Perception Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Perception RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network The State of Horror Games In 2017 https://www.gameskinny.com/8hsye/the-state-of-horror-games-in-2017 https://www.gameskinny.com/8hsye/the-state-of-horror-games-in-2017 Tue, 28 Nov 2017 12:24:09 -0500 Ty Arthur

If you're one of those depraved folks like myself who demand that the scares come hard and fast, then 2017 was likely a very satisfying year for you.

We've had a knockout trip around the sun on the horror front, with indie excursions like The Void proving small-time production companies can release killer movies, and of course, the Stephen King It adaptation taking the world by storm and being a box office smash hit.

We didn't lose out on the video game front, either, and somehow managed to go a whole year without a new Five Nights At Freddy's (did I just hear a collective cheer echoing out from the horror fanbase?).

From the vampire-themed Crimson Court DLC for Darkest Dungeon to some absolutely massive entries in the biggest series, horror fans got absolutely spoiled in recent months. Sadly, it wasn't all gray skies and bloody lollipops, as there were some notable flops in the horror genre this past year as well. Let's take a look back at what was worth playing and what's destined to hit the bargain bin.

Biggest Horror Disappointments Of 2017

You might be tempted to look at this year's roster of games and muse that with Resident Evil returning to proper horror form, and new entries landing in the Outlast and Evil Within series, perhaps there was nothing to complain about. Unfortunately that wasn't quite the case, as a few games failed to bring the fright factor. 

Freddy Krueger... or Freddy Got Fingered?

I was absolutely in love with Dead By Daylight when it first landed way ahead of Friday The 13th or The Last Year, although over time, as changes have been made, the fanbase has become pretty surly about nerfs to the monsters.

Things reached a fever pitch with the Nightmare On Elm Street DLC, which was a clear shot across the bow aimed directly at rival asymmetric slasher title Friday The 13th.

Playing as Freddy Krueger is something many a horror fan has wanted for decades, but now that it's here, the reality is more tepid dream than blistering nightmare. Krueger is probably the weakest and least fun of the all the slashers to play, managing to even land below the Wraith, and that takes some serious effort.

 Maybe it should have been Drop Dead Fred instead?

Swing and a Miss at Blind Horror

Perception was an indie title I was eagerly looking forward to, and I closely watched its development after that Kickstarter success. The little dogs have been bringing some big treats to the table lately thanks to crowd funding, and it seemed that would be the case here.

When a developer doesn't have to deal with publishers who won't risk money on new concepts, you can get some truly amazing games. Perception had the intriguing concept part down, but it just doesn't quite deliver on the execution.

It's a shame, too, because there are some really interesting elements utilized here in playing as a blind character, such as using a smart phone's descriptive text service to see what something looks like. And honestly, what game wouldn't be made better with killer dolls? Although it seemed like it would revolutionize first-person horror gaming, the end result is surprisingly "meh."

 What a shame.

Horror Shooter Mess

The exceedingly atmospheric Inner Chains managed to land on our most anticipated horror and FPS game lists last year based off the strength of its unsettling aesthetics and interesting designs, but it seriously failed to deliver on either the horror or the shooter front.

Although pretty to look at (when it isn't glitching out), the gameplay is quite tepid, and the fact that this isn't a AAA offering really shows. Inner Chains currently sits at an abysmal 40% rating at Metacritic, with Steam reviews decidedly on the "mixed" front.

It may be worth checking out at this point for new players, however, as the game has received some upgrades since release, including key bindings, more environmental sounds, and additional animations.  Hopefully we get a much better overall horror experience with the upcoming Agony, which is set directly in hell and lands next year.

 How did this manage to NOT be awesome?

An Uncertain Development

Whether this one is a "disappointment" or a "cautiously optimistic" scenario is up for any given reader to decided, but I'm landing solidly on the former when it comes to Scorn's very uncertain future.

You might remember that killer first trailer (available below) that strongly evoked feelings of H.R. Giger, Alien, and Cronenberg with its disturbing fleshy technology.

Hype was high, but there was a big crash not long afterward with a Kickstarter failure and an announcement that the game would be split into two segments, which is never a good sign. Things seemed to be back on the upswing with the announcement of a publisher, but then immediately took a dive again when the developers announced another Kickstarter campaign.

To me, it doesn't speak of a stable product on the way to completion when additional money beyond what was provided by the publisher is still needed to make the first half of the game polished enough for release.

Granted, I would love to be proved wrong here -- this is a game that I legitimately want to succeed -- but I just don't envision the full two-part game ever seeing the light of day, or the first half being a finished and polished experience.

Indie Horror Triumphs 2017

If you want to know where horror absolutely thrives, you have to look beyond the big-name releases. That's true of the movie and publishing industries, and it's equally true in the gaming world. Smaller developers with a project they are truly passionate about can often trump big name companies restrained by bureaucracy and skittish publishers.

Observer

Featuring the star power of Rutger Hauer, Observer flew under the radar for a lot of gamers, as it wasn't hugely advertised, but if you love psychological head games or disturbing visions of the future, you want to play this game.

Although not without some flaws, the game sees Bloober Team take the concepts from Layers Of Fear and catapult them to the next level, translating that style of game into a very different experience featuring a detective in a dystopian cyberpunk future.

Hacking into the brains of the deceased is a harrowing experience, and there were times when I legitimately wanted to rush as quickly as I could to the end of a segment to get out of someone's mind hellscape.

 Get ready to lose your mind -- or gain a few others.

Distrust

You can always rely on the little developers to give you a completely new vision of something that's become standard. Distrust is basically The Thing the game, but it's a very different experience than the actual game based on that movie.

The atmosphere of cold and paranoia is on full blast here, and the top-down style brings to mind something like Dead State but in a much more polished rendition with better controls.

  Sadly, there's no Kurt Russel. 

Little Nightmares

After Among The Sleep showed that you can play a harrowing game as a toddler, it was only a matter of time before we saw kids play a more prominent role in creepy games. 

Little Nightmares goes for the platformer style instead of a first-person experience, but it's still incredibly creepy and atmospheric. When you're a little kid, everything bigger than you is scary in the dark -- and the disturbing David Firth-style designs don't make things any better.

The gameplay is incredibly solid, and the sound effects are utterly spot-on. Even if you don't normally dig horror, you should still give this one a shot, as it was probably one of the best games to come out this year in any genre.

 How did this game manage to be adorable and horrifying at the same time?

Home Sweet Home

There have been some killer horror titles from smaller developers based around Korean and Chinese myths, and now we've got a Thai entry to expand your horizons even further.

Although a shorter entry that's only the first episode of a larger experience to come, Home Sweet Home is absolutely drenched in dread, and this is the sort of game that can have you literally screaming while playing alone in the dark.

 Put the headphones on, turn the lights off, and get ready to shriek.

Stories Untold

I think "whoa" might be an appropriate response for this totally unexpected collection of four adventures. Stories Untold very strongly showcases how indie developers can do something really interesting by going off the beaten path.

You wouldn't think a text game colliding with a point-and-click adventure could be this engrossing, but trust me, this is one you want to experience first-hand.

There's strong echoes of series like Black Mirror or even Stranger Things as the game focuses on narrative above all else. The 80s-themed synthwave soundtrack is a nice bonus as well.

 Seriously, just play it.

Early Access Horror 2017

As the Early Access phenomena becomes more commonplace in gaming, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that horror games have gotten on the bandwagon as well. There are three this year that stand out and are nearing full release worth paying attention to.

P.A.M.E.L.A.

I'm digging the non-traditional setting on P.A.M.E.L.A. and am glad to see gamer feedback from the early access edition getting filtered to the developers, but there's one nagging question I can't let go of.

Considering the intense similarities in location, mechanics, and tone, can this indie offering have any chance of beating out Arkane's Prey? Hopefully we'll have something along the lines of a new classic System Shock experience, but only time will tell.

 Looks familiar, but maybe it can deliver something new?

We Happy Few

Oh boy, things have gotten ugly between this game and its fan base in recent months. After a very successful Kickstarter and more funds coming in from early access, the developers made a rather controversial decision to team up with publisher Gearbox at the 11th hour.

Backers and Early Access buyers (perhaps rightfully) feel a little betrayed there, and new players aren't happy either, since the price got jacked up after the publisher deal. It's a good bet we can expect game elements to be taken out and delivered piecemeal back to us as DLC.

Despite that whole unfortunate debacle, when it comes to the actual gameplay and visuals, I'm personally still greatly looking forward to We Happy Few's finished version coming in April.

