Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Dead by Daylight - Michael Myers returns for Halloween

Ah, Dead by Daylight... Sadly, it's been a while. Not by choice, mind you. I was still very much enamoured by the game when my Internet connection decided it would just plain stop. Now I'll have to find a way to return, because on Halloween comes an extremely important update; the inclusion of the game's first licensed killer, Michael Myers.

That's right. Michael Myers, from the beloved Halloween series, is coming to Dead by Daylight, along with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as a brand new survivor, and a map set in the sleepy little town of Haddonfield. But how will Michael play as a killer? According to 1428 Elm, a game journalism site:

"Michael Myers... comes with his own “ultimate stalker” style, growing his power from watching his victims until he becomes “evil incarnate”. The Haddonfield map, featuring a well-lit street with houses to scavenge, is also fresh to the game."

Fish Without Chips, a YouTuber, managed to get their hands on this new map already and has shown how it looks with one of the existing killers:

Just in case you're not really sure what Dead by Daylight actually is, or why you should feel as excited as you do, the game is an asymmetric multiplayer in which one killer (of varying backgrounds, aesthetics and abilities) hunts down four survivors (again, all with their own styles and skills). The survivors try to escape procedurally-generated maps by fixing generators and opening doors, while the killer uses their traps and wits to track them down and kill them. It's one hell of a good time. 

So good, in fact, that I also wrote a Top 3 tips to survive article a little while back. Check it out if you're planning on returning to, or joining, the fearful ranks of Dead by Daylight as a result of the Halloween update. Incidentally, it'll be arriving on Halloween. If you already own the game, new abilities introduced in the DLC will be free, but for the new killer and survivor there will be a cost that hasn't yet been revealed.

Dead by Daylight is on Steam for £14.99 ($19.99) and the Halloween DLC will be launching on Halloween. That's a Halloween treat that you don't even have to leave the house for.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Friday the 13th: The Game - Single player added (and delays)

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I've been re-watching all of the Friday the 13th films (and sharing trivia while I do so). Halloween may  be close, but my main influence for doing so was all of the recent news on Friday the 13th: The Game. Just in case you've been hiding under a bed inside a cabin and missed it, here it is.
Friday the 13th: The Game has been delayed. Now, before you start throwing a tantrum - which I'd completely understand - there's a few reasons why it's actually a good thing.

Firstly, and most importantly, Gun Media and IllFonic are working on a Single Player mode. See? Told you it was good. This mode was originally only going to be possible if the crowdfunding stretch goal was reached, but the team have managed to find a way to add the feature within the budget they have (which, to be fair, is sizeable). Little is known on the details of this mode, but we do know that it means the game's release date has been pushed from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017. 
Personally, I'm more than happy to wait if it means I'm getting more content for the same price (since I was one of the backers), and the PC beta is planned for Fall 2016 so we'll still get to don the iconic hockey mask this year. That is, if you've backed or pre-ordered the game before then. 
As an added bonus, those that receive beta access will also receive four extra beta keys for their friends. Since I have no friends outside of Twitter actually interested in horror, that means you guys. I'll probably hold a giveaway when the codes are sent. Keep your eyes peeled.

The team also announced a new playable character — one that has had a big impact on the franchise; Tommy Jarvis. They haven't yet clarified which Tommy Jarvis this will be, as he first appears as a child, and is later played by two different actors, but we do know that "he'll return ready for battle." In addition, Packanack Lodge, the setting of Friday the 13th: Part 2 has been revealed as the third playable map in multiplayer. The other two maps are Camp Crystal Lake itself and Higgins Haven (Part 3).
As a result of the delay, the team shared the new timings for beta, multiplayer and single player release. "The release schedule is roughly as follows: 
  • Fall 2016: Beta Release
  • Spring 2017: Multiplayer Release with Tommy Jarvis and Packanack Lodge as the third playable map 
  • Summer 2017: Single Player Release and Offline AI Bots
I'm hoping that the beta itself will last for the rest of the year once released, giving the team lots of quality testing/feedback, and giving the rest of us a distraction until the full multiplayer release in Spring of 2017. Only time will tell.

Speaking of time, Wes Keltner, the studio head and co-creator of Gun Media, issued a statement about the positives that the delay will bring:

"The first thing people are going to read here is 'delay'. We want everyone to be assured that coming to our decision to delay was no easy matter, but we believe that the positives far outweigh the negatives. We've been reading day in and day out on our social media feeds that single player and Tommy Jarvis were in such a demand that we couldn't ignore our fans. After securing funding, we're here to tell you that it is a reality and we're making this game even bigger. It sucks that there's a delay, but the wait won't be too long and it's going to offer more for fans in the long-run!"

