Horror in video games – that isn’t half-assed – is a damnably elusive concept. Since Resident Evil raised a middle finger at its own credibility and disappeared into the fetid folds of Satan’s foreskin (so allege some venomous reviewers. We’re paraphrasing, naturellement, but that’s pretty damn close to the gist), offerings that champion the cause have been scarce indeed. Where, then, should the dudely dudes among us, the aficionados of the macabre, turn for our ghastly gore-infused gaming?
The legitimacy of survival horror as a genre has… been repeatedly shat on, to be frank (“Darn tootin’ it has,” proclaims Frank. We still don’t know how he eluded security, whoever he is, but if he’s been wanking in the toilets again we’re going to call the police). The aforementioned Resident Evil bore the concept as we know it in the mid-nineties, if we aren’t evoking the archaic likes of Alone in the Dark (and we’re not, because it’s shit). This title, while visually about as aesthetically pleasing as a bulldog’s bollocks, was a revelation.
The inaugural release was the game that propelled the franchise into the success-stratosphere, on a sleigh pulled by unicorns with diarrhea that shit money and golden monkeys with diamond-festooned jetpacks. To this day, the series serves to ensure that Mr Capcom can always purchase that new platinum ass-scratcher or executive gonad massage (that, at least, will be the euphemism that appears on his credit card statement). The bitter irony being, as avid Evil-ers lament before taking a dump in an envelope and posting it to the company, ‘survival’ is no longer a priority.
With more wanton bullet-flailing than the entirety of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s filmography, the more recent iterations of Resident Evil has descended into third-person shooter territory. They are reasonably competent action games, we’ll concede, but this detracts remarkably from the integral ‘horror’ element (to wit: it pisses all over it).
For high-velocity shoot-tastic that retains a palpable atmosphere (and a shitstorm of blood-bleeding violence to the eyeball), behold Dead Space above. Its horror cojones dangle freely for everybody to see (the flirt), and seem set to continue to do so in the impending Dead Space 3. A truly adult confection (sans boobs, but with all the exploding babies your delicate brainmeat can withstand). There are all kinds of holy shit in the nursery area of Dead Space 2, for instance, several of which were previously unknown to science.
There are other, less illustrious, gaming horror shenanigans you may consider partaking of. Ubiquitous internet asspain Slender, while it looks like it was created by two half-witted toddlers in four minutes, is one. With only a flashlight and the horrors of Slender Man (envisage Jack Skellington of A Nightmare Before Christmas fame after his skull-face fell off), it’s a low-budget marvel of malevolence. Silent Hill, while a perpetual roadie to Resident Evil’s drug-overdosing, lots of sex…having rock star, has long been a advocate of these psychological thriller sensibilities. But that’s a tale for the next installment.