Condemned: Criminal Origins Articles RSS Feed | Condemned: Criminal Origins RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network 10 Most Terrifying Horror Game Levels to Revisit for Halloween Mon, 30 Oct 2017 14:59:03 -0400 Louis Bulaong

Tomorrow is Halloween and for many it is a time to immerse oneself in horror stories to get their goosebumps raising, nerves twitching, and mouths screaming in fear. The market offers tons of horror video games for the occasion, but inside every horror game lies that one most terrifying level that gives players a pants-wetting scare that is worthy of its genre.

These are the ten video game levels taken from every horror game subgenre, from bone-chilling survival horror to gut-wrenching action horror, that should terrify players and keep them awake for the rest of the night this holiday.

10. Condemned: Criminal Origins (The Mall)

Inspired by psychological detective thrillers like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, Condemned: Criminal Origins is a game filled with mysteries unfolding and mind tricks being played. Players control an investigator named Ethan Thomas, a man desperately fighting off monsters from the real world and from his own psyche. One particular level that scared both Thomas and the players takes place in a seemingly normal department store filled with immobile and faceless mannequins.

As Thomas walks through the mall, the human-shaped plastics can be seen slightly moving or twitching at every glance. It turns out that many of these mannequins were actual human beings, with some being fully alive and hungry for blood. Some of them had blank faces while others were stitched up plastic and dismembered flesh. To make matters worse, a serial killer known as the Match Maker is also hiding in the store.

If you think that Slender Man was creepy, then you haven’t seen the mannequins from Bart’s Department Store yet.

9. Manhunt (Piggsy Boss Battle)

Rockstar is known for its hardcore video games like Grand Theft Auto and Bully, but nothing was more controversial than their 2003 game Manhunt. Often dubbed as a real “murder simulator” by the press, this was probably one instance where people finally said that Rockstar had gone too far. Manhunt stars a convict named James Earl Cash who escaped death row but is now forced to kill people by a snuff film director. Killing idiotic enemies in various ways can be fun in a weird way, but when said enemies are then replaced by a terrifying serial killer, that is where the tension and difficulty begin.

One of the antagonists is a large, naked, chainsaw-wielding maniac wearing a decomposing pig’s head named Piggsy. His strength and durability makes it difficult to fight him up close, so the only way to fight Piggsy is by stealth. But Piggsy can also be sneaky, so players have to be wary as you stalk each other through the dark, creaky hallways--taking bits off of each other at every turn.

Every second of this level is nerve-racking, especially the times where Piggsy chases you down the room squealing with his chainsaw.

8. Outlast (Administration Block)

Outlast is currently one of the most popular horror games today with its simple story of a rather wimpy journalist trapped inside a mental asylum filled with deranged and murderous psychopaths. It had everything fans of survival horror genre love like the eerie atmosphere, the variations of creepy enemies, classic jump scares and tense moments, and also the inability to defend oneself so you are forced to run and hide.

One of its scariest levels is also its first. The first chapter introduces the protagonist and his objectives for coming into the asylum, only for that asylum to be taken over by the mentally-ill patients who started butchering every staff before going for the player himself. The level introduces players to the hellhole that they will be forced to survive for the whole game, as well as meeting crazy enemies like the large bulky Chris Walker and the mysterious Wallrider.

If this was only the beginning of the game, then expect more terrors as you play through the rest. Just don’t forget to pack an extra battery.

7. Dead Space 2 (Titan Elementary School)

Dead Space 2  came out during the time when survival horror titles like Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill were slowly turning into action horror games. Thankfully Dead Space, while similar to these games, did have some genuinely frightening moments with its religion-themed lore, that isolated feeling of being trapped in space, and those grotesque gory-looking necromorphs.

The game stars not an action horror hero, but an ordinary yet traumatized engineer named Isaac Clarke, who is forced to survive inside a space station filled with zombified mutated people. However, the level that truly put the series in the horror genre map was, of all places, a Daycare Center. The level cranked up the horror by having Clarke fight mutated babies and children. Ripe with scares, the level shows infants turned into slug-like bombs and little children morphed with sharp claws and evil shrieks.

Kids can be terrifying enough for other people, but the children here are a whole new level of disturbing.

6. Clock Tower 2 (Jennifer Chapter)

This list wouldn’t be complete without the grandfather of all survival horror games, the Clock Tower series. The games were legendary for being the first to use gameplay elements that you now see in today’s survival horror games (minus the shooting). While all the games in the series are scary on their own terms, the most terrifying was Clock Tower 2 (released in North America simply as Clock Tower) in 1996.

The first chapter starts off with the protagonist, Jennifer, trying to recoup after surviving the Scissorman--a serial killer who kills his victims using a large scissor in the first game. Just as she was starting to get her life back, the Scissorman reappears one night and chases her throughout most of the game with scores of people being murdered along the way.

The game would certainly make you feel nostalgic of old slasher films. If you think that Jason Voorhees’s machete, Freddy Kruger’s gloves or Leatherface’s chainsaw aren’t scary enough, then you should go and meet the Scissorman.

5. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (Tachibana House Chapter 7)

While most horror games have you fight monsters, zombies and serial killers as a tough male action hero, Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly is special from the others for two reasons.

First of all, the game has you fight against ghosts (not the Ghostbusters type, but the sinister ones like in the films The Grudge and Ring). Second, the game has you play as a young Japanese schoolgirl named Mio Amakura. She doesn’t have any guns or blades to defend herself with, but she carries a Camera Obscura--an item that allows her to see ghosts and lay their souls to rest by taking pictures of them. This may sound unorthodox, but this offered a more nerve-racking experience as you try to take that perfect picture without losing your cool as the spirits come at you.

But in the 7th Chapter, Mio is chased down by a ghost named Sae and unfortunately drops her camera. What made this chapter more frightening is the vulnerability of being defenseless, the insanity that some of the characters showed, and other chilling moments that makes surviving this game even more satisfying.

Gameplay and moments like these are why critics named this game the scariest video game of all time.

4. Resident Evil 7 (Main House)

After years of releasing action horror games, the Resident Evil franchise finally went back to its roots in 2017 with Resident Evil 7. Having a shift of gameplay wasn’t easy, but thankfully the game delivered what horror fans really wanted from a true Resident Evil game.

The protagonist of the game is Ethan Winters, a normal average man unlike previous characters like Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield. The game’s introduction already puts the scare factor into you as you watch your friends get butchered and you get trapped inside a cabin owned by a deranged superpowered family. Escaping from the beautiful but scarily-designed main house is made difficult with the invincible Jack Baker happily pursuing Winters all throughout it. Hiding in walls will be useless since he can just bash his way through like the Terminator. He’ll be taunting you and screaming at you, and all you can do is run.

3. Amnesia: Dark Descent (Cellar Archives)

The Amnesia series is the quintessential example of modern survival horror games and for good reason. The game’s tight and tense levels, filled with unique inhuman enemies and the feeling of defenseless, was well loved by gamers during its release. Amnesia became an instant sleeper hit that would later inspire Outlast, Slender Man and virtually every survival horror games you see today.

The gameplay consists of an unarmed character who had to run away from ghoulish monsters inside an abandoned castle. Simple right? Until you get to the water-filled cellar level where you are pitted against creatures you can’t even see. The cellar archives is filled with these invisible monsters called Kaernks, and the only way to detect them is by listening to the splashes they make in the water. Being blind, the Kaernks also find you by the sound you make in the water, so there’s a need to be both smart and stealthy in order to survive this level.

2. Siren: Blood Curse (Episode 3)

The Siren series is one of the most underrated horror games out there. While constantly being praised as one of the scariest of all time, the franchise never got the fame and popularity that its contemporaries have achieved. And yet its recent titles have proven to be even scarier than what big budget horror game series are producing today.