Other than the release date itself, the single player mode also affects the price of Friday the 13th: The Game (for those that didn't back or pre-order the game before the announcement). The digital version is being bumped up from $30 to $40 (approx. £30), while the physical copy is staying at $60 (approx. £50). 

Alongside this, the team stated that:

"We believe that digital prices should include a savings for those that purchase them, and those that want to hold a physical copy in their hands can pay more for it, since it costs more to produce, manufacture and distribute. It's logical and we at Gun Media scratch our heads when we see digital pricing for games that matches the physical pricing." Well said.

Excited? Upset? Saw the delay coming? Either way, let's make sure you're on the hype train for Friday the 13th: The Game by watching some of the more recent footage; multiple kills, a close-up teaser of Jason at Higgins Haven and even pre-alpha gameplay:

Kills montage:

Jason in Higgins Haven:

Pre-alpha gameplay footage:

As an added bonus, here's CharminEXSoft discussing the gameplay footage after an interview with Keltner, which offered up more information about Jason's abilities:

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Final Station - Review

Feel like riding the rails through a stunning, yet rotting, world of shady governments and the undead? Well, that's your mission, and it may be humanity's last hope. All aboard for The Final Station, a side-scrolling, cross-country pixel-horror developed by Do My Best Games and published by tinyBuild Games. There will be no hot drinks or snacks served on this service. 

What there will be, however, is a thought-provoking combination of music and pixel-art. The soundtrack, composed by Geoff Hart-Jones, first grabs hold in the title screen and doesn't let go until the credits roll. (You can check out his work on Soundcloud, or chat with him on Facebook and Twitter.) Pair this with TFS' pixel-art — which is perfect for showing the beauty of the surviving world, the horrors within it, and the untold stories of its inhabitants  — and you have a gripping experience that goes much further than its familiar gameplay structure would make you think.

In essence, TFS has two main sections of gameplay; managing a train and its passengers, and exploring stations and towns in search of survivors, supplies and blocker codes. The latter is the only way to progress from one station to the next.

The train management sections are similar to Faster Than Light, albeit a much stripped back version. In these you keep an eye on your passengers' health and hunger stats and feed or heal them when the time arises. If the time arises. Supplies are hard to find, and the reward that passenger's safe journey may bring you (normally money or ammo), may not be worth taking a precious medi-kit from your own inventory. The choice is yours. Keeping them alive does nurture some interesting conversations, though, which give fleeting insight into the decaying state of the often beautiful world that you're steaming through.

While doing that, the train has a few issues of its own. A few different systems around the train tend to break, and to fix them and keep power flowing through the carriages, mini games need to be completed. For the most part, these are extremely easy, but on the occasion that you have a train full of hungry, bleeding passengers, it can be a nice challenge to juggle the tasks. 

Occasionally there'll be a notification directing you to the front of the train. When this happens, someone working somewhere along the rails wants to talk. These conversations are short, but left me with snapshots into what others were going through. It gave me a tip-of-an-iceberg feeling that only made me feel more entrenched into the world of TFS.

When you reach a station, the second part of gameplay takes over. You're on foot, armed with a pistol, shotgun, or machine-gun, and you're tasked with exploring a town or station to find the code for the blocker that's stopping the train in its tracks, quite literally. 

Either you'll find a town full of people, conversations, shops and hints of a shady government working beneath it all, or you'll find silent stations full of '​them'. In The Final Station'they' are zombies.

Zombies are represented as two eyes in a silhouette, but those silhouettes come in a number of different shapes and sizes. A 'regular' build is your average Romero zombie; Slow moving, downed with one shot to the head, but dangerous in numbers. If that was all TFS would be a walk — or train journey — in the park.

Gradually introduced throughout the game are smaller zombies, built for speed; taller zombies, built for defense and power; and armoured zombies, who can only be killed with a headshot once their helmets have been knocked off. There's also a couple more, but I won't spoil them because then they might not surprise you like they did me. 

And you will be surprised, I'm sure. Only by opening a door will you be shown what is waiting inside. It could be food, ammo, money, but it could also be a horde of 'them'. Depending on how many of them there are, it can be better to run than use up what's left of your ammo. Another option is punching your way through. Punching works best on less energetic varieties, but is often the only way to thin a herd without running out of bullets.

Then, when you've searched almost everywhere, there'll be a note on the wall. This will probably be the blocker code, a four-digit code that lets the train pass. My favourite thing about these blocker codes and DMB Games' level design is that once I found the code, I knew that I'd seen all there was to see. More often than not, there was then a very clear path back to the train that didn't involve backtracking. I never felt like I'd missed anything, and I left each town or station feeling like all loose ends were tied up. It was a consistent sense of satisfaction.

