few do weighty atmosphere better than him.

But maybe it's not the games' monsters and bumps in the night we should be afraid of.  Maybe it's awful design choices and shoddy optimisation.  J.D. Richardson is convinced his computer's plotting against him, Jonathan Alisandyr couldn't play the DS version of Syberia without it resolutely breaking, and I'm struggling to sleep at night, terrified that another game as bad as ShellShock 2 might land on my desk in the morning.

I don't know about you, but I think that's a far more terrifying prospect than getting my virtual head bitten off by an errant zombie.

Rest in peace until March 30th...

Lewis Denby
Issue 4


Editor's Note

The Special Report
A silly video! Hooray!

The Evolution of Horror
A look back at the genre's history

16-Bit Boy
Do our minds corrupt the most innocent games?

Is it 'Game Over' for survival horror?
Where's the genre heading?

The Angry Gamer
Are games programmed to cheat?

Listen to your Elders!
Lessons from the FPS grandfathers

Vince D. Weller
What makes a good RPG?

Interview: Dan Pinchbeck
How far can we push FPS boundaries?

First Impressions: Resident Evil 5
Rekindling the spirit?


F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason

The Last Remnant

The Path

Big Bang Mini



Spelunky (Game of the Month)

ShellShock 2: Blood Trials

Hotel Giant 2