Siren: Blood Curse introduces a cast of unique characters as they are forced to survive a whole town filled with blood-covered murderous humans called Shibitos. If you thought playing as a young school girl in Fatal Frame II was heart-pounding, in this level you get to control a 10 year old girl named Bella Monroe. Playing as a small and defenseless little girl helplessly trying to hide away from monsters makes you feel sympathy and emotions unmatched by other games on this list. It also makes you feel proud as she bravely faces horror and death even though she is alone and separated from her parents.

This is one of those instances in games where you truly care about a character's survival, especially when that character is just a kid who wants to be with her dad again.

1. Silent Hills PT

For over a decade, the Silent Hill series has scared a generation of gamers with its colorful list of titles that offered both supernatural and psychological scares (and in some endings, even aliens!). Ironically, the franchise’s most terrifying title was a game that never got released. The Silent Hills Playable Teaser was supposed to be the first look at the creation of the dream team of Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro, Junji Ito and Norman Reedus, but sadly the game never got to see the light of day. Fortunately for horror fans, this demo was already enough by itself.

Players take control of a man trapped in a claustrophobic hallway of a suburban house that is stuck in a loop. Entering the door only leads back to the entrance of where he came from. As he continuously enters the door again and again, the hallway becomes bloodier and more horrifying, radio starts to play tragic news, and a disgusting abomination appears in the bathroom.

If this game got released it would have become an instant classic, but the playable demo still did a terrific job in giving horror fans the scare that they wanted. Even far better than full-price horror titles today.


These are only a few of the scariest levels in video games that horror fans can enjoy this Halloween. Each level is rendered beautifully and passionately to create that scary atmosphere that will immerse players right into the nightmare themselves. Now you are not only reading or watching the horrors unfold, you are fighting to survive in it yourself.

SEGA Wants to Revive Major IPs? These Legendary IPs Have Hope! Mon, 29 May 2017 12:52:34 -0400 Dan Roemer

In recent years, SEGA has a had rough time, from shutting down their European offices all together back in 2012 to Sonic the Hedgehog suffering from quality issues. SEGA has also really slimmed down as a company and have only developed a small selection of games in recent years, primarily focusing on publishing. T, however, ever have been on the up and up in the last several months, with Persona 5, among other things, being a global hit, both financially and critically.

Because of that, SEGA seems to be gearing up for a major brand revival, referring to the “Road to 2020” business presentation for the fiscal year, which ended March 31. SEGA has ambitious plans to release titles that will be “game changers” and aims to create titles that will become “global hits” by utilising and reviving dormant IPs they still own. So today, I'll be breaking down iconic SEGA-owned games that I think could potentially become “global hits”.

Jet Set Radio

Does SEGA understand the concept of love? Sometimes, I honestly wonder. But I think now is the perfect time to capitalize on the nostalgia factor of Jet Set Radio. The last we saw from this series was the 2012 remaster of JSR, which released on Steam and last-gen consoles.

But with Microsoft hyping up everyone's nostalgia and releasing HD remasters for classic Xbox titles like Voodoo and Phantom Dust for the Windows 10 Store, Xbox One, and the upcoming Project Scorpio, I believe now would be the key time to release an HD remaster for Jet Set Radio Future. Fans have been foaming at the mouth for a remaster of JSRF since the release of the HD remaster of JSR. So it only seems logical that a remake or remaster is in the works, considering JSRF was an even better game over all. 

But if SEGA are also aiming to revive old IPs, then another potential avenue to take into consideration would be a new game altogether, especially with the market completely devoid of decent major extreme sports games. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 fell completely flat, and EA's Skate series has been on ice since developer Black Box Games was shut down in 2013.

You could make the argument that Ubisoft has been throwing their hat in the mix with Steep, but that's more geared toward winter sports, not concrete extreme sports. I genuinely think another delve into the world of graffiti and inline skating with a beautiful and highly stylized cel-shaded art style could be a huge hit for SEGA.

Phantasy Star

If you're like me and you grew up on SEGA hardware, then chances are you're familiar with Phantasy Star. Whether it's the original Phantasy Star games released on the Master System in the late 80's or Phantasy Star Online, originally released on the SEGA Dreamcast in Japan in 2000, you're probably jonesing for a new entry in the series. 

However, Phantasy Star is still going strong today in Japan in the form of the on-going and very popular MMORPG, Phantasy Star Online 2. But I think if SEGA is aiming to revive or utilize existing IPs, then creating a brand new Phantasy Star game in a more traditional RPG format might be another “global hit”.

I've heard many people make the bold statement that Persona 5 is the best turn-based JRPG they've ever played -- or even the best game in the genre today. But with other JRPGs such as Final Fantasy XV making waves worldwide, I don't see why a new Phantasy Star couldn't achieve something similar for SEGA.

As a series, Phantasy Star has a deep lore and history Sega could easily tap into with a brand new game. They could introduce the series to a whole new audience in West. If SEGA plays its cards right, the company could easily make Phantasy Star another popular global name in JRPGs.

Streets of Rage

I personally grew up on the SEGA Genesis. It was my first console and Streets of Rage was my first introduction to the wonderful 2D beat em' up genre. But as of late, the Streets of Rage series has been made into a plethora of re-releases on multiple platforms, from consoles to handhelds and mobile devices -- all of varying quality. 

However, if SEGA is attempting to revive old IPs and aim to do so with Streets of Rage, then I believe their best bet would be to mimic the success of Double Dragon and River City Ransom. Both of these franchises and the 2D beat em' up genre in general are experiencing a bit of renaissance right now. Double Dragon has seen the release of Double Dragon Neon in 2012 and the classically-inspired Double Dragon IV released recently. While River City Ransom, on the other hand, has seen the release of River City Ransom: Underground

The key thing to note about both of these new releases is that they aren't trying to reinvent the wheel or come up with a brand new game. Both of these games are banking on nostalgia while delivering a brand new game with the same classic style and gameplay. If SEGA attempt to revive Streets of Rage, this would hands down be the best approach.


The horror genre has also been experiencing a bit of a renaissance in recent years by actually becoming... (gasp) scary again. 

Of course, we know Hideo Kojima's now cancelled P.T. sparked a storm of excitement for a potential new entry in Silent Hill franchise, only to be dashed by Konami. But in the wake of disappointment, new hope arose. For example, Capcom took a bold new direction with Resident Evil 7 and aimed to go back to its horror root, while introducing a new concept to the series -- first-person action-horror. But you know what series has already done this and did it masterfully, long before the likes of Outlast and Amnesia ? Condemned: Criminal Origins.

Condemned: Criminal Origins, which released in 2005, was easily one of the scariest games I had played at the time. (Who would have guessed insane homeless people and mannequins could be so scary?) Since then, the last we've seen of this series was Condemned 2: Bloodshot, which released in 2008.

Considering this franchise has been on ice for nearly a decade, now would be the perfect time to capitalize and for SEGA to release a third entry in the series. Sticking to its first-person horror roots, Condemned could easily fit right in and become a new genre-defining staple in video game horror, especially if given enough love from its creators.

Virtua Fighter

Fighting games aren't experiencing a renaissance -- they're at the absolute peak of their popularity. With the rise of competitive gaming and e-sports in general, fighting games have had a huge come back in the past decade.

With Capcom milking Street Fighter for all its worth and dominating the competitive fighting scene and Netherrealm reviving Mortal Kombat and giving us Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2, the fighting game genre is alive and well -- and impacting new audiences around the globe. So having said that, it completely baffles me that SEGA has been sitting on the golden egg that is Virtua Fighter for more or less a decade.

Virtua Fighter 5 released in 2007 and has since seen a number of minor iterations, such as Virtua Fighter 5 R (arcade exclusive for Japan), and 2012's Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown. If there is one series here for SEGA that could be the huge, “global hit” they're striving for, Virtua Fighter has that potential and then some.