Consistence is another thing that TFS does well. The game follows this train management to station exploration tag-team throughout and rather than becoming monotonous, it feels right. The developers found a structure that seemed to work, and they stuck to it. Thanks to this consistence I was able to take the time to appreciate the beauty and unrest of the world.

In towns, trains were being cancelled leaving people with nowhere to go, and others were in hiding, either at their church or deep underground with a shotgun held to their chest. All the time, an overly aggressive police force watched over them, begging somebody to step out of line. Each town was full of hidden people and moments that pieced together a world that, ironically, was falling apart.

Then, on the train, the backdrops were often as gorgeous as they were haunting. Snowy mountains, towering cities, a silent lake house, followed by the occasional gas canister or graffiti: "The Guardian will save us."

I never really found out what The Guardian was, though I know I helped to transport parts for it, but I'm okay with that. A lot of TFS' stories are hidden in shadows and only see light when completed in your own mind, so it feels right that humanity's last hope and its results are equally murky. However, some of these mysteries may have been answered without me knowing...

One minor issue I found was that I was unable to read all of the conversations between passengers, due to running up and down the carriages to fix machinery and grab supplies. These conversations felt important to the narrative of the game, but it was impossible to read them all and keep the train running. If I were to miss anything in terms of context or information, it would have been during those conversations. 

Also, in direct contradiction, sometimes I couldn't help but read the conversations because the text boxes covered up tasks that I was trying to complete. It didn't happen often, though it's one to watch out for.

In relation to the tasks, they seem to be isolated to only one machine at a time. Early on when there's little to do between stations it would have been nice for multiple objects to fix, as I found myself twiddling my thumbs. Not that I really minded... The pixel-art scenery rolling past the train is truly mesmerising.

Controller support, which I much prefer and used throughout, was also a little sensitive for aiming. Not a deal-breaker, although I couldn't see any sensitivity settings to tweak, which might have been helpful. As you can see, there's nothing that took me off the rails in terms of negative feedback, and definitely no blockers to my enjoyment.

See that? That's a blocker. It's empty because it didn't block my enjoyment.

Overall, The Final Station is a 5-6 hour journey that you should definitely be taking. You'll travel through a world of beautiful pixel-art scenery, thriving towns of fear, confusion, and shady governments, all of which is broken up nicely by exploring abandoned, zombie-filled train stations complemented by TFS' haunting soundtrack (which you can buy!).

Though the train management sections could take a leaf out of Faster Than Light's difficulty book, and also revealed a few issues in pacing, text overlap and missing dialogue, the game is all the better for its consistent mix between the two types of gameplay. At only £10.99 ($14.99) on Steam, it costs about as much as a train journey and is a hell of a lot more fun. Jump on board before it leaves the station, because who knows when they may arrive.

The Final Station is on PC, PS4 and Xbox One right now, and you can find out more about the game on its website, or by chatting with the developers or publishers on Twitter.

Or you can come at chat to me! (Go on, I have a competition running and you could win Resident Evil HD on PS4 if you enter by Sunday 11th 2016.)

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Stifled - Preview

In case you haven't been listening to the eerie echoes of the indie horror scene, Stifled is the first commercial game in the works from Gattai Games, a Singapore-based studio already on many radars after their student project, Lurking, won 'Best Student Game' (among other awards) at China's Independent Games Festival in 2014. Stifled is considered the spiritual successor to this award-winning game, which had players using echo-location to explore and survive in a world of blackness, and so I was understandably excited when I was offered the chance to preview the game. Here's what I thought.

The demo opens on a car crash — your own, in fact. You take control inside a flipped car and crawl your way out into a pitch-black forest. The only reason the darkness hasn't consumed you already is that your car is on fire. Silver linings, eh? Without any other option, you head off into the true darkness of the forest.

Once inside the blackness, the game's most important feature comes into play; echo-location. After making a noise — by throwing an object, holding down space, or even speaking into the mic — the environment around you is reflected back at you in clean, white lines. It's still pretty easy to see what everything is, and it works well enough for bats, right?

Soon enough you stumble across a metal door leading down into some sort of sewage system. It's the only option. Of course, that's also where horrors await you... After sending out one of many echo-location scans, which has become second nature by this point, something answers your call. Something in the darkness screams out and the black is splashed with angry red. It sounds pained and almost child-like.

Exploring becomes tense from this point onwards. There's a constant balance of wanting to be hidden from the unknown creature, yet wanting, and needing, to see the world around you.

