Writing

The Internet’s Legacy of Horror Games

by Cara

The internet is a strange place, full of bizarre mysteries and unexplained videos. It’s also been the birthplace of some underrated horror games. We’re not talking about big budget console releases, or even services such as Steam – but the often overlooked world of community and browser based horror gaming. No realistic 3D graphics to be found here, but the humble web browser has been home to some interesting interactive horror experiences in it’s lifetime.

Of course, there are hundreds of examples we could discuss. Horror role-playing games, card games, point and click adventures, slot machines, text adventures, survival games and many more genres have been represented in this niche gaming space. How popular are online slots, card games and old school adventure style games on the web? And how many were created for fans of horror? Join us as we delve into a few memorable examples.

Urban Dead 

Back in 2005 Urban Dead, created by Kevan Davis went live. The text based role playing game allowed players to select whether to play as a member of the undead hoard, or as a human survivor – both coming with unique game-play elements. Uniquely for the time, there were no pre-created non-player characters included in the game – ever character involved was an actual player account.

While many people believe that text adventure games died out sometime in the eighties, Urban Dead amassed a decent cult following and is still currently active, although it’s player count has diminished since it’s heyday.

Fallen London 

Winner of  The Escapist “Best Browser-Based Game” award back in 2009. The game was set in an alternate version of London, with the capital city being depicted as an underground, gothic in style, and with plenty of dark humor.

The game was praised for it’s storytelling, creating a distorted vision of a well known location – and a narrative with lots of bizarre twists and turns. Also well received were the visuals which, considering it is a free browser game, were detailed and original, setting the scene and atmosphere in a manner rarely seen in these types of browser based games.

Indeed, the level of detail seen in the artwork was also evident in the gameplay. Within the rich world of Fallen London, players could take part in a number of activities that determined the direction of their story and the development of their character. Wearing a certain hat allows for easier pick-pocketing, lurking around certain shadowy corners will yield covert information. Plying an NPC with rum might result in him telling too much. Careers include artist, play-write, criminal, among many others. Although the game was later released to mobile platforms, these are set to shut down in the near future – while the original browser version is still going strong.

The 8-Bit ‘My Chemical Romance’ Flash Games

Okay, this entry has two games – and probably only remembered by those of us who were wearing two belts, a razorblade necklace and constantly shaking our fringes out of our faces in the early 2000s. My Chemical Romance were the poster band of the emo craze, with lead singer Gerard Way being the object of many teenager’s obsession. For some reason, the band was fixated on the concept of revenge; so it made sense that their website boasted two games inspired by the album ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge’.

One was named after the album, the other based on the most famous song from it, and both involved getting some sort of revenge. There was a story, which former emo kids might recall, about a couple who must find a certain number of evil corpses after they enter a parallel universe style afterlife. It didn’t make much sense at the time, and it’s even more bizarre in 2018.

‘Sweet Revenge’ involved flying through bloody spikes as an angel of death style 8 bit character to deliver the couple to the hospital. ‘Helena’ informed players at it’s title screen; “you are Helena and unfortunately you are already dead. Your enemies want to make sure you stay dead. Get them before they get you. Activate the pall bearers to bring you to next level.”

The games are a bizarre slice of early 21st century history, when music, films and other media were in an experimental phase – discovering the various online marketing strategies the internet had opened to them.

What browser games do you remember fondly? Is there any that you continue to play?

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