2014 has been a roller coaster ride for fans of spooky scary video games, and I’m not saying that because it gifted us with memorable horror debuts like The Forest, Alien: Isolation, The Evil Within and Five Nights at Freddy’s. While I was looking through the biggest stories of the year — and there were many — the stuff that really stood out were the myriad teases of what’s to come in 2015.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of 2014′s most unexpected and unforgettable horror game headlines, starting with one some fans of the genre have been waiting a long time to hear…Resident Evil May Actually Return to its Roots
The story that affected me the most was when I realized Capcom might have some fight left in them yet when they threw Resident Evil a lifeline just as it was beginning its slow and painful descent into video game obscurity.
This lifeline is coming in the form of an episodic sequel to Revelations — arguably the best Resident Evil game in some time — and a remaster of the beloved Resident Evil REmake. The best part of all this is we won’t have to wait long to see what happens when a talented publisher like Capcom rediscovers their determination, because both games will be out my March.
It was recently announced that Radius-TWC would release Everly – from Wrong Turn 2 and Knights of Badassdom director Joe Lynch – on iTunes and On Demand January 23, 2015 and in limited theaters February 27, 2015.
This weekend a trailer was discovered online (with an official trailer coming soon) that takes you inside the tale of a woman (played by Salma Hayek) who is forced to take arms against a sea of assassins dispatched by her mob boss ex-husband. Watch as Hayek shoots a billion yakuza, and then tosses a granade into an elevator filled with them. BOOM!
Togo Igawa, Masashi Fujimoto and Hiroyuki Watanabe round out the key cast.
“It’s Christmas time, but all is not well in the world of Everly (Salma Hayek). A call girl by trade, Everly has turned against her gangster boss Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe) and become a police informant. In response, Taiko has put out a hit on Everly and her family. Soon, every criminal in town wants to cash in. Everly’s survival instincts quickly kick in as she matches wits and firepower with Taiko and a seemingly endless stream of killers.”
Personal opinion: A horror movie can only be good if you care about the characters. Why worry if the characters in the film don’t mean a thing to me? After all, they can die and, by not caring, it means nothing at all to me.
So let’s take a little bit of time here to celebrate some of the best horror couples that have graced the silver screen. Y’know, that couple that actually feels kinda real and that relationship that you aspire to one day have.
Head on in for a few of my favorites and then share yours in the comments below!
Earlier this year, the Criterion Collection released a fascinating peek from behind the scenes of 1991′s infamous and terrifying thriller The Silence Of The Lambs. The footage showed actor Anthony Hopkins, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, trying on several different masks that would be used during the character’s meeting with Senator Martin.
It’s pretty fascinating to see the different masks as they each have their own unique style. However, I’m happy that they went with the style used in the film. It’s the most sinister, the most unnerving. It doesn’t inhibit Dr. Lecter’s eyes, which are soulless.
Do you disagree? Which of these masks do you prefer?
If history has taught us anything, it’s that a video game adaptation can bring in a lot of money. Folks seem to enjoy watching them despite their near-universally abysmal quality. Resident Evil had made just short of a billion dollars at the box office since it debuted a decade earlier in 2002. That’s no easy feat, but what’s even more impressive is every sequel managed to make more money than the last, at least until the latest sequel ruined everything.
I take that back. It’s not that impressive.
Keep throwing more and more money at a franchise that’s recognized around the world and make sure the last two films benefit from the ridiculously inflated 3D ticket prices and there’s a good chance you’ll see similar results.
Transformers has already shown us that people are more than willing to turn up in droves to watch the third/fourth/fifth installment in a series that’s been consistently awful if there’s a widely recognized name attached to it.
As far as I can tell, there isn’t a single person left that does more than tolerate the Resident Evil films. They either died off or went into hiding after Retribution released. I wanted to make sure of this before I stuck my neck out again after my valiant unnecessary defense of Silent Hill, which sparked a discussion that read something like “We actually love this movie, you stupid dickface.”
I’m willing to endure those nasty comments about because Resident Evil is a film that’s had an indelible mark on a younger me. The film released when I was in the 8th grade, when I was aspiring to become a film director. I’d spend a majority of the following four years writing stories of my own, and as much as I wish it weren’t true, this movie affected me.