In this respect, Stifled feels almost like a spiritual successor to Dark Echo, which uses a similar method of echo-location (from a top-down perspective) and has entertained and terrified me on many a train journey. However, you don't to actually see the reason for your fear in Dark Echo, and this adds an entirely new layer to Stifled.

Seeing the creature — a writhing, disturbed, humanoid being — evokes memories of The Last of Us and SOMA, which is a massive compliment, if you ask me. In both, you are in danger of being killed by a creature, yet you also wish you could get just a little closer to understand exactly what it is. In both cases, it is not something that was born to kill. It began as human, and was infected. Perhaps this creature is the same. It didn't seem like it wanted to kill, exactly. Maybe it's own human instincts are just "stifled" by some overriding need to murder. That's not just a great pun, I swear. There's something deeper within this creature's aggression and anguish, which I hope to uncover later in the game.

In order to get far enough to uncover this, though, you'll need to make sure that you're playing in a quiet room. With the mic feature on — a great, unique feature — any noise can give away your position and get you killed. All it takes is a friendly "How was your day?" and... dead. If you're expecting other people to be in the same room while playing, I'd highly recommend turning this feature off. You can always switch it on later for the full Stifled experience. What an experience it can be, too. 

At its core are extremely tense cat and mouse scenarios with the creature, throwing rocks and cans as far away as possible to distract it from finding you in the corner you accidentally backed yourself into. This sends it screeching after whatever made the sound. It's an awful, bone-chilling scream, but it's fine as long as it's heading in the opposite direction. 

I had an unbearably tense few minutes of this exact cat and mouse gameplay towards the end of the demo, but then, in the darkness, a light. A welcome one. "Exit." It took a lot of willpower not to go into a full-on sprint to escape, but I managed it... 

A door came into sight, and as it grew nearer, it opened. Inside it, some kind of office. Small, well-kept, full of dark wooden furniture and books. On the desk, a map and a leaflet. My inferior knowledge of geography meant that the map was useless, but the leaflet offered a little more in the way of information. The leaflet was for an orphanage. What could this mean for the full game? Based on previous trailers for Stifled, I think we'll get to explore this orphanage upon release, no doubt long abandoned by everything but creep factors.

Admittedly, within all of this silhouetted tension, there are still a few outlined bugs to squash. The main issue I found, and the only one to actually affect gameplay, was that I would occasionally get stuck in objects or walls. Though I was able to free myself every time, the problem came with the fact that getting stuck caused the protagonist to bounce up and down on the spot. It was as if I'd picked up a megaphone and started broadcasting my location to anything that might have been listening. Uhoh.

My only other feedback was entirely subjective and had no influence on the rest of the demo. Firstly, I thought that the opening scene - as one of the only areas to be shown in the light - could have been been more visually pleasing. Everything looked notably average with muddy textures, and I was glad to head into the clean lines of the darkness. This wasn't reflected in the office, though, which looked much more polished.

Also, there are times when you'll occasionally hear static throughout the demo, and while it's jarring as desired, it sometimes reached volumes that made me feel as if I was being plunged underwater. Too much more and I'd have wanted to switch to speakers for a while, thereby stepping back slightly from the immersive sound design that comes with good horror.

Sure, there's still a little work to do, most notably around getting stuck in objects in the loudest way possible, but there's a lot of potential here for something special. In just a short demo, Stifled combined things I love about a few different games, and created something new of its own. The echo-location I loved from Dark Echo is here, as is the stealth from The Last of Us and SOMA, in addition to the unshakeable feeling that the creature hunting me down is unmistakably human and in pain. That won't stop it from tearing me limb from limb, I'm sure, but it adds another level to the fear. That's what good horror is able to do, and it just may be something that Stifled does extremely well. 

If you have been listening, you may have heard that Stifled was recently Greenlit. Not only that, but the game will be coming to Playstation 4 as a Playstation VR game. It seems like a horrifying match made in heaven, so that only adds to my excitement. While I await Stifled's full release, I'll be bouncing off the walls in more ways than one, hoping that nothing else is listening in. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

3 Tips for Surviving and Slashing in Dead by Daylight

For the last week or so, I've been obsessed with Dead by Daylight, the asymmetric horror multiplayer from Behaviour. One person plays as the Killer, and a team of four people try to survive long enough to escape. I've been spreading my time across both, either as a killer, hunting down my victims and sacrificing them to a supernatural being, or as a survivor, doing my best to fix generators, open doors, and escape. 

Here's my top tips for each side!


Don't run

As tempting as it is to sprint non-stop when the killer is slashing at yours heels, it isn't always the best option. If you've managed to put just a little bit of distance between yourself and the killer - let's say you've jumped through a window or ran round a corner - it can sometimes be much more beneficial to slow things down and crouch. You see, when you run, it leaves behind a trail of red scratches that makes it much easier for the killer to track you. However, if you escape their line of sight and then immediately crouch, it becomes much harder to see which way you ran. This takes some getting used to, but you'll see your survival rate shoot up if you can master it.