What's more, Virtua Fighter is one of the most complex 3D fighting games I've ever played -- even more so than Tekken. I think if given proper attention, like Netherrealm has achieved with Mortal Kombat and Injustice, SEGA could easily rival what Capcom has managed in the competitive fighting community. 


All in all, SEGA is sitting on a veritable gold mine of extremely popular IPs, a gold mine they're currently wasting. From Phantasy Star to Virtua Fighter and more, SEGA mustn't fall into the same trap that other companies (cough, Konami) has fallen into and instead give gamers what they really want -- revived IPs from yesteryear. 

But what do you guys think? What classic SEGA games would you like to potentially see revived? I'd love to know! For everything SEGA related, stay tuned to GameSkinny.


5 Scary Games to Keep You Awake at Night Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:00:02 -0400 ReverendShmitty

As a resident of Texas who despises hot weather, I loathe Spring as it's the final nail in Winter's coffin. With Summer looming on the horizon, watching and waiting for its time to strike, I find myself fantasizing about Autumn and its many benefits. Namely Halloween.

So I shut my windows, cranked up the AC, and got set to remember the most frightening moments in video games I've ever experienced -- to get into the spooky spirit. If you, too, want Halloween in March, then dive in headfirst and pretend it isn't sunny and full-of-life outside.

5. Silent Hill

Silent Hill

Silent Hill is easily one of the most genre-defining horror games in the history of ever. It was among the earliest to force the player into the role of an underpowered protagonist merely trying to survive against untold horror. A father, trying to find his missing daughter who has run off into the mysterious town of Silent Hill. The town itself, abandoned, and covered in a thick layer of fog is eerily stagnant yet alive. The empty buildings stand like tombstones watching over you as you meander your way through the darkness.

The static you hear through your radio at the approach of an enemy always made me tense in despicable anticipation of what was to come, like the pause just before the drop of a roller coaster. All too often were you forced to run from horrors such as the mannequin monsters with only a flashlight to arm yourself with.

This game will give you nightmares and make you question the sanity of its creators when you face the endings.

4. Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2, zombies

Another classic horror game, Resident Evil pits the player against zombies and other mutants, with the second installment my own personal brand of Hell. In the boots of Leon Kennedy, you find yourself in the front line of a zombie pandemic in Raccoon City and must fight your way to the station to find help.

This game had the tank-like controls to make you scream in frustration, but they really added to the scare factor as you had to work harder to hit the zombies as they closed in on you. Ammo was scarce and head-shots hard to come by, creating a tense atmosphere as the undead swarmed about; slowly lumbering closer and closer. I can still remember the disgusting splashing sound effects of them feeding on a corpse nearby.

Even opening a freaking door was intense as the camera entered a first person view of a door slowly opening to reveal darkness beyond it. And yes, there is a part where zombies burst through before you can move or aim. Combine that with creatures such as the skinless, ceiling-walking Licker and the room full of ravenous crows, and this game seems specifically designed to mess with the player.

3. F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R., FEAR, Alma

F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) was the first game in the 360/PS3 generation to make me actually yell. I saw it as just another first person shooter with nice graphics and tight, responsive controls. I got my assault rifle and my scissor kicks and felt invincible.

Then I met the terrific AI of the game in the form of super soldiers and was pleased by the challenge. It was a dynamic shift compared to the games of yesteryear and I became intrigued. I fought through them and became more confident in my abilities.

Then the crap hit the fan.

Alma, a ghost-child with psychic abilities, begins appearing when you turn around to descend a ladder, or running past a light behind you, bathing you in her shadow. She wipes out your entire team and leaves behind nothing but skeletons soaking in a pool of scarlet. The game has more than the jumps to make you flinch and combines it with the atmosphere of knowing something amiss is nearby. The balance of gunplay against humans and exploration makes the small creepy details really build and build until the sudden appearance you’ve been dreading blows you away.

2. Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2, Dead Space, Necromorph

Dead Space 2 features the most unlucky man in the history of ever. Isaac Clarke, an engineer, was sent to fix a ship, only to find the undead onboard and barely fight them off at the expense of losing both his girlfriend and his mind. Pick up a couple years later and Isaac is suffering from dementia and another tour through the pits of Hell.

Once more he’s forced confront the legion of Necromorphs, only this time on a much larger and more terrifying scale. They’ve consumed an entire city, perhaps more, and he must use the information hardcoded into his brain to save it.

For the player, this means you have to explore decrepit spaceships and destroyed buildings as the twisted monstrosities of Stephen King’s nightmares stalk you left and right. They will burst through walls, doors, ceilings, floors; anything they can to get to you. A fully illuminated hallway is no less frightening that a dark one when you know the monsters can come from anywhere.

As horrifying as they are though, the sound is the scariest aspect of the game. You will hear a quiet, tense track of tones and strings to mellow the mood as you progress. Then you hear something scuffle away and the moans of something in pain. You creep into the next hallway and see blood splashed across the walls and strange runes written in it. You move closer and the strings begin to rise so slowly you don’t notice until it’s too late and the Necromorph is upon you. The roars of these creatures are a disturbing crescendo that is like night and day from the moody soundtrack.

You will play this game only when feeling brave and knowing sleep isn’t that important. Especially after the needle-in-eye scene.

1. Condemned: Criminal Origins


Oh, Condemned, what can I say about you? You are the pinnacle of what scares me in a video game. You are the epitome of fright and the physical manifestation of the horror that can grow within someone’s mind.

As federal agent Ethan Thomas, you must track down a serial killer who has framed you for the death of your partner through the seediest city since downtown Detroit. Psychopaths await you both in groups and alone, making their tactics so varied they’re nearly impossible to predict. Some will wait under trash or behind obstacles to ambush you. Others will charge in head on with a more powerful weapon such as the fire axe. Then there are the special enemies that change from location to location, with my favorite being the ones in the mall who pose as mannequins until you come within range.

This game is demented. Combat is slow and heavy with melee weapons found in the vicinity making up the vast majority of the game. Pipes, paper cutters, axes, crowbars, sledgehammers, rebar; anything you can get your hands on. You have to time your blocks and swings perfectly to succeed against the insane and just pray they don’t swarm together too often as your taser has to recharge between shots. Even your flashlight will vary in intensity based on the creator's designs for the level.

And what levels they are. Abandoned malls, hospitals, schools, farms; pretty much the scariest places you would never want to go to. With such a visceral first person view, you can’t help but feel like you’re really there in the midst of such violence. The alleys become suffocating and the tight quarters claustrophobic, but the wide areas offer no alleviation as you realize you’re wide open without cover and could easily be surrounded. You glance left and right through the dark but your flashlight can only shine so far.

Then movement.

Most often I would hear something first then get hit, knowing too late I’m being attacked. The soundtrack to this game is virtually nonexistent as the atmosphere and ambience seep into your brain and cause paranoia. Go into the basement and you’ll hear footsteps overhead in the room you just left. Enter a new area and hear hushed voices that fade away when you come near. Objects in the world such as bottles will make noise when bumped into for both you and them, causing tense moments of did-they-hear-me? and what-the-hell-was-that? throughout the game. There are even a few hallucinatory-like moments to add a mind bending psychological aspect that will make you question what’s real and what’s in Ethan’s mind.

If you play this game, it will likely be in short bursts with plenty of time between sessions, all the while wondering: why am I playing this?

These are the titles that made me squirm, shriek, flinch, and gasp. Some as a child, some as an adult, all of them forever remembered for the sheer sense of dread they instilled in me. Share your own scary experiences in the comments and let's keep Halloween in March alive.

6 Horror Games That Use the First-Person Perspective to Deliver Their Scares Sun, 22 Jan 2017 06:57:01 -0500 Michael Llewellyn


The rise in first-person horror games has demonstrated just how well suited to the survival horror genre the perspective is. It adds a level of immersion that works so well with the dark and oppressive atmospheres, effectively placing the player directly in the fear-inducing action.  There's something about facing horrors of all types when up close and personal. And not knowing what is around the next corner or if something is behind you, definitely adds another layer fear.


