Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Montague’s Mount Review

Montague's Mount Featured

Montague's Mount Boxart

Developer: PolyPusher Studios
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Direct, GamersGate, Get Games, GOG*

Montague’s Mount is a game that reveals very little about itself when you begin. As the story starts, your character simply wakes up on a dark and dreary beach. There are pieces of wood scattered around and it seems as if you once had a boat and ended up here. The character hobbles – perhaps his leg was injured in the accident? His coughs also echo in the quiet air which makes it seem that this guy is in a lot of trouble washing up in a strange place. You find a walking stick, and then proceed. That’s all the introduction player or character receives.

This is an excellent start to a game which, unfortunately, cannot live up to its own expectations. It sure tries though. Everything about the game attempts to push a dark and mysterious atmosphere, from the mostly monochrome visuals to the sometimes eerie ambient sounds. The story is also told in small snippets, and objects are named in the Irish language Gaeilge. This all sets up a superb “feeling” for Montague’s Mount but none of this can protect against dull gameplay.

Wandering through this isolated island is ponderous. The lead character is purposefully slow and so is his interactions with everything around him. At one point, a bridge is lowered, but it creeps down at a horrendous pace. Really, this characterizes much of the game where puzzles are resolved in equally snail-like fashion. Slow events could increase tension if there were anything to fear, but that’s not the case here either. Instead, everything is monotonously paced without a good reason.

Montague's Mount Featured

Exploration is the main goal and you’ll be doing a lot of it. Players basically have to examine every object, because it’s never known what might be useful. Only necessary items can be picked up, which is convenient. There still happens to be a ton of clutter though which is fairly annoying to comb through. But if you ever lessen your extreme attention to detail then needed objects will be overlooked, only forcing you to comb through an area or two again. Whenever a game demands copious item hunts it is annoying, but definitely more so in dark environments. As you might expect, these are plentiful in Montague’s Mount.

Even those who enjoy atmospheric and slow games might find a bigger issue with this one. For some reason, Montague’s Mount has caused me (and some other players as well) to experience definite framerate issues. Without them, I’m certain it would have been easier to tolerate the game, but the common 20 FPS or so really made other issues readily apparent. Some have reported no hitches when playing, but there doesn’t appear to be a demo to test out first.

To me, Montague’s Mount is a game that seriously could have been great but has turned out to be a very flawed creation. Puzzles usually only require fetching an item and using it, but that is hardly compelling gameplay. Of course, when finding some items can be difficult it just serves to annoy rather than immerse anyone into the world. Of course, the technical issues I encountered made it a nearly unbearable gameplay experience. It’s really sad to see a game with such promise end up this way, but they can’t all be winners.

Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate link

Eleusis Review

Eleusis Featured

Eleusis Boxart

Developer: Nocturnal works
Publisher: Nocturnal works
Platform: PC – DesuraDirect, GamersGateSteam

If you’re anything like me, then Eleusis might strike you as an odd name. The game itself (judging by just screenshots) could also seem to be like any number of other horror games out there. However, these initial assessments sell the game short. It is nothing like the world of Slender copycats nor Amnesia. It takes a very different path, even if they all share a few gameplay elements in common.

In Eleusis, you’re given a very basic setup. After receiving a letter to visit your mother, your journey is stopped by a rock slide on the only road. Having your car stuck in the middle of the night is quite an unfortunate situation, thankfully, you find a town nearby and hope someone there can help you. The only problem is the town seems completely abandoned… Until you hear a scream.

While playing it was hard to shake the feeling that this felt far more like a classic adventure game than modern jump scare horror. Yes, it has attractive and ominous graphics, but the gameplay doesn’t necessarily tread far from old roots. What this means is that puzzles mainly consist of finding the right objects and using them when needed. Oftentimes, there are keys hidden which unlock the doors you need to head through. This is all pretty simple, at least, although finding objects can often be difficult.

Eleusis Featured

The difficulty stems from the fact that there’s just a lot of stuff the player can interact with. About 80% of it is useless, but the other 20% will be items worth investigating or provide objects necessary to finish the game. If you ever skip something, you can go back and find it, but it might take a while considering there are a lot of places to look. Wandering too often gets annoying so try to keep you eyes peeled throughout the duration of Eleusis.

So what is that differentiates this game from the pack? Primarily, it’s due to a focus more on discovery rather than running and hiding all the time. However, another neat aspect of the game (and its plot) is revealed by the title. Eleusis is the name of a town in Greece where the “Eleusinian Mysteries” took place. This was a yearly ceremony instigated by a cult and, well, if you research it a little you’ll see the parallels between these ancient ceremonies and the game.

