Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 - Episode 1

I used to love Resident Evil. Truly. It was a classic horror back in the day, with an interesting narrative and characters that I wanted to get a beer with - or maybe a milkshake, I was pretty young when the first games came out. Resident Evil 4 remains one of my all-time favourites PS2 games, and even though it added a bit more action into the mix, it did it with finesse. Then came the rest. Full of zombies (or zombie-esque creatures)? Yes. Same characters from before? Sure. Even a little bit fun? Possibly. Did it feel like Resident Evil? Not at all. The line between action and horror had been well and truly crossed. 

Resident Evil: Revelations on the 3DS aimed to change this, and while I can't say that it really scared me, it was more enjoyable than some previous entries in the series. This lead to Resident Evil: Revelations 2, an episodic sequel that was also released on consoles. Critically, it has been doing quite well, but does it feel like Resident Evil? I found out when I played Episode 1 at the weekend.

Episode 1 is aptly named "Penal Colony," because that's where it takes place. Not before a lavish work party, though. It is here that we first see Claire Redfield, long-time character of the series. Claire first showed up in Resident Evil 2 looking for her brother, Chris (remember the guy that punched that rock in Resident Evil 5), in the chaos of the Raccoon City outbreak. Of course, she found Leon first, and they spent an amazing zombie-filled time together, with the diner and the truck crash and the "lickers." Good times.

Anyway, Claire now works for Terra Save, who specialise in protecting the world from acts of bioterrorism. She's not the only one on the payroll, either. Moira Burton, daughter of fan-favourite, Barry Burton, known for his beard, his magnum, and Jill sandwiches, has also just started. That means she's at the same Christmas party as Claire when all of the employees are abducted. Claire wakes up in a cell, understandably confused and groggy. Luckily, the cell door opens itself and she is quickly reunited with Moira. Then Episode 1 truly begins.

The first episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 doesn't tell the whole story (either in plot or in its full potential), but I wasn't blown away by its level of tension. For starters, Moira is along for the ride. She can either be switched to by the player, or controlled by another in co-op, neither of which leave you feeling entirely alone as in the first RE games. Capcom isn't quite moving away from their goal of action-orientated "horror" just yet, and considering reviews have been positive, I had assumed Revelations 2 was a step in the right direction. I didn't really get that feeling from Episode 1

Furthermore, movement and fighting tend to feel a bit clunky, mainly because you're forced into playing like you're in an action game, when you really shouldn't be. It feels like the series doesn't fit well enough within its own combined genre to keep up with itself. And, because of its closeness to the later games in the series, I had hoped that this might be sugar-coated by the cool finishing moves. No luck. Though you can press a button when an enemy (still closer to the majini/ouroboros making than classic zombies) is stunned. More often than not, though, they are knocked to the floor, rather than finished in the spectacle I had learned to love in Resident Evil 5

Quite similar to recent RE games are the puzzles, which are relatively simple and normally revolve around finding a missing item or restoring power to an area (at least in this episode, anyway). They're an expected part of the game, and I felt like they neither added nor detracted from the experience. They just were. However, I did think it was a nice touch to explore an area later with a different character, as I'd then have different items and abilities, giving me access to locked rooms and puzzle solutions that weren’t possible before. 

Different characters will be a regular occurrence, I'm sure, as Episode 1 featured 4 characters. The first two were Claire Redfield and Moira Burton, who can be switched between on the fly (or controlled by two separate players) and are used for different purposes. 

Claire has the guns, ready to shoot someone, or more likely something, between the eyes at a moment's notice. Moira, on the other hand, has a crowbar and a torch, and feels a little more useless. Her role in the team is to open doors and crates with the crowbar, whack anything that gets too close, and shine the torch at hidden objects or into hostile eyes to stun. She's not in enough danger for it to be tense, even when split up, but she's also not powerful enough to be cool. 

The second duo is more interesting. Barry Burton, the red-headed fan favourite previously mentioned, and Natalia, a little girl whom he finds when he arrives on the island of the penal colony. Needless to say, he's searching for his daughter. He somehow managed to get his hands on a call for help from Moira, sent from the colony's ancient comms system over six months ago.

While Barry brings the firepower, the mysterious Natalia is able to crawl through small spaces to access areas that Barry cannot, and also sense nearby danger. While I have no idea how she can do this, a faint glow shows when hostiles are waiting just out of sight. It is an interesting idea, but was introduced in an area where the undead were especially slow and unthreatening. Combine that with the fact that stealth kills were introduced, and I’ve never felt safer in a game where creatures want to eat my flesh.

