We’re in the midst of another golden age of survival horror, folks. The proof doesn’t just lie with the sheer number of horror games that are on the way, but also in the overall quality of the games being released. I’ve spent more time playing indie games in 2014 than I ever have before, because indie devs finally have easy access to the tools and platforms, like Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight, that make it easier than ever to make games and find an audience for them.
As great as this year has been for fans of the horror genre, I have the feeling it will pale in comparison to what’s in store for us in 2015. We’ve already covered the AAA releases that are on the way, and today we’re going to dive into the indies.
Ashen Rift (PC)
After a brief hiatus, Ashen Rift has returned to Kickstarter in the hopes of raising enough money to finish what looks like an incredibly promising horror game. Set in a post-apocalyptic world that’s been overrun by monsters, the game follows a man and his dog as they struggle to survive.
I can’t wait until Asylum finally arrives and I’m able to take it off all of these “upcoming games” lists. Its been in development for a long time, but recent looks at the current state of the game lead me to believe it isn’t that far off. It’s an ambitious title and one of the few adventure games we have to look forward to right now. I have the feeling the wait will be well worth it.
Caffeine (PC, PS4)
As intrigued as I am by the game’s plot, which follows a child who finds himself trapped on a synthetic caffeine mining vessel with some sort of dark presence, I’m not convinced Caffeine will see the light of day. Its developer has tried and failed to crowdfund it three separate times now, leaving its fate in the air for now. It’s too bad, because this game is gorgeous.
The Flock (PC)
Asymmetrical multiplayer has become an increasingly prevalent feature, especially in horror games. Evolve, Damned, Last Year and The Flock may be signs that this kind of multiplayer has a future in horror, where classic competitive modes have failed (Dead Space 2, Condemned 2: Bloodshot). The Flock revolves around a war between Carriers of light and the Flock, which hunt them. The world already has me hooked, it’s up to the developer to make sure the game is balanced and, even more importantly, fun.
Fran Bow (PC)
Fran Bow is another horror point-and-click adventure game, like Asylum, though that’s where the similarities end. It has a quirky charm about it that I find really enticing, especially when the game reveals its darker side through the pills young Fran takes. Doing so gives her a temporary look at a gruesome version of the world around her. Switching between the two worlds is fun, but it’ll also be necessary if you’re going to solve its puzzles.
Grave (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Grave, a surreal horror game that, unless I’m mistaken, could be the first of its kind. This is a very strange horror game that’s still very much an enigma to me even after playing both of its demos. Light and dark play an important role in the gameplay, as light is your only weapon against the creatures who inhabit its eerie world.
The Hum (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Aliens freak a lot of people out, yet for some reason, horror game developers haven’t exploited that universal fear that all humans have of being abducted in the middle of the night for a quick probing session. The Hum is the first game to try and make aliens scary, and judging by the footage we’ve seen of it so far, they’re on the right track.
Based on the mysterious disappearances of nine hikers at the base of the base of Siberia’s “Death Mountain” in 1959, Kholat wants to turn a story that’s baffled scientists and unnerved the rest of us into a horror game. It’s a tragic story, but it also happens to be perfect for a video game inspired by it. The circumstanced in which those hikers were found were admittedly horrific, and since their recovery more than half a century ago folks far smarter than I have tried really hard to come up with answers. Perhaps Kholat will provide them.
Last Year (PC)
The latest addition to the burgeoning sect of asymmetrical multiplayer games is something called Last Year. It pits a group of teens against a masked murderer. The teens must work together to survive, but that won’t be easy when the killer can come from anywhere. I’ve already decided I’m going to be Nick, the nerd, when I play this game. Then I’ll get ridiculously good at the game, impressing all of nerd kind enough that they crown me the Nerd King. But before I can realize that dream, the game needs to raise some money first.
Lethe is a physics puzzle-heavy first person horror game that follows Robert Dawn, a journalist on a mission to find the truth. His search takes him to an isolated island, and before he can use his journalist powers to uncover its dark secrets, he gets infected by a substance that gifts his hand with psychokinetic powers. It’s an attractive game, and one I’d very much like to get my hands on.