Mainly, the only issues lie with the title being short-ish and a bit of an item hunt. Beyond that, Eleusis is a creepy adventure game that pulls from a very interesting facet of ancient Greek history. This is a game best for those who are tired of playing copycat, half-finished horror titles which keep getting published.

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Early Access Preview: The Dead Linger

The Dead Linger Preview Featured

The Dead Linger Preview Boxart

Developer: Sandswept Studios
Publisher: Sandswept Studios
Platform: PC (Steam)

If there’s one trend that has been seeing major success over the last few years it is wedging zombies into every game humanly possible. From adding zombies into a special mode of Call of Duty to having zombies fight against gardens in Plants vs. Zombies, we’ve seen them become quite the stale enemy type. With upcoming games such as The Dead Linger though it is obvious that some companies want to make zombies back into the fearful creatures they used to be known as.

The Dead Linger is a game that is currently in alpha and available through Steam Early Access. It has been in progress for months now but just came to Steam in late September after a huge shift to the Unity engine. Because of this, it appears that updates to gameplay have been relatively minimal but are about to pick up speed again. Thus far, they have stuck to their commitment of bringing out new updates every two weeks. This preview is based on Build 10 (hotfix 10g).

Despite all these updates and fixes, there is still tons lacking from the game. Considering this is not even a beta yet it does make sense, but will likely turn off those who aren’t aware of what the term “alpha” really means. This is already evidenced by some comments on the Steam Community forums. Of course, the game is currently being sold at a higher than usual price of $20 makes some of their anger understandable.

The Dead Linger Preview Featured

How does The Dead Linger play if you were to buy it right now? As it stands, there is a ton of work that obviously still needs to be done. You are thrust into a large map in either single or multiplayer and then must go around scavenging for food and weapons, finding suitable buildings to hunker down in, and possibly interacting with other players. With that said, none of these mechanics are fully fleshed out yet. You can find food and eat it, but weapons are a whole different story. Whether you’re equipped with a plunger or rifle in multiplayer you won’t be able to damage zombies! They just stand there (sometimes gliding around with no leg movement) and gnash their teeth at you.

This is a really unfortunate issue because they do fight in single player. But with them completely harmless in multiplayer there is currently no reason to even play that mode. When checking out a server myself, I saw people just standing around or sometimes chatting. There just isn’t any reason to scavenge to survive when there’s no threat! Once the zombies are reanimated in a future update then they’ll have a much more presentable game project.

Although the game doesn’t look fantastic currently there are various players who have complained about framerate issues. It seems the best fix at the moment is turning down/off grass but this is likely a silly issue in development that can be resolved. After all, in the case that zombies do end up chasing you, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is a game suddenly running slow. As for the overall experience, there are many times the game crashed or caused other odd issues. This is expected of an alpha product and will hopefully be smoothed out through the beta.

The Dead Linger Preview Screenshot

So far, Sandswept Studios have shown that they have many great goals for The Dead Linger. This is apparent by checking out their development roadmap. It is absolutely filled with neat-sounding (but currently un-implemented) features. They want their zombie simulation to be as realistic as possible which is why they are currently working on various systems related to character stamina, health, infection level, and hunger. Of course, many gameplay improvements are also in the works related to functionality of various gun or melee types as well as interactive vehicles.

Jumping into The Dead Linger in its current state is not suggested for the average gamer. After all, you are not paying for a fully released product but something still working itself into a playable form. The main reason to buy now is to support independent developers such as Sandswept Studios. That, and, buying now is $10 cheaper than buying once the final version is ready. There’s no guarantee with purchase that the game will ever be exactly what you want it to be, but the developers definitely have some great ideas in mind. We’ll have to wait and see if they can live up to their own goals.

Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut Review

Lone Survivor: The Director's Cut Featured

Lone Survivor Boxart

Developer: Superflat Games
Publisher: Curve Studios
Platform: PS3 (Reviewed), Vita

When Lone Survivor originally came out last year on PC I was simply enamored with it. Everything seemed pitch perfect and developer Jasper Byrne, who makes no secret of his affection for Silent Hill, seemed to manage something of equal quality. At least, that’s how I felt at the time. Incredibly, a year can do a lot – such as exposing me to even more modern indie horror experiences. Now that I’ve returned to an updated version does it still hold that same intense appeal? Somehow, it seems my stance has changed. No longer am I simply overwhelmed by the subtle story, visuals, and music. I have become more critical on my second time through.

For those fresh to Lone Survivor, the game focuses around a man who believes himself to be the “lone survivor” of an epidemic. Now, the world is plunged into darkness with creepy monsters wandering around. As it turns out, he is not the only human left but those he meet all seem to have issues of their own – if they’re even real. As you explore, hints of the story are peppered throughout, leading the player to question what is real and what is simply a projection of the protagonist’s mind.

