CONTEMPLATING THE VOID
Brooklyn duo NØMADS examines clinical fears with three new songs from their upcoming album, PHØBIAC.
What do we do in a world without our heroes, our inspirations?
Ghost's "He Is" is the perfect anti-hymn. Devil worship at its most insidious.
Dracula used to be scary because Bram Stoker’s audience was scared of immigrants. Things have changed.
SCARY THINGS ON THE SCREEN
Does being a fan of genre fiction like The Handmaid's Tale make one less of a "true" feminist?
After more than 25 years, Twin Peaks is still capable of being enigmatic and terrifying and ultimately, incredibly watchable.
Much of the Twin Peaks universe deals in liminal spaces, despite the stark contrast of that black and white tiled flooring.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me shows us portals between dreams and reality, but does not provide us with conclusive answers.
After many decades of being relegated to VHS tapes and YouTube uploads, Ghostwatch is now finally available to watch, but does it hold up?
Do nuclear apocalypse films like The Day After and Threads deserve a place in the horror canon?
The announcement that the Vanguard Programme will no longer be a part of the Toronto International Film Festival leaves a giant hole in my heart.
'The Path' trafficks in deception and denial of the void that lies beyond, a void that is often reflected in our innermost selves.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest film, 'Creepy,' goes above and beyond what its title implies.
There is a certain kind of fear that fuels the fascinating narrative twists and turns of The Fall and it’s one that is all too easy for women to understand.
SCARY THINGS ON THE PAGE
In this post-Trump, post-truth world, the images conjured by The Handmaid's Tale are too prescient, too vivid, too real.
Beyond the Wall of Sleep fails to fully realize the pessimism of its premise, but it sure has some radical sci-fi mystical imagery.
The Statement of Randolph Carter reads like Thomas Carnacki’s letter of resignation.
Both the fact that Dagon is presented as a suicide note, and the circumstances around naming the story’s titular monster, paint a picture of a world in which we humans are unimaginably significant, born into doom without the knowledge of our bleak circumstances, and cursed to suffer at even the slightest enlightenment to the true nature of all things.
Today on EVERYTHING IS SCARY, we are pleased to welcome Calgary-based author Axel Howerton! Axel's latest novel, FURR, from Tyche Books, is an urban fantasy from Tyche Books, the first in a series titled Wolf and Devil. FURR tells the story of Jimmy Finn, a seemingly ordinary guy having a really bad day. He's either losing his mind, or becoming a monster.
From the South three sisters fair
ran athwart the gloom...
Dressed of fur and fierce of tooth,
The maidens of the Moon.
I just read Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot but I am completely positive that Danny Glick can't get into my second story bedroom window. I think.
In The Singing Bone, some questions can never be answered.
What can H.P. Lovecraft's The Festival teach us about madness in horror?
SCARY THINGS YOU PLAY WITH
When I first reviewed Nevermind from Flying Mollusk Studios, I mentioned how I am a bitter, jaded little man, and not given - much - to being startled and scared. The first three scenarios of the game did little to alarm me, which wasn't in of itself the worst issue I've seen in the genre, and by and large it was still an enjoyable experience. The core idea of going inside people's minds is relatively well-worn by this point (with games like Psychonauts) but is given a fresh face with the driving motivation of therapy. Nevermind promises the experience of helping overcome a character's fears as you overcome your own.
I'm pleased to report that with the addition of two new scenarios, Nevermind is really digging down into the promise of its premise, smartly doing away with traditional horror game tropes in favour of examining the everyday, human fears that deeply affect our lives.
**NOTE: FULL SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW THIS POINT**
I have a lot of respect for independent game artists who are making games out of a sense of love of the genre. Vaclav Hudec. the creator of Blameless, is one of these people. His website biography, as stated, marks him as someone I think I'd get along with. Several of the games he mentions as inspiration - One Late Night, Amnesia, Slender - are games I've talked about on this blog. Clearly Mr. Hudec is a man of great taste.
But more importantly, what intrigues me about Blameless isn't merely that it has taken some of the right lessons from the aforementioned games, but it adds its own unique twist to the mix, deliberately or accidentally.
