Resident horror guru Matt delves into the twisted world of a deranged artist...
It's been a great time for Horror Games, from big budget console exclusives to indie gems the genre has never had as many excellent games for people who like things that go bump in the night. As the resident Blast Process horror guru i'm not one to shy away from terrors in darkened asylums, cabins in the woods and spooky warehouses, as everyone's favourite 80's paranormal fighting team would say "I aint afraid of no ghosts!"
Stairs by GreyLight Entertainment however is a little different, it doesn't rely on jump scares, it doesn't need gore and viscera. What Stairs excels at is lulling you into a false sense of security and then gradually ramping up the terror, a nagging psychological fear that will rundown your spine until finally the game decides to take off the baby gloves and hit you with full skin crawling intense horror that will have you looking over your shoulder and jumping at shadows.
In Stairs you play as investigative journalist Christopher Adams as he tries to piece together the events of three deaths that took place at a secluded factory in the woods. Armed with nothing more than your trusty camera and a note book you descend into factory to solve the mystery of these murders and grab some photographs before any rival journalists.
The mechanics are basic with one mouse button pulling your camera out and the other taking a shot. Your journey is filled with outlines of images you must take and you gradually fill these in as you explore and take pictures of the surroundings. I quite enjoyed this element of the game, moving from area to area snapping crime scene shots in order to fill out the backstory of the events that have happened. Imagine a combination of Project Zero (Fatal Frame for our overseas readers) and Pokemon snap and you're halfway there!
The camera also serves a second purpose and that is of lighting the way. At times the environment is so dark you will need to use the flash of the camera to slowly edge your way around the building, your heart stopping each time the flash bulb goes off in case you see something spooky in the small moment of illumination...
Early in the second story you pick up a torch, but I do think the areas when you just have the camera to reply on are much spookier.
Finally the camera can also be used to find hidden passageways that can lead to secrets and continue progression of the story line. While at the start of the game i had my camera put away so that I could run, by the end of the first story i was clutching onto the camera to make sure I didnt miss anything!
As the game progresses there are puzzles to solve and secrets to find. An early puzzle involves trying to find the combination to a safe, with clues regarding the digits scattered around the stage. This gives the game some momentum as you try to piece together the clues as the unnerving atmosphere and well paced horror comes together.
Visually the game looks great running on the Unreal Engine with some suitably dark and spooky lighting.
The music is excellent with chilling themes and environmental sounds that get the pulse racing, unfortunately the voice acting is a little unconvincing at times and this does take away from the otherwise excellent experience.
Despite some minor issues such as having to be in just the right place for photos to be counted as having being taken and the slightly awkward way the journey is laid out, this is an excellent horror game and well worth a play! The story is only a couple of hours long, but in that time you will fear genuine terror leaving you feeling deeply unsettled, and any game that can have such an emotional response always gets a thumbs up in my books!
Stairs is currently available on steam at a launch price of £7.49 - Buy it here!
Will saying something now spark a heated argument in an hours time?
Can one tiny action ultimately lead to a horrific series of deaths?
The Butterfly Effect, as explained by everyone's favourite chaotician Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, is the concept that each and every action and decision you make can have massive repercussions via a chain of events that you could not have possibly seen at the moment of action. The Butterfly Effect is the driving force behind Supermassive Games' terrifying horror story Until Dawn
A year after a cruel teenage prank went horrifically wrong, 8 friends end up spending the night at the scene of the tragedy - a remote cabin in the mountains. When things take a turn for the worst, they are left frantically fighting for their lives and hoping to survive until dawn...
I don't want to give away too much about the plot, as it really is one of those games that you need to play with as little prior knowledge as you can. Needless to say, if you are a fan of horror films then you will enjoy the ride. Influences touch on everything from Saw to Scream and even The Descent paired with a finely crafted atmosphere and sense of dread. Jump scares will cause your heart to jump out of your chest, but it's the tangible terror around every shadowy corner and that makes you want to hold your breath and steel yourself for what is to come.
Regulars will know that I'm a huge fan of horror games, and I rank Outlast as one of my favourite games this generation, but Until Dawn is probably one of the scariest games I have played for a long time!
Suermassive have done excellent things with this PS4 exclusive, the facial animations in particular are phenomenal! While still not completely lifelike, at times they get very close - and the uncanny valley effect of these computer drawn emotions pays off in particular with the character of Doctor Hill, a psychiatrist who periodically probes your mental state throughout the cause of the game. Equal parts creepy and intriguing, he has probably the best facial animation I've seen in a game.