Is it all bad? Not at all. While Episode 1 didn't reach the level of hype (and horror) I had been hoping for, it is undeniably fun. It was a great feeling to be back in the Resident Evil universe, and Capcom have at least added a few one-liners into the dialogue that refer to moments in the original games. For example, Claire refers to the infamous “Jill sandwich” line, to which Moira mentions that her Dad never stops telling the story. It was a nice touch, and momentarily bathed me in beautiful nostalgia. Here's another nice example:

Another section of Episode 1 that I was actually pleasantly surprised by was towards the end of the experience. I was playing as Barry, night had fallen in a forest setting, and I was faced with an entirely new opponent. While I won’t ruin what this opponent was, mainly because new creatures are one of the most enjoyable things about the series at present, it actually felt somewhat atmospheric. Now that’s a pleasant surprise. Sure, it didn’t last too long, but for a moment there it actually felt like Resident Evil.

At the end of the day, that is what I’m waiting for. While Capcom clearly isn’t ready to take us back to an entire experience that is truly tense and horror-focused, and gameplay often feels clunky and mediocre, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 – Episode 1 does have a few moments that reminded me of the games I once loved. The plot raises enough questions that I wanted answering, old favourites return alongside a couple of new characters, and I can’t deny that I had fun. A pretty mixed picture, I know.

Is this game worth getting? That’s the main question that every review should answer. Based on Episode 1, yes. If you love Resident Evil, even if you’ve tried to ignore the existence of the series’ most recent games, you will find something to enjoy here. It is relatively cheap, available on Steam, Vita and next-gen consoles, and can probably keep you entertained for a little while. However, don’t go in expecting this game to fix all of the problems that Capcom have created. 

They still don’t get what true horror is all about. Not like we do, right? After 100 days of these articles, you'd really hope so, anyway. That's right. This is my 100th horror game article in 100 days. Have you enjoyed it? I sure have. It's been exhausting, but rewarding, and I love horror just as much as when I started this personal challenge. Actually, maybe a little more. If you'd like to read through every single horror article I wrote in the last 100 days, you can find them right here. There's a healthy mix of news, previews, reviews, vague impressions, and terrified ramblings - so, something for everyone. I'm not going to stop writing altogether, though I'll definitely take a little bit of time off after this to spend at least a couple of evenings do absolutely nothing

If you've enjoyed any of these writings, and don't really want it to be over, please start a conversation with me on Twitter. We can discuss how many spelling mistakes you found, or what your favourite horror games are, or just become best friends. The choice is yours. 

Until then, thank you so much for reading. You're the best.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Ritual on Weylyn Island

Weapon-free horror games, naturally, have an upper hand when it comes to evoking terror. If you can't fight back against whatever is shuffling, leaping or crawling towards you, all that's left to do is run or hide. Whether you like it or not, both will panic you if a game is done well. That's why I was grateful to zemaGamez for sending me a Steam key for The Ritual on Weylyn Island, a first-person survival horror with no weapons and one dark, hellish island. 

Despite being excited, life has been somewhat crazy lately, and I've not even had time to play the game yet. Sorry, guys! I do always add that I can't guarantee a review, but I really hate not being able to deliver one. Anyway, here's what you need to know about The Ritual, so that you can play it for yourself.

Not too long ago, on an island in the Pacific Ocean, 22 year old Moira Weylyn travelled to her grandfather's estate for the reading of his last will and testament. She'd expected to find her family there, but she finds herself alone. Well, if you don't count the neo-pagan cult as family. Now Moira must do everything she can to find her family, survive without any weapons, and gather information on the disturbing events that have been entangled with her bloodline.

In this story-driven experience, you'll be exploring the island, solving puzzles, protecting loved ones, surviving without the ability to defend yourself, and collecting tapes and clues left behind by Grandfather Weylyn, aiming to add to the dark backstory of the game. I may be biased by my love of horror, but it sounds like a pretty good combination to me.

For all you need to know about The Ritual on Weylyn Island, head to the studio's website and Twitter, or to the game’s Steam page. The game is currently on sale for £5.24, 25% off the regular price of £6.99 until December 11th. Plus you'll get whatever the Grandfather left Moira in his will. Bonus.

Monday, 7 December 2015


We’ve been slowly reaching out into the unknown depths of space for a little while now, and we get a little further each time. However, in CivilSavage’s Dispatcher, we’ve made it a little further. Unfortunately, while we were searching for the new and unknown, it found us first. That means that we now get an RPG stealth-horror set in the near future, aboard a spaceship known as the Dispatcher. It's quite a pretty one.

