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  1. Just a few months ago, Slender: The Eight Pages popped out from the shadows and became a horror phenomenon. The short, experimental (and free!) indie game gives you one goal: to find all eight pages. The catch is that you must do so through dark, scary woods with the terrifying Slender Man stalking you down. It looks like creator, Mark "AgentParsec" Hadley is already remaking Slender... and turning it into a commercial release. This remake for PC is titled Slender: The Arrival and will feature enhanced visuals, more levels, and a further in-depth storyline. It will be conjointly developed by ParsecProductions and Blue Isle Studios, who eagerly states that "... [it] will engage players with the same terrifying gameplay, while adding a complete gaming experience that the fans have been asking for. We have been working closely with Mark over the past few weeks and we are really excited to deliver the best Slender game possible." There's no release date yet, but Blue Isle Studios gives us a vague time frame of "in the coming months." For now, have two screenshots of the upcoming game! What do you think about Slender: The Eight Pages getting a remake/updated version so soon after its initial release?
  2. I like to play all sorts of video games, but I've never found myself sticking to just one genre. While on my travels, it is not uncommon for me to stumble upon a game with horror aspects. I'll play and enjoy these games just like any other, but with one small hitch - there are almost always a few kids running around as I play. Horror games become a whole different affair when a child is present. While a spooky atmosphere and a few jump-scares are just another part of the game for me, just seeing the title screen is enough of a horrifying adventure for a child. The horror genre isn't dead, and I have the proof. These are the testimonies of gaming's horror victims. Silent Hill: Downpour Yes, I own Silent Hill: Downpour. It has its problems, but overall it is a pretty alright game. When it comes to Silent Hill games, I have to sneak the disk into the system just to begin playing it. If I try to do it out in the open, I'll usually hear a chorus of shrieks and the pitter patter of children running out of the room. But sometimes I luck out and they come into the room after I've started the game up. They hate it, but they can't help but watch as the horror unfolds. There's the usual questions like, "Is this the scary game?" and the classic, "Can i turn on a few lights?" But when it comes down to just asking them about the game, here is what they had to say (in English instead of baby speak). I will never get over a Korn song getting into the game First of all, the monsters are quite a bit worse than they were in previous games. Even to a child this was apparent. When they watched me play games like Silent Hill 2 and 3, they knew I was dealing with monsters. With Downpour, the monsters were constantly referred to as "zombies." Not what you want to hear from a Silent Hill game. When it came to the scares however, the game didn't disappoint. One of the younger children simply curled up into a ball, wide eyed staring at the screen. I asked them what they though about the monster attack and they just kept asking me to turn the game off. When I told them I needed to get to a save point, they went to walk out of the room, stopped and then asked me to go with them. I could not get them to watch the entire cave sequence. Overall, the kids agreed it was pretty scary on a scale of not scary to really scary. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare I'll be honest right from the get-go. I did lie to the children about this one. Ever since I got the "horse game," the children around me have wanted to ride around the old west and get killed by wolves over and over again. How they manage to constantly find the wolves is beyond me, but they enjoy riding the horses and tipping their hat to passerby. So when I purchased Undead Nightmare it seemed only obvious that they would need to give it a try. I had gotten through the opening sequence with John Marston's family becoming zombies beforehand so they would have no idea what to expect