Resident Evil isn’t a “good” film, and I’m not just defending it because of its gargantuan impact on me. There’s something here that often gets overlooked, even by me. Let’s dig into it, shall we?
One of the most memorable scenes in this movie is, to me, one of its most unconventional.
Usually, spooky scary movies with smaller casts — like this one — are in no hurry to pick off their limited cast of characters. Each one is meant to expire in a way that will satisfy the viewer, and that can only happen after we’ve been given the chance to care about them — or after we’ve seen them in their birthday suit grinding up against another character we’re supposed to care about.
Resident Evil‘s answer to this is the laser hall, a corridor of mirrors and magic that unleashes mildly easy-to-dodge death beams to give anyone trapped inside hope before following those up with a grid of white-hot death no one can escape. This death corridor easily picks off four of the characters we were just introduced to, forcing the survivors to kick into Survival mode. It’s a nifty scene because it’s where everything goes completely off the rails.
Look back at all of the scary movies you’ve watched. Most will have a scene — it could be as simple as a car breaking down in a forest at night — early on where something happens that helps our “heroes” realize they’re in actual danger. From there, the goal is to survive.
This isn’t a new concept, but the laser hall has been one of the better takes on it. It takes all of two minutes for the team leader to get reduced to a pile of people chunks on the floor next to what used to be the team medic and two other soldiers. The survivors are left traumatized and fragmented, and the scene that follows gets in another curve ball.
Gamers went into this movie expecting it to be about zombies, but the real threat is really the Red Queen, a rogue AI that serves as a ruthless, logic god complete with a god-like control over the secret underground facility Alice and Friends are trapped inside of.
Some of my favorite things about this movie will only be obvious if you’re a seasoned fan of the genre or if you know where to look. Paul W.S. Anderson scattered numerous subtle nods to the video games, a symbolic tribute to Alice in Wonderland and even a few homages to classic films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Cube all over this movie.
I don’t imagine any of that would change your mind if you’ve already decided you hate this film, but it does offer an idea of what Anderson was initially going for with his take on the games.
If we were talking about any other Resident Evil movie, this would be the part where I start ranting about how bad they are at casting actors who share even the smallest resemblances to their virtual counterparts. Unlike every sequel that followed it, the first film didn’t use zombies, monsters, or horrific miscasting (I’m looking at you, Chris) to brutalize fan favorite characters from the games.
Jovovich had mastered the art of kicking ass on-screen (multi-pass!) prior to her portrayal of Alice, so the level of badassitude she brought to that character didn’t ever feel forced. The same goes for her gradual transformation from a lady who fell in the shower to fearless group leader. I can’t think of another actress who would match Jovovich’s ability to kick mountains of ass without sacrificing likability, and that’s an important trait for a femme fatale who can break necks with her thighs.
This movie also gifted us with Rain, played by Michelle Rodriguez, who I love, even though I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s a time witch. She doesn’t age, and it freaks me out.
Rain immediately stood out to me because, like Alice, she’s an original creation. She wasn’t torn from the games just so she could be shoehorned into the story in some lazy way. Rain is just as strong as some of the most unforgettable lady heroes from the games.
She had the potential to be more than that, but we probably won’t see that potential realized since the films are slated to wrap up next year.
Remember when I said Resident Evil is most successful when it strives to be unconventional, and that it doesn’t pursue its good ideas often enough? If you answered yes, then bear with me while I try and compare this movie to a sandwich. Killing off a third of the cast made things exciting early on. It’s a harsh scene that sets up an exponentially more bleak ending, which sees Alice escape the Hive facility, alone, just so she can continue her adventure in a city that’s dealing with a zombie apocalypse of its own.
I love bleak endings. They’re used so rarely these days that it makes the rare time when a film does it well all the more special.
Also worth mentioning is the soundtrack, which was scored by Marco Beltrami (Scream 1-4) and Marilyn Manson. It’s largely comprised of a mixed bag of tracks from various rock and metal artists, but there are a few original works mixed in there and they’re all great.
