We’re nearly a twelfth of the way through the year, but so far, 2014 has been fairly quiet as far as video game releases go. Nevertheless, the year promises to be big for horror games, and here are my picks of 10 to watch out for.
The Evil Within
There hasn’t been too much news about The Evil Within since the playable preview at last year’s E3 and the intense, live action teaser trailer, but it still remains on-track to be released this year. Director Shinji Mikami has said that he is aiming for “a pure form of survival horror”, and this combined with its tense gameplay and terrifying enemy designs make it not only one of my most anticipated horror games of the year, but most anticipated video games in general.
Among the Sleep
While most horror games see you playing as a teenager or an adult, I can only think of one where you play as a two year-old. That game is Among the Sleep, a first-person adventure game that draws you into the mind and body of a child. You’re helped along the way by your plush teddy, but you can expect to see landscapes and creatures nightmarish enough to scare an adult, let along a child. An early alpha is available for download on the game’s website, and you can preorder the game while you’re there too.
Abandoned asylums, hospitals, hotels and other such buildings pale in comparison to the setting of an abandoned space station. Especially when you’re there to find out why it’s abandoned in the first place! This is the premise of Routine, billed as a non-linear exploration game with plenty to discover for yourself. It also promises to be an immersive experience, with Oculus Rift support, no HUDs and permadeath. Just like a real trip to an abandoned space station, then.
Neverending Nightmares is a psychological horror game with a unique and interesting concept behind it. Its creator, Matt Gilgenbach, draws inspiration for the game from his own battle with mental illness, an intriguing prospect and a brave move on Gilgenbach’s behalf. But what about the game itself? Expect a game that emphasises survival, with limited save points, scarce ammunition, puzzle solving and exploration over combat. It sounds like a call-back to survival horror classics like Silent Hill, an excellent goal in itself. Neverending Nightmares had a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, but if you’d like to back it, you can always head to the official website to do so.
Fans of the Project Zero/Fatal Frame games, listen up – DreadOut offers a similar experience but in a very different environment. The game is set in Indonesia, drawing heavily on Indonesian superstitions and folklore. Expect to see terrifying spirits such as Pocong, a soul trapped in a burial suit; Kuntilanak, a pregnant woman who met an untimely death; and Palasik, the head and internal organs of a young woman out to feast on infants. Your weapon? Your trusty mobile phone’s camera. A demo was released last year, and the game as a whole looks like it’s shaping up to be a unique foray into the terrors of the supernatural world.
Not to be confused with the Amnesia: The Dark Descent mod of the same name, White Night can best be described as Alfred Hitchcock’s Alone in the Dark. The game’s striking black and white visuals add emphasis to the core gameplay element of using light to solve puzzles. A beautiful game that’s sure to be a scary head-scratcher as well.
Catequesis sports 8-bit graphics, gameplay inspired by The Legend of Zelda and 90s RPGs and a story inspired by Lynch, Lovecraft, Cronenberg, Japanese horror and, er, Catholicism. The game follows Daniel who, after a ritual to save his girlfriend’s goes terribly wrong, must attempt to save her and make it out alive. It sounds a little cliché, but if the game’s teaser trailer is any indication, this is a game that will deliver the chills. The promo art is gorgeous too. Check it and the trailer out at the game’s website.
Dreampainters’ debut game, Anna, was something of a cult hit. I played the game before the Extended Edition was released and found it confusing for several reasons, but I’m still looking forward to their next game, White Heaven. Set in the same universe as Anna, White Heaven sees a young man attempt to escape from his captors. Stockholm Syndrome has been confirmed to be part of the plot, but I’m eager to see what kind of psychological elements will tie everything together… and how it all fits in with Anna, of course. The game will have Oculus Rift support too!
You may have heard of, or already played, Year Walk. The surreal (and often frightening) adventure game based on Swedish folklore was originally released for iOS devices, but will be released on PC and Mac (via Steam) sometime this year. The game will be reworked to not only include better visuals, new puzzles and an optional hint system, but also so that the controls are more intuitive for a mouse/keyboard input. Oh, and did I mention that it comes with the Year Walk Companion built in as well?
If part of the terror of the horror genre comes from not knowing what lurks around the corner, then you should keep many pairs of underwear handy while playing Daylight. A first-person adventure game with procedurally-generated levels, it sees you playing as a woman trying to escape from an asylum with a disturbing past, with only her mobile phone as a light source. PlayStation 4 owners rejoice: the game is coming to you too.
Are there any horror games you’re looking forward to this year? Drop us a line in the comments!