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Our Most Anticipated Crowdfunded Horror Games

It’s hardly a universal truth that absence makes the heart grow fonder, though the rule does seem to apply nicely to the increasingly competitive world of crowdfunded video games, and specifically for those of the horror persuasion.

Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have had a profound impact on the rise of indie developers in a time when the financial risks associated with modern games development have made breaking into this industry an inordinately difficult task without the aid of a publisher. Crowdfunding hasn’t, and very likely won’t, solve that problem alone, but it has and will continue to be a precious resource for developers to use to overcome one of the more frustrating issues that plague this industry.

As for the idiom I threw out earlier, it’s rung true for a growing number of developers that have sought the tools to excavate the beloved skeletons of horror gaming’s past. The community is eager to see more from the series that publishers might’ve deemed too risky, including Clock Tower, Fatal Frame, Eternal Darkness, Pathologic, Friday the 13th and System Shock, among others. What these games have in common is they’ve all been backed by thousands of members of their respective communities who have spent millions of dollars to try and bring them back.

One fun fact about this week has to do with those last two games. Until very recently, Friday the 13th: The Game was the horror genre’s greatest crowdfunding success, having raised over $1.04M across two campaigns. That’s no longer the case, as Night Dive Studios’ hotly anticipated remake of the original System Shock has raised a little more than that with a week left in its enormously popular campaign.

Let’s celebrate that with a look at the horror games we have to look forward to over the next two years, thanks to crowdfunding.

OUR MOST ANTICIPATED HORROR GAMES:
Zombies | Science Fiction | Virtual Reality | Lovecraftian

CF2_V2_WorksOfMercy

What’s interesting about The Works of Mercy is how the indie thriller uses the player in such a genuinely unnerving way that you can’t help but be uncomfortable. It’s the video game equivalent of unsettling films like Funny Games and Would You Rather, only this time, the insidious puppeteer is sending his orders over the phone. With inspiration like Roman Polanski’s Repulsion and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, I suspect this game will find a way to get under our skin when it arrives later this year.

Crowdfunding Details: Pentacle raised $13,800 (approx.) on Kickstarter in March 2016.

Release Date: August 2016 (PC, followed by MAC/LNX, PS4, XBO)

CF2_V2_Friday13th

In a few short months, we’ll finally have our long overdue reunion with one of the horror genre’s most iconic villains in the 7v1 asymmetrical multiplayer slasher game Friday the 13th: The Game. The story follows a tired Jason Voorhees as he picks up his machete one more time so he can rid Camp Crystal Lake of yet another infestation of ’80s teen stereotypes.

Crowdfunding Details: Gun Media raised $823,704 on Kickstarter in November 2015, $1,047,626 total.

Release Date: October 2016 (PC, PS4, XBO)

CF2_V2_NightTerrors

In addition to being the only dedicated mobile title on this list, Night Terrors may also be the most innovative. This supernaturally themed augmented reality game brings its horrors to life by populating your home with frightening scenarios and otherworldly creatures that appear real. It does this by processing the feed from your phone’s camera in real-time, which it uses to guide you through a uniquely harrowing experience.

Crowdfunding Details: Novum Analytics raised $46,732 on Indiegogo in June 2015, $49,747 total.

Release Date: October 2016 (iOS, Android)

CF2_V2_ThroughTheWoods

At the heart of developer Antagonist’s upcoming third-person horror adventure game Through the Woods is a story about a mother and how far she’ll go to save her son. It’s sort of like The Park, if that game had been set inside a creepy forest on the western coast of Norway and inspired by Norse mythology. Its narrative comes with a clever twist, as your actions are dynamically reflected in the mother’s retelling of events that have already happened, as far as the game’s concerned.

Crowdfunding Details: Antagonist raised $43,833 on Kickstarter in June 2015.

Release Date: October 2016 (PC, PS4, XBO)

CF2_V2_CampSunshine

The slasher genre has finally returned to video games, its revival led by games like Until Dawn and Dead by Daylight, as well as the upcoming Friday the 13th: The Game and Last Year. With company like that, it’s refreshing to see a game like Camp Sunshine make an effort to stand out by slapping a delightful 16-bit art style on its familiar tale of secluded summer camps and the murderous maniacs that can’t seem to get enough of them.

Crowdfunding Details: Fossil Games raised $1,195 on Indiegogo in April 2016.

Release Date: October 31, 2016 (PC)

CF2_V2_LastYear

Remember what I said about the Friday the 13th game? Last Year is more of that, but with five ’80s teen stereotypes who must enlist the powers of teamwork and friendship if they’re going to have a chance at surviving a night with a stab-happy serial killer who’s very interested in seeing what their insides look like.

Crowdfunding Details: Elastic Games raised $88,600 (approx.) on Kickstarter in December 2014.

Release Date: November 2016 (PC)

CF2_V2_InnerChains

Surreal is one word you could use to describe the gorgeous first-person shooter Inner Chains and its nightmarish biomechanical world that’s lousy with enemies, from the alien creatures that inhabit it to the deadly fauna that surrounds them. This game promises to be unlike anything else, and that goal extends to its arsenal, which features an assortment of creative weapons that use bones, lightning and hellfire for ammunition.