If, like me, you grew up on adventure games, you're probably prepared to accept a certain amount of strange logic in your puzzle-playing time. From Guybrush Threepwood using a Rubber Chicken to cross a zipline, to time-traveling in Day of The Tentacle to change the shape of a statue just so it wouldn't provide a handhold for a crazy lady in a wheelie chair, to pretty much everything in King's Quest, Adventure Games have long taught us that logic is a fluid concept pretty dependent on the mood of the designers.
With Goetia, the struggle is in wrapping your head around the often metaphorical or flatly obscure clues that are your breadcrumbs in a plot which, puzzles aside, is well-woven and told.
Open World survival games are quirky little beasts. The frequency with which they get made in the indie world suggests an appetite for them, which in turn suggests that gamers are more than capable of making their own fun, given the right tools and interface. Yet if we were to look at these games through the lens with which certain "Walking Simulator" type games are scrutinized (is there a fail state? Is there an objective? Is there a driving plot?) we might arrive at the conclusion that they're not "games" in the traditional sense. Unturned, for instance, feels a bit more like a creative tool, a la Minecraft - with zombies.
"There is an art to the building up of suspense," pronounces Guildenstern, in his first line from Tom Stoppard's absurdist comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. It's one of my favourite lines, because suspense is one of those tightrope acts that so often elude game makers and storytellers these days. The nature of narrative arcs often renders a lot of suspense moot: we know that the protagonist isn't going to die, we know that there is some kind of struggle, we know that there will be obstacles, etc. etc. etc.
But there are ways to play on those expectations, to undermine the expected and to arrive at a new, chilling suspense. The House Abandon, from No Code Games, is a brilliant example of this.
I once heard Unity described as "a very great tool [for building video games], that is very easily abused." I can't think of a game that better epitomizes that sentiment than Void.
Yikes. Hmm, I could probably stop the review right here and just let that stand, but I suppose I should probably go into some more depth and talk about just why this game so colossally disappointed me. Regular readers of our little blog will have detected an excess amount of snark coming off that sentence and may have a sense of impending dread. I rarely bust out the poison pen, but Void just left me in a foul, foul, mood.
I should preface my opinions of Nevermind, the debut game from Flying Mollusk Studio, with a disclaimer that I have huge respect for passion and innovation. I will always reward trying something new, putting in visible effort, and - perhaps most importantly - not pandering to your audience. So with that in mind, let me start off by saying that designer and team lead Erin Reynold's MFA thesis-turned indie game is definitely a project with a lot of love and effort put into it. It is also, unfortunately, quite flawed. Part of that is due in no small part to what we typically expect from a "horror game," because although it definitely plays into a number of tropes, Nevermind is not a typical horror game.
Let's get something out of the way: I have never finished Super Meat Boy.
That's something I'm sure a lot of gamers are reluctant to admit, but probably have to. Consistently ranking among the hardest games of all time alongside infamous controller-hurling fodder like Contra or Ghouls n' Ghosts, Super Meat Boy is the 2010 debut game from Team Meat, the aptly-named studio created by designers Edward McMillen and Tommy Refenes.
As a not-so-closeted über patriot of the Great White North, it was a no-brainer that KONA would come across my radar eventually. The first independent gaming project from Quebec-based studio Parabole, KONA is still in early Access on Steam and GOG, but is powering towards a full release tentatively around September 2016. So at this point, it would be unfair for me to review it, but I do want to say that even in Early Access, this game plays and looks better than hundreds if not thousands of survival horror games in full release on Steam, and is absolutely something you should check out. What I do want to talk, with regards to KONA and the broader picture, is the idea of crowd-sourced horror.
On the occasions where I do manage to take off my fedora long enough to actually admit that mainstream titles still hold interest for me, I usually find myself going back to the same group of select studios, chief among them Firaxis. Firaxis has long held my loyalty for creating the inimitable greatness of theCivilization series, but if that hadn't been enough, they earned my love forever when they finally brought justice to XCOM. I've already gone on at length about XCOM in two different posts, and suffice it to say that as a fan of the original Micropose game, having lived through disappointing sequel after disappointing sequel, I was not only relieved, but absolutely thrilled with Firaxis' effort. So it was with a mix of trepidation and enthusiasm that I watched the approaching release date ofXCOM 2, like a hawk with indigestion.