 Have you taken your Joy today?

Hello Neighbor

We're only weeks away now from the retail version of Hello Neighbor, and I'm eagerly awaiting what the final product will look like after several fun alpha tests. 

The game isn't precisely "horror" per se but definitely has an element of mystery and the unknown. In the alpha builds I've played so far, there are hints at odd and unsettling things going on down in that basement -- and some truly weird and ethereal in-between segments when you unlock certain doors -- but overall the early versions were more bubbly and colorful than scary.

The tension is in not getting caught, although that's diffused somewhat by the fact that the bad guy throws jars of glue at you, and nothing really happens when you get caught except for some heavy breathing. Maybe we'll get something really dark next month in the full release?

 Instead of "What's in the box?" now it will be "What's in the basement?"

Biggest Horror Releases Of 2017

We've covered the small fish, so now let's take a look at the gigantic whales that made the biggest splashes this year in franchises that have become household names.

Resident Evil 7

It was very welcome news indeed when the Resident Evil 7 crew realized that the defenseless horror style had vastly overtaken the action-horror genre. RE7 gave us something completely out of the ordinary for the series, and it was exactly what was needed to revitalize this faltering franchise.

My hope is that there's yet another jump in gameplay to something completely different in the next installment so that we don't fall back into stagnant territory again.

 Always decline hillbilly dinner invitations.

The Evil Within 2

Surpassing the original game in nearly every single way, oddly enough The Evil Within 2 basically gave us the classic Resident Evil experience that we didn't get with RE7. If you find yourself longing for that classic third-person survival horror experience, Evil Within 2 delivers it and then some!

Outlast 2

After being blown away by the first entry in the series, this was my most anticipated game of 2017 by a mile. Taking the claustrophobic style of Outlast and putting it out in the backwoods with a group of hillbilly cultists seemed a recipe for some major scares.

While the game was good overall -- even great in parts -- Outlast 2 didn't necessarily get better even though it was made bigger. Some of the fright factor was reduced with the bigger outdoor areas, and the main villain Marta just didn't have the same visceral terror as the bad guy from the first game. 

I wouldn't go so far as to put it in the "biggest disappointments" category, but this sequel did definitely lose something from the first game. Maybe third time will be the charm?

 Still, getting your crotch split open with this axe is pretty terrifying the first time around.

Friday the 13th

This latest entry in the many vs. one style got off to a rocky start with non-functional achievements and server problems galore over that first week. If you didn't have those issues though, Friday the 13th is a ton of fun and a fine example of the asymmetric gaming style.

There are some quibbles about how the maps are very similar and how they really need to get Space Jason in there from Jason X, but otherwise, this one really surprised me and managed to easily match or exceed the Dead By Daylight experience.

 Chee chee chee, ahh ahh ahh!

Forecast for Horror in 2018

If this year was good for horror, it's really 2018 that's shaping up to be phenomenal, especially for you Lovecraft fans out there. With no less than three Mythos-focused games coming, there is a lot to look forward to next year.

Tentacled Madness From The Depths

Getting to a new Call Of Cthulhu game was an appropriately winding and tentacled path, starting off with Sherlock Holmes developer Frogwares announcing the game and then going curiously silent.

Considering the focus on investigation and clues in their previous games, Frogwares seemed like the perfect fit. Development unexpectedly shifted over to Cyanide, however, and the game's style shifted significantly, with a 2018 release date now expected. 

Curiously, Frogwares then announced The Sinking City, revolving around a 1920s private investigator in New England, which sure seems like a Cthulhu mythos game to me. . . . Honestly, I'm perfectly fine with getting two games instead of one. I just wish things had been more transparent and come together more quickly.

Although more of an RPG than a horror game in the traditional sense, easily the game I'm most looking forward to arriving next year is Stygian: Reign Of The Old Ones. Take the Baldur's Gate style of travel and conversation, mix it with the turn-based strategic combat of Heroes Of Might and Magic, and then coat it all in an apocalyptic 1920s Earth where the Old Ones rose and destroyed humanity, and you've got Stygian.

 For the old-school gamer, this is going to be a must-have game.

Zombies Galore!

For those who prefer the walking dead over sanity-blasting madness from the stars, there's no shortage of titles coming soon. Days Gone has got to be the most anticipated at this point, with its outlaw biker protagonist trying to survive in a post-apocalytpic world.

Don't discount State Of Decay 2, however, which also promises a third-person, open-world experience. Supposedly that Walking Dead VR game is also coming, but we hear that every year, so who knows.

     Get ready to face the shambling hordes!

---

That about wraps up our whirlwind tour of all things that went bump in the night throughout 2017 -- what did you think of this year's lineup of horror titles, and what are you most looking forward to playing in 2018 horror games?

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Perception: Unlocking All Achievements https://www.gameskinny.com/7h0ix/perception-unlocking-all-achievements https://www.gameskinny.com/7h0ix/perception-unlocking-all-achievements Fri, 02 Jun 2017 16:42:31 -0400 Ty Arthur

Exploration horror game Perception offers up a very unique twist on the genre, putting you in the role of blind woman Cassi on a search for answers in the sinister Echo Bluff.

There's plenty of video game standards still on display however, like a series of achievements to hunt after! Most of these achievements can't be missed, and will pop just by exploring Echo Bluff and completing the main game objectives. 

But there are a small number of achievements that require some serious effort to collect. Below, we're going to go over each one and how to get it!

How to Get All Perception Achievements

 Mashi 

Find Nanci Chang's takeout menu. This one is easy to miss. In the first chapter near the beginning of the game, you have to go back into the main foyer with the fireplace and the anniversary card on the ground. Head over to the right of the fireplace and snap a picture of the object on the desk. Cassi's text-to-speech program will reveal it's a Chinese takeout menu.

Ceres

Use the telescope. In Chapter 1 after the bubble room, head up to the second floor beyond a room with a file you can grab to find the telescope.

 Lloyd 

Meet the best damn bartender. This occurs during the course of the game automatically.

Maximized

What we do in life... This occurs during the course of the game automatically in the second chapter.

Like It's Hot 1

Found 2 poppets in Chapter 1. Simply be on the lookout for the dolls with gun arms for this and all subsequent "Like It's Hot" achievements. So long as you are exploring each room without drawing the attention of The Presence, these are easy to discover -- and are frequently at eye level on top of chests, drawers, and desks.

Like It's Hot 2

Found 2 Poppets in Chapter 2.

 

Like It's Hot 3

Found 2 Poppets in Chapter 3.

 

Like It's Hot 4

Found 2 Poppets in Chapter 4.

 

The Doll Collector

Found every Poppet in the entire game.

   Poppet On A Shelf

I Hear Things Out Here

Found out what happened to the animals. This occurs automatically during the course of the game

Briar Memento

Found all touch stones in Chapter 1. Like with the Poppets, these are hard to miss. Just be sure to explore each are thoroughly in between escaping the Presence, and you should come across all of them.

Van Hout Memento

Found all touch stones in Chapter 2.

Bosch Memento

Found all touch stones in Chapter 3.

Durham Memento

Found all touch stones in Chapter 4.

Touching

Found every touch stone in the entire game.

Master of…

Got the key from the good doctor. This will occur automatically during the course of exploring Echo Bluff.

Behind You…

Turn around... This will occur automatically during a segment when you meet The Presence.

Giddy Socialite

Found Kirby. This will occur automatically during the normal course of the game.

Wind

Completed Chapter 1 of Perception.

Water

Completed Chapter 2 of Perception.

Earth

Completed Chapter 3 of Perception.

Fire

Completed Chapter 4 of Perception.

Spirit

Completed every chapter of the game and reached the ending.

Tickled Pink

Listened to every Dearest Pinky song. As with the Poppets and touch stones, just be on the lookout for every object you can interact with in the game to trigger memories or start music playing.

Kicked

Found 5 backer letters. As long as you are looking at the desks, dressers, and floors, finding the letters written by Kickstarter backers is incredibly easy.

Backed

Found the backer recording. This is just like initiating any of the tape recordings, but this one is found in Chapter 3.

Snoop

Listened to all of Cassie's messages. As long as you are listening to each recording, this achievement will pop automatically.

Still Doing This

Is it going to get old? This story achievement occurs as you travel through different time periods of Echo Bluff.

200.6%

Get every other achievement in the game. This final achievement is only made difficult by Overlooked and and Quiet Knoll (see below).

