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.
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.
“I like you…”
On the heels of its most-watched original movie to date (Animal) and the SXSW 2015 premiere of its original movie The Boy, Chiller announces new original content for 2015 and 2016, including its first-ever original series, “Slasher,” and two new original movies, Lifeforce and Siren.
In Siren, a bachelor party becomes a savage fight for survival when the groomsmen unwittingly unleash a fabled predator upon the festivities. Slated to premiere on Chiller in 2016, Siren, written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, is a non-foound-footage adaptation/spinoff to David Bruckner’s short film “Amateur Night,” one of the segments featured in the 2012 Sundance premiere of the anthology thriller V/H/S.
Chiller’s first original series, “Slasher,” follows the plight of a young woman who returns to the small town where she was born, only to find herself the centerpiece in a series of horrifying copycat murders – based on the widely-known, grisly killings of her parents. The eight-part season serves as the first instalment of an anthology series, where each season exists as a self-contained hybrid of the slasher subgenre of horror films and the traditional murder mystery. Over the course of the “Slasher” series, a variety of mysteries will unfold, building towards a climactic finale.
Developed and produced by Shaftesbury in association with Chiller and Super Channel and distributed by Content, “Slasher” is written and created by Aaron Martin (“Killjoys,” “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) and directed by Craig David Wallace (“Todd and the Book of Pure Evil”). Christina Jennings and Scott Garvie are executive producers. Funded with the participation of the COGECO Program Development and Northern Ontario Heritage Funds, Slasher will commence production in Sudbury this summer. Canadian broadcaster is Super Channel. “Slasher” will premiere on Chiller in late 2015.
Lifeforce, a reimagining of the 1985 classic film (based on Colin Wilson’s novel “The Space Vampires”), follows a group of astronauts who encounter a derelict alien spacecraft hiding an ancient secret. At the vessel, the explorers discover three perfect humanoids who are returned to Earth… and unleash a terrible plague upon the planet. The original film, starring Steve Railsback, Patrick Stewart and Mathilda May, was directed by Tobe Hooper. Lifeforce will premiere on Chiller in late 2015.
Steve B. Harris (Friday the 13th, Amityville: The Awakening) will produce for Diversion3 (www.diversion3.com) along with Mark Altman (Castle, Necessary Roughness) Mark Gottwald (DOA: Dead or Alive) and David E. Williams (Femme Fatales) from a story by Harris, Altman and Steve Kriozere (NCIS, Castle).
There are five days left on director Rob Zombie’s crowdfunding campaign for 31 and he wants to make sure it ends with a bang. That’s why these last few days open up a new form of raising funds: bidding on actual movie props from two previous Zombie films. The auctions are for items from Halloween 2 as well as The Lords Of Salem.
The items included in the auction include Michael Myers’ knife from Halloween 2, Laurie Strode’s shirt from the film Halloween 2 along with a prop book used in the film and an autographed copy of Fangoria featuring the film Halloween, as well as the Black Pig Mask used during the final scene of the Rob’s last film, Lords of Salem.
Bidding has already opened up today and can be found here. The auctions will end May 10th at 11:59PM PT.
The film’s synopsis reads:
31 follows five carnival workers who are kidnapped the night before Halloween and held hostage in a large secret compound known as Murder World.
Once there, they have 12 hours to survive a terrifying game called 31 in which ‘The Heads’- murderous maniacs dressed as clowns – are released to hunt them down and kill them.
Below is an image of the props available for bidding as well as Zombie’s upcoming tour dates.
May 30 in Kansas City, MO at Rockfest
May 31 in Dallas, TX at BFD
June 2 in New Orleans, LA at Civic Theatre
June 4 in Simpsonville, SC at Charter Amphitheatre
June 5 in Portsmouth, BA at nTelos Wireless Pavilion
June 6 in Sayreville, NJ at Starland Ballroom
June 8 in Warren, OH at Packard Music Hall
June 9 in Cincinnati, OH at Riverbend Music Hall
June 10 in Milwaukee, WI at Eagles Ballroom
June 12 in Sylvania, OH at Centennial Terrace
June 13 in Flint, MI at Loudwire Live
June 14 in Indianapolis, IN at Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn
June 16 in Pittsburgh, PA at Stage AE
June 18 in Uncasville, CT at Mohegan Sun Arena
June 19 in Big Flats, NY at Tags Summerstage
June 20 in Quebec, Canada at Amnesia Rockfest
June 26 in El Paso, TX at Streefest
June 28 in Grand Junction, CO at Loudwire Music Festival
While digging for info on the just announced StrangeLand remake, we discovered Emaji, Inc.’s Emaji Entertainment has also nabbed the rights to reboot Joe Dante’s 1981 The Howling, which 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 plans to produce The Howling as the first in a series of films based upon well known film properties.
