you read on...?
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
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...