For Susannah

Found Susanna's Sanctum. This occurs automatically in Chapter 4.

Overlooked

Never captured by The Presence. This is one of only two difficult achievements in the game, and they are intertwined. So long as you aren't tapping, you will very rarely capture the attention of The Presence. There are a few locations where The Presence will try to capture you based off other sounds or triggers though, such as if you don't crouch when coming down the stairs in Chapter 2.

Quiet Knoll

Completed the game without tapping. The only other difficult achievement in Perception, this one requires that you never use your cane after the tutorial segment that makes you tap at the very beginning. You will basically be stumbling around in the dark for four or five hours. Have fun!

Have any Perception tips and strategies for avoiding The Presence or completing the game without tapping your cane? Let us know in the comments below!

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Perception Review: Style Over Substance https://www.gameskinny.com/8ycuj/perception-review-style-over-substance https://www.gameskinny.com/8ycuj/perception-review-style-over-substance Thu, 01 Jun 2017 17:15:25 -0400 Ty Arthur

Ever since the Kickstarter campaign was announced way back when, Perception has solidly been sitting on our various lists of most anticipated horror games.

Indie horror directly funded by the fans has been stepping in and doing what the big publishers and studios aren't willing to do: offering genre fanatics everything from the surprise hit movie The Void to the recently-released Friday The 13th: The Game.

The big draw for Perception, of course, is the game's primary mechanic: playing through a horror game as a blind woman. You are unlikely to see something that interesting or innovative from any AAA developers these days, and that's the power crowd funding offers for smaller dev studios.

 Welcome to the world of the blind

Stumbling In The Not-So-Dark

Something that wasn't clear from pre-release info is that there's actually a really interesting color scheme going on in Perception. It's not just the white, black, and blue you may have seen from the trailers. Instead, there are vibrant greens popping up in locations alongside memories to collect and dark oranges and reds flashing across the screen when something unexpected appears.

The Deep End Games also cleverly overcame some of the restrictions involved with the main character being blind. The echolocation mechanic lets you see the basic shape of objects, of course, but obviously, Cassie can't read the text on pill bottles, sheets of paper, and so on.

That's a problem for these adventure/horror game hybrids, where the vast majority of the game is uncovering what happened through notes and journals. Whenever such an item is found, Cassie whips out her camera, snaps a pick, and then uses a text to speech program to see what's written on objects.

In instances where this isn't feasible, instead, she uploads a picture so someone else on the phone can describe the scene, adding an interesting extra layer to the experience.

 Scanning an object to read the text

A Familiar Experience

There are a couple of rather memorable times where Perception got me with some pretty good scares, like when the entity in the house repeated back something Cassie had previously said in a very creepy way, or when a red doll appeared out of nowhere and then faded away.

Other than the blindness aspect, the horror tropes on display aren't particularly refreshing or innovative, however. Lost memories of an orphanage where bad things went down and a couple traveling to an idyllic town to have a baby while bad things are happening with pregnancy are both pretty standard fare.

Granted, there are a few twists in there along the way, like flashing back to different stories of people who lived in the mansion long ago, interacting with the ghosts of the past to uncover new information.

In a lot of ways, Perception is essentially Layers Of Fear with a different color scheme. Personally, I really enjoyed that descent into the painter's madness, even though it was extremely light on gameplay elements. But now that several games have all been pumped out in that same style, the sub-genre is starting to feel a little played out. 

On that note, Perception is on a very similar level to Layers Of Fear on the gameplay front, too, with the player mostly just tapping the space button to activate echolocation while examining objects or listening to memories. Occasionally, if you tap too often, Cassie will have to run and hide from enemies, but overall, the experience is quite similar to other horror games in the subgenre.

 We're also pretty heavily in sudden jump scare territory

A Few Missteps

Cassie is much more chatty than the mad painter, and she obviously has a very different viewpoint and personality, which may shatter the overall experience for some players. If you find her quips and one-liners ruin the horror vibe, the game offers an option to only have Cassie speak at plot critical segments. 

A lot of the game is experienced through memories and tape recorder segments, and while the dialog and voice acting aren't actively bad, there's something about them that feels off. Whether it's the writing itself or just the delivery, I had a hard time feeling immersed in the story and frequently found the dialog unbelievable.

There's also an issue with the scope of the game that's worth mentioning. At first, it seems like the mansion is a large area due to the overall disorientation and lack of light, but quickly it becomes apparent that Perception is beyond linear.

There's barely any play area at all in many segments of the game, but sometimes, even those tiny areas get frustrating in their overly similar appearance as the house re-arranges itself when you turn around to go back the way you came.

Have I already walked through this door six or seven times?

The Bottom Line

Despite all my raving about the wonder of indie crowd funding in horror, sometimes the lack of resources shows in the finished product, resulting in something that has the atmosphere but doesn't quite nail it on the mechanics - like Phantaruk or Inner Chains. That's what we are also dealing with here to a degree.

While there's polish on the graphical side and the base premise is a new twist on the adventure horror genre, overall the experience just feels like style over substance, with not enough meat on the gameplay or story for Perception to become truly memorable or beat out the competition.

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February crowd funding report: successes, failures, frustrating delays, and long-awaited releases https://www.gameskinny.com/6dbip/february-crowd-funding-report-successes-failures-frustrating-delays-and-long-awaited-releases https://www.gameskinny.com/6dbip/february-crowd-funding-report-successes-failures-frustrating-delays-and-long-awaited-releases Tue, 16 Feb 2016 01:03:30 -0500 Ty Arthur

For studios big and small, turning to the fans directly is fast becoming one of the go-to methods for raising the capital necessary to fund a game's development cycle.

Cutting out the publishers and going straight to the people with a passion for any given genre, there have been some incredibly satisfying games arriving digitally thanks to the crowd-funding phenomena. Each month, we'll be looking at both the most promising new video game funding campaigns, as well as checking in on previously funded games to see how development is coming along.

We've got a lot to cover this month, both in devastating failures and incredibly exciting successes, along with some updates on long-awaited games finally arriving in either full or early access versions.

An Update From Last Month

If you missed it, you can check out our report on the best of crowd funding from January here. Some of those games reached or exceeded their desired goals (and we can't wait to play them down the line!), while unfortunately others fell short or cut their losses and canceled the campaigns.

One of those promising campaigns we covered last month was scrapped early, with Hero's Song being pulled when it was clear the 2D project wouldn't get anywhere near its high goal of $800,000.

That's always a chance when dealing with limited time frames where the right fans might not hear the word immediately or have money at that particular point to contribute. There's still hope for Hero's Song though, as the game is in the process of securing funding from more traditional means. We'll keep you updated on how this one goes in the coming months.

The VR-focused horror title Ghost Theory has only 4 days left and is almost certainly going to fail to reach its goal. While that's disappointing, as VR horror games need a strong boost to get going and pick up momentum, Ghost Theory has made it onto Steam Greenlight, so we might still see it one day anyway.

Also likely to come up shy of the sought-after dollar amount, Consortium: The Tower is only a third of the way to its $309,000 goal. That's a bit of a surprise, considering the previous title in the series was successfully funded on Kickstarter. It's always possible Interdimensional Games will re-launch a new campaign down the line at a smaller amount.

But enough of the failures. How about the titles that convinced gamers to fork over their hard earned cash?

I'm very pleased to report that both the old school RPG Project Resurgence and the chemistry-based education game ChemCaper were both successfully funded. The Final Fantasy Tactics inspired Children of Zodiarcs didn't just hit its goal, but zoomed way, way past it with a serious vote of confidence from the backers.

Fans of Arckanum and Pillars Of Eternity will want to try this one

New Video Game Crowd Funding Campaigns

Knights And Bikes

Contribute to the campaign here

Platforms: PC / PS4

Bringing to mind the adorable style of Costume Quest but with a more serious slant on the story front, this indie title from Foamsword Games caused some buzz recently when it hit the Facebook trending bar.

The team has been involved with titles like Little Big Planet and Ratchet And Clank, so there's talent there involved with this type of game already, lending some credibility to the request for $142,000 via Kickstarter.

References to Earthbound and Secret Of Mana in the campaign pitch definitely piqued my interest immediately, especially with the same screen co-op option, which took me back to many a late Saturday night going through Secret Of Mana with friends as a kid.

Battalion 1944

Contribute to the campaign here

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, and PS4

With Call Of Duty heading into the future rather than the past in recent installments, it falls on other developers to give us more WWII shooters.

