Please welcome Adam Love; the newest member of the Popcorn Horror Team, who will be bringing his horror gaming expertise to our community.
A wise man once said “The best things in life are free.” Or maybe it was The Flying Lizards… Either way they were right. And so with no further ado I give you three insidious indie games to take your mind off the real terrors of life, like taxes, social interaction or the undeniable truth that the Elder Gods will soon end their deathless slumber and usher in a new aeon of madness and unreality.
This is the first game I bring you today, so allow me to preamble a little. You play as a nameless protagonist braving a creepy sewer system full of hissing pipes, human bones and ominous graffiti in search of the noblest goal. Your dog, Ritchie, has found his way into the sewers and got stuck.
It’s a pixelated adventure in the formulaic, find so many things and then another thing will happen somewhere else and this abundance of things will defeat the evil, vein. But I will say that by no means does this take anything away from the game.
(The voice acting was good actually, being self-aware goes a million miles in making this game lovable.)
The sewers themselves are nicely built, as the map seems to be the same every time I feel like this was intentional, crafted design. Speaking of the map, it’s right there for you, you can stare at it as long as you like before the monster is even activated. This will do you only minor good though, because sewer just looks like sewer, the only really distinct rooms are the ladder room and the weirdly organised egg chambers.
(Did I mention you get a free torch from a very nice skull.)
Those symbols on the map will appear around the sewer, usually with and arrow to direct towards the fuses or the monsters lair, and finally the power room.
( We appear to have found where the ninja turtles keep their ooze and a stockpile of haunted chefs hats.)
The lairs are a particularly nice touch, with eggs arranged in an almost religious fashion around the fuse you need to collect.
(I’m sure I’ve seen that weird fleshy flapped topped egg design somewhere… the answer might just jump up and hug my face soon.)
Or the ominous nature of meticulously stacked barrels and crates.
(Of course I’m going in there, this plot isn’t going to device itself.)
Long story short, there is just enough plot, a nice feeling of tension and a touch of humour that make this game worthy of my number one slot this week.
Also there’s this ugly mother monster…
(Yeah…Fuck this guy.)
(I imagine that happy chap is the king)
Now for a stark contrast to our first game, with its defenceless protagonist and barely terrifying monster. In the kingdom is a fast paced, hyper aggressive shooter in the original DOOM style.
To say that it takes pixel art to its gory limit is an understatement, this game is a smorgasbord of daemon slaying, gore spattered fun.
(Tasteful décor, particularly the meter tall spikes entwined with guts)
The daemons in ITK start off slow, tired probably from hanging corpses over every visible surface, but soon catch up to you when they notice that your skin would make a fine set of drapes.
But fear not, you have guns and as we all know.
GUNS > DAEMON FACES!
For the most part the design seems to be take a rough human outline and add a bush made of fleshy goat horns to it. There are however some gems of nope shining through.
(Tall Nopes , from hells workshop to the fear centre of your brain.)
While a short experience you won’t regret the time spent playing this game, especially when the chaingun turns up and you can just hold the trigger and run screaming through the fleshy hallway, dropping daemons left and right light like Mike Tyson high on bath salts beating his way through a crèche. The gameplay won’t blow your mind, but the aesthetic might.
(Already getting that Silent Hill vibe)
Embuscade is a weird one to include in this trio, because it can barely be called a game. It starts well enough, in a terrifying aesthetic, minimal HUD.
The game gets interesting when you round your first corner, there’s the sound of some out of sight shuffling and then this sight.
(Nutritious and delicious, tastes just like chicken.)
At first I look at this disgusting fly bothered dumpster with doey eyed innocence, maybe there a length of pipe in there?
If you look in the bottom left of the screen, in this game you have one concern. That green bar is your hunger bar and damn does it go down fast. At first I thought this game was the story of a homeless person with some cruel hyper-metabolism… and I wasn’t exactly wrong. The gameplay is a case of you walking the streets trying to find the next bin to gorge on so you can keep living long enough to find out what is going on, why the air has that fetid green hue?
(Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner…..oh God why….)
You see those biohazard signs… This is not a healthy world. Most of the houses seem derelict, there are a few windows casting a mote of light and aside from the scuffles of something darting around in the dark. Silence and the rustling of bin bags is all.
(Look at that beautiful moon.)
The only clues to purpose are the trails of blood, the only thing that stands out in this green hued hellscape. In the distance you see a hooded red figure….the source of the scuffling. Follow it.
I won’t elaborate any further because it a short experience and one that should be enjoyed fresh.
But if you have 10 minutes, this is worth it. At least as a stunning and stylistic snapshot of what a great game could come of the idea.