Horror games have been mysteriously absent from the gaming scene for quite a while. Only once in a while do we get true horror games like Amnesia, the original Dead Space and recent hits like Slender. It seems the indie scene has taken up the role of creating these experiences for us now, seeing as it’s pretty much hopeless for a big name company to restore the horror genre at this point. Franchises like Resident Evil and Dead Space are taking more action-oriented routes and skimping on horror elements.
2013 is absolutely chock full of promising horror games that you should keep your eye on if you’re a fan of the genre. Here’s a complete list of all the horror titles coming out in the next 12 months and what you can expect from them.
Slender: The Arrival – March 26 (PC)
Slender: The Eight Pages could probably be classified as a phenomenon. A simple freeware title built on the Unity Engine, it managed to frighten gamers of all sorts with its sense of urgency and disempowerment along with its cleverly designed villain. It was an effective reminder that a ‘less is more’ approach is ideal when creating a horror title.
Slender: The Arrival is the next logical step for this premise, employing an upgraded graphics engine, additional gameplay mechanics and a fully developed cohesive narrative. Developer Parsec Productions returns for this installment, alongside Blue Isle Studios, and together they aim to create a title that’s not just more Slender, but also better Slender.
– Michael Urban
Outlast – Fall 2013 (PC)
Red Barrels is a new and untested studio based in Montreal made up of a veritable slew of talent, including Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time, Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry 3, and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune veterans. With the experience being brought to the table, it’s difficult to imagine horror game Outlast not being pretty darned wonderful.
Outlast tells the story of Miles Upshur, a journalist who breaks into the isolated Mount Massive Asylum in the Colorado mountains. He’s investigating the appropriately ominously named Murkoff Corporation, and the exact nature of the research they are conducting in the previously abandoned asylum.
Outlast is set to have all the classic horror markers – creepy insane asylums, mysterious experiments, shady corporations. The fresh spin, however, is that Mr Upshur will be relatively helpless against what is promised to be intelligent enemies. Horror is arguably best when you’re helpless, and being pursued by a chillingly clever assailant could be just what the doctor ordered.
Built on Unreal engine 3, Outlast will be a digitally distributed PC horror game, releasing in 2013.
Daylight – Q1 2013 (PC, Xbox 360)
Just announced this week, Daylight will be coming to the PC platform sometime this year and will be running on the Unreal Engine 4 platform. Taking place in an asylum (we’re gussing asylums are creepy), the story follows a woman who inexplaniably wakes up in the asylum with no name and no story. The point of the game is to guide her out of the asylum, and face the fears that await her on her journey. The twist, is that the game has been made so players replay the game multiple times, as each session only lasts about 30 minutes.
The game world is procedurally-generated so each playthrough will be different than the last. Your only line of defense in the game will be a cell phone that is used to navigate and used as a light for your surroundings. It will also be your way of knowing when Jessica Chobot is penning the story, so we’ll have to see how everything turns out, but horror fans should certainly keep a close eye on Daylight.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs – March 31 (PC)
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is the successor to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, one of the most critically acclaimed horror games of all time. What separated the Amnesia franchise from other survival horrors was its emphasis on stripping the player of resources, leaving Daniel, the first game’s protagonist, with nothing but a lantern and set of tinderboxes to stave off the darkness, and monsters.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is actually being developed by thechineseroom, as opposed to the original’s developer, Frictional Games. Whilst the former have little experience in crafting tense and frightening affairs, they were responsible for Dear Esther, an artistic, if not pretentious title which successfully immersed players despite its restrictive nature. Rather than being a direct sequel, A Machine for Pigs will still be set in the same universe as the original, but will contain new characters, with the narrative taking place in an alternate era. The story will follow Oswald Mandus, an industrialist with great wealth, who returns from ‘Mexico’ where a terrible expedition caused great misfortune.
Taking place at the end of the 19th Century, Oswald has developed a surreal connection to a dark machine, although the nature of this bond is unknown. It has been confirmed that environments will be more expansive in nature, including outdoor locales, which should make a refreshing change from the cramped interiors of A Dark Descent. A dynamic AI system is also believed to be in play, ensuring players are unable to predict enemy patterns, and encourage replay value. In true survival fashion, the inventory that featured in the original has been completely removed, allowing greater focus on the action at hand, as well as preventing players from keeping track of their resources. Memory will be key here.
Asylum – Fall 2013 (PC, Xbox 360)
Three-years into its development cycle and already greenlit within the Steam community, psychological horror game, Asylum, is still almost a year away – and likely well worth the wait. Asylum is an ambitious project and indie-dev Senscape is making some mighty big promises to fans of the horror genre. Lead developer, Agustín Cordes (who previously designed the horror adventure game, Scratches), claims the scrip alone was enough to scare some readers. Cordes assures contributors to the project’s kickstarter “a disturbing and horrifying game that you won’t easily forget.” A pretty tall order for a point-and-click adventure title, if you ask us – but if the screenshots and the interactive trailer are any indication to the amount of polish and refinement we can expect from this title, we should be in for a cerebral gaming experience unlike any we’ve previously encountered.
– Jonathan Hudon
Until Dawn – TBA 2013 (PS3)
Until Dawn sets out to breathe life into not one, but two dying things: the horror genre, and the Playstation Move. As a sort of interactive tribute to the schlocky nature of your average, formulaic horror film, Until Dawn will be a title with a sense of humorous self-awareness while also providing quality scares when they’re needed.
In addition to the high level of interactivity and immersion afforded by the Playstation Move, the game will also be remarkably flexible and open-ended. Deaths and betrayals will be completely randomized on each playthrough, and there will be about 30 different endings in total. All-in-all, this could very well be the PS Move’s killer app.
– Michael Urban
What’s your most anticipated horror title this year, single-players? Let us know, and stay tuned for much more coverage of the aforementioned games here at OnlySP.