Focusing on the mode FPS fans tend stick to most frequently, Batallion 1944 is multiplayer-only and won't even bother with the single player campaign. While that's a definite entry in the “con” column for me, I know I'm in the minority there.

Visually, the style on display in the pre-alpha footage is very appealing, striking a nice balance between bright environments that catch the eye and more realistic elements that will appeal to fans of Squad. A serious eye to detail on real-world locations is also on display.

The focus here looks like it will land on close-quarters combat with a visceral feel, and clearly gamers want more WWII action in this vein, because Battalion 1944 is already over twice its funding goal.

A Place For The Unwilling

Contribute to the campaign here

Platforms: PC

Described as “Sunless Sea meets Majora's Mask in a living city,” this intriguing little title features a very interesting colored pencil art style that's well outside the norm. Between the concept and artistic flair, this is one we want to see funded -- but not overfunded, since the developers have promised to summon Cthulhu if they hit $150,000.

A constantly running time cycle that works against you brings to mind Don't Starve, and A Place For The Unwilling promises to bring out dark themes and a different approach than normal, turning an urban landscape into the basis of the gameplay.

This is a game set to be all about the immersion, throwing you into a fully fleshed out city and having you undertake seemingly mundane tasks while learning about your fellow citizens and uncovering the story. We have a feeling what's found beneath the surface will be worth the effort.

Newly Released Early Access Titles

Two highly-anticipated games  that spent extended periods of time in early access, are now landing.

Although early access is slightly different from straight crowd funding, the end result is similar, offering a trickle of money all the way through release rather than a bulk set amount at the beginning.

Darkest Dungeon

Get it here

Platforms: PC, with PS4 coming soon

Many of us at GameSkinny have been absolutely loving this infuriatingly hard 2D RPG masterpiece, and we've got a ton of guides up to help you navigate insanity, disease, and worse.

Focusing on one singular concept where style strongly meets substance, this Lovecraftian dark fantasy title shows how a strong idea and a supportive fanbase can overcome all odds and result in an excellent end product.

Feedback straight from the fans during the long early access process obviously paid off, as there's currently just under 11,000 positive reviews on Steam.

Layers of Fear

Get it here

Platforms: PC

After an extended time in early access, this horror offering officially drops tomorrow (February 16th), and you better believe we'll be covering this one extensively since Layers Of Fear was named one of our most anticipated horror games of the year.

While the reviews from major gaming publications have been mixed to middling, those involved with early access have clearly been pleased, with overwhelmingly positive reviews so far. If you've played, be sure to let us know how you think it stacks up against recent horror giants like Outlast or Soma!

Updates On Previously Funded Projects

Torment Tides Of Numenera

Get early access here

Platforms: PC

Combining both a traditional crowdfunding campaign and now an early access period for fans to beta test the game, Tides Of Numenera has a lot to prove as the successor to the mighty Planescape: Torment.

Some Kickstarter backers have been less than thrilled that people who are late to the party can now get in on the gameplay early through Steam, but as far as I'm concerned, the more testing that goes into this thing before the final release, the better.

What's most exciting here is the feedback that's been coming out. While obviously there's still much to be done in terms of optimization, most reports so far have spoken of excellent characters, story, and an iconic art style to match the original game. InXile might just pull this off and give us a worthy successor to Planescape: Torment after all.

While there's no official drop date yet (and we are way beyond the original estimated release period listed on Kickstarter), it's a foregone conclusion this crowd funded game will actually see release when its ready. Expect it to drop late 2016 / early 2017.

Mighty No. 9

Get updates on the project here

Platforms: PC / Xbox consoles / PS consoles / Wii U / Vita / 3DS

This MegaMan influenced title was recently delayed for a third time, and backers are starting to revolt. Unfortunately, that's a gamble you take with crowdfunding – you aren't guaranteed to get your game when promised, or even get it at all.

Crowdfunded games frequently don't arrive at their original estimated release (just see Torment above, which was projected for a December 2014 release in its Kickstarter campaign), and there's a clear lesson to be learned here by the developers.

When people are giving you money before your product is done, you need to properly manage expectations and provide realistic development times, two issues that are rapidly derailing Mighty No. 9. It's good that updates owning up to problems are coming, but it's entirely unclear when or if this game will finally see full release.

Shenmue 3

Get updates on the project here

Platforms: PC and PS4

This long-anticipated sequel in the Shenmue series is undoubtedly counted among the biggest crowd funding successes, making a jaw dropping $6 million from fans!

There haven't been a ton of updates, but the developer does usually drop at least one new post a month regarding new coverage and the progress of the game.

There's not much info to report at this point, as the game is expected to be in development all of both this and next year, slated for a release in December of 2017. Hopefully some more concrete info starts to leak soon, but at this point it seems the game is on track and has a realistic release date.

Perception

Get updates on the project here

Platforms: PC

Also named one of our most anticipated horror titles of the year, work continues on this game with some truly unique elements. The frequent developer updates are a very good sign of the project's health, and 11 minutes of new gameplay footage recently came online. There's no finalized release date, but all indicators are that the game should drop this year without any significant delays.

Check back next month for another look at the most promising crowd funding campaigns and updates on past successful campaigns!

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The state of horror games in 2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/rv635/the-state-of-horror-games-in-2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/rv635/the-state-of-horror-games-in-2015 Thu, 10 Dec 2015 08:22:20 -0500 Ty Arthur

While other gaming genres are stagnating and in need of a serious shake-up, horror is innovating and finding new ways to be more effective. The recent pinnacle was probably last year as Among The Sleep and Alien: Isolation from 2014 showed how first person experiences can epitomize and legitimize terror.

Although not without flaws, those games made it clear that horror works best when you can't effectively fight back – a notion that's gone forward into 2015 with a bevy of absorbing titles, covering every platform and graphical style you can imagine. That's great for gamers in general, but can also be a problem for individual players, as many of the most intriguing titles didn't hit all platforms: if you want to experience them all, you'll need to bridge the divide between PC and multiple consoles.

Before checking out our look back on the state of the horror genre this year, don't forget to also read through our other articles analyzing the state of other genres in the 2015 gaming world:

Most Overhyped / Biggest Horror Disappointment Of 2015

There were a slew of high-quality and imminently frightening releases this year, but all is not well in the state of horror...

Silent Hills

Until the upcoming reboot of FF7 was announced to be an episodic release without turn-based combat, there wasn't a bigger outcry from gamers that reverberated across the entire web than when Silent Hills was canceled and PT was pulled from the PlayStation Store.

Hideo Kojima's messy breakup with Konami led to this collateral damage that still has people in shock. We're all desperately holding out hope that someday this Guillermo Del Toro / Norman Reedus collaboration will return, but the stark reality staring us in the face is as bleak and horrific as the game would have been.

Just looking at this makes me sad

Five Nights At Freddy's 3 And 4

The gaming community is definitely split as to whether the infamous Five Nights At Freddy's series is a boon or a low point for horror. With simplistic gameplay (honestly, these could be mobile tapfest games rather than PC titles) and a string of games coming out in rapid succession, FNAF catapulted into the public consciousness mostly from the reaction videos. Frankly, watching those reaction videos is more fun than actually playing the games.

Two separate entries came out this year in the series, which didn't really shake up the formula much beyond a change in scenery and adding in some pixelated mini-games. The first 15 minutes playing any given FNAF game is scary, exhilarating fun, but then you're left with the endless repetition. It isn't long before the annoying realization sets in that it isn't actually all that enjoyable to check camera 1, check camera 2, check camera 3, re-check camera 1, close door, open door, check camera 1, ad nauseum into infinity.

This is really only scary the 1st time.

Biggest And Best Horror Release Of 2015

Horror managed to sneak its way into plenty of major games solidly sitting in other genres, like the Lovecraftian influences in Bloodborne, while Black Ops III of course saw the return of zombie mode, this time going in an eldritch horror direction set in the 1940s.

For the full-fledged games that are meant to be horror through-and-through, there was no shortage of options in 2015, and some of them managed to reach the same heights of last year's crop. It should go without saying that these are games best experienced alone, with the lights out and headphones on, or you lose a lot of the impact.

Soma

Coming from the same folks responsible for the Penumbra and the Amnesia games, you know you're in for something really messed up and genuinely creepy with Soma. While there aren't as many direct scares this time around with monsters actively trying to kill you, there is an overall sense of dread – and some really disturbing psychological horror – that propels this one forward. It's also always nice to see horror take a sci-fi bend rather than another supernatural or modern day focus, and fans of System Shock will be right at home here.

