Hello ghosts, ghouls, and ghastly groupies! Thank you for joining us for day two of 13 Days of Otakutober. Today, we’re going to take a step away from anime and towards the dark hallway with the flickering lights, to take a moment to highlight some Horror Games. What are classic titles? What are contemporary? The horror game genre is large and wide, with a surprisingly dedicated and far-reaching fanbase. Today we’re going to talk about just a few of some of our standout titles. So let’s get to it!
Now, there are many games that belong in this category but I, Star, have had most of my experiences with these particular games. Not necessarily that I had played these games but they did haunted me through my adolescence. Games like Devil May Cry which was like an alternative/emo culture arcade game that made its way into our living rooms with grotesque looking monsters and big flashy guns and swords. And honestly, those characters took the cosplay world in the US by storm. For several years straight, you couldn’t go without seeing a Dante or a Nero. Perhaps it was the fact that those characters seemed more Americanized that made them easier to cosplay or the fact that you had to have a lot of confidence to cosplay them. I’m not entirely sure to be honest, but what I can tell you is that I loved playing it and still do haha. The experience of killing the gross things that resembled insects to death metal made all the difference.
But then came the candy pop horror that was made to look like it’s for kids but is actually very disturbing. Take Stretch Panic for instance. This is a game you can finish in under 10 hours (5 even) about a little girl who uses a shadow to pinch the monsters in a house. On the flip side meaning dark psychological thrillers, there were games like Bioshock that were monumental for its time because of its immersive storyline and survival like world setting, bringing a Resident Evil like vibe to the steampunk world. When I think of classic horror games they mostly consist of those first one-person shooters that thrive on jump scares and loud sounds but not all horror games were that case. Resident Evil and Bioshock were truly horrific with a fun storyline that took you to different settings in the world. To this day there are hard core fans that love these series. I’m a big scaredy cat when it comes to these games but I definitely enjoyed the third installment of Bioshock (Bioshock Infinite) which had a much “sunnier” disposition but was just as psychologically disturbing as the the two games that came before it.
So, if Star had us covered with the Classics, we still got to talk about some of the contemporary games (aka post 2010). There was definitely a bump in the genre of horror in mid-2000s or so (or from what I can tell), but there were certainly some stand outs. They’ve also branched out and become more unique in the way they deliver their scares. Take Slender: The Eight Pages which was a bit of a social phenomenon. The game, which focused on the ever popular Slenderman was ALL over the internet. The game itself was pretty good–very typically playing off slenderman lore and putting the player in a forest where they had to find these notes and not get caught by the slendy. Naturally, this spurred IRL games where people would gather a group and one person would be “slenderman” and try to tag out the others before they gathered the notes from hidden places in parks/forests. There were also a TON of like, slim dudes doing these really great Slender Man cosplays for con (but also that like low key broke the no mask rules at con). Moving along down the line, we then have my literal worst nightmare Until Dawn. Now, Until Dawn is HELL. LITERAL HELL. This game, which was pretty darn popular, is so stressful–giving you moments to make choices that could affect not just your fate but all your friends’ fate. Honestly, this had me trembling from a combination of fear, stress, horror and shock. I 10/10 do not trust anyone who says they enjoy this game or it’s one of their favorites. But like, I get the artistry–it was a unique kind of horror game that included otome-like choices.
Speaking of unique horror games though, they’ve really evolved and blossomed in crazy ways. Take, for example, one of the biggest hits this year: Phasmaphobia. This early access steam game, while not necessarily visually pleasing, is like one of the most clever games in my opinion. A co-op game in nature, it brings the joys of IRL ghost hunting to a game. By using an in-game talking system instead of like discord…it ensures that you can’t ALWAYS be in communication with your team. You need to gather your own items like flashlights and EMF readers and go into creepy locations and hunt ghost (just like those Ghost Hunters shows). But because it’s so immersive, it’s fucking creepy as all hell. Shadows moving, seeing people behind your teammates, getting locked in a room. Why…do we do these things to ourselves, I ask. But it is like a great way to chill with the homies in quarantine. It really brings everyone together…unlike this last game. This last game, this game that blew up online–it’s only horrific for one reason: you will NEVER know who to trust. Among us, not a horror game at all, but the aspect of having to lie, deceive, and kill your friends makes it psychologically terrible. Who is your friend? Who is your foe? Did they just come out of that vent? Can you ever trust again? The cultural impact of Among Us is unrivaled as it has become a huge hit with many a meme about it. And it’s super fun, but it’s also like…terrifying to know you can’t trust anyone in the game.
So yeah…horror games have been…interesting. Who is to say though which are more enjoyable? The classic, the contemporary? They’re all horrifying in their own ways. Some are better than others, or more horrific too. And I know, we’ve listed only a mere fraction of some of the BEST horror games out there (which I know we missed a ton). But these are the ones we wanted to talk about. So how about all ya’ll? What kind of spooktacular games do you enjoy? Drop some titles in the comments below, and thank you for joining us for day 2 of Otaktutober! Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for more creepy weeby content tomorrow for Day 3!
Star & Luna