going into the game. Despite this, one of the children asked me if it was a scary game. I'M TIPPING MY HAT TO THEM AND THEY JUST KEEP COMING! No idea how they figured that out before they even played it. But I assured them it was the same old game and that the sky was only green because Halloween was coming. They accepted this without a second thought and started riding towards town so they could tip their hat at random townsfolk. Up to the point of them riding into town, they still hadn't seen a single zombie. They could hear people screaming and they could see houses were burning, but it hadn't registered yet that something was seriously wrong. An odd looking fellow turned the corner and started to shamble towards John. And then a few more "people" came around the corner. Everyone in the room froze. Suddenly they pulled John off his horse. Within an instant of it registering in their heads, chaos erupted. The one playing the game whipped the controller at me and covered their face. Another one ran out of the room screaming "You lied! You lied! You said this wasn't a scary game!" (that time it was true) and another just covered up in a blanket saying "Turn it off." To this day I still can't get them to trust me that I'm just turning on the horse game for them to ride around in. On the scary scale, Undead Nightmare ranks at "You're a liar, this is scary." Dead Space 2 To my surprise, Dead Space 2 didn't rank that high on the scary scale for the kids who watched me play. It was described as "tense", but there weren't any big scares or blowouts. All the children just sat around biting their nails or clenching their fists waiting for the next monster to jump out and scare them. But other than that not much happened. Sorry Isaac, your problems apparently just don't cut it Of course, I kept them away from most of the violence (I played the game a bit before letting them see the areas to avoid any traumatizing scenes of gore) Some people might say this is the reason the children didn't freak out as badly compared to the previous two entries in the list, but my response to that is gore doesn't equal horror. It just equals gore. And I'm pretty sure even the kids wouldn't be afraid of that. On the spooky meter, Dead Space 2 ranks a paltry nail biter. Not bad but not really scary either. Dead Rising 2 I thought for sure they would have actually ended up liking Dead Rising 2 thanks to all the random stuff you can do and the more colorful graphical design choices, but after the surprise upset with Dead Space 2 I guess anything could happen. And let me tell you, they did not like Dead Rising 2 at all. But the timing of everything worked out perfectly. I had just gotten myself acquainted with the game's controls and the layout of the map. I had tucked myself into the corner of a clothing shop looking for a weapon. This is when the children decided to walk in. To the best of their knowledge, this was simply a cartoony dress-up game. Maybe things would have turned out different if he was on a Dune Buggy One of the older children asked if they could try it out because hey, who doesn't love some fun time free roam in a mall/casino? I simply told them "I don't think you'll like this game." Despite this, they insisted on trying it out, so I handed them the controller and waited for the magic to happen. Not even five seconds had passed when a zombie decided to burst through the store window and rush them. It let out a groan and the controller was on the ground as all the children began demanding that I turn the game off. To their horror, I informed them that I needed to get to a save point first. Five minutes later, I had made it to the save point. The entire time the kids were covering their eyes and insisting the noises they heard were just dogs and were in fact, not zombies at all. Dead Rising 2 gets a ranking of "Looks fun, but the zombies make it unplayable." If there is a moral to any of these stories, it would probably be that just because you find the horror genre lacking that doesn't mean its dead. There are still plenty of people out there who enjoy it, and others who are still terrified because of it. As always, thank you for reading.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Home