The lines get seriously blurred in Soma, in more ways than one.

Dying Light

Really delivering on the promise of open-world style horror that was hinted with past zombie titles, Dying Light puts the emphasis more on the “game” aspect in the genre of “horror games,” and is a ton of fast-paced fun once you get the controls down. That all changes when the sun drops below the horizon, though, as everything turns deadly and you have to carefully sneak your way back to safety, with the horror of the situation hitting home a little harder. Much like Dead Island, there are some issues with the gameplay, but overall this is a much better experience.

Until Dawn

Going a very different direction from either Soma or Dying Light is the interactive movie Until Dawn. You've heard this one before: a bunch of attractive and horny 20-somethings are about to spend the weekend in a remote cabin when something starts picking them off one by one. You may have seen it a hundred times in a slew of movies with diminishing returns, but you've never played it quite like this. The choice system brings to mind Heavy Rain while the subject matter is classic slasher horror to the max.

Resident Evil: Revelations 2

After a spate of games that keep going further and further away from their roots, we did get another Resident Evil title this year, and that's usually a good thing for horror fans. While it's not Resident Evil 4 (and the series is probably never going to be that good again), the episodic Revelations 2 is still being received better than the last couple of entries. It's still more action-focused than fully survival horror, but switching between characters to use each of their skills is a fun mechanic, and you can now try the 1st episode for free on consoles.

The Park

Although not a big release by any stretch of the imagination, there was one indie game well worth mentioning in horror that saw release in October just in time for Halloween. Short and sweet, The Park isn't a lengthy experience, but it's an all-encompassing one that really draws you in and hits the psychological horror notes hard. Amusement parks are already pretty creepy, but abandoned ones at night are even more so, and this game will make you never want to go near another one again.

Yeah, don't go on the Ferris Wheel.

Early Access

The advent of early access titles through platforms like Steam has made it difficult to classify what year a game is actually released. If a title has been available in early access for all of 2015 (and half of 2014 or earlier...) and has been played by thousands, but won't be feature complete until 2016, what year does the game actually come out? The issue becomes more complex when you consider that some developers are just leaving their games in early access mode indefinitely, using the money of new purchases to fund additional features over time.

There's some interesting ethical considerations in this style of funding, since fans are essentially paying for demos that may never get finished, and overall it's more dicey and prone to fail than straight crowdfunding. We'll avoid those titles that have been abandoned or look on the verge of failing and instead focus on three prominent games this year featuring fairly frequent updates that appear to be nearing completion.

The Forest

The Forest has been in early access since May of 2014, and it shows a ton of potential; hopefully, the full and complete game is actually on the horizon. This one puts you as the only survivor of a plane crash in a huge forested area filled with seriously creepy cannibalistic creatures. It's basically a survival sim – you have to build shelter and craft objects – but with a horror theme. This one has the possibility to become great, if only it ever makes it out of alpha.

Layers Of Fear

Only having been in early access since August of this year, Layers Of Fear is already feeling more like a complete game, and it delivers the fear in spades. Putting you in the role of a painter who has just totally lost his mind, there is an amazing atmosphere and aura of menace to this whole game that's both unique and leans on classic tropes. If there's an early access horror game that seems destined for success in the near future, this one is it.

Everything about this game is as unsettling as the painting suggests

Darkwood

Having used the early access feature of Steam for more than a year now, Darkwood offers a completely different style than what you'd typically get from a horror game: it's a top-down, procedurally generated game. It sounds odd, but it works, and there are some truly creepy moments on display in what Darkwood has offered up so far.

Horror On The Wii U In 2015

Fatal Frame 5

Frequently an afterthought in this latest console generation, lately there have been a few reasons to dust off the not-so-old machine (most notably with the RPG Xenoblade Chronicles X just arriving). Horror fans actually have one very solid incentive to go the Nintendo route: Fatal Frame 5 finally landed in North America on the Wii U this year under the title Maiden Of Black Water.

If you aren't familiar with the series, those early Fatal Frame entries were terrifying before games really figured out they could be terrifying, and they are still worth playing today. Unfortunately, this one isn't getting nearly the love from fans as the earlier games (the Metacritic score is currently a very disappointing 67), but for Wii U gamers it's still worth giving a shot. Unfortunately, this is a digital-only title in North America, so don't expect to find it sitting on store shelves.

Get ready to see dead people!

The Forecast For Horror In 2016

Horror isn't slowing down anytime soon, and in fact it's a good bet the genre is going to significantly ramp up as VR devices like the Oculus Rift finally arrive for large scale use. While that's still a ways off, the closer 2016 already has a ton of fright-based games that look amazing.

Games originally forecast to arrive this year – like the black and white, noir horror title Dollhouse or the Clocktower reboot Nightcry – are going to be coming early 2016 and should make some great early year material.

Asymmetrical or co-op is also getting a bigger focus coming up soon, with games like Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age or Friday the 13th covering the cooperative front. If you want something really unique, be on the lookout for Perception, a horror title along the lines of Outlast or Amnesia that changes the formula by making you play as a blind character.

Co-op monster hunting action is on the horizon.

For a full look at what's coming, check out our list of the 11 most anticipated horror titles slated to arrive in the coming months here, and be sure to let us know what you thought of 2015's scary offerings.

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The 11 Most Anticipated Horror Games of 2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/gm26o/the-11-most-anticipated-horror-games-of-2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/gm26o/the-11-most-anticipated-horror-games-of-2016 Fri, 13 Nov 2015 05:19:48 -0500 Ty Arthur

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There are some horror games originally slated for the end of the year that haven't nailed down an official release date yet. Although not confirmed, these are likely to land in 2016. Of particular note is Clocktower reboot Project Scissors: NightCry, which takes place on a cruise liner as a ghostly creature with giant shears chases you down the ship's corridors.

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Although never as prolific as fast-paced shooters, real-time strategy or even RPGs, there's still some very high quality horror titles coming down the pipe in 2016. These 11 games are the most likely to illicit screams from us in the dark while we play with headphones on and the lights off, but we also want to know your most anticipated horror title of 2016! Tell us what we missed and what you thought of our picks.

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Routine

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Set on an abandoned moon base, Routine will evoke the loneliness of space as an astronaut explores the derelict facility and tries to find out just what exactly happened. It's a good bet you'll get chased by something awful, and have to find interesting ways to overcome the dangers of the vacuum of space.

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If you liked Alien: Isolation, this one will scratch the same itch, but hopefully with less frustrating difficulty. With any luck it will be scarier than that found footage flick about evil moon rocks.

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Allison Road

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Silent Hills may be devastatingly dead, but fans took the creepy themes from the game's playable trailer and decided to run with them, creating a whole new game based on the concept of a closed home environment that changes subtly during play.

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Over time you'll discover more of what's going on in the house through photos and letters, leading to a disturbing change in the walls and floors as the awful truth comes into focus.

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The Walking Dead

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It's time to find out if someone other than Telltale Games can do justice to The Walking Dead. Going to a first person setting, the game aims to capture the dread of living in a post-apocalyptic world on PS4, Xbox One and PC in late 2016, with a VR capable version also planned for later release.

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There's not a ton of concrete info on this one yet, although the developer has stated there will be stealth and RPG elements woven into the first person action as well.

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Draugen

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Coming from some of the same developers responsible for the horror themed MMORPG The Secret World as well as the adventure game The Longest Journey, this new 2016 horror game is set in 1920s Norway and deals with the rich history of Scandinavia.

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Fans of The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter or the folklore inspiring any given Norwegian black metal album will want to earmark this title as something to pick up as soon as its official release lands.

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Dead Island 2

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This has been an ill-fated game, not only getting delayed but even changing developers part way through. The sequel to the original Dead Island will take place in California, with a reportedly larger and more vibrant area to explore while hacking apart zombie limbs and blowing off their heads.

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Although this is clearly going to be more action-oriented fun than a legitimately scary experience, anything with hordes of zombies is usually going to be a good time.

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Perception

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Taking traditional game elements and turning them on their heads, Perception puts you in the shoes of a blind woman who can only navigate her surroundings through echolocation.

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The idea is that the scariest aspects of horror movies are always the ones you can't see. Another crowdfunded title, this interesting little experiment is slated to drop in June next year.

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We Happy Few

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More unsettling than outright horrific, this game set in an alternate 1960's London fills you with unease just looking at the odd characters and setting.

