Three Indie Horror Titles You Should Play
Something I’ve often talked about that not enough games do, or do well, is take liberties with the player’s ability to perceive reality. Eternal Darkness famously screwed with player perception to great effect, but it’s rare that a game is able to present an untrustworthy world and not come off as contrived or weak.
Lone Survivor presents its story in just such a way, forcing the players to question reality all the way through. Even from the outset, one wonders if the events of the game are a dream while taking on the role of a single survivor from an awful plague that has turned seemingly everyone in a city into horrific, fleshy monsters. The survivor has a gun and the ability to shoot down these monsters, but with such questions at play as to whether the protagonist’s perception is trustworthy, is it worth shooting these monsters? What if they turn out to be the people, and we, the protagonists, are the true monsters?
While playing with your perception, Lone Survivor is also making the task of survival an arduous one, while keeping the atmosphere thick and foreboding. As the survivor inches through his apartment building and, later, the surrounding city, creepy sounds often alert him to danger — or to his tenuous grip on sanity. But you’re also tasked with keeping alive: hunting down food and potable water, sleeping, and gathering supplies. There are a lot of great survival horror layers at work here.
Another title that’s mostly darkness with only a flashlight to guide the player, Home also relies heavily on its atmosphere to sell its scares, over even enemies or creatures. Waking up in a strange house, the player character knows only what he discovers along the way — he’s at the scene of a murder, and he doesn’t know why, or what happened. Players find themselves locked in and forced to take an alternative route to get home.
Like Lone Survivor, Home begins to question its protagonist’s perceptions relatively early, underscored by some gruesome locales through which the player bumbles and lots of ominous, expertly applied sound design. Mostly Home is a side-scrolling point-and-click adventure title, but it manages to build a palpable sense of dread that never dissipates through its relatively short run time. The more places you explore, the more you learn, the more you worry.
Home is a little more simplistic than the other entries on this list, but that’s not to say it doesn’t do a good job of instilling dread. with a number of fewer game elements, but what it lacks in action it makes up in interesting storytelling. You’ll make decisions about how you gather information and perceive it in the game. The other great thing about Home is that costs next to nothing to own, which means there’s no excuse not to see what the game has to offer with its brand of horror storytelling.
One of the great things about the horror genre is that video games handl eit so well, and it can be so different from one game to the next. None of these titles is heavy on the action, necessarily — all require a different bit of your brain than might normally be required to best beasties in games such as Resident Evil or Dead Space. Each offers a different take on the horror experience, but they all have one thing in common: fear.
If you’ve got ideas for future horror titles you’d like us to investigate and share with Game Front readers, drop them in the comments.
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