    Developer: Benjamin Rivers Publisher: Benjamin Rivers Platform: PC (Steam, web) ESRB: N/A (M suggested) Release Date: Out now When surveying the modern horror gaming landscape, it“s plain to see that a lot has changed. In the past, horror games seemed to be a lot slower, almost ponderous, but also fairly scary. Many current titles focus instead on action rather than scaring the player, but not all. What of the games which try to retain the old styles? Home is one such game that relies completely on atmosphere and narrative to disturb. The question is does it manage to succeed or is it a failed attempt? Home is a bit of both. You begin the game by waking up in a strange house. Quickly you discover a dead body and other awful stuff. You can“t even recall why you“re in this building or how you got there. All that“s on your mind is returning home to your wife to make sure she“s okay. Starting us off with about as much knowledge as the lead character is a nice narrative effect. It makes every observation all the more important as both the player and avatar “learn” information. For better or for worse, you“ll be examining every item to try and glean insight into the story. Searching through the world is really the main point of the game. Instead of focusing on some goofy threat like zombies, there“s only the very real threat of worrying something bad might have happened to your wife. Sometimes the game leads you to believe there are threats all around you, but the biggest one is your own mind. What was that sound? Is there really something behind you as the game suggests? Whether or not there is a threat really depends on your own perceptions, and that“s pretty cool. If you can get into the right mood it does really feel like terrible things are afoot - and they are. The only problem is if you can“t get into the mood the game certainly feels like a dull slog. There is no run button, although the story makes this purposeful (the lead character hurt his leg). Home is short on any truly heart-pounding moments beyond a few sound scares, and threats are mostly imagined. For those who aren“t good at getting immersed the game will be a complete waste. Because of this, it“s really suggested that they not even try. This is a game made for having an experience with, not something to “complete” or kick butt at. If you“ve never seen a screenshot of this game before, then it's best to detail exactly how it looks. The entire thing is done with pixelated art. Although the character design isn“t the most aesthetically pleasing, it gets the job done and doesn“t look too cute for the subject matter. Strangely, the pixelated darkness around your character seems perfectly apt and still keeps the atmosphere uncomfortable. More than anything it“s the narrative that gets under your skin. For example, a pixelated cage with red stuff on the bottom isn“t all that scary but the accompanying dialog bothered me. Home has been applauded by others because of its narrative. It does deserve some credit for attempting to frame a game completely as a horror experience (emphasis on the experience). Although it takes only an hour to clear, it manages to tell a murder mystery with branching story paths. However you choose to play the game will alter bits and pieces of your narrative all the way to the ending. This is meant to help show you the conclusion that you were unconsciously or consciously forming as the story unravels. This is certainly a cool idea although its execution is hit or miss. Sometimes it will feel like the story went just the way you planned while other times it seems the game is focusing too much on certain elements used to determine endings. As the story is the main draw, it“s fair game for dissecting further. The coolest thing about the game is that it leaves interpreting events up to you. Many facts are presented to you but it“s up to you to piece together exactly what went on. There“s nothing wrong with this in theory although the game feels almost a bit too open-ended with possibility. Because of that, it doesn“t feel like you“re solving a puzzle when you come to your own conclusions. Instead it feels more like kind of plausible resolutions which aren“t nearly as satisfying. Still, perhaps this is better than having had only one ending which was rigid and would never please everyone. Once you move beyond the story, there is very little to the game but this is intentional. The narrative is the entire focus of the game and the game itself is purely the vehicle used to deliver a story. If books were more capable of being interactive, this may have just been a short story. With Home not fully succeeding at telling a story, it is hard to recommend it for other reasons. A foreboding atmosphere permeates the game but this will only last for the first playthrough. Beyond that, you can easily replay but it just doesn“t feel the same. At the end of the day, what is a singular hour experience worth to you? If you can answer that question around $3 then the game is for you. The small price seems completely fair to ask for a neat little narrative experiment in game form. If you are opposed to buying games that don“t hold millions of hours of replay value then this is definitely not for you. If you are willing to experience a neat little horror story though, then Home is worth your time. The game might only be an hour long but you just might find yourself thinking about the story for longer. Pros: + Story changes subtly depending on your moves in game + Players aren“t hand-fed a story - they must work for it + Graphics don“t downplay the grisly nature of the world Cons: - Story may lead ways opposite of player“s opinions due to how it was made - Doesn“t manage to maintain a nerve-wracking atmosphere after the first playthrough - Overall, doesn“t feel like a completely satisfying experience Overall Score: 6 out of 10 Decent Horror fans as well as fans of creative storytelling methods will want to give Home a look.
  4. Marcus Estrada