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This drug-fueled adventure filled with creepy people who wear constantly smiling masks is guaranteed to get disturbing by the end. Currently under development after a successful crowd funding campaign, We Happy Few is scheduled for a summer 2016 release.

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Layers of Fear

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A very different concept, this immersive horror story is based around famous paintings and puts you in the shoes of a painter trying to finish his magnum opus as he's losing his mind.

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Already available in an early access version through Steam, the finished product is expected to drop in 2016 and is already getting rave reviews for a solid mix of building horror and jump scares without overly relying on any one trope.

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Last Year: The Nightmare

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You might be doing a double take looking at the last slide and then continuing on to this one. That's because it's literally the same idea about the same characters – just without the name Jason Vorhees. Just which one was announced and in development first is a point of contention for the developers behind both games, who have unfortunately been feuding.

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There's been cease and desists, canceled and reactivated crowd funding campaigns, redesigned enemies without hockey masks and a whole lot of online bluster. The status of the game is actually a bit up in the air, as the developer is now only sending updates to those who originally backed the project, with no major announcements coming to the wider world.

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All that nonsense aside, I'm just glad we're getting more horror games, and I hope at least one of these manages to succeed and show us some unique gameplay twists we didn't see coming.

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Friday the 13th

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Gaming has expanded by leaps and bounds since the NES title based on this unnecessarily long running-slasher series. The upcoming entry, which just passed its crowd funding goal on Kickstarter, will go down the path laid by Evolve, setting a group of campers against one overpowered killing machine.

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Getting to play as the eponymous slasher himself will likely be a ton of fun while taking down over-sexed camp counselors who aren't paying attention to their charges, although it remains to be seen if they'll be able to take a 7 vs. 1 combat scenario and actually make it scary.

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Outlast 2

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Outlast is easily among my favorite horror experiences of all time, letting you play your own personal found footage flick. Making the camera the main mechanic was an excellent idea, and completely culling any ability to fight back really ratcheted up the tension. Outlast remembered something that every action packed zombie game forgets: there's nothing scary about being able to obliterate the things chasing you.

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Based on the recently released teaser, it looks like the religious overtones that popped up in the first game but were abandoned near the end of the story will come front and center this time around. My hope is that they keep the creepy religious themes going strong, and then at the end reveal nothing supernatural or sci-fi is going on at all in the sequel, instead letting the horror of humanity's own vile actions sink in.

Hopefully some tweaks to the formula pop up to keep things fresh and overcome the few flaws of the previous game to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.

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Halloween's over, but for the horror fanatics among us, that's no reason to put away your copies of Undying or Scratches. Although horror games are all too frequently squandered with sub-par execution, gaming offers a unique opportunity for true scares that books and movies can't match, because it puts you in the driver's seat. It's all happening to you, and not to some sultry co-ed who can't act.

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Devices like the Oculus Rift are going to absolutely catapult horror gaming into a whole new dimension soon, but while we wait for the promise of VR to become a workable and affordable reality, there's still a ton of horror titles coming out in the next year that are well worth your time.

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Unfortunately there's already been some major casualties in the 2016 lineup, most notably the cancellation of Silent Hills, which would have brought on the talents of director Guillermo Del Toro and The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. This isn't the first time we've had a major Guillermo Del Toro disappointment on the horror front, as his planned movie adaptation of At The Mountains of Madness got scrapped some years back.

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We were also supposed to get a Call Of Cthulhu title from Frogwares next year that's been pushed back to 2017 as the title was shunted to a different developer. It's a damn shame, because the heart of any mythos experience – whether we're talking about Lovecraft's short stories, Call of Cthulhu pen and paper role playing scenarios, or even the 1st season of True Detective – is all about investigation and not tentacle monsters, making it a perfect fit for the company behind a slew of Sherlock Holmes games. Hopefully Cyanide Studio can step up to the task and give us something as mind-shattering as Frogwares would have.

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Those disappointments aside, these 11 games are all ones we're anticipating playing alone at midnight next year, covering a wide range of genres from first person shooters to survival games and even asymmetrical arena battles.

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Gamers and their love for games gaining the potential to influence the Gaming World? https://www.gameskinny.com/264ss/gamers-and-their-love-for-games-gaining-the-potential-to-influence-the-gaming-world https://www.gameskinny.com/264ss/gamers-and-their-love-for-games-gaining-the-potential-to-influence-the-gaming-world Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:43:49 -0400 Dalton White I

At E3 2015 many gamers were surprised and elated that a trailer for The Last Guardian started off Sony’s press conference. It has been a long time coming, with little to no information on if Team Ico’s next project was still in production or even going to be a reality. However it seems that The Last Guardian is alive and well and coming to the PS4 in 2016.

Recently Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, was interviewed about the process of moving The Last Guardian project from the PS3 to the PS4. Despite all the technical difficulties and problems with development, Yoshida stated “having so many people asking us about the game was great encouragement for us to continue the development.” It seems that the desire and support of the fan base helped spur The Last Guardian into reality. Yoshida further confirmed this by saying that if people had stopped asking about the game, Sony probably would have cancelled the game.

These statements from Yoshida are one of many signs that various gaming companies have started to take the gaming communities’ opinions and interest into consideration. During Sony’s E3 Press Conference many people were ecstatic when the Kickstarter for the next installation in indie series Shenmue. This worldwide broadcast was enough to get Shenmue 3 funded in less than 24 hours.

During an interview with Bill Gardner, the creative director of The Deep Side Games, on his recently funded horror game Perception the topic of fan critique and feedback kept on popping up. Gardner made it very clear that the reason he used Kickstarter was to be able to listen to fans and backers of Perception, to see what they wanted and what they didn’t like. Gardner insisted multiple times that “bringing value and quality” to his fans was his top priority.

Perception video game gif.

With all these games, many of which seems very novel and fascinating, it seems that fan support and feedback is really becoming important. However it could also be said that these companies and games are very small and focus on indie games, that none of them are huge big shot corporations. How do you feel about this new trend? Do you think this is just the beginning of a new wave of appreciation for the gaming fanbase or just a small ephemeral blip in the gaming world?

As always, for all your gaming news and articles stay tuned to GameSkinny.com.  

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Interview with Bill Gardner: What Perception has to Offer https://www.gameskinny.com/xzm3a/interview-with-bill-gardner-what-perception-has-to-offer https://www.gameskinny.com/xzm3a/interview-with-bill-gardner-what-perception-has-to-offer Thu, 25 Jun 2015 20:28:54 -0400 Dalton White I

Last month we were lucky to snag an interview with Bill Gardner, founder and creative director of Deep End Games, the studio behind a new horror game unlike anything else: Perception, a KickStarter-funded project which recently passed its pledge of $150,000.

Perception is a first-person horror game where the player takes control of a young blind woman named Cassie, voiced by Angela Morris, as she navigates Echo Bluff, an abandoned manor that Cassie has had multiple dreams about, via echolocation. There she encounters the mysterious, yet terrifying creature known as “The Presence” which is anything but friendly.

The Deep End Games is a small company, consisting of around twelve people or so. However, this development team has worked on well-renowned games like Bioshock, Bioshock Infinite and Dead Space. They may be small, but they have some amazing people on the team as well as an unusual idea that incorporates the player in a novel and unique manner.

Gardner was a delight to speak with and clearly was really excited to discuss Perception in further detail.

Characters, Story and Setting

Dalton White (DW): So, tell me more about the protagonist, Cassie. Is she one of those ‘random clueless teenagers’ you often see in horror games and films?

Bill Gardner (BG): No, not at all. Cassie has always been this kind of headstrong, fiercely independent, wisecracking woman. Cassie is somewhere in her late 20’s, possibly early 30’s. She has a life, a bit of a backstory: she’s from Phoenix, Arizona, and she’s a sculptor. Yet she keeps having dreams about Echo Bluff, despite never being there before.

Echo Bluff is the mysterious ancient mansion that has haunted Cassie’s dreams and is the setting for the game. Gardner revealed that the house was located in Gloucester, Massachusetts. When asked why he chose Gloucester specifically Gardner stated:

“I don’t know what it is about New England, but between Steven King, and HP Lovecraft and Poe, there are so many heavyweights in horror who lived in this area. There is just something here.”