Stay close to fellow survivors in need 

If you're a lone wolf, out-for-yourself, doesn't-look-back-when-the-exit-is-open kind of survivor, this tip won't apply to you. If, like me, you want everyone to work together and make it out alive, listen up. 

When a fellow survivor is knocked to the floor, carried by the killer, or thrown onto a meat hook, their position is highlighted in red. You can see it from wherever you are, and believe it or not, that's where you're going next. When a survivor is highlighted for one of these reasons, get as close as you possible can without being seen. If they're not already on a hook, they will be soon, and they'll need your help. 

As soon as a survivor is 'hooked', a killer will do one of a few things. Some killers will stand directly next to their dangling victim to make sure that no-one can help them, which can be irritating as there's very little you can do without becoming their next victim. However, some killers will search the area or even head off towards a noise in the distance. This is your chance to unhook your fellow survivor, and because you were already nearby, you can both be out of there before the killer appears again. Just watch out for any hidden bear traps...

Fix and listen

When fixing generators, sabotaging hooks, or healing fellow survivors, the only thing worse than being found by the killer is the dreaded skill check. This is a small mini-game which has you tap space when a needle reaches a specific point, and getting it wrong can be disastrous. Messing it up announces your position to the killer, who is more than likely to stalk directly to the source of the noise. Don't worry. There's a trick to it.

Just before such a skill check appears, there's a cue. This comes in the form of a ghostly chime. If you hear that, get ready. In about half a second, the skill check is coming. While that doesn't sound like a long time, it's more than enough to focus your attention on the mini-game, rather than searching the horizon for signs of an encroaching killer.



It's easy to get wrapped up in being totally badass as a killer, stomping from one generator to the next in the hopes of finding your next victim. That won't always help you find survivors to maim and mangle, though. Taking the time to listen to the world around you can reap benefits.

Can you hear a generator being fixed? Was that a cupboard door that just slammed shut? Is that the whimpering of an injured survivor in the bushes? All of these sounds can help you to track down victims even when they're acting calmly enough to sneak and hide before you get there. With a little tactical thinking, even that won't save them.

Think ahead

Just like the masked murderers of classic horror films, always try to be one step ahead of your next victim. When a chase has broken out, directly following their trail isn't always the best move.

Survivors will always try to run to a pallet that can be knocked down, or a window they can jump through, and this can really slow you down. However, if you can see a pallet or window they're running towards, think ahead. Go around the pallet, or through a door near the window, and you'll have anticipated their escape route before they'd even planned it themselves. Sometimes this can lead to them running right into your blood-soaked hands.

Be greedy 

If you've managed to knock one survivor down, and another injured survivor is nearby, chase them. While it may be tempting to immediately pick up the survivor that is crawling along the floor in pain, they're not going anywhere fast. If you let the other survivor escape, they may return to save the first survivor from the hook, or begin working on generators again. You can't have that. 

Though there's the possibility that a third survivor will heal your first victim, I've found it quite unlikely that more than one survivor will have bravely put themselves in the killer's crosshairs in order to help another. That means, if you can catch them as well, it's two birds with one blood-spattered stone.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Top 10 Horror Games at E3 2016

E3 2016. Wow. As always, this past week of E3 has been a whirlwind of conferences, presentations, streams, announcements, secrets, trailers and gameplay. It's an amazing time to be a gamer. Luckily for us, it's also an amazing time to love horror games, because a good selection of games shown across the week were either outright horror, or had a disturbing twist to them. 

In case you missed anything, here's my top 10 horror games at E3 2016 (in no particular order):

1. Friday the 13th: The Game

[Ki ki ki ma ma ma]

That's right. Jason is back in Friday the 13th: The Game, and he's once more terrorising the teens of Crystal Lake in an asymmetric multiplayer that was funded on Kickstarter. One player controls Jason, while another four players work together to escape by a few different means, such as calling the police or fixing a truck. Until recently we'd only peeped through the hockey mask at a slither of pre-alpha gameplay, but this all changed at E3 2016.

Gameplay footage was shown and revealed Jason's gory environmental kills (based on kills from the films), his ability to teleport, and also a little snapshot into playing as a counsellor. Hint: they don't do so well in this playthrough. 