There's something about facing horrors of all types when up close and personal. And not knowing what is around the next corner or if something is behind you definitely adds another layer fear.


Obviously, there is still room for horror games that use a third-person perspective, but unless aided by awkward controls and clever camera angles (to ratchet up the scares and sense of helplessness), I don't feel they quite pull you in and play around with your senses and emotions in the same way the first-person perspective does.


What do you think? Is the third-person perspective better for horror games or do you like your scare up close and personal? Let us know in the comments below!


Alien Isolation


Platform: PC/PS4/Xbox One/PS3/Xbox 360


One of the first big-budget games to take inspiration from the likes of Amnesia and Outlast with its run and hide mechanic, Alien: Isolation perfectly melds stealth and exploration to create a work that perfectly captures the context of the first film.


Through the eyes of Amanda Ripley, you're completely underpowered and unprepared as the Alien AI is completely dynamic, doesn't follow any set patterns, and is every bit the predator the Alien should be. It hunts you down through the narrow corridors of the Sevastopol, a decommissioned trading station -- and it's horrifying. 


When the Xenomorph appears you truly get an up close sense of its size and terrifying nature, whether you're facing it down for the first time or hiding inside a locker, a first-person perspective really adds to this level of immersion. Coupled with the impeccable sound design, the PoV works wonders. 


Alien: Isolation recaptures everything that made the first Alien movie so intense and atmospheric and puts you right in the middle of the horror. It not only manages to be one of the best survival horror games of any generation, it's also easily one of the best-licensed video games ever made.




Platform: PC/PS4/Xbox One


I challenge anyone not to get more than a few scares playing this game.  Another indie title but from experienced developers who set out to make their passion project, Outlast shines through its execution and is one of the purest horror games I've played.


There's no way to defend yourself beyond just mashing buttons to escape and run from some of the inmates. The object is to hide and use the darkness to your advantage.  


The game carries many genre influences from films such as REC and The Blair Witch Project, and it uses them to full effect as you work your way through the asylum completely terrified and defenseless. So the first-person perspective here is a completely natural fit that works when looking down the lens of a camcorder, constricting your field of view, and ratcheting up the horror. 


Amnesia: Dark Descent 


Platform: PC/PS4


I didn't get to play Amnesia upon release in 2010 because I never had the PC to play it, but it's impact and influence still echoes today in modern and future horror games. It has recently been ported to the PlayStation 4 as part of a collection and is absolutely worth playing.


The game is starting to show its age a bit now, but the scare factor hasn't weakened in the slightest. Just like Frictional Games' successive title SOMA, to give away too much information would be to spoil some of Amnesia's impact, as you really should experience it all for yourself. But I will say its execution is a masterstroke in psychological horror every step of the way.


The first-person perspective here allows the player to feel lost in some of the game's ultra dark areas. If this was played from a third-person viewpoint, there would have been a risk of making the player feel disconnected from the surrounding horrors.




Platform: WiiU/PS4/Xbox One


Originally an exclusive WiiU launch title known as ZombiU, Zombi was overlooked at launch, just like Condemned.


This game was Nintendo's attempt at trying to draw in a mature audience from the get-go, rather than just being associated with itsfamily-friendlyy roots.

It wasn't a big seller, which was a shame because ZombiU is a superb horror title on any system and one of the scariest games in the zombie genre. It brings a perfect blend of tension, atmosphere, and challenge to make it truly stand out on its own. ZombiU was also one of the few games that made good use of the WiiU controller, without it feeling too gimmicky.


Perspective aside, the game cleverly follows a similar structure to the Dark Souls series. Only this time, after your character dies (permanently) you will wake up as an entirely new character in the safehouse, and instead of trying to retrieve your "souls," you'll aim to try and recollect your previous corpse's belongings.  Unlike the Souls series though the first person viewpoint helps immerse the players in its truly desolate and dark environments.


It's recently been remastered on the PS4 and Xbox One, and I would definitely give this game a look if you missed it the first time round.


Condemned Criminal Origins


Platform: Xbox 360


Condemned is a game that was criminally overlooked as an Xbox 360 launch title in favor of the Perfect Dark sequel, but for me, Condemned was the real system seller. I loved the intense and gritty atmosphere, the lighting effects, the shadows and legitimately horrifying gameplay.


There are so many moments that stand out so well for me in this game that it remains one of my favorites today. It would be higher on my list if not for the weird final chapters. But it's still a fantastic game in spite of this.


Taking an alternate approach to the defenseless run and hide gameplay mechanics of more recent titles, Condemned features one of the most brutal and well-implemented hand-to-hand combat systems I've seen in a horror FPS. The brutality of the game doesn't pull any punches at all and the perspective definitely adds to that.  

If viewed from a third-person viewpoint, I think the atmosphere would have been lost in what may have looked and played like a half-baked action game.




Platform: PC, Mac, and PS4


Following their success with Amnesia: The Dark Descent, developers Frictional Games released SOMA, a.A disturbing sci-fi horror game set in an underwater facility.


As much as it's a horror game dealing with disturbing alien lifeforms with a similar running and hiding mechanic previously seen in Amnesia, the real impact comes from the psychology and the philosophical questions raised in the game. To go into too much detail will probably spoil game, but I feel it's a definite stand-out game in the horror genre and one that will stay memorable long after you're finished.


The first-person perspective works brilliantly with SOMA's vision of horror. The true horror is found in its psychological and atmospheric surroundings and the perspective here helps the player feel fully immersed in the shoes of the protagonist.


Ever since I was first introduced to the genre through Alien 3 on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis and later Resident Evil on the original PlayStation, the survival horror genre has been a favorite of mine. 


The portrayal of the of the genre in gaming has varied over the years in my experience, as I've seen it implemented in 2D side-scrolling horror-fests like the aforementioned Alien 3, the static prerendered back drops of the first three Resident Evil games and the now familiar over-the-shoulder action oriented horror games like Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill, the Dead Space series and Gears Of War.


The direction most big-budget horror games have been moving in in the last several years has been more action based than we've previously seen, and unfortunately, a lot of these action-horror games have lost their fear factors, too. And it all seems almost ironic that as revolutionary as Resident Evil 4 was at the time of its release, it was so in a totally unforeseen way: It was instrument in moving the genre into far less scary, more action based territory that influenced games for years to come.


There has been the occasional exception to the rule, but overall, horror quickly fell out of favour with publishers. Even Capcom's own Masachika Kawata declared there was no market for survival horror anymore.


That is until a passionate few indie developers brought in a sort of renaissance with titles like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Slender Man, Outlast and others.  They opted for a more immersive first-person perspective and added in a feeling of helplessness with deeply oppressive atmospheres that had been lacking from the genre for so long.


And all of those indie titles have since had good success beyond the PC, and made their way to the current generation of consoles, too. They have given rise to many similar titles in the genre and now even the upcoming Resident Evil 7 has taken quite a lot of inspiration from those very games, right down to the first-person viewpoint. And based on my experience with the demo, it is set to be a fantastic horror experience.


So here, and without further ado, I have listed some of my favorite survival horror games that like Resident Evil 7, use a first-person perspective for that all important level of immersion -- and horror. 

Passive and Unpredictable Creatures and Monsters In Horror Games Sun, 22 Jan 2017 09:19:36 -0500 Michael Llewellyn


When horror games add in enemies and NPC's that may or may not potentially harm your character it can add an another way to misdirect the player adding a layer of psychological horror.


Adding a feeling of unsurety to the players sense of vulnerability and helplessness can truly add to the immersion and add to the claustrophobic nature of the surrounding atmosphere.


Ultimately what makes an effective horror game is the feeling of helplessness, it's unpredictability and the ability to scare you effectively if you're unsure in what to expect from characters/enemies and sometimes the environment around you as seen in Layers of Fear.