Lone Survivor: The Director's Cut Screenshot 1

Gameplay plunges right into survival horror’s past to provide an experience that forces you to be very careful with your character’s health. It takes only a few scratches or bites to kill him. As such, you definitely want to avoid enemies whenever possible. This is doable by purposefully placed hiding spots. When utilized properly, you can sneak right by creatures safely. In the beginning, these moments are tense. However, during the second main area of the game there are very few hiding spots to be found. This is not the end game, either! It causes you to have to fight but unfortunately you have to fight a lot.

Of course, just like retro horror games, you aren’t meant to be shooting all the time. Because of this, there are only limited bullets, flares, and the like to aid you in battles (for about half the game). The scarce resources are an issue because of the strange difficulty increase within this large area! Players must shoot with incredible care so as not to waste bullets. It’s true that you can use pills to regain items but these may change the ending received. If I were designing the game, I would reduce enemy encounters tremendously because having them so frequently causes more frustration than fear.

Along these lines of restricted ammo there are also a fairly small amount of food items (again, until a certain point later on). Food is necessary because the survivor needs sustenance regularly. He’ll even stop the game to share the state of his hungry stomach with the player. The intent is cool, but it also becomes a bit annoying if you get into fights too often. Damage can be healed by food, but even if you’re not damaged, you’ll still become hungry. Eating better food allows a longer time between eating but still not as much as might be expected.

Lone Survivor: The Director's Cut Featured

Finally, the coup de grace of classic horror is the requirement of saving in a specific way. You must venture back home and sleep in bed to save. Thankfully, saving is unlimited. How can you always get back? There are mirrors which act as warp points throughout the world. It’s a smart design for an overall archaic mechanic. It seems the point of deliberate saving at the bed serves the story, but it would make things a little less frustrating to be able to save at any time. Yes, it’s scary to know you’ve not saved in a while but that becomes annoying when you end up getting killed long after a save.

Even with all these qualms, the rest of Lone Survivor manages to shine. The pixel art looks fantastically crisp on a large TV set as well as on Vita’s OLED screen. Atmosphere was very carefully rendered to keep the game looking creepy, even if gameplay sometimes hinders it. The music itself is as fantastic as ever with a multitude of tracks that seem to hearken back to Akira Yamaoka’s Silent Hill soundtracks. Of course, there are even references back to Silent Hill 2, which certainly made me smile.

Lone Survivor: The Director's Cut Screenshot 2

What exactly about Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut is so different from before? For Vita, there are added touch features and PS3 has rumble support. Neither are necessary, but hey. The meatier changes focus on new tracks, areas, side quests, and two new endings. Most of this content is locked behind New Game + though, making it so that everyone will first experience Lone Survivor as it was originally intended. All this added content came at Sony’s request and will eventually make its way back to PC as well.

So when it comes right down to it, Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut is certainly the definitive edition of the game. However, it has a handful of issues that keep it from being a purely scary experience. Frustration induced by too many enemies, the survivor’s empty stomach, and losing a fair bit of progress to saves, are the main ones. There is also one extended chase scene which is seriously rage inducing to play on Vita as the pause button is in an awkward location (have never liked the Start/Select buttons on the handheld). Still, those who have not played it may still want to give the game a chance. Just be sure to heed my warning: Conserve your resources, save at every possible juncture, and still be prepared for a tough run!

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Doorways: Chapter 1 & 2 Review

Doorways Featured

Doorways Boxart

Developer: Saibot Studios
Publisher: Saibot Studios
Platform: PC (Desura, Steam)

In the past year or so, it seems that many indie developers have been doing nothing more than riding off the successful formula of Slender. Although the Slender Man mythos itself follows a whole host of “serial stalker” tropes to begin with, many developers have latched onto the design as if it were the only way to make a horror title. Of course, it’s not, and we have a whole history of games within the genre to prove it. I say all this because Doorways does not follow that safe (and frankly, tiring) path and instead charts its own course toward creepiness.

Read more »

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Review

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Featured

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Boxart

Developer: The Chinese Room
Publisher: Frictional Games
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

In my opinion, Amnesia: The Dark Descent spurred a resurgence in horror games when it launched in 2010. There had been games where you were weaponless and pursued by monstrous beings before, but this one hit it big. Frictional Games became far more well known than they had been with their entire Penumbra series and we still see the results of Amnesia’s popularity today.

Read more »

Outlast Review

Outlast Featured

Outlast Cover

Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels
Platform: PC

 Having been a long time horror fan, I have long since developed specific tastes and requisites or what I think makes a “good” horror game. Of course, it is worth recognizing that games I do not find scary can still be great, or at least, appreciated by others. A game in the horror genre can be a lot of things, although scary is preferred. It just seems hard to come across one that I’d feel comfortable suggesting is actually terrifying. Is Outlast the game to do it?

Read more »