    Home Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  5. Marcus Estrada

    Home Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  6. Marcus Estrada

    Home Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  7. Marcus Estrada

    Indie Horror Game Home is Coming to Steam

    Indie horror game Home initially launched a few months back but wasn't available on Steam. It even came with a really neat physical edition which included a map, manual, digital copy, and a few extra baubles. Unfortunately, this digital version wasn't a Steam copy. Finally this is being changed though as the game will be available on the service this week - August 31st. Once the game is available on Steam that will be the only way to get it. It'll no longer be for sale off the developer's site and will go up in price from $2 to $3. Why the price increase? Now the game will come with a PDF manual and apparently something else as well. We'll have to wait until launch to see what that extra thing is. What if you were someone who actually bought the physical version? In order to thank you, you'll be given a Steam key for free. Although there's a great many indie games out there it seems they really do make their mark once they're on Valve's service. Maybe Home will find its second launch to be its biggest. If you're curious to see what Home is all about then check out the Steam announcement trailer:
  8. Cipher Peon

    Resident Evil: Director's Cut

    I finished Resident Evil the other day, in an effort to expand my knowledge of the history of Survival Horror genre. I was hungry for more good horror games, especially considering I ran out Silent Hill games whose awesomeness are uncontested. Seeing as Resident Evil "started it all", I had high hopes of a horror classic that would have me as pumped for the genre as Silent Hill 2 did. However, knowing the background of Resident Evil, I was expecting an undisciplined sort of horror as compared to the strict rules that Silent Hill set for itself in order to play with the player's expectations. Even though Resident Evil did play with my expectations of its horror, it did so in a negative way, as the horror is practically nonexistent. Although the horrors are nonexistent, the game's ability to engage the player is phenomenal and the experience is unforgettable. Taking Resident Evil seriously will only doom the player to frustration. The scares are nonexistent, the plot is a total disaster, the writing is atrocious, the voice acting is horrible, and the controls are some of the worst in any game I've ever played. Looking at the game now, I can't see how anyone can consider it a horror classic as the game is about as unscary as Dead Space (although Resident Evil doesn't seem to be trying as hard). However, after obtaining the first ink ribbons I realized that I was looking at the game in a frame of mind that would cause me to never enjoy it. The scares I were expecting were never coming. However, the gameplay for the perfect survival horror game was there, in a package of cheese instead of psychological thrills. The ink ribbons represents a lot more than a stupid gimmick that prevents players from saving their game, something which I understood the second I picked them up. The framework that the ink ribbons crafted was ripe for scares, in a way that Silent Hill approached in a different way. Ascending the importance of both the scarce ammo and health restoration items, limiting saves was the best move that the original Resident Evil could have done. It made players strategize their attacks on the mansion, fear every encounter with the garden variety zombie, and contemplate every use of a save they have. Because if they screw up, they can't restore their save and try again. It led to the exploration conundrum: "Should I explore and run into enemies and scares to find more crucial items? Or should I press on and try to tough it out and play it safe as long as I can?" which is a favorite of mine in horror. Unfortunately, Resident Evil doesn't succeed 100% in this, as you're going to explore almost every room anyway, but it still does a heck of a job doing so. Along with setting the framing device for the gameplay for one of my favorite game genres of all time, Resident Evil actually reminds me most of Luigi's Mansion of all things. Not just in face value, either. The main characters come across a mansion full of a colorful variety of monsters, environments, and areas to come back to and unlock, and there's many crevices to explore. The entire experience felt so much like Luigi's Mansion, that I dubbed Resident Evil "Luigi's Mansion, but replace the colorful cast of ghosts and charm with zombies, strict resource management, and plenty of cheese." Exploring the mansion was always rewarding and fun, and finding a new key filled me with excitement as I ran across the halls like a giggling school girl trying to find the new rooms I've unlocked. In addition to this, the main objective of Resident Evil was to have as much fun as you can, which Luigi's Mansion does extremely well (To be fair, Nintendo games are full of this). As for the cheesiness... There's not much else to say. I mean, what else can you add on top of the infamous Jill Sandwich scene?! Every line of the game is written in ironic comedic gold, as if the localization team had only a vague idea of what humans were and used The Room as their thesis on human interaction. Every character has atrocious voice acting to accompany their hammy dialogue, which leads to several highly entertaining sequences especially involving the primary use of rope. Another hilarious exchange revolved around a missing character, who was found by the playable character in the middle of the game. The exchange went like: "Holy cow, you're still alive!" "Yupp." "We were looking all over for you, where have you been?" "Be safe around here. Good bye" *leaves* No mention of where they were going or why they were gone, just poof. It kinda makes sense at the end of the game, but the fact that no one bothered to think about it worries me. Interacting with the enviornment is also incredibly cryptic à la Zelda 2, as interacting with a locked door will tell you something along the lines of "A shield". Wait, what? A shield of what? As for the environments and enemy designs, they're fantastic. Every room has different things to offer and all of the rooms are coherent in terms of "zombie riddled mansion that may or may not be evil". There's no random out of place snow area or a random rule breaking minigame. The logic that the environment sets is coherent and the depths that it goes to leads to very entertaining scenarios (like fighting a killer shark in a flooded basement or a plant that grew a mind of its own and conquered an entire shed). The player is almost always given several options to solve a particular boss, which was always fun trying to find the solution that fit you the best. Unfortunately, the extent of options did not spread to puzzles, which would have been neat to be given the option to solve a puzzle by shooting in addition to pushing blocks around. At the end of the day, I can't help but love Resident Evil. I literally can not understand how anyone could have found it scary at any point in time, but the experience was too much of a mindblowing good time to not leave from it happy. I actually prefer it to the original Silent Hill (which I found relatively spooky, like a pretty alright piece of creepypasta), but comparing the two series leaves something to be desired. The two approaches horror in different ways, and while only one succeeds in being scary, I can't say the other doesn't succeed in being amusing in how it fails in an adorable way. Like a baby wearing a traffic cone on his head. You go "Awwww, babies aren't supposed to do that!" and keep a watchful eye on them so they don't try to stick the cone up their nose. Which looking at RE5 now, I'm afraid we're too late.
  9. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Anna