An elite special ops team that’s sent in to investigate strange happenings, characters plagued by amnesia so they can remember crucial information when it helps move that plot along, hordes of flesh-eating zombies, a malevolent rogue AI that invests about as much thought into suffocating a room-full of scientists as you or I would put into squishing a cockroach — Resident Evil has an annoying tendency to be generic.
It can also be different and even effective, when it wants to be. It’s riddled with technical and creative issues and it’s not at all what we expected from a Resident Evil movie in 2002, but it’s fun. It’s a crazy, gory and sometimes even deliciously cheesy roller coaster ride with a few well-crafted scares, some stylishly choreographed fight scenes and more zombies than you can shake a spiked bat at.
Oh, and we mustn’t forget about the Wire fu.
I’ve shared my picks for the best and the worst horror games of 2014, but because I’m not only voice here on Bloody Disgusting, I thought we’d take a minute to see which games my fellow staffers liked and/or disliked. There are some solid picks here, and some unconventional ones, too. But then, this hasn’t necessarily been a conventional year for gaming.
Whereas the last few years have been mildly uneventful, 2014 came brimming with exciting announcements, reveals and teases of things we’ll have to continue to wait for. Before we get into that, let’s take another look back at more of the year’s best and worst games, as chosen by a few of our lovely contributors.Vikki Blake
Favorite Game of 2014: P.T.
I know you’re going to call me out for cheating because, technically, it’s not a full game, but can we talk about P.T.? Because let’s face it: it was all kinds of incredible.
You don’t have to know me very well to know that the Silent Hill franchise has been stamped irrevocably into my DNA. It’s that game – THE game – that shaped not just what I play, but who I am. Unlike some, I haven’t been wholly table-flippy at the twists and turns the franchise has taken, but I’ll concur that the latter half of Silent Hill’s legacy is nowhere near as potent as the former.
I went into that teaser blind. The demo had yet to soak through public consciousness, and so I stepped into that corridor with no prior knowledge that Kojima was waiting at the end of me. Not since Silent Hill 2 have I been so terrified of turning a corner, and not since Silent Hill 4 have I been so thoroughly distressed by an unfurling story. P.T. is a pitch-perfect symphony of panic and pathos.
Oh, Silent Hills. I cannot wait to play you a visit.Pat Torfe
Favorite Game of 2014: Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
Now I know that Adam and others will talk about games like Alien: Isolation as being the best games of 2014, but me being me, I had to reach back for a blast from the past, that this past October received a big 20th anniversary makeover, complete with new content.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers was originally released way back in 1993, and is considered by many gamers and critics as one of the best games ever. Legendary adventure game designer and creator Jane Jensen wove a masterful blend of horror and mystery into the game’s story, as well as a variety of eclectic and interesting characters.
For the 20th Anniversary release, the game was given an overhaul in the graphics and sound departments, with a few extra challenges thrown in. Granted, some of the changes are a miss (timed puzzles, some awkward animations and a few glitches), but the core story and characters are so enveloping that it’s a minor complaint.
Gamers who weren’t around for the glory days of Adventure games who are looking for an awesome story don’t have to look very far with this update on a classic.T. Blake Braddy
Favorite Games of 2014: Neverending Nightmares, The Long Dark, Five Nights at Freddy’s
Neverending Nightmares plays like a motion comic from Hell. Featuring a black-and-white visual aesthetic enhanced by splashes of color — mostly red, of course — Matt Gilgenbach’s very personal horror adventure game manages to be poignant, tense, and horrific at the same time.
It takes some interesting chances on not just narrative experience but also uses game mechanics and art design as metaphor to further underline its themes. Neverending Nightmares accomplishes plenty in its brief run-time, and so many other aspiring horror titles could learn much from this game’s particular approach to horror.
The Long Dark, I think, has been somewhat overlooked in the grand scheme of the gaming year 2014. It is subtle and quiet to its approach to the survival sim subgenre, but the middlebrow manner with which it tackles the end of the world is precisely what sets it apart. It is neither too dry and numbers-obsessed, nor is it overly filled with grim imagery, but rather manages to strike a comfortable balance. The art style, too, is something the likes of which I have never seen in a game.