Crowdfunding Details: Telepaths Tree raised $18,708 on Kickstarter in April 2016.

Release Date: Fall 2016 (PC/LNX)

CF2_V2_AshenRift

The horror genre is no stranger to apocalyptic scenarios, and neither is Ashen Rift or the two characters it revolves around. When a man sees visions of his own demise, he and his trusty canine companion set out in search of answers and for a way to fight the Rift — a monster-spewing portal that’s spent a decade spreading demons and devastation — before it completely wipes out what’s left of the world.

Crowdfunding Details: Pyroclastic Games raised $13,500 (approx.) on Kickstarter in November 2015.

Release Date: Fall 2016 (PC/MAC/LNX, PS4)

CF2_V2_Perception

Perception is a story-driven horror game from some of the former developers of Dead Space and BioShock, but that’s not even the best part. That honor belongs to its lead character, a blind woman who’s able to “see” using echolocation, like Daredevil, but with less fancy karate. This gives the game an immediately recognizable art style that’s eerie all on its own, as pale apparitions are briefly illuminated by sounds in the environment.

Crowdfunding Details: The Deep End Games raised $168,041 on Kickstarter

Release Date: Fall 2016 (PC, PS4, XBO)

CF2_V2_Grave

I’ve had the opportunity to play two demo versions of Broken Window Studios’ surreal open-world horror game Grave, and both times felt comparable to experiencing a lucid dream. The world shifts and moves as if it were alive, obscuring or revealing things that weren’t there before, and when the sun goes down, the game transforms into a nightmare as light-sensitive creatures wander about in search of prey. It’s when the night comes that this mind-bending experience goes full survival horror, as you fight for survival using every source of illumination you can find (flashlights, flares, fire, and the environment).

Crowdfunding Details: Broken Window Studios raised $37,622 on Kickstarter in April 2014.

Release Date: Fall 2016 (PC/MAC/LNX, PS4, XBO)

CF2_V2_Asylum

Senscape’s Asylum is a H.P. Lovecraft-inspired psychological horror game from Agustín Cordes, the creator of Scratches. It was successfully funded on Kickstarter more than three years ago, so it’s understandable that some fans would’ve come to the conclusion that it may never release. I might’ve thought the same thing, had it not recently been stirred from its slumber with some new footage and a “100% guarantee” from its developer back in January that Asylum will release this year. The sooner the better. I’m eager to get to work exploring the 100+ rooms — no joke — that comprise the Hanwell Mental Institute.

Crowdfunding Details: Senscape raised $119,426 on Kickstarter in February 2013.

Release Date: Fall 2016 (PC/MAC/LNX)

CF2_V2_Visage

Of the handful of like-minded indie developers that have gathered to salvage something from the smoldering crater left by P.T., it’s in Visage that I can see the most potential. It’s also one of the more literal successors to Kojima’s game, with a blend of near-photogenic visuals and a creepy house that’s very clearly haunted by the vengeful apparitions of its former occupants, many of whom met brutal and premature ends inside its immaculate halls.

Crowdfunding Details: SadSquare Studio raised $92,800 (approx.) on Kickstarter in March 2016.

Release Date: Spring 2017 (PC, PS4, XBO)

CF2_V2_RidesWithStrangers

Rides With Strangers is a game that exploits one of a great many (mostly) unnecessary fears that continue to inspire so many horror films by simulating the anxiety and desperation that follow the realization that you’ve just picked up the wrong hitchhiker. Like The Works of Mercy, it’s a genuine practice in psychological horror that actively aims to drag you, the player, out of your comfort zone and into the blinding headlights of an oncoming car, from which there’s no escape.

Crowdfunding Details: Reflect Studios raised $32,524 on Kickstarter in February 2016.

Release Date: Summer 2017 (PC/MAC, PS4, XBO)

CF2_V2_GhostTheory

It’s bizarre that we could go so long without a “serious” horror game about paranormal research and not realize how wrong that is. Fortunately, it’s no longer a problem as we await the arrival of Ghost Theory from Dex developer Dreadlocks. The concept is as simple as an episode of “Ghost Hunters: International”, as you’re tasked with exploring real-world locales that are believed to be haunted and investigate those claims using actual ghost-hunting gadgets and your character’s clairvoyant abilities.

Crowdfunding Details: Dreadlocks raised $76,400 (approx.) on Kickstarter in May 2016.

Release Date: Fall 2017 (PC/MAC/LNX, PS4, XBO)

CF2_V2_SystemShock

Night Dive Studios is bringing SHODAN back with a comprehensive remake of the 22 year-old cyberpunk horror game System Shock. For those of you who never played the original, let me fill you in. The general goal is to wander about the space-dwelling Citadel Station looking for cybernetic abominations to bludgeon with a wrench, which the game makes more challenging with the introduction of a megalomaniacal jerk of an AI who wants nothing more than to squash your self-esteem.

Crowdfunding Details: Night Dive Studios raised $1,350,700 on Kickstarter in July 2016.

Release Date: Fall 2017 (PC/MAC/LNX, PS4, XBO)

OUR MOST ANTICIPATED HORROR GAMES:
Zombies | Science Fiction | Virtual Reality | Lovecraftian

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