2. We Happy Few

This isn't the first time we've seen We Happy Few, but many a gamer has been waiting to see more. While it isn't strictly horror, what we've seen so far seems to tread the line between Bioshock and Clockwork Orange, which is a pretty cool and/or disturbing mix, if you ask me. At E3 2016, we were treated to another trailer, which shows a much darker side to the ever-joyous characters of WHF, who seem to have a real thing against anyone not taking their meds:

3. State of Decay 2

To much celebration, a sequel to the popular zombie strategy/survival game, State of Decay, was announced. Available only on Xbox 360 and PC, and later Xbox One, the sequel looks to follow this trend. It seems that the game's emphasis on building relationships with the NPCs and using teamwork to survive is a present as in the first game, and this is no doubt a game that has many gamers foaming at the mouth. 

4. Observer

Though little was shown for the newly-announced Observer, the trailer below was enough for the game to hack its way onto my radar. It's believed that the game is based around the concept of going into other people's dreams, which seem to much more closely resemble nightmares. The aspect of this game that excites me most is that dreams, or nightmares, could lend themselves to a variety of scary scenarios and still make sense within the confines of the narrative. Nothing is scarier than the unknown.

5. Days Gone

I have to admit, this reveal almost didn't make the list. First described as a post-apocalyptic (yesSons of Anarchy (meh), I wasn't convinced. Thankfully, a good chunk of gameplay was also shown, revealing hordes upon hordes of infected, swarming towards our Harley-riding protagonist in a way that resembled the undead crowds of World War Z. Not only is it pretty pleasing to the eye, but the absolute number of infected on-screen, and the fluidity at which they appear, is downright impressive. Days Gone has swarmed right over my scepticism and onto my E3 2016 wishlist.

6. Prey

I'd prayed for Prey, ever since the free-running, sci-fi bounty hunter gameplay that was shown for Prey 2 back in 2013. Then everything went quiet. It was unclear whether Prey 2 would ever see the neon light of day. Technically, it hasn't, because what was revealed at E3 2016 was only named Prey. All we know so far is that it will be set on a space station in 2036 where an experiment has gone wrong. Surprisingly, Prey seems to have ditched its previous parkour bounty hunter vibes for a creep factor.

I was so excited for the previous version that I'm actually not completely won over by the horror aspect yet, which is something I never thought I'd say. Let's hope we don't have to wait until 2036 to see more.

7. Dead Rising 4

Yet another Dead Rising sequel will be shuffling its way onto consoles this Winter, and it was revealed at E3 2016 with an incredibly festive trailer and 14 minutes (less if you remove the loading time, which seemed long) of gameplay. It looks to continue with the tongue-in-cheek gameplay that people have come to expect from the series, showing off massive hordes of zombies, an electric axe, a crossbow with firework explosives, an exo-suit and more. For those that love Frank West and his zany adventures, this looks to please, though I personally find the series to be a little repetitive. See what you think of the gameplay:

8. Killing Floor: Incursion

If you're looking to merge FPS action with horror and blow off some steam while you do it, I can't think of a better game than Tripwire's Killing Floor. I'm a massive fan of Killing Floor 2, and so I was pleasantly surprised to see the announcement of Killing Floor: Incursion at E3 2016, a new game in the works for Oculus Touch. It looks like it will bring the same over-the-top action and gore to the world of VR, making the gruesome creatures all that much more gruesome. I'm really not looking forward to see the spider-mutants up close...

9. Vampyr

From the first time I saw Vampyr, a surprisingly thoughtful action-RPG set in Victorian London, it had its fangs well and truly in me. Players will control Jonathan E. Reid, a doctor whom was recently turned into a vampire. He is now driven by a thirst for blood in a world where every choice he makes, every person he kills, will have consequences further down the line. These consequences, and the morals of this cursed protagonist, will be entirely in the hands of the player. It's an interesting concept, and one that could have players questioning just how carefully  they walk the path between murder and survival.

10. Resident Evil 7 

Resident Evil is back. And, for the first time in a few years, Capcom have actually given gamers hope that the series is heading backing to its horror roots. With a trailer that actually looked creepy, and an apparent move over to first-person horror, it looks to be a divisive, but much-needed change to bring the series back to relevance. Even more surprising, a demo entitled 'Beginning Hour' was immediately available on the PS Store. Naturally, I downloaded it as fast as I could and you can read what I thought in my preview. Here's the E3 2016 trailer:


Here's a couple of bonus additions for you - because I'm nice like that.

Death Stranding

Might as well start with a game we know almost nothing about... For example, it may not even be a horror game. Death Stranding is the latest partnership between Hideo Kojima and Norman Reedus, who were working together on the much-anticipated, and unfortunately cancelled, Silent Hills. While we're yet to understand what is even going on in the trailer below, it's clearly a strange and unnerving affair. This mysterious blip will be on many radars after E3.