The Howling featured one of the greatest werewolf transformations of all-time. And we’d hope this new company doesn’t use CGI and instead pushes to deliver something truly spectacular. In it, after a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.
The Howling, made for $1.5 million, 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.
After years and years in development hell, Dee Snider is finally returning as the psychotic Captain Howdy.
Emaji, Inc.’s Emaji Entertainment tell Bloody Disgusting that they have acquired the rights to remake 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. Bloody has also learned that Emaji 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.
StrangeLand: Disciple is being called a “reboot” but also sounds as if it’s a continuation. My guess is that the film will reference the 1998 film while bringing the terror of Captain Howdy to modern audience. StrangeLand is primed for a modern adaptation as the original was a first-of-its-kind techno thriller where teenage girls are victimized by a psycho (Snider) who lures them using the Internet.
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 movie will be set in the “underworld of body modification fetishists, amid the secret sado-masochistic freak societies of perverted pleasures that lurk just underneath the veneer of respectable society,” said Snider back in 2009.
Back in 2010 we learned that Robert Englund was also returning as Jackson Roth, and came across the following synopsis on a casting website:
“One year after Carleton Hendricks aka Captain Howdy’s (Dee Snider) sadistic rampage, much more than the physical scars the schizophrenic, sexual sadist gave his victims are left behind. Their lives, destroyed by emotional torment and the media frenzy surrounding the crimes, Detective Mike Gage, his daughter Geneveve and vigilante Jackson Roth (Robert Englund) each have their crosses to bear. But when the badly burned and mentally broken Carlton Hendricks is taken from a state run mental hospital and off his medication by billionaire, media mogul, Morgan LaForce, leader of the body modification/fetish haven called “The Torture Garden”, the door swings wide open for each of Captain Howdy’s victims to find closure… and retribution.”
It’s unclear how much has changed in the years of development, but I personally love Snider’s Strangeland and consider it a cult classic. You?
“No marriage is perfect…”
A newly released TV spot for NBC’s Hannibal focuses on Gillian Anderson and her character Bedelia Du Maurier. The clip shows that she is posing as Hannibal’s wife as the two move through upperclass society, wining and dining their prey.
What’s interesting about this clip is that there is still a palpable fear on the face of Du Maurier as she interacts with Hannibal. While the story so far makes it seem that she’s fully on his side, I suspect that there is a great deal more to this plot line than we expect.
Hannibal returns on Thursday, June 4th.
XLrator Media has acquired the viral alien abduction thriller The Phoenix Incident, based on true events.
The conspiracy thriller, written and directed by veteran gaming director Keith Arem (Call of Duty, Titanfall), chronicles the US military’s alleged engagement with extraterrestrial forces the night of the 1997 Phoenix Lights UFO sightings. Using whistleblower testimony, recovered military footage, and eyewitness accounts, the feature explores four unsolved Arizona Missing Persons cases connected to the incident.
We were able to find a few stills, the poster and a clip to go with news that it will be arriving on VOD later this year.
Marvel has announced that Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit) has joined the cast of the upcoming superhero film Captain America: Civil War, which will be released on May 6th, 2016. As of now, his character is not known.
Producer Kevin Feige states:
From his roles as Bilbo Baggins and Doctor Watson to Tim in ‘The Office,’ Martin’s range from the dramatic to the comedic has consistently impressed us. We couldn’t be more honored or excited to have such a talented actor join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Civil War comic series focused on the Superhero Registration Act, a move by the U.S. government to force superheroes to act as regulated officers. Captain America leads a group of mutants who are opposed to this idea while Iron Man leads a group that are all in favor.
The comic story is widely known for having led to the assassination of Captain America, although it should be taken into account that the films have deviated from the comic stories in some rather drastic ways. For example, Ultron was originally created by Ant-Man in the comics, not Tony Stark.