It has become increasingly difficult to get excited about games featuring pixelart. Making a game seem like it could have been released on the NES is nothing new and hasn’t been for some time now. At some point, devs will make retro games based on retro games mimicking retro games, and the universe will collapse in upon itself.
Scrolling through the front page of Steam will usually yield a stomach-turning number of NES-like or SNES-like games, complete with a chiptune soundtrack and some vague resemblance to the games of yore.
And yet, uniquely entertaining games like Axiom Verge transcend mere nostalgia porn and make interesting use of mechanical and story limitations for effect. They are few and far between, but they usually possess some hook beyond a certain graphical style.
Uncanny Valley represents an attempt at transcendence. Produced by Cowardly Creations, the game touts itself as survival horror with action / adventure elements.
If Uncanny Valley can be compared to the original survival horror game, Resident Evil, then it is due to the utter simplicity of its aims. A pixelated throwback in many ways, the game features simple mechanics, straightforward puzzles, and plain writing. Unlike the above-mentioned RE, however, it does not punish the player with tank controls, improbable-to-impossible puzzles, and a frustrating save system. However, a unique premise does not manage to save what is ultimately a game too small in scope for its grand ambitions.
With its endlessly creepy score and somber-yet-detached mood, Uncanny Valley is one of the most identifiably horror games of recent memory. It’s sort of a bargain basement Silent Hill, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s got some kind of weird and (for lack of a better word) “indie” limitations, but this is not a game merely reaching for the lowest common denominator.
In Uncanny Valley, players take on the role of Tom, a security guard at a facility in an uninhabited town. His coworker is a rotund jerk, and the facility Tom guards contains secret and off-limits areas, so a mystery is built not just into the story but into the world, as well.
Nightmares of being homeless (or at least tattered and dirty) plague Tom’s nights, creating a sense of a split world, one in which Tom is a listless vagabond in search of, well, something, and one in which he is a listless working stiff uncovering the mystery of his ostensible ghost town. There are walking shadows and empty buildings, and the constant hum of silence is almost too much to bear.
However, the selling point for this game is undoubtedly its branching story, which ultimately leads to one of several possible endings, like a Choose Your Own Adventure tale. Miss something in your playthrough, and the game doesn’t overtly penalize you. The ending may change slightly, but the game itself continues on, with the player none the wiser.
For example, there is no real fail state that drags you back to a checkpoint. If you completely botch a puzzle or manage to get yourself “killed” — it’s weird — you won’t have to replay that section. Instead, you’ll just continue on as if nothing had happened. Or maybe you won’t, but the game knows, and it subtly changes to reflect your gameplay choices.
The art style lies somewhere in the valley between Lone Survivor and Gunpoint. Though at first glance it appears to be yet another pixelart game, it’s way more complicated than that. The character models are well-designed, as is the world, and an amount of care has been placed into world-building. Granted, it’s a very small world, and the rooms are sometimes repetitive-looking, so it’s not perfect, but the way the game uses scale and space is kind of interesting.
The basic mechanics are — at best — rudimentary. You’ll pick up a few items and use them elsewhere, and in any other game the dearth of things to “do” would be a net negative, but for this particular gaming experience, it kind of works. It’s not about the puzzles, per se, because the game is funneling players into a different possible outcome.
Logically, that feels sort of weird for me. If the puzzle is merely a filtering device for the next section of the game and where you, as the player, stand within it, then how much do the puzzles and outcomes matter in and of themselves? I can’t even come down completely on the consequences-based system, however, because even bigger budget games use these tactics to move story forward. I have to say it does work here.
Kind of. And that’s what I can’t quite get over. The game is just long enough and just varied enough to be interesting, but not interesting enough to make it an automatic recommendation.
The most problematic aspect of Uncanny Valley is its adherence to the idea that replay value is one of the game’s biggest draws. The first playthrough is a relatively short experience, but the number of endings is meant to pull players back in so they can see what else could happen.
However, I found myself almost entirely without a desire to see the rest of the game once I had finished it. There’s a chance you will play the game a second, third, or maybe fourth time in order to experience the different endings, but if you, like me, felt satisfied after the first playthrough, the desire to replay it just plummets.