The next game from the studio behind Limbo has still revealed very little to the public, so there's a chance that it won't actually create any fear in the player. However, based on the bleak world that has been shown so far, and the elements of horror that were as much a part of Limbo as the puzzle-solving and platforming, I'm betting that there will be something for horror-lovers to enjoy when Inside is release. Watch the short trailer shown at E3 2016:

That wraps up the list of top 10 horror games that caught my eye during E3 2016, along with a couple of bonus games that may or may not fit into the horror genre at all. Either way, it's a list of games that I'm pretty excited for.

Which game are you most looking forward to? Let me know! I've always got time to talk horror. Please leave a comment or start a chat with me over on Twitter.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Resident Evil 7 [Beginning Hour Demo] - Preview

It was a Tuesday morning (in the UK). The E3 2016 Sony conference was well underway. Then, out of nowhere, a game that many had forsaken fought its way back up to the surface by tooth and nail. This re-animated corpse was, of course, Resident Evil 7

With a much darker, P.T.-esque reveal trailer, Capcom had gamers feeling optimistic for a series that has been hard to root for since Resident Evil 4, all the way back in 2005. Here is the trailer that showed us all that Resident Evil 7 might finally be shambling along a different, but ultimately much-needed path:

What's more is that Capcom revealed there was going to be a Resident Evil 7 demo called 'Beginning Hour' made available on the PlayStation Store immediately. Resident Evil was well and truly back to its rightful place at the forefront of horror-loving minds. But, does it deserve to be there? 

Well, I played the demo and here's what I thought...

Resident Evil 7 - Preview

The first thing that's impossible not to mention is that fact that the series, which has always been third-person – with the exception of the Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, an FPS game for the Wii – could now be an entirely first-person affair. This is likely to divide long-time fans of the series. Some will see it as yet another step away from what made the classics so great, whereas others – like myself – feel that this makes horror feel incredibly immediate, and that a change, even such a drastic departure as this, was needed in order for the franchise to remain relevant. 

Some of the most terrifying games (and demos) of recent years have been first-person, such as Outlast or P.T., and it's nice to see Capcom taking inspiration from acclaimed horror games rather than acclaimed action games. Anyway, there's more to the demo than how you view the horror, and for once, there actually is some to view.

When the demo started, I found myself lying on old wooden floorboards. As I clambered up, I was greeted by one message:

"Get out of the house."

Then nothing. No tutorial. No hints. Just an unlit room, two old sofas, a dirty table, a fuse box, a dusty stone fireplace, and a TV on a table in the corner, playing static. On the table in-between the two sofas there was a note, which said "I will dash them against the stones." Curiosity and the thought of freedom drove me forward into the darkness.

The TV needed a video tape, and the fuse box was missing a fuse. Of course, I had neither. What I did have, however, was an inventory. Though I had nothing to fill it with, the inventory seemed limited in space, and items could be mapped to the four directions on the d-pad. Good to know.

I found a door, and was prompted to press X to open. As in all RE games, I expected a door animation to take over. It didn't. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the game actually has you manually open a door by pushing the analogue stick forward. It's a small feature, but one that keeps you firmly in control, making something as simple as opening a door more tense than the entirety of RE5 or RE6 combined. 

Through the door was a hallway. It was still extremely dark, and the house itself looked worn and abandoned. I crept along the hallway, only able to see a few feet in front of the unknown protagonist I was controlling. What I found in a small room to my left unnerved me further: a locked door that had been barricaded haphazardly from the outside, and a ceiling of doll babies, swinging from rope tied around their necks. I can never keep up with the latest trends in home design...

With nothing much else to see, I moved on. To my right there was a cabinet. I opened a drawer and found what appeared to be a dummy's finger. It seemed useless to me at this point in time so I placed it into my inventory and continued. In front of me, a crossroads. I could either go upstairs, where a dark room and a flashing light beckoned me, or I could go into the kitchen, looking a little worse for wear, but much more open and lighter. I chose the kitchen (obviously).

I opened the fridge and found nothing but mouldy food, followed by the microwave, which contained a long-dead crow. I'll probably never know why it was there, and I'm okay with that. Next, I opened a large pot sitting on the kitchen table, only to find more rotten food and a few cockroaches. There was little else to explore in the kitchen, except for a drawer with nothing in and another that was locked.

Thinking the key wouldn't be anywhere nearby, I headed through a door on the other side of the kitchen. It led down yet another worn corridor, but it was the small room at the end that caught my eye. Flesh. Covering the floor. Just, flesh. It may have been animal carcasses, though it was hard to tell, and I wasn't about to get any closer. 