It allows for some wonderful exploration, and the manifold ways that people can be dispatched is kind of amazing. Anyone looking for a game to become easily attached to should check out The Long Dark. It is a great one to pick up this time of year, too.
If my other choices are tone-adjacent to horror games, then Five Nights at Freddy’s is the most distilled expression of fear in gaming form I can muster for this feature. It is unbelievably simple and effective, almost devoid of anything but gameplay.
The dread that accompanies the act of clicking through a variety of security cameras throughout Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza is inimitable. It is easily one of the most purely frightening games I have ever taken up, not to mention that robotic, anthropomorphic woodland creatures are innately horrifying, and at $5 full-price, it is a no-brainer.
Least Favorite Horror Games of 2014: Alien: Isolation, DreadOut
This one might be a controversial choice, I know, but hear me out. I don’t think Alien: Isolation is necessarily the worst game of the year, given the franchise’s recent track record, but the disparity between its potential and follow-through is so vast that it can at least be in the running for most disappointing.
Isolation is at least five hours too long for what it attempts to achieve and is in reality probably overstays its welcome by ten hours. The gaming community at large was incredulous that a survival horror game involving a single Xenomorph tracking down Amanda Ripley could be sustained for ten hours, let alone fifteen or twenty (or even twenty-five). Lop several tedious, ship-traversing hours of Alien: Isolation and you are probably looking at a hands-down game of the year.
Still, to the team at Creative Assembly’s credit, this game is proof that the Alien franchise is capable of being viable again. It is tense, unnerving, and sometimes shockingly good, but these stretches are so muddied by tedium and monotony that the game becomes difficult to recommend. Perhaps future iterations will capitalize on what this game promised and then delivered in excruciating excess.
DreadOut suffers from being a relatively undercooked experience. It is brief and yet repetitive, mechanically shallow and yet frustrating. There are traditional myths and some quite terrifying moments in isolation, but they are minimized by annoying puzzles and confounding narrative sequences.
The game’s tone veers wildly from deadly self-serious to cheeky, and the sections are sometimes so jarringly initiated that it feels like the game was created by separate teams and then hastily patched together. However, the team at Digital Happiness could not be more excited about the project, and they have consistently supported the game, so with some updates and a forthcoming second episode on the way, there’s hope for DreadOut yet.
For the rest of our 2014 recap, check this out!
2014 has been an excellent year for anyone who enjoys a night of spooky gaming, but it’ll almost definitely pale in comparison to the impressive line-up that 2015 has in store for us. It’s a little surprising how good this year has been, since the year that follows the launch of a new console generation usually isn’t very memorable.
As devs learn their way around the new-and-improved platforms, building new engines that take advantage of their ability to do and show more, this has historically been a time for experimentation. That tends to result in a mixed bag of games that lay the groundwork for even better sequels down the road, and while this year has been arguably better than most, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get our fair share of duds. Starting with…Escape Dead Island
There’s no reason why Escape Dead Island should be as terrible as it is. I’d be impressed with its extreme level of suck had I not been forced to endure four hours playing it for my review. It takes a lot to get me to despise a game, but I despise this game. It’s tedious, unattractive and lazily made.
No more co-op, no more loot, no more weapon crafting, and no more RPG elements means it also loses its sense of progression. So it essentially removes removes everything that makes the Dead Island series so enjoyable.
I’m serious when I say that I struggled for a long time to try and find something good to say about it in my review — I ended up not hating its cel-shaded art style — but even then, that praise is overwhelmed by a mountain of poor decisions that’s left us with a game that only continues the gradual watering down of the post-apocalyptic zombie franchise.
I fall in and out of love with AMC’s The Walking Dead all the time, but I’ve always been fond of Daryl, the group’s strangely lovable crossbow-wielding badass. Norman Reedus has made that character into one of the few consistently fantastic things about the show. We may know him as Daryl for now, but I suspect that will change once Silent Hills begins its descent from a fiery sky on a chariot made out of old E.T. Atari cartridges, because that’s something Kojima would do.