In that way it is kind of like Heavy Rain. Most people only played through once, and even if they googled the other endings, they largely felt satisfied with how their game ended up. On a much smaller scale, Uncanny Valley works much the same way. Since the playthroughs are much shorter, it is conceivable to dash back through to make different choices, but the experience seems depleted in a way, if you do that.
Overall, Uncanny Valley is a weird thing. It has a lot going for it that is somewhat unique. The subject matter is grim, and the music is appropriate in tone. The story is intentionally vague, and in some ways that’s a very cool aspect of what the game is trying to accomplish. I only wish the writing were a little more sophisticated. The lack of coherent writing and interesting (or at least unique) characters plays heavily into the feeling that this game could be more than it is.
It doesn’t quite work all the way for me, but there’s plenty here that is intriguing on a base story level to draw in plenty of gamers. It feels like part of a great game. Maybe with some time and tweaking, it could become a whole one.
The Final Word: For ten bucks, Uncanny Valley is by no means the worst way you could spend your money on Steam, and the confusion of picking through its many bizarre layers might be enough to tip the balance in the player’s favor, but I can’t wholly recommend it.
The makers of Kholat have released some new footage from the upcoming game that gives us a peaceful walking tour of one of its environments. Seen in the video below is Ivdel — an actual town in Russia — which will serve as one of the first places we visit in the game.
Ivdel looks like a peaceful enough place, but you can be sure it’s hiding something sinister. Just look at that rickety fence. Nothing good happens in a town with a fence like that. At the very least we’re looking at the possibility of injuries caused by stray nails. Sinister nails.
In related news, Kholat is one of a growing number of promising indie horror games that are coming later this year. You can head over here for more of them.
Jason Voorhees has finally made his way to Mortal Kombat X. If you purchased the game’s Kombat Pack, he’s available now, patiently waiting for you to put him to good use. The rest of you will need to wait until May 12 to drop $7.99 to unlock him and the Horror Pack, or $4.99 just for him.
I’ve spent some time with him, and for the most part, I think he’s a solid addition to the roster. That’s not to say that his portrayal isn’t without its issues, but if you’ve been watching him hack up horny teens as long as I have, or longer, than I don’t think he’ll disappoint. He’s fun to play as, but as entertaining as it is watching him literally Hulk someone to pieces, I wish NetherRealm would’ve paired him with a map set in Camp Crystal Lake. It feels like a missed opportunity.
Because we gorehounds are an insatiable bunch, YouTuber MKIceAndFire has gone and compiled every one of Jason’s finishing moves into one extremely gory video. My favorite part is when he tackles his opponent so hard his head flies off. I need to make that my email signature, pronto.
In this trailer for Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone expansion for The New Order, we learn that evil is immortal, while Nazis definitely aren’t. The expansion is out now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and while you don’t need the main game to play it, I still recommend you check it out if you haven’t already. It’s better than you might think.
In The Old Blood, B.J. Blazkowicz is tasked with taking out yet another Nazi war machine. This time however, zombies are involved.
I recently dove into The Babadook for a second time, since it was just sitting there in my Netflix queue, calling out to me like some sort of hellish Siren. This is a movie that’s stuck with me not just because of its effective use of atmosphere, or how genuinely frightening it often is. In the end, it’s a story about two damaged, grieving people who are tied together by blood, a mutual loss and eventually, a mutual enemy.
There are few horror movie villains who are worth paying tribute to through cosplay more than the Babadook. He’s a perfect for it, with his imposing form, pale face and freakishly long hands. I think this cosplayer nailed all of the above, but I’ll let you decide.
Because an open-world game where you play as a goat that’s able to manipulate time and space in hilarious ways isn’t quite strange enough, this week, Goat Simulator will become even stranger.
The purposeful glitch-fest will be getting some paid DLC tomorrow with the arrival of GoatZ. For $4.99, you can visit a new world that’s been overrun by hordes of the buggy undead. The DLC also introduces six craftable weapons and a survival mechanic that involves your needing to eat every five minutes, because DayZ.