The score is also great, with strings jangling the nerves and adding to the whole interactive movie experience. It hits the beats perfectly and manages to replicate the kinds of soundtracks heard in the films this game drawns so many of its ideas from.
Voice acting is mostly top notch, a few misses but the majority of the cast (Including Hayden Panettiere from Heroes and Brett Dalton from Marvel's Agents of Shield) manage to tap into the slasher movie genre and create characters that seem realistic, some likable, some you just want to punch in the face. This mix of character types creates some of the difficult choices created by the Butterfly Effect System
What could have been a retread of the type of gameplay seen is Heavy Rain is given more substance through the much hyped Butterfly Effect System. The game will track what decisions and choices you make over the course of the game, and each of these will play out differently depending on what you do. Do you follow a path cautiously taking the safe route rather than rushing ahead blinding? Do you sneak a peak at someone else's phone? Do you sacrifice your life to save someone else? Would you kill a friend in order to save another? These are all choices you will have to make and will all alter the story that unfolds.
On my playthrough I managed to finish the game with 5 of the initial 8 friends alive. Not a great run through but each agonizing decision made me want to save them all, even those who annoyed me, and felt genuine regret when I made the wrong choice! It's like having to face one of Jigsaw's games, and sadistically you will want to carry on to see it through to its conclusion. Next time I'm going to try and save them all, next time I wont make the same mistakes! While not the longest game in the world, clocking in at about 10 hours, it does have lots of replayability to try and see each and every possible outcome and find all of the hidden clues. I genuinely believe that each person who plays this will do things different and get a unique experience. Each chapter consists of an hour of the companions night, playing out between different characters until that hour is over. These are preceded by TV Series style "Last time on Until Dawn" segments that keep you up to date with what decisions have been made so far.
If you have a PS4 and are a fan of horror then you really need to pick this game up! I finished it in two sittings, with the game drawing me into its world as the hours flew by, and at the end of it I already wanted to go digging into other corners to see what was down paths of fate i didn't take. Yes, it is QTE and talking heavy, and its probably more an interactive story than a true game, and this is something that will not appeal to everyone, but it is something that has to be experienced! I give it a spooky Buy it Now award!
Until Dawn by Supermassive Games is out now for PS4
RubyCone releases Hektor an psychological horror game on steam, but this isn't no standard indie horror game. The game promises a literally moving world that will twist and turn with your every move. Ever seen the film Grave Encounters? if you have, you'll understand that this statement stands true. After playing the game for roughly an hour I came out of Hektor thinking to my self, what actually just happened, confused and entreaged but I can't wait to return to the research facility and continue my unknown adventure with Hektor. The game is currently on offer for launch, until the 20th of March and is priced at £11.24. Looking for more this Friday the 13th? You can watch our first part of Hektor Let's Play series below.
So you play as a American civil war style character, armed only with a gun in a graveyard filled with zombie kittens dressed as soldiers. The evil rat king has stolen your beloved fiancée (?) and you need to rescue her, repeatedly! Every so often she will run through the hordes of zombies towards you, forcing you to move to intercept her- the only way to rescue her. Also other random hostages will flee, and if you successfully run into them they (unlike your fiancée) they will follow you, firing at the zombies on your behalf, as long as you don't accidentally shoot them dead!
The controls are a little tricky. Firing is easy - just tap the screen anywhere and you will fire straight ahead. To move you need to use the red circle on the bottom right hand corner.
The big red button you use much like other touch screen circle pads but it's a little jumpy, and can be a bit difficult to play whilst you are getting used to all the controls. I'd also prefer it to be on the other side, I just think it would be more natural!
Overall it's a bizarre but funny little game which I have really enjoyed!
You can find it on the Apple App Store and on Google play. If you like a little zombie kitten war that is!
Over and out!
As part of our Friday the 13th week I have dug out some fun free horror apps to tantilise your tastebuds! First of these is...Horror Escape. by Trapped who also have created games such as Scary Escape, Pirate Escape and War escape.
A curious puzzle game full of twist and turns, with no easy to follow click here panels. It's just your eyes and the game...what you see (or don't see for that matter). I played through all the free levels, the first one had helpful hints from the evil creator of this creepy escape route.