Like Grave, I’ve already spent a fair amount of time with Monstrum and I’m happy to say I’m nothing but impressed. Massive ships with labyrinthine interiors ruin what little sense of direction I possess, and because the locations of precious items are different every time you play, there’s a decent replay factor here as well as a healthy amount of scares.
From a ship lost at sea, we plunge to the murky depths of the ocean below. I still don’t have a clue as to what it is that poses a threat to the diver in Narcosis, you know, other than the definite possibility that Jaws will eat you. That’s assuming asphyxiation doesn’t claim you first when your limited supply of oxygen runs out. I’m sure there’s a more spine-tingling horror waiting for us in this game, but for now, I’ll worry about Jaws.
Outlast 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
So the talented folks at Red Barrels are working on a sequel to Outlast. I’m not sure what else I can say about it, other than maybe we should all consider saving up for a Depends run once we know when to expect it.
Paranormal: The Town (PC)
Paranormal: The Town has been awfully quiet lately, but I imagine that’s because the developer behind it is busy working on remaking the original. If you haven’t played Paranormal yet, it’s basically Paranormal Activity: The Game, only it takes way less time for things to get interesting. The Town will take the randomized haunts that made the first to memorable out of the confined quarters of an artist’s apartment and bring them to a small town.
In Quadrant, we get to step into the boots of a member of a bio-hazardous waste removal crew that’s been sent into a NASA lab that’s been quarantined when a mysterious substance — possibly alien! — leaks out. Because it’s a horror game, your coworkers get murdered, likely in excruciating ways, by what looks like a giant spider. I say kill it with fire and demand your hazard pay.
I love me some State of Decay, but it never gave me all of the tools I wanted in a game like that. I want to build bases, fortify them, gather resources to survive, and kick heaps of rotten zombie ass in the process. ROAM is a surprisingly ambitious survival game that offers exactly that, with an emphasis on building kickass anti-zombie fortresses. I’m all in.
I’m never been big into roguelike games, mostly because I’m terrible at them, but I’ll be making an exception for Routine. Ever since we were given our first glimpse of it two years ago, I’ve been practically foaming at the mouth to get my hands on it. It looks terrifying, and it’s also the type of game that doesn’t waste time holding your hand. It won’t be easy surviving against whatever horrors are lurking on that abandoned lunar base, but if Dark Souls has taught me anything, it’s that a difficult game only makes the experience more rewarding.
Like so many before it, Scorn is a horror game that’s currently looking to find success on Kickstarter. It’s a horror adventure game that takes place in a “nightmarish universe” with a narrative that’s been made to give players the freedom to “give their own interpretation of the events, themes and their role in this universe through exploration and interaction with the game world.”
If Dead Space experimented with a 2D style, it’d look something like Stasis. This game doesn’t just want to deliver an exciting story, it also has the lofty goal of blending AAA graphics with classic, point and click gameplay. It’s also worth noting that Stasis is being scored by Fallout series composer Mark Morgan, so you can be sure it’ll sound great.
Summer Camp (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
It took awhile to happen, but the slasher genre that so many of us have enjoyed in movies is finally gaining traction in video games. This year has seen the reveals of four slasher games — Last Year, Until Dawn, Summer Camp and Splatter Camp — and there’s a good chance we’ll see most, or possibly even all, of these games release in 2015. We don’t know much about this game yet, but the title alone should offer enough of a hint as to what Summer Camp will be about. Horny teens, a masked killer, fun in the sun cut tragically short by murder and mayhem, etc.
Splatter Camp (PC)
From the maker of Babysitter Bloodbath (formerly Halloween) comes another Friday the 13th inspired horror game about teens meeting an early end at the hands of a bad, bad man. If it’s anything like the developer’s past work, expect an awesome old school VHS aesthetic.
Subways are inherently creepy places, and I’m not just saying that because of the rat people who call those tunnels their home. U55 – End of the Line wants to remind us of this fact by cranking up the scare factor to 11 as it follows some poor soul who somehow managed to find themselves lost, alone and hunted in the underground.