GoatZ releases on May 7 for PC, Mac and Linux. It will also be available on iOS and Android for the same price, but as a standalone app. No word on a console release.
Bad news for everyone who deleted PT from the PS4 and figured they could always redownload it. According to Kotaku, the demo has been completely wiped from the PSN servers, meaning that even if you had it before you’ll never be able to get it again. This goes against the standard scenario on the PSN, where users could always, although not anymore, redownload a game they had purchased or put on their system.
This update comes after the announcement that Silent Hills, which PT turned out to be a teaser for, was cancelled.
Bottom line: If you have PT on your PS4, don’t ever delete it if you have the slightest thought that you’ll want to replay it.
Having watched the first episode of “Wayward Pines” already, we can vouch that all of its residents are pretty mysterious, including the town doctor, Dr. Jenkins, portrayed by Toby Jones. In this new promo video, the actor sheds a bit of light on his character.
About “Wayward Pines”:
Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX) and Fox International Channels present the 10-episode, intense psychological thriller “WAYWARD PINES.” The highly anticipated event series, based on a best-selling novel and brought to life by suspenseful storyteller M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) and executive-produced by Shyamalan, Donald De Line, Chad Hodge, and Ashwin Rajan, will premiere Thursday, May 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), on FOX, while also debuting simultaneously in more than 125 countries across Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and Latin America. The global “WAYWARD PINES” debut will be the world’s largest day-and-date launch for a scripted series ever.
The series stars Academy Award nominee Matt Dillon (Crash) as a Secret Service agent on a mission to find two missing federal agents in the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID. In addition to Dillon, the stellar cast includes Academy and Emmy Award winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard (Crash, Hustle & Flow), Carla Gugino (“Entourage”), Shannyn Sossamon (“How to Make It in America”), Toby Jones (Infamous, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Reed Diamond (“24,” Much Ado About Nothing), Tim Griffin (“Prime Suspect”), Charlie Tahan (Charlie St. Cloud), and Academy Award and Emmy Award nominee Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear).
“WAYWARD PINES” is a production of FX Productions. The series was developed for television by Hodge (“The Playboy Club,” “Runaway”) and executive-produced by De Line (Green Lantern, The Italian Job), Rajan (Devil), Hodge, and Shyamalan. Hodge wrote and Shyamalan directed the premiere episode. “Like” “WAYWARD PINES” on Facebook at facebook.com/WaywardPines. Follow the series on Twitter at @WaywardPinesFOX and join the discussion using #waywardpines. See photos and videos on Instagram by following @Wayward Pines.
British series “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” still doesn’t have a firm release date on BBC America other than “sometime this summer,” but it does have a clip to share so settle in for a sneak peek of Honeyfoot (Brian Pettifer) and Segundus (Edward Hogg) of the York Society of Magicians visiting the mysterious recluse Mr Norrell in search of answers as to why magic is no longer practiced in England.
The seven-part series was adapted from Susanna Clarke’s bestselling novel by Peter Harness (“Wallander,” Is Anybody There?) and stars Olivier Award-winning Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan, who take on the magical roles of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, respectively. Other cast members include Alice Englert, Marc Warren, Samuel West, and Charlotte Riley.
The series is directed by Toby Haynes, and the producer is Nick Hirschkorn. It is produced by Cuba Pictures for BBC One and co-produced with BBC America, in association with Feel Films, Far Moor, Screen Yorkshire, and Bell Media’s Space. It will be distributed by Endemol Worldwide Distribution.
Set at the beginning of the 19th century, England no longer believes in practical magic. The reclusive Mr Norrell (Marsan) of Hurtfew Abbey stuns the city of York when he causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. With a little persuasion and help from his man of business, Childermass (Enzo Cilenti), he goes to London to help the government in the war against Napoleon. It is there Norrell summons a fairy (Warren) to bring Lady Pole (Englert) back from the dead, opening a whole can of worms…
Jonathan Strange (Carvel) is charming, rich, and arrogant. While trying to secure his beloved Arabella’s (Riley) hand in marriage, he meets the magician of Threadneedle Street, Vinculus (Paul Kaye), who tells him he is destined to be a great magician. A shaken and disturbed Strange initially dismisses the claims, but intrigue overcomes; and in an attempt to find his occupation, he tries to practice magic…
The post Find Some Magic in this Sneak Peek of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell appeared first on Dread Central.