Layers Of Fear - The Mansion

Layers of Fear is a game that mixes psychological, mind-bending scares with some well-timed jump scares. It's true horror's power lies is in its ability to trick your senses, and in this sense, the mansion itself comes to life. It actively works against you and at times, it lulls you into a false sense of security -- which it exploits to the fullest as the game goes on.


There are so many ways the house itself acts to deter your senses from the renaissance era paintings' changing expressions and the vanishing doorways. The Mansion could be the most elusive and certainly the most original NPC on this list.





Outlast - The Inmates

I found Outlast to be one of the most intense and scariest videogames I've ever played.  For my money it combines everything a horror game needs and I don't scare or jump easily when I play horror games. 


The truly disturbing atmosphere is only matched by the even more disturbed inmates, who will either chase you down and kill you if you don't run and hide or they are going about their own business doing something either weird or vile.


You'll never feel safe when you approach an inmate as you're afraid that they'll stop whatever they are doing and turn their attention to you.  It's very unnerving and will keep you on the edge of your seat every time you're in their presence.

Condemned: Criminal Origins - Mannequins.

Xbox 360 launch title Condemned has a thick and dense atmosphere and the aggressive and unpredictable villains work in harmony to provide us with a very creepy game, add in the stalking mannequins and the developers Monolith just about gave me a nervous breakdown.


On the surface you'll come across what looks like harmless but creepy looking mannequins none of which attack you on first your approach turn around and you'll find that some of them have moved.  This is a memorable part of an already scary game and what makes this so effective is you never know what is harmless and what isn't, unless you catch it moving.

Dead Space - Tortured Souls

There's a lot of things that Dead Space get right as a survival horror, from the isolated atmosphere to the fantastic sound design. 


Two aspects of horror that Dead Space certainly nails for me is the fear of the unknown and the jump scares, the game manages to do a good job of combining the two without falling into the predictable 'closet monster' territory.


No more is this evident when you come across one of the various tortured souls.  They are totally harmless but absolutely add another layer of creepiness and the occasional jump.  Especially the ones that were stuck to the walls like in the above image. These grotesque things reminded me of both Hellraiser and Event Horizon which were no doubt heavy influences for Dead Space.

Dying Light - Passive Zombies 

You will be surprised to find that the majority of the massive crowds of zombies in Dying Light are quite passive in the early stages of the game which helpfully allows you to traverse the open world with relative ease although they'll still try and take a bite out of you if you get too close.  At least until you're introduced to the more aggressive and ferocious Zombies later on in the game.


What adds to the general tension when you're working your way through the hordes is often hidden in amongst the crowds of passive zombies are the aggressive ones who will run, climb and hunt you down from the second they see you. I found this added a sense of panic and dread as there will be times you'll have no where to run. 

Forbidden Siren series - The Failed Shibito

The Shibito in Siren: Blood Curse are reanimated corpses and look like zombies, but unlike zombies, they display a level of intelligence and operate day to day tasks as if they are on some kind of autopilot. 


Not all of these creatures have fully succumbed to the the evil in the village. The Failed Shibitos are the villagers who refused to submerge in the red water and are rotten beyond recognition. What's more, most of the Shibito are absolutely harmless to the player. 


Another harmless and very unnerving Shibito is found alone in SirenBlood Curse it's a massive abomination of mutated head that screams it's completely harmless -- but totally horrifying.

Amnesia: The Failed Experiments

Going back to what I said in regard to fear being in some of the things you can't see, The Failed Experiments lend themselves well to this aspect of terror.


Invisible to the naked eye aside from the electrical currents seen in the water, the Failed Experiments lurk at the edge of the shadows. Upon first introduction, these mobs won't attack you -- as long as you stay away from the water.  When you begin to get close, though, your lantern will start to flicker like the other creatures in the game, adding an extra sense of creepiness to the encounters.



SOMA - The Proxy

The Proxy in SOMA are mutated and bloated masses of veins, a typically terrifying sight to behold.


The Proxy are completely blind and reliant on sound, so they won't attack you on sight. You're safe from a distance as they can't see you but they can react to smaller things click of your flashlight. If they hear you, they'll start sprinting at you with ferocity. 


I love survival horror games. Ever since I first played Resident Evil on the original PlayStation, survival horror games have been a staple of my gaming diet. And what makes an effective and successful survival horror game for me is not so much the jump scares sprinkled throughout each game, but more so the way developers use disempowerment, tension, uncertainty and fear of the unknown to provide thrills and chills.


An aspect of this psychology that some videogames successfully implement is occasionally what you can see in as much as what you can't. For example beings, creatures or monsters that can at first appear harmless or dead (but are actually dangerous) help add to the fear factor and overall creepiness of a game.


Here I have compiled a list of passive and unpredictable creatures and monsters that I have had both the pleasure and misfortune to encounter in some of the horror games I've played.


Please be aware there are quite a lot of spoilers in this list.

20 games every horror fan should play Tue, 27 Oct 2015 07:49:01 -0400 Stan Rezaee

1. Silent Hill 2

Hailed by gamers and critics as the best horror game of all time, Silent Hill 2 has been the measuring stick all others have been compared too. This title takes players on a psychological journey into madness were the players actions will effect how they walk away from the nightmare. James Sunderland receives a letter from his wife (who has been dead for three years) asking him to meet her in the town of Silent Hill.

2. Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2 has been hailed as one of the best games for the PlayStation and in the series. The game has become an icon for better establishing the foundation of the horror survival genre and introducing several of gaming most memorable characters. The T-virus has turned the citizens of Raccoon City into zombies while the only survivors must find a way to escape the nightmare. Players take on the role of either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield as they must escape the city.

3. Alien: Isolation

Inspired by Sir. Ridley Scott's original film, players must use their wit to avoid the Xenomorph. Fifteen years after the events of the film, Amanda Ripley arrives to the Sevastopol after hearing they may have found information about her missing mother. However upon her arrival, she learns that a Xenomorph is prowling around the space-station. There are no Marines with pulse rifles and you’re not some badass angel of death, your character is an engineer that needs to use her wits to survive.


4. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly


Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly was a break from the traditional horror games of the Sixth-Generation era by creating an eerie atmosphere while forcing the helpless player to confront the demons. The story follows the Amakura twins as they are lured to an abandoned village populated with paranormal entities.

5. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was one of the earliest horror survivals that incorporated the need to preserve ones sanity. Alexandra Roivas is investigating the mysterious murder of her grandfather when she finds a mysterious books that unleashes dark forces.

6. Resident Evil

Be it the original, GameCube remake, or the recent HD remake, Resident Evil is a gaming classic that established the horror survival genre. Following a series of murders outside the city, the STARS unit is deployed to investigate. However, the team is forced to take refuge in a mansion as Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine work to uncover the secrets of the Umbrella Corporation.

7. BioShock

BioShock is a horror adventure that takes players to Rapture, a dystopian nightmare based on the philosophy of Ayn Rand. The story follows Jack, the only survivor of a plane crash, who arrives to Rapture and is forced to participate in the civil war that has torn the city apart. If one has not played this game then, would you kindly play it on Halloween?

8. The Last of Us

Praised for its deep story and memorable characters, it has been hailed as one of the best titles for the PlayStation 3. The Last of Us stood out from other horror games by adding a humane element to the survival story while adding a new tone to the zombie genre. 20 years after an infection destroyed civilization, Joel must escort Ellie across the country as her blood may be hold the cure.

9. Silent Hill 4: The Room

The first game in the series not set in the town of Silent Hill, yet its memorable for taking players on a journey of madness while remaining connected to the series lore. Henry Townshend wakes up locked in his apartment with a warning by “Walter” to not go outside. Five days past and a hole opens up in his bathroom that takes him to an alternate dimensions.