Stabbed into one of these piles of flesh was a pair of bolt cutters, which I yanked free before trying the door. Through it I could see the bright light of day, and the door itself seemed in better condition than the rest of the house. Was this the way out? I tried the handle. Locked. I headed back.

At the end of the corridor was a wardrobe that I hadn't seen on the way past, and its doors were locked by a thick chain. I selected the bolt cutters from my inventory and cut through. Inside the wardrobe was a video tape, and I had just the place for it. I made my way back, expecting something to jump out at me at any moment. It didn't, but that didn't change the fact that I was internally cheering for the level of tension the demo was delivering. Instead of punching a massive boulder, it was like Chris Redfield was punching my heart. Much better

Back in the room I had woken in, I played the video - as it turned out, quite literally.

As the video began to play, I realised that I was in control of the person with the camera, filming some sort of haunted house show called 'Sewer Gators'. This feature shows some real growth in Capcom's mindset towards horror, as they're leaving the control, and therefore the fear, in the hands of the player. As they (I) continued filming the show, I realised that they were actually walking through the very house I was now watching the tape in. Naturally, before long, a member of the team went missing. 

During the search, we ended up in the same room that I was watching the tape inside, and the egotistical presenter of the show found a hidden switch in the fireplace. When activated, it opened a small square door in the wall, which led to a space under the house - maybe a second basement used in Prohibition times. 

For a while I was pointing the camera up at the ladder I had just climbed down for a "hero shot" that the presenter wanted. After he didn't follow me down, I started to look around. I quickly stepped back and my breath caught in my throat. Directly behind me was the missing member of the team. 

He was facing the wall, not moving. After building the courage, I grabbed his shoulder. In doing so, I pulled him from a hook that was lodged into his jaw and we both fell to the floor. Blood seeped from his eyes and his head lolled backwards in my lap. He was almost certainly dead. There wasn't much time to think before someone else stepped out from the darkness, into the basement with me, and the video cut out.

On the table in front of me... the note from before, but changed. It now said "I will dash YOU against the stones," with the "YOU" written in blood. Great. I needed to get out of this house.

The first thing I had to do was trying the fireplace switch from the video. Yes, it was there alright, and it opened the same hole in the wall. Before going through, though, I had to check upstairs. If I were going to find something in this basement that ended the demo, I wanted to have explored the entire house. I cautiously made my back to the bottom of the stairs and tiptoed up. At the top was a flashing button marked 'Stairs' which didn't seem to do anything when I pushed it. 

Aware that there was a missing fuse, I gave up hoping that this would do anything and instead kept a watchful eye on three mannequins that stood by the wall to my left. I hate mannequins so much. I found the courage to try and use the dummy's finger, but it didn't seem to work. Happy to leave the plastic nightmares behind, I headed back to the hole in the wall in search of the door key.

As luck would have it, the key to the back door awaited me at the opening to the basement. The ladder was missing, which was fine by me, and it was definitely time to go. I headed back into the room, but something had changed again. The door leading back into the corridor was wide open. I crept towards it and the soundtrack spiked as something tall and deformed walked past. I backed into the room and waited, hoping it hadn't seen me. 


Whatever it was, it didn't appear again, though the thought of seeing it up close and personal made the walk to the back door seem much longer than it had before.

By the time I reached the room of rotting flesh, I was squinting, convinced that the thing was hiding within the corpses. Again, nothing but my own fears. I walked up to the back door without any issues, used the key I'd found to unlock it, and pushed the door open. Outside I could bright blue skies and a lush green garden. Freedom. 

Then a voice: 

"Hehehe... Welcome to the family, son." 

I turned and an old man in a yellow jacket knocked me out with a punch to the face. The demo was over. Or at least, that's how it ended for me.

Similarly to the P.T. demo, there are actually multiple items and secrets hidden throughout, many of which can actually lead to different endings. It's possible to find the missing fuse, go into the attic, answer a phone call (with at least three different conversations), see the mannequins come to life, find an axe, and even to spot a ghostly apparition of an unexplained woman (whom I didn't see even once). However, no-one is yet to figure out what the dummy finger does... if anything at all. 

Was the demo on the same level of fear that games like Outlast or P.T. produced? Not quite. Did I, for the first time in years, actually experience fear in a Resident Evil game? YES. Hell, I even jumped a couple of times. For me, that's a step in the right direction, and it means that I can finally be excited for a Resident Evil game without the feelings of shame that came with my blind excitement for Resident Evil 6.

If you have a PS4, you can now download the demo and try for yourself. I'm hoping that you'll find the same sense of fear and excitement that I found. In fact, I'm hoping the demo sinks its rediscovered, infectious bite just as far into you.