Two popular horror flicks are getting the reboot treatment from Emaji Entertainment, which has announced its intentions to reboot both The Howling and the long awaited follow-up to Dee Snider’s StrangeLand.
From the Press Releases:
Emaji, Inc., announced today that its entertainment division, Emaji Entertainment, has acquired the rights to reboot The Howling, the 1981 horror classic that to date has seen eight films released that have been based in part of the three novels written by Gary Brander. This is the first film production for the recently formed Emaji Entertainment, which is a division of Emaji, Inc. Emaji Entertainment plans to produce The Howling as the first in a series of films based upon well known film properties.
Additional details on the production and distribution of The Howling will be released as the film moves through the pre-production process.
The Howling was a 1981 werewolf-themed horror film directed by Joe Dante, who also directed Gremlins. Made for $1.5 million, the movie went on to gross $18 million in its initial theatrical release. Between 1985 and 2011 there were seven more Howling related films produced in the franchise, including Howling II in 1985, Howling III in 1987, Howling IV in 1988, Howling V in 1989, Howling VI in 1991, Howling: New Moon Rising in 1995, and The Howling: Reborn in 2011.
Emaji also announced today that Emaji Entertainment has acquired the rights to reboot Dee Snider’s StrangeLand, the 1998 horror film written by and starring Snider, the frontman of heavy metal giant Twisted Sister.
Dee Snider’s portrayal of Carlton Hendricks, aka Captain Howdy, in the original film created a character that has become a cult horror legend. Emaji Entertainment will accompany the singer-songwriter, screenwriter, radio personality, and actor back into the dark underground world of ritualistic body modification where victims are lured via an ever pervasive world of social media.
The 1998 soundtrack included an incredible array of bands – System of a Down, Sevendust, Soulfly, Slipknot, Kid Rock, Coal Chamber, Twisted Sister, Megadeth, Marilyn Manson, and Pantera – handpicked by Snider. “Music was intrinsic to me in the first one. We really tried to create the ultimate heavy soundtrack. Music will be important to me again for this film,” adds Snider.
The project has the working title StrangeLand: Disciple and is the second film production announced by the company based on a well established horror property.
Additional details will be released as the film moves through production and towards release.
The post Emaji Entertainment Reboots The Howling and Dee Snider’s StrangeLand appeared first on Dread Central.
If you ever invite yours truly to a party and you’re ready for me to hit the proverbial road, all you have to do is start playing a movie that prominently features spiders. I’ll be out the door before you can properly pronounce “arachnophobia.” Even something as inherently silly as Bill Rebane’s 1975 cult flick The Giant Spider Invasion will scare the accidentally swallowed spider eggs outta me.
Since I love horror movies and adore being scared out of my wits, I’m obsessed with spider movies of all shapes and sizes. Naturally, as a B-movie fanatic, I was understandably thrilled that VCI Entertainment is unleashing The Giant Spider Invasion on Blu-ray this summer. Trust me: This flick is enjoyable even without the “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ commentary.
Unfamiliar with The Giant Spider Invasion? Here’s a short synopsis:
Giant spiders from outer space begin to invade Earth when a huge black hole appears in a farmer’s field outside a small town in Wisconsin. A NASA scientist deduces the invasion is the result of some sort of intergalactic gateway, as he devises a plan to stop the huge, hairy, creeping crawlers from devouring the local population.
Sure, the film is delightfully cheesy and totally far-fetched, but when your arachnophobia is almost completely unmanageable, even this sort of picture is enough to give you the heebie-jeebies. Fans of The Giant Spider Invasion can snag the three-disc Blu-ray set on June 15, 2015. The flick is packaged with a behind-the-scenes documentary, archival footage, and a CD featuring “The Giant Spider Invasion: The Musical.” All for $24.99. Nerve pills not included.