10. Condemned: Criminal Origins

One of the earliest games for the Xbox 360, this horror survival takes players on a journey into madness. FBI Agent Ethan Thomas is trying to capture Serial Killer X, a killer that is targeting the serial killers that Thomas is looking for. Condemned: Criminal Origins was a unique horror game as it focused more on puzzle solving over combat.

11. Manhunt

Despite so many demons that are created by our imagination, we forget that human nature can be the most terrifying monster of all. This is the premise of Manhunt, a modern retelling of The Most Dangerous Game only set in an urban environment. Players are put in the role of James Earl Cash as he is forced to murder subjects for the amusement of Lionel Starkweather (aka The Director).

12. The Suffering

A horror classic that took players through a vicious Lovecraftian odyssey that pitted them against the demons of a neglected justice system. After Torque arrives to Abbott State Penitentiary, an earthquake unleashes an army of demons (a manifestation of the prison’s history) that begin a reign of terror upon the inmates and prison staff.

13. P.T. (Silent Hills demo)

Even though its a demo for a canceled game, it had such an impact on horror culture that fans were outraged when Konami removed it from the PlayStation store. Silent Hills was a reboot that was being developed by Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro, and Junji Ito. Had it been completed, it could have redefined the horror genre.



14. Doom 3

A remake of the iconic shooter, Doom 3 incorporated elements of the horror survival genre into a First-Person shooter. The result is an unforgettable horror experience that redefined a classic series. When an experiment in teleportation opens a gateway to Hell, a lone marine must find a way to escape Mars.

15. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

H.P. Lovecraft is considered to be one of the most influential horror writers to put pen to paper and was responsible for creating the sub-genre known as Lovecraftian horror. While many games have been influenced by his work, very few have tried to adopt it. Based on the story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, gamers take on the role of private detective who is hired to find a missing person in the town of Innsmouth.

16. Fear Effect

At a time when horror games were dominated by the Resident Evil series, this cyber-punk themed horror title defined the norm to bring an unforgettable experience. Fear Effect pushed many boundaries at the time, but today is remembered as a horror classic. Three mercenaries are looking for the daughter of a Triad boss only to discover that she is to be sacrificed to a demon god.

17. F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. takes the fast pace action of a shooter and puts it into a horror survival environment. When Paxton Fettel uses an army of super-soldiers to seize control of Armacham Technology Corporation headquarters, the First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.) team is deployed to take him out. However, something more sinister could be manipulating the situation and it's up to the Point Man to uncover the truth.

18. Deadly Premonition

Deadly Premonition is a horror survival that could easily be described as a video game remake of Twin Peaks. It featured elements  seen in many works of Japanese horror along with content inspired by David Lynch classic show. The story follows FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, I mean FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan as he investigates the murder of a young woman in a small town that shares similarities to several other murders.

19. The Thing

The long awaited sequel to the John Carpenter classic finally answers the question of who or what survived. Set several months after the events of the film, a military unit is deployed to investigate the radio silence at Outpost 31. However the parasite is sill alive while a bio-engineering company has set up a secret lab in the hopes of weaponizing it.

20. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 not only rebuilt the gameplay setup of the iconic series but also found a way to balance the elements of action and horror. This was achieved by keeping elements of its predecessors such as limited ammo and challenging puzzles. Leon S. Kennedy returns as a Secret Service agent tasked with rescuing the President’s daughter from the Los Iluminados cult.


October is the season of fear as pop-culture junkies indulge themselves in any work of horror they could find. It's also the perfect excuse a gamer needs to dig up their old game console and play some classic horror games. Here are 20 horror games every horror gamer needs to play.

10 Sub Par Sequels that Dropped the Ball Mon, 01 Jun 2015 09:09:08 -0400 The Soapbox Lord


Of course, there are plenty of other sub par sequels, but these were the most disappointing to me. Agree with my list? Which games did I forget? Sound off in the comments below!  


Mass Effect 3


No list of disappointing sequels would be complete without this entry. The Mass Effect games were enjoyed by players everywhere and met with great reception. So when the third game was announced, needless to say, the game was highly anticipated. Players were wondering how the series would end given the amount of divergence allowed by player choice. BioWare promised the ending would be more than a simple “A, B, or C” choice. In the end, that is exactly what we got.


The grievances were many: the ending seemed to disregard some choices made by players; lack of closure; plot holes and inconsistencies, among many others. To me, the ending felt rushed and unfulfilling after everything leading up to it. Maybe the reaction and resulting outcry was a bit much, but the resulting fallout stands as a testament to how involved players had become with the series and just how talented BioWare is at storytelling. Maybe they should not make promises regarding endings though for their next games, eh?


Dragon Age 2


Dragon Age: Origins was a great throwback to CRPGs of old. With tactical combat, a fantastic narrative filled with great characters, and the terrific tactics system, the game was a treat for all lovers of RPGs. Like most great games, it was not without flaws (some technical and performance issues and subpar graphical fidelity), but the trees could be overlooked for the forest. With


With Dragon Age 2, you ran into every tree while trying to navigate the forest.


I was so excited for this one; I preordered it and eagerly awaited it with high expectations. Once I booted up the game, the disappointment seeped in deep. The problem was the game was actually difficult for me to play. I enjoyed the characters you met and could recruit, but everything else could not make me suffer through the game to get to the bits I liked. With more repetitive environments than than Skyrim, a focus on a small setting, simplified combat, and a loose narrative framework that never seemed to go anywhere interesting, it was hard to endure the bloody game just to have conversation with Fenris or Merrill. Sorry my elven friends.




The Walking Dead: Season Two


The Walking Dead: Season One was a remarkable game that helped cement Telltale’s reputation for being remarkable storytellers. It was an emotional tale that resonated with players and actually elicited emotional responses from whoever played it. While it was not perfect, the faults were overshadowed by the strengths of the game. With the sequel, the faults were more glaring and harder to overlook.


Season Two let us down in a number of ways.


The characters seemed to make dumber decisions than they usually did and the writers also seemed determined to ensure you ended up in certain situations no matter what you did. For me, the worst part was the final conflict between Kenny and Jane. It was a good idea and setup to have the two going at each other, but the way the final fight turned out to be a total letdown. There was one way to make the game end with a poetically bittersweet finale, but the season as a whole was still a disappointment.


Uncharted 2


My feelings on the Uncharted series have been documented here before. Uncharted was not a particularly good game, but there was a glimmer of greatness under all the faults the game had. When I began to play the sequel, I had my fingers crossed the game would improve upon the potential of its predecessor and deliver a good or great game. I had high hopes with the opening train sequence, but it went downhill from there.


Somehow, Drake got even more irritating and smug than before, an impressive feat to accomplish. The story was nonsensical with imprudent characters and unfulfilled potential (poor Chloe). The gameplay and gunplay both got worse. The worst part was the condescending nature of the game itself.


The hints are delivered in such a patronizing way and the lack of respect for the player with the “Simon Says” ancient “puzzles” was grating beyond all measure. Simply put, the game is a smug mess, much like Nathan Drake. 


Deus Ex: Invisible War


Deus Ex was a landmark gaming achievement. Lauded for its open-ended gameplay and world, the game was met with accolades and is considered to this day one of the best games ever released. Needless to say, the sequel had massive shoes to fill.


Deus Ex: Invisible War is not a bad game by any means, but when you have to follow a legendary act, you get the short end of the stick no matter how good you are (BioShock 2 anyone?). The game was praised for some improvements made upon the original, but also criticized for carrying over some of the original’s faults such as the enemy A.I. and questionable design decisions. To this day, the opinions of players are still split regarding the game. Some love it; some hate it. It still remains a great game, just overshadowed by its big brother.


BioShock Infinite


I said before BioShock 2 was a better game than the original, but surely I am crazy when I say BioShock Infinite was disappointing right? No can do, Charlie.