It's basically a point and click puzzle creation, you click on anything that interests you to try and progress the game. Something's are more obvious, like a key or padlock, whilst others require following patterns and logic (especially the last two - they are really difficult). They do provide walkthroughs if you're really stuck, and they link through to youtube but if you can resist the urge the sense of accomplishment is immense. Some puzzles are similar but that doesn't detract at all form the game as they are cleverly disguised with different ideas and tactics to solve it all - TOP TIP if you see any numbers anywhere, they're important.
I won't say too much more about it other than the fact I really enjoyed the challenge of these puzzles, they were different to any other point and click I had played before, and I would definetly recommend these!
Find it on android HERE It's also available on the Apple App Store.
Over and out!
Can you solve the puzzles and stay alive?
Checkout the best of our scare moments and let us know what you think.
Daylight starts promisingly with a haunting soundtrack which leaves you feeling unsure what lies ahead, though the suspense is destroyed a little bit by the fact it takes a very long time to load. This is no doubt because of the randomly generated maps
You play as a character called Sarah who awakens in a darkened room, unsure of where you are with a voice telling you that ‘you must succeed’. You have a mobile phone which acts as your map and is primary light source. It appears as though you are in some kind of abandoned building.
Quickly into the game you stumble across some glow sticks which do offer some light and also highlight objects you can interact with. These sticks also show where you have walked so that you can retrace your steps if you need to double back because you have got lost in the labyrinthine corridors. Unfortunately, the glow sticks are entirely pants at lighting the surroundings and offer none of the security of Outlast’s night-vision mode. Even with glow stick in hand, you are stumbling around aimlessly in the dark. Clearly Sarah isn’t the most physical person in the world as she can only carry 4 glow sticks at any one time before her inventory is full. Surely, if you are stuck in an abandoned asylum you would be shoving as many glow sticks as you could into your pockets.
The objective of the game is very similar to that of Slender, in which you have to find 6 fragments of memories hidden around the stage before you can make your way to the exit. All the while, trying to not be killed by sinister supernatural witches. These will kill you if you look at them too long, not entirely unlike the Slender Man. Your ways of combating these are either running for your life, or igniting a flare which for some reason destroys the paranormal threat. Unfortunately, like the glow sticks you can only carry a limited number of these.
The levels are randomly generated each time you play which keeps the game fresh on multiple play-throughs. However, this does make the layout of the stages a bit chaotic and without all the charms of Outlast’s lovingly crafted asylum. Another downside to random levels is that the game can get a bit laggy as it is generating the environments at the start of each stage. That is not to say the game isn’t scary, the music and sound design is very well done and there are still jumps a-plenty. It is just lacking that little ‘je ne sais quoi’ that other horror games on the market have. On a second play through we encountered an entire area much different to that of our first play through. This gave the game a distinctly different feel and kept up the tension as we couldn’t head through on auto-pilot. This is one element where the game does beat Outlast, but only if that level generates.
Interestingly, this is the first game to be released using the brand spanking new Unreal 4 engine. Disappointingly, it is hard to tell the difference between this and a last gen game and it certainly doesn’t use the console to its full potential.
As you are walking though the deserted environment the atmosphere becomes more tense when you hear the distant sound of running feet and the glimpse of a paranormal terror. Strange sounds and unsettling string do make this a creepy game, with strange moans and phones which ring as you pass. It is just a shame that the rest of the game isn’t as polished as the sound design.
The game would be better for the user if you were given a little more illumination. I understand why they wanted the game to be difficult to navigate, however, I do think just a touch more light would allow you to see more of the creepy set pieces. The fact that it has been released so close in time to Outlast means that it can’t avoid any inevitable comparisons to Red Barrel’s fright-fest.
“What the Hell is this?’ asks Sarah as she walks into a room filled with crazy markings on the walls. She experiences some kind of freaky flash back and is transported to a room with un-nerving photos on the wall. Not to forget the battered teddy which she is clutching in her left hand. No explanation is given, just that this is a key artifact in escaping the terror she is living through. Unfortunately, when holding said bear, you are unable to use glow sticks or flares. This does increase the terror as you are left with minimum vision.
At points in the game you feel like you are wandering aimlessly as you encounter dead end after dead end with nothing occurring in between.
If you are a fan of horror it’s definitely worth a play. Especially as there is currently a discount for PlayStation plus subscribers, however, in all honesty, your money is better spent on the truly terrifying Outlast and it’s recent expansion, Whistleblower.
Daylight is available on PlayStation 4 for £10.25 (£8.20 for PS+ members)
It is also available for PC on Steam for £11.99