Horror is becoming an ever more present genre as of the last few years. With the rise of indie made games, the availability of new platforms and communications, there are a plethora of horror games out there that are available for little or nothing.
However, even in the indie world and in the world of horror in general, it is very easy to miss some of the glimmering gems that wait in the shadows. That is why we are here today - to discuss a few of my personal favorites.
This unassuming pixel game is all about a girl with blood red eyes named Ib taking a visit to an art museum. Terrifying, no? It sounds rather silly, especially when taken in the context of a retro style game. However, when the art begins to come to life and you are trapped in a world of danger, incredible visuals and mystery, that all goes out the window very quickly. Much like the bizarre Yume Nikki, this is a piece of Japanese horror candy that no fan should miss.
If retro pixel games seem underrated, how about a game that is a Half Life mod? That's right - Cry of Fear is a horror game that is nothing but one super mod from the Half Life engine. Despite how underwhelming that might sound, it doesn't take long before the player becomes just as frightened and confused as the main protagonist. The monsters are straight out of Silent Hill and will spawn and run at you mercilessly. You have a limited inventory and have to rely solely on wit and strategy amongst a city gone to Hell. A lot of love went into this mod and I recommend it highly.
I've talked about this game to death so I will keep it short. White Day is all about romance gone awry in a twisted, blood-soaked school filled to the brim with ghosts, mysteries and a murderous janitor ready to bash your skull in. This is the game that was so frightening they had to release patches in order for anyone to complete it. The point is, if you are looking for a gem, you can find White Day for free on IndieDB having been modded and translated into English. It's a treasure hunt worth the excavation.
If you've ever wanted to play the game version of the ring then you might be dissapointed - until you played this game. Nanashi No Game was an exeptionally well hidden game that was only available in Japan. Surprisingly developed by Square Enix, the DS game is all about students who die within a certain time of playing a supposedly haunted game.
Turns out Capcom dipped into horror beyond Resident Evil. In fact, they made something very closely resembling Clock Tower meets Amnesia, with all the joys of murder, rape, cannibalism and countless other fun filled times for your innocent young woman and her loyal canine. Trapped in a manor with some amazingly unnerving freaks, you have to sneak and hide from them lest you go completely insane and get captured. The monsters and the tension steal the show of this game, especially Daniella. I don't want to spoil any of it however. If you can find a copy, give it a play. It's definitely rare nowadays.
Ah, point and click horror. You see it used from time to time these days and it is largely for jump scares. This older PC game used it to let you explore a world gone mad, where deformities, conspiracies and all sorts of awful things ran jovially around you. The environment in this game is unnerving. In fact, every single thing about this game is unnerving. So many disturbing little easter eggs and secrets are hidden through out that you'll find yourself dreading creeping any deeper.
Oh, but you simply must.
What's more terrifying than pale women with black hair in white dresses? Babies. Children in any horror game are almost always pure evil and there is something about babies that makes it ten times worse (reference PT). In Baby Blues, the tension is near immediate and so is the threat. You'll find yourself wandering a weird environment where everything is just a little, tiny bit off. This game is very much like Among The Sleep on steroids - you don't even have a creepy teddy to help!
Oh, this game is a pun within a pun for this article. ObScure is, oddly enough, a game you don't hear talked about a lot. It is all about a high school that, almost at random, becomes infested with monsters. You get your titular "heroes" and have to go about and piece together both what is going on and how to survive - neither of which is ever simple. ObScure feels like a callback to early Resident Evil, in a way. The monsters vary from insanely fast to slow and lumbering and you really do have to explore and strategize if you want to survive. Overall, this twinkling ruby is one that needs dusting off.
This is an interesting game. It is one game that tries, and succeeds, to get into your head from a very early setting. Even mentioning one thing that happens will cause confusion: "sex sounds accompanying chainsaws". Yes. Do try and figure that one out. Regardless, The Path is an interesting and rattlng psychologic horror. It creeps under the skin in ways that many other games can't, not relying as much on jump scares to have you shaking. It is very much like I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, in that regard.
A blast from the past - all the way back to the original Famicom! Sweet Home goes full retro with its RPG elements and pixelated style, but that hasn't lessened its horror value. Disturbing, violent and very upfront about its horror, Sweet Home is a reminder that horror games have been lurking around for as long as ways to play them have existed. Finding this old beauty in English may be a bit of a challenge but if you are reading this then I am certain you have come looking for a map to get started.
Do you have some hidden gems of your own? Tell us all about it in the comments below so we can check them out!