Yes, the story, while pretentious and up its own arse, was great; the gameplay and design had a lot of issues and unfulfilled potential. The game seemed to take no lessons from BioShock 2. While the previous games had good gunplay and a degree of player freedom when in combat, Infinite was a corridor shooter. Sure, the corridors were large and pretty, but gone was the player freedom from past entries. While we were promised Elizabeth could bring in various objects through rifts during combat to assist Booker in combat, in reality you could only use rifts at certain points to bring in some predetermined objects.


There was also the gameplay and world dissonance. In Rapture, everything was tied together by narrative and design. Plasmids made sense in the world because they were integrated into the city design and were included in the narrative. In Infinte, plasmids were thrown in simply because it was what people expected from a BioShock title. At the end of the day, Infinite is still a great game, but we should be honest about its faults. 


Rainbow Six Vegas 2


Rainbow Six Vegas brought some much-needed life into the tactical shooter series when it released in 2006. With great cooperative play, gadgets to discover, and tons of weapons to use, the game was a fun, tactical romp in Sin City. The sequel was seemingly another case of lazy copy and pasting.


While some new mechanics were added and the A.I. of your teammates was improved, the sense of déjà vu was strong with this one. It didn’t help that this sequel was also a prequel. While it was still a fun cooperative experience, you couldn’t help but want for more. Now to see what the future holds for Rainbow Six Siege! 


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


Monolith Productions is on a roll here! F.E.A.R. was a fantastic shooter and a decent horror game to boot. With satisfying gunplay, destructive weapons (Penetrator FTW!), creepy atmosphere, and your slow-mo abilities, the game was great. So what did they do wrong with the sequel? Everything.


While you once again played a soldier with slow-mo powers, that is where the resemblances to the original end. Gone was the creepy atmosphere and environments to be replaced with uninspired locales (the theater was good though). The A.I. seemed a step down from the original. A convoluted and unfulfilling story was thrown in along with mech armor sequences. This is probably the only time I will ever complain about using mech armor in a game.


The game was the opposite of the original in nearly every way. And guess what? Spoiler! The game ends with your character being raped by Alma, the creepy girl with supernatural powers who haunts you the entire series. Great way to end a game there!


Condemned 2: Bloodshot


Condemned: Criminal Origins recently made my list of criminally underrated games you should play; but, please, skip the sequel. Actually, play the sequel until the last quarter of the game. The last quarter of the game is where the shark gets jumped five times. Consecutively. The game then circles back to the shark, beats the shark to death, and proceeds to eat it.


Let’s just say the last parts of this game are so ridiculously stupid, they make Adam Sandler movies look like intelligent entertainment.


What makes the game great is the melee brawling system and the atmosphere. It is rewarding, visceral, and intimate; not an easy feat to achieve. So for some reason, Monolith decided what players needed where more guns than usual resulting in the most boring peek-a-boo game I have played which goes in complete contrast to the entire game you have played to that point. Also, your character gains an ability to scream which can make the heads of your enemies explode…. Like I said, it gets dumb. Such wasted potential.


Crackdown 2


The original Crackdown was essentially a superhero sandbox game where you had guns, too. By using your various abilities (jumping, shooting, driving, etc.), you increased your strength in that area and became stronger. Before you knew it, you were leaping buildings in a single bound, outrunning cars, and had cars that could transform into armored tanks. It was mindless fun at its best! So what did the sequel do to mess all of that up? Nothing at all.


The developers literally changed the bare minimum between the sequel and the original. A stupid story about zombies (of course) was added and that was about it. Sure, there were some minor mission additions or weapons, but on as a whole, Crackdown 2 felt exactly like the first one. In fact, it felt like cheap, rushed DLC that the developers decided qualified as a full-fledged, full-priced release. Needless to say, it was a major disappointment.


While writing both of my posts on sequels (which were better than the original) I came to realize there are just as many sequels that were disappointments. As with the other sequel lists, I have tried to limit entrants to direct sequels otherwise I could go on for some time (some exceptions may apply). So let’s jump into this well of disappointment and dredge up some painful memories, eh?

Second Chance: 10 Underrated Games You Need to Play Mon, 25 May 2015 11:52:53 -0400 The Soapbox Lord


These ten titles are only a handful of underrated and overlooked games out there.


What are your overlooked favorites? Sound off in the comments below!


Second Sight


Imagine playing a stealth title where you had the powers of telekinesis, astral projection, and more instead of gadgets and guns. Welcome to Second Sight! While the player does have firearms at their disposal, the game strongly emphasizes stealth and smart, tactical decisions to stay undetected. Ever wanted to pull a guard’s gun from their hand with telekinesis and then use a tranquilizer gun to subdue them? Here you can! Sam Fisher has nothing on John Vattic.


The game follows John Vattic, a skeptic to psychic abilities who awakes without his memories and psionic powers! The player helps guide Vattic on his path to regain his memories, and stop an evil plot which seeks to use human guinea pigs bestowed with psychic powers as military weapons. Developed by the team at Free Radical Design, the game was a welcome departure from their fantastic FPS Timesplitters series.




You have to love Grasshopper Manufacture and Atlus. Grasshopper develops some of the most bizarre games and Atlus seems to publish something for everyone. If there is a niche, Atlus has ya covered. With that said, I am not sure which niche the developers had in mind for Contact. The game is an RPG, but it is so different from every other RPG I have ever played.


The game follows Terry, a young boy who is enlisted by a professor to help repair the professor’s spaceship. However, there are two separate plots at work here. The game follows Terry and his adventures, but the game also includes a separate storyline for the player themselves as well. The professor actually directly addresses the player on multiple occasions and aims to keep them a secret from Terry. Needless to say, it is a different tale, and the fourth wall has never been shattered this much sans Deadpool’s presence in a game. Another interesting aspect to the game was how experience was gained instantaneously whenever an action was performed. Took a hit? Your defense increases and so on. It was not uncommon to grow stronger during a battle, gaining an edge on your foe.


The game can be difficult to track down, but if you are interested, it is one of the most unique games you can find to date.


El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron


This game is absolutely stunning. No really. Watch the video above you and see this game in action. Words do not do this work of art justice. With its anime-inspired, watercolor art aesthetic, the game looks like a painting come to life. With a combat system revolved around taking your opponent’s weapons and armor and utilizing it against them, it made for a different tempo from other games.


I do need to include this disclaimer though. The game is inspired by the Book of Enoch. So if you are sensitive to religious content, themes, etc., you might not enjoy this as much as I have. However, if that does not bother you, you are in for one gorgeous treat!




Ah Bulletstorm, the definition of glorious excess and irreverent. This is a game that turned heads for its great, arcade-inspired shooting and kept your attention with one of the most gleefully puerile scripts in all of gaming; it’s terrific stuff. Hell, there’s a female in the game who tells the main character, “I will kill your d***.” Since the developers are based in Poland and English is not their first language, they asserted they did not realize how crude the game was, and they added the gratuitous language because it sounded funny, hearing Steve Blum using language that would make a sailor blush while sliding to get that skill shot makes for a great time.


By using a point-based system to unlock upgrades and weapons, the game encourages experimentation and originality when dispatching foes rather than simply having another boring game of Whack-a-Mole with guns. With tight controls, guns that are fun to use and have a sense of power, the shooting in Bulletstorm never gets old. Did I mention you get to set a giant, mechanized fire-breathing lizard upon your foes? Oh yeah, that happens. And Steve Blum! What else could you possibly want?


Hard Corp: Uprising


Sigh. What the hell Konami? Besides canceling Silent Hills and Kojima leaving after MGS5 is finished, Konami has also allowed Hard Corps: Uprising to be the last entry in the Contra series for four years now with no signs of another entry. Hard Corps delivered what we have come to expect and love from Contra: lots of enemies, gigantic bosses, challenging gameplay, and tight controls. What Hard Corps added was some maneuverability to the player’s repertoire of tricks. With the addition of double jumping, dashing, and projectile deflection, the added mechanics allowed the players to do more than previous entries. The addition of co-op made for double the fun and double the deaths. Any fan of Contra and side-scrolling shooters should give this one a try!