Silent Hills is going to help the world stop seeing him as that cool guy with the crossbow and start seeing him as that way cooler dude who totally just bludgeoned Pyramid Head to death a second ago with the butt of his flashlight.
Reedus recently took to that magical corner of the Internet we refer to as Reddit for a very special AMA. Most of the questions were aimed at The Walking Dead, but Silent Hills did come up briefly when the actor replied to a question about his experience with it so far, saying “I’m super excited to be a part of [Silent Hills]. Both those guys are geniuses at what they do. We haven’t shot the heavy stuff yet. Kojima approached me right after Guillermo did.”
What do you think this “heavy stuff” is? My guess is it has something to do with the radio broadcasts from the P.T. demo. Stories of fathers brutally murdering their families while chanting strange number combinations would qualify as “heavy”, I think.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. This has been a fantastic year to be a card-carrying enthusiast of the horror genre, and as good as it is now, 2015 is looking even better. We’ve seen more success stories than ever before, and while much of the attention our favorite genre has seen can be attributed to a stronger-than-ever showing from indie developers, it’s clear the studios behind AAA games have also upped their game.
Before we continue our plunge into 2015 and the virtual worlds it has waiting for us, let’s take a moment to look back at some of my favorite horror games of 2014, starting with what I consider to be the scariest of them all…Outlast: Whistleblower
The first Outlast was new and terrifying enough to hide some of its imperfections when it released last year. Outlast: Whistleblower didn’t need to do much to be successful, but rather than rest on its laurels, developer Red Barrels used the expansion as an opportunity to tweak the original game’s winning formula, starting with some trimming of the fat.
Whistleblower is a leaner, scarier and more focused gaming experience that benefits from improved pacing and a selection of enemies and environments that never remain on-screen long enough to grow repetitive. It also manages to be even more twisted, with a final act that ranks among the craziest WTF Did I Just See? moments in gaming, horror or otherwise.
A lot has happened since I last asked this question of you, and since we’re standing on the precipice of the New Year, now is as good a time as any to bring it up again. So tell me, what’s your most anticipated horror game(s) of 2015?
2014 hasn’t fully wrapped up and we already have a good idea of how exciting 2015 is going to be for horror fans. The list is far from finished and it’s already an impressive line-up. If you need a hand choosing your favorites, feel free to use one or both of our handy guides to the most promising indies and AAA releases coming in 2015 and beyond.
If sharing your picks sounds like too much work, I recommend you sneak a peak at my 5 most anticipated horror games of 2015. My mom told me it’s a solid list.
That’s right, I said it. I don’t think you have what it takes to survive this video. All those years playing video games have made you far too soft, you just don’t stand a chance. If you’d like to prove me wrong, this interactive “Choose Your Own Path” video should leave you an idea of how long you can expect to last in Dying Light proper.
It sounds like this video might not work right on mobile devices, so I suggest you do this on a computer. When you’re done with it, don’t forget to let us know how you fared in the comments!
Dying Light is slated to release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on January 27.
Today marks the last Friday of 2014. In just a few days, we’ll be ushering in a New Year, one that gives us all an opportunity to create something amazing, to make us say, “2015? Fucking awesome year!” But in order to do that, we’ve gotta end 2014 with a bang!
Enter London’s Throne and their incredible frame-by-frame embroidered music video for “Tharsis Sleeps”, which took an estimated 45 million stitches to create! Directed by Nicos Livesey and Tom Bunker, the video shows three astronauts head to Mars with a nuclear weapon in tow on a mission to rejuvenate the planet and kickstart new life on the planet. Of course, things don’t go as planned…
Pick up the track on the band’s EP Where Thrasis Sleeps, which you can snag via iTunes.
Frictional Games took to their blog earlier this week to offer an update about their upcoming survival horror game, SOMA, which recently entered pre-beta. Now, this phase isn’t to be confused with an alpha, which would’ve described the state of the game back in March, or the pre-pre-beta phase that preceded the pre-beta. Still with me? Good.
Because video game development lingo can never be as exciting as a pretty picture, we also have this snazzy new screenshot.
SOMA hits PC and PS4 in 2015.