 

One of the residents of Echo Bluff

After getting some information about the setting of the game, I asked about the cast of characters in Perception. Some horror games, such as Slender just have the player and the mysterious evil creature. Others like Resident Evil and Silent Hill have a larger cast. Gardner confirmed that Cassie’s boyfriend will be attempting to contact her via her smartphone, and will pop in and out of contact with her as he is traveling to the house himself.

Clearly, Gardner and his wife Amanda, who is the head writer for Perception, have spent a long time on developing the story of Perception; however, he remained tight-lipped on what Cassie will experience as an unwilling guest at Echo Bluff.

Gameplay and the Player Experience

Even if he wouldn't tell us what Cassie would encounter, Gardner was more than pleased to discuss how she (and the player) are able to move and interact with things while in Echo Bluff.

BG: “We did a lot of research about how echolocation works for the blind. There are programs like World Access for the Blind who do teach blind people to “see” via echolocation. We interviewed multiple people who did their best to explain the concept to us. One of the more interesting facts we found is that there have been studies where when blind individuals, conditioned with echolocation training, make noise, their visual cortex lights up. So we did our best to recreate that with the visual sound waves you see in the trailers. I also wanted to capture the feeling of echolocation in a way that was respectful and accurate as the team could be while creating an experience that gamers enjoy.”

How Cassie

Echolocation: How Cassie "Sees" the World.

DW: Very commendable and practical. Will Cassie be able to use her other senses to navigate, or is it solely by hearing?

BG: We really are focusing on using sound and hearing as Cassie’s primary form of navigation. We have talked about trying to find a way to visualize smell, but in the end we thought that might be going too far.

DW: I see. All right then, so besides this new style of sight via echolocation, is there anything else that contributes to Perception’s unique gameplay?

BG: What I usually say to my team is that information is the enemy of horror. That is a catalyst of this project, as the only way for the player to gain information is a big risk. You have to create noise and there is something out there hunting you down.

Hiding from The Prescence

With something like this hunting you down, you have to be careful.

DW: So in the last interview you had with GameSkinny, you said that all Cassie is armed with is a smartphone and her cane. Clearly her cane is extremely important, allowing her to use her echolocation, but what about her phone?

BG: She primarily uses her phone in order to get information. One of the most important functions of the phone is that it will have a program on it called Delphi. Sometimes things will be written on the walls, or on a piece of paper and Delphi basically takes a picture of the words and vocalizes them. Even though Cassie is smart and resourceful, she still isn’t able to completely make out words. You can’t just tap Cassie’s cane and read a giant bunch of text or scrawl on the wall. We are also working on an app for the phone that will take a picture of the words and then try to contact someone from the outside who can tell her what she is looking at.

DW: Wait, if that is the case, couldn’t she just use that app to call someone for help?

BG: Not exactly, no. That app won’t always be available. Most of the time Cassie will not have any reception while in Echo Bluff, which would be required to use this second app. That is also why Cassie’s boyfriend is popping in and out of contact.

Clearly Gardner had looked at all the angles in order to give Perception the true isolated feel of a horror game. He was also rather vocal about the various modes that a player can select for a different experience. Many of these modes were also inspired by or streamlined thanks to feedback from fans. One mode, known as “Silent Night”, cuts a large amount of Cassie’s lines, making her more of a silent protagonist.

Another way the game can be played is in “Mode 7” or, as Gardner called it, “Retro Mode”. This setting styles the house and the game itself in a SNES pixelated 3D art-style for those who love some of the classic 16-bit visuals. Gardner stated that he was really thrilled with the inclusion of these modes as they “allowed players to find an experience that resonates with the gamer, and produced multiple ways replay the game.” Gardner expanded on that idea of accessibility, stating:

“I think that when there is a possibility to make a game that better suits a person’s play style, especially if it represents a majority, I’m going to look for opportunities to fulfill or address them.”

Technical Questions and What Lies Ahead

DW: Clearly you are pro-fan feedback and care about what your fans and patrons think. So, then lets ask some of the hard-hitting questions that the backers for Perception really want to hear. Any idea what this game is going to be rated? Also I saw that the release date on the Perception Kickstarter page was slotted for June 2016, can you possibly give us an even smaller release window?

BG: I am not exactly sure what official rating we are going to get, but Perception covers a lot of mature content. I’ve never been a huge fan of gore and blood and there isn’t much of that in Perception. I want to tell the story that we want, set the mood we like and one that we think will resonate with our fans. I mean Cassie talks a decent amount, she’s gonna swear a few times like any normal person would in her situation. There’s gonna be some violence and a lot of mature themes. As for the release date, I don’t want to go more specific than June 2016. I want to make sure that I can deliver top quality products. I really want to make sure that this is a game that people are gonna love.

DW: Glad to hear. I have to ask, what made you decide to use Kickstarter for funding your project?

BG: I felt that there is so much changing in the [gaming] industry; there is a lot of opportunity for independence. I feel like this is a new renaissance for Indie Games.  There is so much potential with how advanced the tools are. We are using the Unreal 4 engine and you look at all the crazy effects we are doing for echolocation, these sorts of things three or four years ago would have taken 10x the effort. I felt that Kickstarter seemed the best way to take this game and idea to the audience. I could have definitely gone to a publisher, but I prefer the direct feedback from the audience that Kickstarter provides.

Close Up on the Creepy Murder House
A house looking like that. Right, totally not haunted.

DW: Moving right along, you guys have already surpassed your pledge to have the game completely funded and you still have a few hours left for funding. If you get enough support and funds do you plan to release DLC or an expansion?

BG: One of our stretch goals is to be able to add a “bonus” chapter to the game, one written by Josh Fialkov, who has written comics for Marvel, DC, and a bunch of indie book titles like the Life After under his belt. Going back into the history of the house, there is almost limitless potential for levels, based on different time periods. I see potential in it, but I want to offer value to players when choosing how to present additional content. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of additional chapters or scenarios for Cassie, but I think it is still all about fan feedback and bringing value to the gamers.

From there Gardner explained that his team plans to continue taking pledges in order to fund additional content, and mentioned that he really hopes they could bring Perception to consoles, if they get the funding. Gardner also said that he and Amanda have been coming up with some ideas for possible future games, but currently their priority is with Perception.

DW: Last question: Do you have any words for those who are on the fence about supporting or buying Perception?

BD: I think if there is any reservation, check out what we have presented. We are a small team, we have a lot planned for Perception, but it is strictly a horror game, and games like that are rather contained and personal. If you have any questions, reach out to us. I hope that we have proven, so far, that we are devoted to providing the best gaming experience possible but also listening to feedback, anyone interested in a strong narrative, games like BioShock, games that tell a story through gameplay or the world itself and not forcing the player into cut scenes.

Now that it has been funded and given the green light, Perception seems like something to look forward for fans of indie and horror games alike. How do you feel about Perception? Leave a comment or visit The Deep End Games's website or follow them on Twitter @TheDeepEndGames.

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Perception offers new gameplay trailer as it nears Kickstarter goal https://www.gameskinny.com/6otew/perception-offers-new-gameplay-trailer-as-it-nears-kickstarter-goal https://www.gameskinny.com/6otew/perception-offers-new-gameplay-trailer-as-it-nears-kickstarter-goal Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:32:49 -0400 Victor Ren

With a recent press release following our interview last month, The Deep End Games, a team made up of developers who have worked on BioShock and Dead Space, have just put up a new trailer for the game PerceptionThe project is still on Kickstarter now, and they are less than $6,000 away from their $150,000 goal. If the company reaches up to $250,000, they pledged to donate $25,000 to the World Access for Blind Fund

The game is a first-person narrative that tells the story through a witty, blind girl named Cassie. As Cassie goes to Gloucester, Massachusetts to investigate the mansion that haunts her dreams, she uses her incredible hearing skills and smarts to not only overcome the demons inside, but also unravel the urban mystery of Echo Bluff.

Gameplay involves the player utilizing an echolocation type ability as the only time you can see what is around you is when Cassie taps her cane. If the player does not make any noise, they will be shrouded by the darkness that thrives in the mansion.

The Deep End Games also plans to have low-end vision support available in the game as they work towards their goal making it also available to the blind as well. 

 “We need representation of all different types of people and we felt that it made sense to not only try and create awareness, but also try and make our game as inclusive as we can for all players and pay it forward if we’re successful.

As Perception is nearing the end of its Kickstarter campaign and as it moves closer to its overall goal with help from its fans, it is planned for a release on Steam in 2016. With enough support, digital copies will be available for both the Xbox One, and the PlayStation 4.