The post The Giant Spider Invasion Spins Its Web on Blu-ray This Summer appeared first on Dread Central.
We get that Sam’s desperate and needs all the help he can get, yadda yadda, but longtime “Supernatural” fans are no doubt as anxious as we are for this season’s interminable Mark of Cain storyline to wrap up already. Here’s executive producer Jeremy Carver with an inside look at this week’s Episode 10.21, “Dark Dynasty,” which will hopefully start tying up some of Season 10’s very loose ends.
“Supernatural” Episode 10.21 – “Dark Dynasty” (airs 5/6/15, 9PM)
THE WINCHESTERS MEET THE STYNES — Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) investigate a bizarre murder and realize the killer bears the same tattoo as those from the Styne family. Eldon Styne (guest star David Hoflin) attacks Dean, and a brutal fight ensues.
Meanwhile, Castiel (Misha Collins) acts as referee when Charlie (guest star Felicia Day) and Rowena (guest star Ruth Connell) are forced to work together on the Book of the Damned. Crowley (Mark Sheppard) discovers his mother is missing and knows she’s up to something so he turns to an old enemy for help. Robert Singer directed this episode written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner.
The post Producer’s Preview Goes Inside Supernatural Episode 10.21 – Dark Dynasty appeared first on Dread Central.
Even though The Woman is the only darkly clad femme that I love, Phase 4 Films has released a new indie horror story entitled The Lady in Black, and she’s ready to start haunting you immediately.
From the Press Release:
Writer-director Steve Spel’s horror-thriller The Lady in Black is now available on DVD.
Nelson has vivid nightmares of a woman being gruesomely murdered. Soon he discovers that the murder he’s witnessed is the beginning of a string of actual serial killings, all involving young women. To clear up this disturbing mystery, he pursues the serial killer to find out why the woman in black is haunting his nightmares.
“I was inspired to make a non-linear film that really puts the audience on the edge of their seats as they go through the twists and turns of this film. In writing the script, I wanted to make sure to keep the audience guessing and to avoid cliches and obvious revelations,” says Spel.
Spel continues, “My goal is to tell a fresh and exciting thriller that is as visually stimulating as it is psychologically-provoking. No one is who they seem in this film, and the ending will be truly memorable. I wanted a hard-hitting film that was bent on realism and fantasy that plays on the mind. This film was made to be a psychological thriller and in its evolution became a detective’s mystery pushed to the edge with blood and insanity.”
The superhero film genre is on fire these days, with each title released almost guaranteed to earn well into the hundreds of millions. That’s why Marvel and Sony Pictures are pushing forward with a new Spider-Man series, one that will supposedly take place over three, maybe four movies (each covering a year of Peter Parker’s high school), according to Deadline. But in order to make sure you’ve got a great series ahead of you, you need to make sure that the first one is a success. That’s why the studios are carefully considering who should direct the film, searching for someone who can tell a, “…coming of age tale [that] is John Hughes humor and emotion, plus all the superhero stuff.”
Here’s who the studios are currently considering: Jonathan Levine, the man behind Warm Bodies; Ted Melfi the writer/director of St. Vincent; Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore; John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein of Vacation; and Jared Hess, who wrote and directed Napoleon Dynamite.
The role of Spider-Man has not been set but there is a serious possibility that it will be determined before a director is chosen as the character is set to appear in Captain America: Civil War, which comes out next year.
Variety is reporting that the upcoming book trilogy A Babysitter’s Guide To Monsters has already been snatched up by Walden Media and Montecito Pictures. The books will not be released until late 2016/early 2017.
Written by Joe Ballarini, the story focuses on a teen girl who is searching for the child she is babysitting, who has been kidnapped by monsters.
Ballarini also wrote the script for Lockdown at Franklin High, which is being produced by Michael Bay.
Jamie Anne Allman (pictured above in “The Killing”) and Derek Wilson (pictured below in “Rectify”) have booked recurring roles on AMC drama pilot Preacher, based on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s cult 1990s comic, says Deadline.