    Developer: Dreampainters Publisher: Dreampainters Platform: PC Release Date: Out now ESRB: N/A (Teen suggested) It takes a lot of work to make a good horror game. Many times, people try and fail to varying degrees. Sometimes it's the controls or voice acting, and other times it's that they just aren't scary. Other games take elements from horror and mix it into a more interesting narrative. Anna is one such game that attempts this. Although most people wouldn't consider it a plain "horror" game, as there are no stalking enemies or even much that can do harm to you, it still forces a nightmarish atmosphere onto you. So then, what exactly is Anna and how is it? Anna is an adventure game of the point and click variety, although you can move your character around the 3D environment too. The game starts off as the protagonist reaches a rustic looking house. He's been called there to meet someone. This simple setup might make you think about some other games, but beyond the intro, things definitely take more interesting turns. At the start, the story is rather clouded and you know you're missing out on parts. Only as you continue to work your way through puzzles will the story become clearer, and stranger. Anna is a game with a really powerful method of storytelling. For one, there are two stories happening as you play. There is one about a woman named Anna but also about the protagonist who is searching through a house. Is everything all right with him? Why is he there? It's certainly not as creative as storytelling can go, but it's neat to have more than one thing to focus on. As the "background" story segments only happen from time to time, the rest of the game you get to wonder about the character you're playing as. The main concept behind the game is one which will change depending on your choices. There are no real clear cut decisions, minus at the end, but the game attempts to profile you all the same. Are you willing to go along with everything and descend deeper and deeper into the strange occurrences in the home? Or are you intent on keeping your head on straight and working something out? Depending on how you proceed you will work toward one of the game's three endings. These each factor in your choices to give you interesting finales. It's quite fearsome to realize you've taken something "too far" and can no longer go back. The stories are helped by the incredible design of the game's world and things that occur within it. Developer Dreampainters seems to have a strong grasp on what makes things unnerving, creepy, or downright terrifying. At the start of the game, you are outside a sawmill and everything is bright and gorgeous. Only as you continue in though does the game become more claustrophobic, dark, and just plain strange. Taking the game from bright and almost cheerful to what it becomes by the climax is excellent. Beyond that, the sound design also fits well. You'll rarely hear any loud sounds, just lots of ambient noise meant to creep you out. At times, it really does get to you (especially if you've got headphones on). For all that's great about Anna's design though, there is the fact that the gameplay itself leaves something to be desired. Although there are hints you may enable, some puzzles are weird. No, there's nothing really truly difficult about them but figuring out what the game wants you to do can take a while. This is the biggest issue with the game by far, as I and others found ourselves struggling at various puzzle points for fair amounts of time. The game does include hints which can be enabled but they tend to say things that you already knew were the case. For example, it's plain to see a broken oven and assume the game wants you to fix it. But how do you do it? The game will always leave out the explicit items needed to do something and many times that's the one thing you can't figure out. While much of the game's puzzles are easy enough to work out with a little exploration, there were still a handful like described above. They aren't tough to make happen by any means, but the game just leaves things a little too open ended. Even as an adventure fan I sometimes felt annoyed by being unable to progress due to one puzzle. Those who aren't massive fans of adventure or horror games might not even be able to drum up enough interest to proceed after a few hangups. It's a bit odd how most of the game has rather obvious puzzles but then also these sticking points. If they weren't there, or if the hints were better, then this whole issue could be solved. It's a shame that some puzzles are weirdly annoying, although they probably won't be the same ones for everyone. Certain puzzles raised as troublesome by others were ones I breezed through before getting stuck on others. There are probably a few gamers who will be able to breeze through them all, but it seems more likely that everyone will have a couple tough ones. Unfortunately, any frustration (especially prolonged) takes away from the foreboding atmosphere and experience of the game itself. When progressing, I found things incredibly eerie and really fell into the world. But as soon as a tough puzzle popped up, the mood was lost. Taking in everything, Anna is capable of being an interesting narrative with a truly tense atmosphere. If you manage to get hung up a lot though then it will probably seem like a terrible adventure game. Because of this, it's hard to recommend the game for everyone. It seems like something best suited for a very specific crowd - those who adore adventure games. That, and those interested in psychological horror stories. Even though there's nothing outright monstrous in the game, it still feels like it fits into the category of horror. Both adventure fans and horror fans should be accustomed to good, but flawed titles, which is where my recommendation comes from. Since the game initially launched, it quickly received a patch to address the most common game issues. It did things like help certain events trigger more regularly, but also attempted to remedy some more core gameplay problems. For one, the mouse initially was far too sensitive on any setting. This really was the biggest problem with the game (in my eyes) because it made it incredibly frustrating to play. The sensitivity has since been altered, and works better now, but is still a bit troublesome. It's also strange how it goes one speed in game and another speed when in the inventory or menu. You'll get used to it, but really shouldn't have to. Perhaps this will be remedied with another patch later. Others may find something to like with Anna too. It certainly offers a neat little experience (lasting 3-7 hours depending on how well you complete puzzles). Then, of course, are the multiple endings which are pretty neat themselves. The price point is fair at $10 for what you're getting. If it seems like an interesting game then give it a look. You may find yourself liking it a lot despite its flaws. Pros: + Great ability to lure gamers into an increasingly tense atmosphere + Excellent sound design for both effects and music + Three divergent and satisfying endings Cons: - Getting stuck on puzzles detracts from atmosphere and is a pain - Things like mouse sensitivity could still use a tune up Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good If the review didn't scare you off and you're looking for a different kind of horror game then give Anna a try.
  10. Marcus Estrada

