You either love horror or you hate it. Giving your heart a frightening jolt purely for entertainment is a delight for some, and a nightmare for others. In the medium of games, it can work brilliantly. Horror games have been around longer than some of us have even been on this Earth, and they have provided some truly memorable moments. In the modern era, however, anyone and everyone seem to have access to the required tools to create their own game. The indie market has provided some truly special scary titles, but on the other end of the spectrum there are some that do the complete opposite.
In this list, we will be taking a lot at horror games that provide less of a scare, and more of a laugh, through a variety of reasons. So, don’t buckle up, don’t hide behind the pillow and grab that box of tissues to wipe away the tears of laughter from your eyes.
Zombie Society: Dead Detective
While not exactly horror game in the normal sense, Zombie Society takes a fundamental aspect of the genre and transforms it into something different. The living dead have been incorporated into horror games ad nauseum but they still reign supreme and this point-and-click title has you playing the role of a zombie detective in a world that is inhabited by, you guessed it, zombies.
Every character speaks with hilarious zombie-esque moans to provide that undead feel, but it quickly starts to grate on you. However, the game recognizes what it is and regularly makes fun of itself, providing jokes even when you’ve just launched it. The classic zombie tropes are all part-and-parcel of the title, such as the walk, the voices, the green skin and not forgetting the love for brains. Zombie Society is a good example of how genres can overlap so that rehashed ideas can be reinvented so they continue to feel fresh.
Down in the dumps of the indie market are the bare-bones titles. These games look like they’ve been developed in Paint and the sound created through an old flip-phone. They can still provide ounces of enjoyment, though. A game that uses this kind of design to great comedic effect is Abandoned.
You start the game by walking unbearably slowly down a road to the house at the very end. Once inside, everything goes wrong. Creepy messages, radio recordings and even beheaded suited figures stalk you through this house. Thanks to the game’s visuals and design, though, these “scares” can sometimes result in laughter instead of screams.
Walking into one room you will find a radio. This radio will greet you with a recording:
“Top news, the key is in the garage.”
Well, it doesn’t quite make it that last syllable, but instead cuts off at “gara- “. This is just one example of cheap design causing the game to be funny instead of scary. I wouldn’t dare to spoil the rest, but while it can provide a number of scares, there will still be a few giggles in your time with Abandoned.
This one takes the cake for comedy horror, or rather, the pizza. Everything from the concept to the visuals and sound are cause for a laugh.
You are a pizza delivery driver and you are on your last delivery. Unfortunately, this one isn’t an in-and-out job. In true horror fashion, everything goes from bad to worse and the poor soul you play as is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Floating corpses, Michael Jackson music, suspicious trails of pizza slices; it all culminates into a very strange and hilarious tale.
Version 2 of the title was released, though, and this is somewhat scarier. Plot points are changed, freaky little girls make an entrance and one of the weirdest endings ever seen in a game lie within. It’s bad, but not in a “this game is awful” sort of way. It’s almost set out to deliberately make you laugh, and in that regard, it definitely succeeds.
From hilariously bad in a good way, to just plain bad, we have AMY. This survival horror title puts you in the shoes of Lana, the carer of a young girl called Amy. Amy has unique telekinetic powers, and in the zombie-ridden town you find yourself in, a lot of people are after her, as well as the zombies.
Unfortunately, practically every aspect of the game is terrible. Controls are infuriating, the stealth mechanics are atrocious and clipping and other glitches are rife. The game is so bad that it’s hilarious. People who have played it are quick to warn off others and when anyone is gullible enough to download it, those who already experienced it are quick to laugh through sheer pity for those gamers.
When a game hasn’t received a great reception, it’s a shame, but when something like AMY comes along, all you can do is laugh at how something of this calibre even exists in the first place. Pizza Delivery is worth much more worth your time than this, as you’ll be laughing for the right reasons, not because you’re wondering what compelled you to download it.
The Typing of the Dead
Out of every game in this list, The Typing of the Dead has the weirdest concept of the lot (yes, even Pizza Delivery falls by the wayside). As a homage to arcade rail-shooters, you will be killing countless zombies with your keyboard. Instead of just shooting them, you have to type the specific word that is shown on them. It’s ridiculous yet highly enjoyable.
To be greeted with a rotting corpse and then type “I dunno” to destroy it is hilarious, but the fact that the game remains serious in its demeanor is what makes it even better. The protagonists, whenever shown, have actual keyboards strapped to them, ready for action. If anything, it tests out your own ability to type, and even to spell. Can’t spell “Lycanthrope”? Oh dear, you’re dead! It’s a concept that needs to be mainstreamed, that’s for sure.
The indie scene is rife with horror games, both good and bad, but you can’t beat the hilarious ones. Is there one out there I’ve missed? Shout it out in the comments!