Lead Producer and Writer Amanda Gardner implores that, with the end of E3, it's time to take a break from the big blockbuster action heroes, and bring our attention back onto something more grounded.

After millions of dollars being spent and big games rocking it at shows like E3, it’s time to turn attention to the fact that we need protagonists who are differently abled.

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Perception creators hope to make their game accessible to gamers with low vision https://www.gameskinny.com/88hgf/perception-creators-hope-to-make-their-game-accessible-to-gamers-with-low-vision https://www.gameskinny.com/88hgf/perception-creators-hope-to-make-their-game-accessible-to-gamers-with-low-vision Fri, 19 Jun 2015 17:07:26 -0400 Sam Yoo

The creators of Perceptiona first-person horror adventure and not yet fully funded Kickstarter game, recently expressed their desire to make the game playable for all audiences, not just the able-bodied.

As Perception is told through the perspective of Cassie, a blind protagonist, the team at The Deep End Games is interested in including gamers with low-vision in their target audience.

President and founder of the studio Mark Barlet says:

"If you can create an accessible game that’s also a lot of fun, then you’ve created a differentiator in a very crowded space."

A bit about Perception:

The game is designed to emulate the experience of a blind person through both the presentation of aural landscapes and the game mechanics.  You must navigate and map out Cassie's surroundings using sound, aided only by her cane and her smartphone.

The horror aspects of the game make excellent use of the perpetual darkness of Cassie's world. The Presence that hunts Cassie is made all the more terrifying by its mysterious and ambiguous form.

Perception is a rare example of a video game with representation of a blind character.  Amanda Gardner, one of Perception's creators, says:

"We need protagonists who are differently abled.  We need representation of all different types of people."

The Plan:

The development team would like to release at least two versions of the game: one for fully-sighted players, and one designed for players with low vision.  

The low-vision version of the game will have large subtitles, text-to-speech support, and high-contrast images. The team is also still looking for ways to make the game accessible to people who are fully blind.

The Perception creative team has been collaborating with individuals and groups involved with supporting those with disabilities, such as The AbleGamers Charity.

Mark Barlet explains that companies must include people with disabilities in the development and game testing process:

"When we have a diverse workforce, we create better products."

Sound awesome to you?  Help them out!

Perception is still short of its minimum goal of $150,000, with less than a week to go.  Currently they're at a little over $120,000 with more than 3,000 backers.  

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Deep End Games Founder Bill Gardner Talks Perception, A New Horror Project https://www.gameskinny.com/dxjme/deep-end-games-founder-bill-gardner-talks-perception-a-new-horror-project https://www.gameskinny.com/dxjme/deep-end-games-founder-bill-gardner-talks-perception-a-new-horror-project Sun, 31 May 2015 13:30:01 -0400 Victor Ren

Perception is a new game whose trailer showcased an intriguing idea, one that contrasts with all the stale concepts in most horror games. The game follows the story of a blind girl moving through an abandoned house, while using echolocation to unravel its mysteries and escape the grasps of the monsters residing inside (called "The Presence").

The game is being crafted by an extraordinary team at Deep End Games. Its developers have previously worked on Bioshock, Bioshock Infinite, and Dead Space. With such talent, the potential is surely there, and we were lucky enough to get ahold of the founder and Creative Director of Deep End Games, Bill Gardner, for an interview.

How did you come up with the idea of a game like this, and what helped weave the story of Cassie in your head?

Bill: I always push to try and find ways to bring a new perspective to the games I work on.  That can be in the form of a character’s persuasion, the setting of a level – just something with a unique twist.  I’m a huge horror fan and am always thinking of ways to bring a fresh angle to the genre.  When you think about it, information is the enemy of horror.  And so, the notion of finding a way to strip away information and make that into an actual mechanic seemed like a natural fit.  It’s rare that you can find narrative, aesthetic and gameplay unite around one single idea.  A lot of Cassie came fairly easily for Amanda and me to write once we began to research blindness and tried to immerse ourselves in what that might be like.

Most people would not think of telling a horror story through a blind person because of the limitation of not being able to see what is scary. How will you guys scare the audience, and what effects are you hoping to achieve?

Bill: Ah, but not seeing something is usually far scarier in my opinion.  I may just quote [Stephen] King here:

"Nothing is so frightening as what's behind the closed door. The audience holds its breath along with the protagonist as she/he (more often she) approaches that door. The protagonist throws it open, and there is a ten-foot-tall bug. The audience screams, but this particular scream has an oddly relieved sound to it. 'A bug ten feet tall is pretty horrible', the audience thinks, 'but I can deal with a ten-foot-tall bug. I was afraid it might be a hundred feet tall'.

Recently there has been a lot of complaints about the horror genre in both movies and video games. How does Perception bring something different to the table compared to every other game that is meant to be a horror?

Bill:I believe we’re bringing a very bold and fresh perspective on horror.  Players will be experiencing the world in a completely new way – a way that enriches the gameplay, narrative, and horror.  When you think about how you get information, for a sighted person, that’s trivial, you usually just open your eyes.  Now imagine having to work for that information through something like echolocation.  Now, add to that the risk of being discovered by a relentless entity that is searching for you and wants to do awful things to you.  I think that’s a pretty darn good start to bringing a new kind of tension.  ;)

Since the development team has worked on so many past projects, will there be some styles from past games that we can see in this one? And if there, are how will you mix them together?

Bill: I can’t speak for everyone else, but I know I’m really proud of my experience.  I was lucky enough to help craft some of games that were really well-received.  I learned a tremendous amount over the years and I think you’ll see a lot of that craft come out in the moment-to-moment experience.  I’m also really excited to mix in the expertise of the entire Deep End team to create an entirely new experience.

What can you tell us about the walking nightmares called "The Presence", along with how they interact with Cassie in the game?

Bill: The Presence roams the halls, searching for Cassie.  It’s unclear what motivates it aside from wanting to do harm to Cassie.  And so your goal is to avoid it at all costs.  That can mean grabbing something to throw it down the hall to cause a distraction, or finding a spot to hide and pray that it passes you by. 

Why is Cassie fit to take on this challenge, and what about her character allows her to move through the house?

Bill: Cassie is an incredibly bright woman.  She is confident, clever and a scrapper.  Even though she only has her cane and her smartphone, if anyone is up for the task of solving the mysteries of Echo Bluff, it’s her.

Have there been any challenges in making the game?

Bill: There are always challenges in game development.  The most obvious one is finding a way to represent echolocation that works best for gameplay and narrative while still feeling believable enough.  It took countless hours of research, collaboration and iteration to get it right.  I was very lucky to work with the folks at FX Ville to hone in on that look.  It’s been an amazingly fun challenge and I'm very proud of our work thus far. 

Perception has not announced a release date yet, but how do you guys feel about the game? Thank you to Bill Gardner for the interview and go check out Deep End Game's Kickstarter page if you would like to show the project some love! 

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Former BioShock devs Kickstart Perception - a horror game featuring a blind protagonist https://www.gameskinny.com/x8tnj/former-bioshock-devs-kickstart-perception-a-horror-game-featuring-a-blind-protagonist https://www.gameskinny.com/x8tnj/former-bioshock-devs-kickstart-perception-a-horror-game-featuring-a-blind-protagonist Tue, 26 May 2015 07:52:16 -0400 Anne-Marie Coyle

Deep End Games, an Indie studio containing a number of former Irrational Games developers, have launched a Kickstarter campaign for horror game Perception.

The newly announced title puts you in the shoes of Cassie, a blind woman investigating the going’s on at Echo Bluff, a creepy old Mansion occupied by an even creepier force known as ‘The Presence’.

You must make noise to see

Cassie’s only means of seeing the world around her is through the use of echolocation – relying on sound to identify her surroundings. It’s an intriguing premise that puts the player in the precarious situation of having to make noise in order to see the world around them thus increasing the possibility of attracting the horror they are trying to escape from.

Arming players with only a cane and a smartphone, the game boasts the same tense hide and seeks style gameplay found in some of the most unnerving titles offered by the genre, namely Outlast and Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

Cassie will also have the ability to travel through time, witnessing different iterations of the mansion and tasked with solving its mysteries in order to escape.

Given the calibre of talent behind the game, and their innate ability to create engrossing narratives, Perception could provide a distinctly divergent and engaging experience, should it reach its $150,000 goal.

So far, this only guarantees a PC release, with other platforms a consideration depending on how successful the crowdfunding campaign is. If funded, the game is expected to launch by June 2016.

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