    Anna Sawmill Main Room 2

    From the album: Review Images

  11. Marcus Estrada

    Anna Sawmill Exterior

    From the album: Review Images

  12. Marcus Estrada

    Anna Sawmill Main Room

    From the album: Review Images

  13. While everyone seems to focus on Capcom's Resident Evil series when it comes to horror, there are still other games in the genre from the company. One game from them that was very much overlooked for the PlayStation 2 is Haunting Ground. And out of seemingly nowhere, it will be making its appearance on the PlayStation 3 sometime in the near future. The ESRB has given a rating for Haunting Ground for the PS3, most likely meaning it will be an HD re-release or PS2 classic on PSN. Capcom has not yet mentioned exactly which one it will be. For those unaware of what Haunting Ground is about, it's the story of a girl named Fiona who is trapped in an eerie castle after being in a car accident. With the loyal German Shepherd, Hewie, by her side, they must escape from the castle's inhabitants -- who all seem to want something from Fiona. Even on the PS2, Haunting Ground features graphics that are, in my opinion, even better than the graphics of some games of this generation. It should be a real treat to see how they fare on the PS3! Have you ever played Haunting Ground? Are you interested in getting a PSN download of it?
  14. Marcus Estrada

    Lone Survivor Dream

    From the album: Review Images

  15. Marcus Estrada

    Lone Survivor Meat Locker

    From the album: Review Images

  16. Marcus Estrada

    Lone Survivor Map

    From the album: Review Images

  17. Marcus Estrada

    The Amityville Horror poster

    From the album: Marcus's Album