The project, from Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, Sony TV and AMC Studios, “centers on Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a conflicted preacher in a small Texas town who merges with a creature that has escaped from heaven and develops the ability to make anyone do anything he says. Along with his ex-girlfriend, Tulip (Ruth Negga), and an Irish vampire named Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), the three embark on a journey to literally find God (to make him answer for abandoning mankind).”
Allman will play Betsy Schenck, a meek wife who appears to suffer beatings by the hand of her husband, Donny. When the Preacher checks up on her, though, she tells a different story. Wilson is Donny Schenck, a Civil War re-enactor and abusive thug who gets into altercations with Jesse Custer (the Preacher) but nevertheless shows up to church on Sundays.
Ritual and Pod director Mickey Keating is taking on survival horror with Carnage Park, which is based on a shocking true story.
“After a bank heist goes awry, two criminals and their hostage flee deep into the wilderness only to find themselves in Carnage Park, a remote stretch of desert used by an unhinged ex-military sniper to recreate his own twisted war games.”
Just ahead of Cannes the film’s initial cast has been revealed, and includes horror fabs Ashley Bell (pictured; The Last Exorcism, The Last Exorcism II), Darby Stanchfield (“Scandal”), Pat Healy (pictured below; Cheap Thrills, The Innkeepers) and Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day)
“Carnage Park will be a nod to the mean and dirty crime films of the 1970s, and the intense, unflinching energy of the fight for survival films by directors like Boorman and Peckinpah,” said Keating in the film’s initial press release. “It’s a harrowing story, set almost entirely during the day, against a blinding backdrop of the California desert.”
“It’s going to be a very vicious horror film set entirely during the day, in a cruel stretch of California desert,” Keating told us in a previous exclusive interview. “It’s my first period piece – set in 1978 – and it’s about a botched bank heist that quickly spirals into a horrific fight for survival. It’ll be a nod to the legendary Sam Peckinpah and his masterpiece The Getaway, the new French Extremism films of the 2000s, and The Most Dangerous Game…I’m very excited to make a cruel, pulpy horror film.”
Shooting begins next week in Los Angeles.
A new teaser for the FOX horror comedy series “Scream Queens” has been released and is available to see below. The clip is from the perspective of a woman walking home from a “killer kegger”. The focus is her texting a friend, where she mentions that she’s being followed by a person wearing a devil mask. The clip ends with a spray of blood and a reminder that Apple phones are prone to cracking when dropped.
“Scream Queens” stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Oliver Hudson, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer, Skyler Samuels, Billie Lourd, Diego Boneta, Lucien Laviscount, and Glen Powell. It is being executively produced by Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Glee).
Variety is reporting that Lionsgate has confirmed that Keanu Reeves will be reprising his role in John Wick 2, the sequel to the hyperviolent action thriller about a retired hitman who comes out of retirement to take revenge on the men who killed his puppy, a gift from his late wife. David Leitch and Chad Stahelski are also set to return as directors with the script written by Derek Kolstad, who wrote the first.
No release date has been set but it’s exciting to hear that we’re getting a sequel. The original was a great return to what action movies were all about, which was gratuitous amounts of violence based off a razor thin plot. The film also boasted a fantastic kill count, with Wick offing 76 people in the course of 101 minutes.
Head below to see a breakdown of each kill.
Domiziano Crisopharo’s homage to the masterpiece films of Mario Bava, Pupi Avati, Dario Argento, and Sergio Martino, The Transparent Woman, has gotten itself a brand new trailer; and we have it for you right here.
The Transparent Woman stars Italian erotic and pornographic actress Roberta Gemma and Arian Levannael (Hunt Angels, Poe 3 : Pieces of Eldritch).
Anna is a beautiful, fiercely independent blind woman. Due to financial problems her husband, Carl, had to sell the apartment they lived in. They move into an old house in a remote location surrounded by fields. Anna is not happy there and feels even more isolated as she is most of the time all alone… but eerie noises and strange facts lead her to think that someone is in the house too… or “something.”