Aboard this spaceship are the survivors of the initial incident, which brought alien entities into its claustrophobic corridors. You won’t be able to tell where they are, though, because these survivors have been infected, and are now hostile. Well, not all of them, but you have the ability to stick your middle finger up at everyone, so they just may get there. Your rather impressive rack may distract them for a while, though. See below…

When you’re not just swearing at NPCs, or staring down at your own chest, you’ll be able to choose from one of six character classes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You'll also be able to gain experience and upgrade your chosen character. Apparently there will be four different creatures to hide from throughout the Dispatcher, and levels will be partially procedurally-generated. A hardcore mode will also be keeping you on your feet, if you dare.

I’m a sucker for sci-fi horror, so this probably won’t be the last time I check out Dispatcher. Want to explore deadly space with me? Check the game out on Steam.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Bleeding Border

You have to give Curse Box Studios a hand for what it is trying to do with Bleeding Border. No, really. In this first-person survival horror, the protagonist, Zoey, only has one hand. The other arm is a bloody stump, and believe it or not, it may just save her life.

Zoey was part of a scavenge incursion gone bad. Her team ran into creatures known as the PaleOnes, which proceeded to slaughter them all, and even tore Zoey's hand off. How did she survive? Her blood carries a rare genetic mutation that is poisonous to the PaleOnes. Better than nothing, I guess.

While players will be able to fight the PaleOnes by squirting fresh arm blood into their faces, this is at the risk of losing health, and Zoey will need to be healed shortly after to make sure that she doesn't bleed to death. As a result, trying to hide or run from creatures is the best option, fighting only when you absolutely have to.

Curse Box Studios has said that Bleeding Border is inspired by Resident Evil and Silent Hill (though I'm assuming this is more atmosphere than anything, because I don't remember Leon Kennedy losing an arm). If the game sounds like your idea of a great, gore-filled evening, you can find everything you'll need on Steam.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Trouble in the Manor

Manors are always a little scary, especially at night – I’d imagine. It’s even worse in Trouble in the Manor, Charyb Games’ online multiplayer, which tasks player with the one of three roles: Innocent, Bloodhound, or Murderer.

As an innocent, you have to go in search of the Murderers (seems crazy, right?). You can find items around the manor to help yourself or other innocents to survive, and discover evidence of who the murderer is. Only once you have enough evidence will you be able to call out a hit on the murderer, or take justice into your own hands.

The role of the bloodhound is almost identical to the innocent, but with a slight advantage. Those playing as a bloodhound have DNA devices that allow them to thoroughly investigate an area, testing the DNA of bodies and comparing it against any DNA that might have been left by a murderer. Again, the more evidence you can find, the more likely you’ll be able to take out the murderer before they reveal themselves to you. No, not like that, you filthy animals.

As a murderer, your task is to kill pretty much everyone. Or at least as many people as you can in the duration of a round. You’ll be able to cut lives short with a number or items, such as weapons, traps, or even disguises, all bought with currency found around the manor.

If that’s too mainstream murder for you, there’s also the option of transforming into a vampire. Disturb the vampire in the basement and he’ll turn you into one of his bloodthirsty kind, able to recruit innocents into throat-biting minions. My point is, you’ve got options.

If Trouble in the Manor sounds like your kind of game, you can find everything you need to know on the game’s Steam page. At £3.99, it’s probably one of the cheaper ways to get your hands bloody.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Days Under Custody

I'm still a little bit enamoured with pixel-art, so it was almost too easy for me to find Days Under Custody, a pixel-horror adventure game by Abraham Carreola. I'm not saying it is the prettiest pixel game out there, but if you put horror and pixels together, I'll be nearby.

In Days Under Custody, you play as a man trying to discover a "forgotten story," and survive the night while doing so. In his adventure, which will see him solving puzzles and finding notes to fill out the narrative, he will be followed by an unknown entity. I'm unsure what this entity will do, but judging from the trailer above, it won't be entirely friendly.

The developer has also said that the game has a "soundtrack that you can't miss," which is something that can be extremely important in elevating a game's atmosphere and tension. Two different endings will be available, and trading cards can be obtained, too.

I've definitely written about horrors with a little more information than I can find on Days Under Custody, and I'll admit I may have been swayed to write by my love of pixel-art. However, that doesn't mean that this isn't a game that could be worth your time if you're in the mood for a horror adventure. Find out all you need to know on Steam.

Thursday, 3 December 2015


Thomas, an 8 year old boy, has just moved into a new house with his parents. It seems like a great house, especially for the price they paid. There's a reason for that. When Thomas finds an old stereo player in his bedroom, he presses a button, and the nightmare begins to play. In Boogeyman, by Barry McCabe, Thomas is not alone.