Let’s get this out of the way: this game is doggoned cute! There I said it! Happy now? I never thought a game could be considered “cute”, but here is the perfect example. Your task is to reunite Ilo and Milo, two friends separated by various obstacles and complications. It’s harder than its cute, patchwork visuals let on. With multiple characters to control, crazy physics, and wide playing areas to traverse, the game certainly scratched the cerebral itch. Now give it a shot and get sucked into its adorable world!


To the Moon


I recently mentioned how To the Moon was one of only two games to ever make me shed a tear. Boy did it! The tale of two scientists helping a dying man to achieve his dying wish is one of the most touching narratives in gaming and is accompanied by one of the best soundtracks in the business. I really don’t want to talk about the game too much in fear I’ll give something away. Just devote the three to four hours it takes to complete the game and enjoy!


Condemned: Criminal Origins


Launching for the Xbox 360, Condemned was a unique title for Microsoft’s new console. The game followed FBI agent Ethan Thomas on the trail of a serial killer. What made the game stand out, besides the crime scene investigations, was the combat. First person brawling has been done before, but has rarely been done well or turned out enjoyable. Condemned was one of the few that managed to be well done and enjoyable to play.


By having the combat unfold in first person and in melee range, the fighting felt visceral and intimate. You weren’t detached by using a firearm to snipe hapless enemies from a distance. You were fighting tooth and nail for your life while wielding whatever weapons were found in your environment. You also were usually locked into combat with less than four enemies, further adding to the intimate feel of the brawling. Monolith really delivered something great with this one; just skip the sequel. It jumped the shark three times in a row and then circled back to eat the shark after it had finished its aerial acrobatics.


Spec Ops: The Line


Spec Ops: The Line has one of the best narratives in gaming. Period. The game was a brilliant subversion of military games and our obsession and voracious appetite for them. The strange thing is critics and people “got” Hotline Miami’s message about violence, yet the underlying meaning in Spec Ops seemed to go largely unnoticed, despite both titles releasing a mere five months apart from one another. In fact, many reviewers focused on the lackluster multiplayer instead of the narrative or mechanics at work. 


Spec Ops: The Line is not a game you enjoy. In fact, it is a demanding piece of art to endure, yet it is worth it in the end. There are four endings to the game, but one of the developers was quoted as saying a fifth ending was possible when the player cannot take any more and simply stops playing. Sunshine and lollipops this is not, but rarely do we play games which actually ask us hard questions and force us to examine ourselves.


The Darkness


Released in 2007, The Darkness was an adaptation of the popular comic series published by Topcow Comics. Developed by the talented team at Starbreeze Studios, The Darkness delivered a slick, dark shooting experience with some satisfying demonic powers to utilize against your enemies in the mob. What really makes the game memorable to me is the character of Jenny.


She is the main character Jackie’s love interest in the game, but is actually more than a cliché female character. The relationship between the two also manages to elicit emotions from the player other game romances cannot. There is a part in the game where you are at her house and have the option leave. If you leave, nothing happens, and the plot and game continues. If you opt to stay however, a special moment occurs. However, rather than anything sexual occurring, Jackie and Jenny cuddle on the couch and make convincing small talk while To Kill a Mockingbird plays on the television. It is something far more intimate than loyalty missions and countless conversations have ever done. The game is also a great shooter too; so it’s a win-win!


Did I mention Mike Patton (of Faith no More, among countless other projects) did the voice of the titular Darkness with no sort of voice software or editing? You know you want to play it now.


We all know some underrated games. Games we feel did not get the attention they deserved or a fair shake at the time of their initial release. With that in mind, here are ten games you really owe it to yourself to play if you have not. I guarantee you will not regret it!

10 Scary Games for Your October (Halloween is Coming) Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:58:50 -0400 Kate Reynolds




If you're wondering what makes F.E.A.R so scary (other than the ridiculous amount of time the devs must have put in to make an acronym that spelled out "fear") it's a creepy little girl called Alma. 


Other games may scare you with jump tactics, but F.E.A.R  hits the psychological horror hard simply by its choice of main antagonist. Basically, if you thought Samara from The Ring was scary, imagine having to go up against her in a video game. 


Doom 3


The Doom series may have helped pioneer first-person shooter games, but Doom 3 did its fare share to contribute to the horror genre. It holds a special place in my heart as the first game that made me loose sleep at night. 


However, since you have a large weapon arsenal and occasionally meet friendly NPCs, this is a tamer game than others on the list. It will give you some thrills, while also allowing you to conquer them explosively. My kind of horror game.  


Slender: The Eight Pages


I could find a scarier screenshot of Slender, but I'll leave that for you to experience when you try out this free indie game for yourself. You can download it for free here, and attempt to find all eight Slender reports for yourself.


Helpful hint: You really do not want to see the Slender man's "face" up close.  


Condemned: Criminal Origins


There's something to be said for a game that can get in your head. Condemned: Criminal Origins manages to do this in a big way by having lifeless mannequins seemingly follow your through one level, amping up the tension without even attacking you. 


But really....don't blink. 


Dead Space 3


The best scary games makes it increasingly difficult to kill your nightmarish foes. In the Dead Space series, the only way to kill the horrendous Necromorphs is by slicing their limbs off one by one. Sure, you could shoot them, but that ultimately wastes ammo (which is scarce) and isn't nearly as effective. 


Secondly, the game is set IN SPACE. This means that there is literally no way out besides killing all of your foes or committing suicide via airlock. The latter option will seem more and more enticing as the slow music builds to a terrifying crescendo and the necromorphs overwhelm you. Happy hunting!


Resident Evil: 4


It's almost blasphemous to label one Resident Evil game as scarier than the rest, and yet Resident Evil: 4 truly revitalized the series with new mechanics, better graphics and as always, scary monsters. 


One of the roughest changes made in this game is that you can't move and shoot simultaneously. Standing your ground can be just as dangerous as running away, and you only have seconds to decide your best option. Good luck with that!




What makes a first-person survival game truly horrific? When you're 100% unable to fight back. I'm not asking for a gun, but even Gordon Freeman got a wrench. 


In Outlast, developed by Red Barrells, you must navigate your way through a psychiatric hospital filled with homicidal patients with only a notebook and a video camera. This has solidified my opinion that seekers of found footage belong in psychiatric institutions, but I wouldn't wish the inmates of Mount Massive Asylum on anyone. 


Five Nights at Freddy's


There is something truly terrifying about large malformed animatronic animal dolls. Five Nights at Freddy's capitalizes on these to offer a simplistic survival horror game that builds your fear an paranoia through the use of security cameras and other gameplay mechanics. 


Bottom line? I had to lock up my teddy bear in my closet for a week after just watching this Let's Play video. Even if you've been numbed by years of survival horror games, this indie gem brings something new to the genre and is sure to delight and fright in equal measures. 


Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs


I once decided it was a bright idea to buy and play Amnesia: A Dark Descent. I lasted about 30 minutes until I locked myself in my room with all my flashlights, lamps, and household items that could be used as weapons. 


Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs was even worse for me. The pigs are truly horrifying and disgusting, and I was never able to lead Oswald Mandus far enough into the game to learn what "The Machine" was. Those stout of heart may be able to complete the game, but not without questioning their dedication to this seat-jumping game. 


Silent Hills: P.T.


Created by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, Silent Hills: P.T. is an interactive teaser for the upcoming Silent Hills survival horror game. The teaser may only have you walking repeatedly down corridors, but it's enough to get several killer screenshots of Mary from GameSpot screaming her head off.


If you think in any way that perhaps Mary's gender had to do with her scarability, check out this video entitled "Silent Hill: P.T. 'Scared Black Man' Walkthrough". You will be scared, and you will love it.