Halloween is a special time for fans of spookies, with Five Nights At Freddy’s making it’s cinematic debut and the SAW franchise returning, gamers everywhere are clamouring for more horror experiences. Being a massive fan of Horror games beginning my journey with Splatterhouse 2 on the Sega Mega Drive, here are 3 games I have been playing all month, keeping me up all night with both horror and entertaining gameplay.
Ghost at Dawn. (PC)
Ghost at Dawn is our most “traditional” horror game we are looking at, being that it follows the format of Survival Horror almost to the letter, but what it does within that genre is what makes Ghost at Dawn special and worthy of keeping you up all night this Hallows Eve.
Set in 1947 you control Ben O’Hara, private eye on his latest case to track down a missing Japanese girl who’s last known location was a Hotel, upon arrival you find the Hotel to be abandoned and seemingly empty.
Saying any more about this narrative would do the game an injustice, there is a lot of mystery and surprise about the Hotel and the people who stayed there, Ben also has his fair share of secrets and so does the girl you are looking for, it’s a gripping mystery that keeps you guessing and has some genuine surprises.
The game follows the blueprint for Survival Horror, we have limited inventory space, backtracking, notes and puzzles to solve. Instead of taking damage you take “Mental strain” by being in the dark or witnessing heinous events, this is managed with pills and cigarettes dotted around the Hotel, it’s a balancing act though as you also need matches to navigate through the dark or light incense to ward away evil spirits.
All enemies are instant death as I can imagine a ghost grabbing hold of you in an abandoned Hotel would do wonders for your mental health, fortunately you can fight back the only way we know how, by shooting them, handguns, shotguns and even a Katana are on hand to help you survive this mystery, oh I’ll just also mention you have a total of 5 deaths before you start again from the very beginning just to add further pressure to the mystery
Visually the game is stunning with a cel shaded anime art direction that echoes that of a certain Punk developer who has always crept alongside the horror genre. The first thing that drew me to this title was just how damn stylish this game looked and trust me, horror and ghosts have never looked better.
There is so much to discover and it is still getting updates as the game goes on, as part of a trilogy of title with the next one coming next year I strongly urge any horror fan to pick this game up as in a year with Dead Space Remake and Resident Evil 4 Remake doing the rounds, Ghost at Dawn manages to stand side by side with them as a wholly original survival horror and one of the most engrossing and entertaining survival horror games I have played.
World of Horror. (PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 & 5)
World of Horror is a described as a “1-bit to Junji Ito and H.P Lovecraft” the former being a horror mangaka with the fantastic “Japanese Tales of the Macabre” available to watch on Netflix and the latter being the twisted mind between Dagon and Cthulhu, already onto a good start I would say!.
World of Horror is a RPG/Roguelike/Adventure title in which you try to solve various mysteries plaguing your town, the game will randomize what mysteries you need to solve and what “Old God” is behind them, as you solve the mysteries and earn keys to enter the lighthouse which seems to be the centre of the mystery, the Old God will affect your run in various ways both positive and negative.
You’ll be exploring various Japanese themed locations, spooky hospitals, mansions and schools while fighting off various monsters and other twisted foes drawn in a beautiful 1 bit style all in Microsoft Paint, it’s absolutely stunning and equally twisted but does such a great job of keeping in-line with the two inspirations mentioned earlier.
Not only are there several scenarios to follow ranging from beginner to difficult, there is also a fully random/custom story, while the runs of the game generally don’t go much further than 2 hours there is so much replayability trying to find all of the different endings and events throughout the stories you’ll just keep coming back.
You have to manage health and your mind amongst levelling up various stats and finding the right weapons and items for the job as you’ll be exploring and trying to solve puzzles to get to the end of the tale before your mind or your body gives out. There is a turn based combat system at play and the game controls much like the 80/90s adventure games where you pick actions rather than perform them, even on consoles the mouse cursor isn’t a pain to use and the game is translated very well to consoles, something I was concerned about when playing the PC version.
It’s a tough game but so addictive and fun with it’s roguelike nature and the beautiful yet disturbing artwork just keeps me coming back for a quick run through which ends up engulfing every night I turn the game on.
Vaccine Rebirth. (Switch & PC)
Vaccine Rebirth is less of a sequel and more of an enhanced version made from the ground up. Your teammate is on their deathbed and you need to explore a mansion looking for a vaccine to cure them, once you’ve found said Vaccine you are then chased by a giant monster in the vein of the “Tyrant” from the Resident Evil series.
Vaccine’s big selling point is that it’s another roguelike and not only are enemies randomized but also the entire mansion, you’ll never game the same layout twice and this keeps you on your toes as you try to get through each run without being monster food.
Each action you take grants you EXP and it’s down to you to slowly create your perfect build, combat is fast and clunky as the game uses traditional tank controls, lovingly combining the addictive and random nature of roguelike with the tough fear inducing feeling of tank controls and being helpless.
You can play the game in 1st or 3rd person modes and there is the option to have a time limit to further the tension and various other modifiers to change each run, fans of the original Vaccine will notice this game isn’t that dramatically different from the original and as mentioned it’s more of a refined “extra” version. For those who didn’t play the original it’s worth a pick up with a cheap price tag and addictive gameplay loop you’ll be trying to beat your run times into the early hours of November 1st!.
El Paso, Elsewhere (PC, Playstation, X Box)
El Paso, Elsewhere is our B-Movie action shlock of the article and one of the most fun and outright strange titles I have played in years. You play as James Savage, a vampire hunter who is tasked with going to a motel that constantly shifts it’s appearance, in order to take down your vampire ex-girlfriend Draculae, grab your pistols, your stakes and your painkillers in this Max Payne inspired horror shooter.
El Paso, Elsewhere feels like the love child of Max Payne and Hotline Miami, the Motel consists of 46 different floors which bare little resemblance to a motel, you are tasked with saving the hostages which are held within the stages while taking down all manner of beasts, vampires, fallen angels and werewolves.
The story is told through cutscenes reminiscent of Mr Payne and there is also the slo-mo ability, the combat is fast, gritty and tough much like Hotline Miami and the level design is more arenas than explorable locales.
Visually it rocks a 2000’s art style yet manages to feel unique and original, PS2 graphic style meets comic book art direction, it just has a particular feel to it that keeps it in line with other titles mentioned in this article, a Punk aesthetic that wouldn’t be out of place in any “Grasshopper Games” title and one that again grabbed me instantly, as a fan of horror, Suda-51 and comic books.
It’s a balls to the walls, action game with horror elements, a unique throwback art style and has a story that will just keep you guessing with it’s “1 more floor” addictive gameplay, I don’t know about you but El Paso, Elsewhere is somewhere I’d rather be!.
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Straight from the streets of SouthTown, all Dunks Powah'd and ready to Bust A Wolf. Catch me on Twitch/YouTube.