What follows is a horror experience that seems very much like Five Nights at Freddy's, as you try to keep the Boogeyman away with the light of your torch and also try to conserve battery power. To do so, you will occasionally have to plunge yourself into darkness (on purpose!), using sound alone to decide when using the torch is a matter of survival. 

Now and then you may be supported by the light of the moon, lamps or streetlights, but don't count on them making a regular appearance. In fact, don't expect too much help from the weather, either. Rain will drown out noise as the Boogeyman attempts to make its move, blizzards will make it pretty much impossible to hear, and lightning will provide flashes of the full room, but who knows what it will reveal? 

What it might reveal is the Boogeyman as it tries to sneak into Thomas' bedroom from one of four entry points: the door, the closet, the window, and the air vent just above his bed. If all of that wasn't bad enough, Boogeyman also supports the Oculus Rift, allowing you to truly get into the troubled mind of an 8 year old with an infestation of the boogey kind.

More information on Boogeyman can be found on Steam, where I am currently tempted to buy the game at £4.99. If you're also interested in the game that probably inspired this one, check out my article about Five Nights at Freddy's. Just like everything else, it’s beautifully written and will make you take a second look at the world around you and all of the positivity it holds. I kid. I’ll probably talk about soiling myself in the name of horror.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


I saw a game called Inner Space on Twitter and remarked that it was beautiful (which it is), and Steve Zapata, a developer at PolyKnight Games, shared a gallery of InnerSpace images to look through if I was interested (which I was). He also let me know about WhiteWall, a short monochrome horror made in a gamejam a few years back, by the very same team. It just made sense to play it and then write about it here. It’s kind of what I do, right?

WhiteWall is creepy, but it is more of an ongoing sense of unease than it is all-out horror. You find yourself in maze of inter-connected rooms, each very similar to the last, with some variations in furniture. The walls and doors are completely white, and an endless droning - like a continual air raid siren - drives you forward. Only when this changes to a jarring tangle of noise are you getting somewhere. Even then, what you find is unnerving, as you're not quite sure whether it is safe to approach or not. (I won't ruin this, as I feel the surprise is part of the overall experience.)

If you do build the courage to approach, you'll find yourself back at the start of another maze of rooms. Though, they're different now. The white walls are peeling, revealing a strange under-layer that is somewhere between television static and infinite space. It is strangely hypnotic, to say the least. In fact, the whole experience could be described in the same way. To leave the full experience with you, the player, I won't go any further and ruin it, but it is definitely worth playing if you're looking for a short, strange and free game to play today. Find out everything you need to know about WhiteWall on, where you can download the game for yourself.

Plus, if you like the look of what this team can do, check out what they're working on as PolyKnight Games on Twitter. As aforementioned, the studio’s current game is InnerSpace, "an exploration flying game set within an inverted planet," where players will "explore a unique world, encounter its gods, and discover its secrets." It looks stunning, so check out the successful Kickstarter page for all of the information you need to know, along with a few eye-pleasing GIFs.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Fallout 4 - The Devil's Due

Did you know that there was a horror side-quest in the open-world RPG sensation that is Fallout 4? No, neither did I. You just know I hauled ass over to it as soon as I found out, though, low level be damned. 

Fallout 4 is set in Boston, which is close to the town of Salem, well-known as the location of many an execution back in the times of suspected witches. It is also home to the Museum of Witchcraft, which Bethesda have kindly included in the game, and is where you'll need to go if you want to bring some fear into your Fallout 4. The side-quest is called "The Devil's Due," and whether you hear about it in Diamond City, or go in search of it in the North-East of the Commonwealth like I did, it will completely change the genre of the game for a moment.

When you get to the museum, which I did just as dusk was setting in (for atmospheric effect more than anything else), you’ll find a dismembered corpse. It belongs to Private Hart, and if you listen to a holotape on her body, you'll discover that the rest of her team ran inside the museum. Something was chasing them. Naturally, you’ll want to go inside via an entrance to the basement. 

Once you're inside, you're in a horror game. It is dark, blood drips from the ceiling, and mannequins make you jump thanks to a well-timed shriek in the soundtrack. Oh, and there's some growling coming from upstairs, too. Damn you, Bethesda.

That’s all I’m going to tell you. The reason I loved this side-quest so much, even if I was nowhere near powerful enough to complete it, was the complete and utter surprise that it existed in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 4. Mutants and giant mosquitoes, sure, but horror? Surely not. If you love horror, and own this game, check it out. Hint: Take a big gun.