Wednesday, June 11, 2014

044: The Video Game Episode or I Knew it was Going to Happen, You #@$%ing Criminals

Minor spoilers for Bioshock; Dead Space 1 & 2; Half-Life 2; Portal 1 & 2; Oddworld 1 & 2; Silent Hill 1, 2, & Shattered Memories; The Evil Within; Amnesia: The Dark Descent; Batman: Arkham Asylum; Folklore. MAJOR SPOILERS FOR MASS EFFECT 2 “OVERLORD: ATLAS STATION,” THE LAST OF US, ODDWORLD, and HANNIBAL SEASONS 1 & 2.

In this episode:
  • Our dear friend Vic joins us for a few hours of revelry
  • As you may or may not have gleaned from the spoiler warnings, this episode we're discussing horror in the realm of video games. The Ole' Interactive Electronic Hickory Spookshow, as no one has ever called it in history ever.
  • So of course we're going to talk about our personal experiences with horror games, because none of us did the reading.
    • Consummate professionals.
  • We discuss how the player's agency in the narrative changes the different tactics the producers of the game need to utilize in order to maintain the horror atmosphere.
    • By that token, we also get into the influence that horror movies have (some might argue obviously had on the horror game genre).
  • We address the concept of Aggressive vs Defensive gaming in regards to Action Horror vs Survival Horror.
    • Going off of that concept, we also look into what purists might argue are "true" horror games vs games that are not by their nature horror, but employ a horror-themed aesthetic.
  • There's, like, a whole lot about lighting in here. Ian's got a serious jones for lighting, if you guise weren't aware.
  • We get into how far logic can be bent in the medium of the game vs a non-interactive medium (Say, Hannibal, perhaps?)
    • Opening: Clip from Resident Evil (Linked is your best bet of getting a new, physical copy of the first game at this point)
    • Intro: "This is My Design" - original song, music by Ian. More on this as it develops.
    • Outro: "Want You Gone" - Jonathan Coulton | YouTube | iTunes |
    (Header image taken from this post:


    1. Minor correction for you guys - Penumbra and Amnesia: The Dark Descent were developed by Frictional Games, not thechineseroom, though the two studio collaborated on Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs (all three share little Easter Egg-ish continuity nods). Gone Home began life as a user-created campaign for The Dark Descent.

      Also, if you want a game that plays with environments so subtly I didn't notice until I replayed it, you might want to give Spec Ops: The Line a try. I think it's a good example of how horror doesn't have to be stuff like ghosts or demons. Caveat emptor, it's a pretty vicious polemic against shooter games in general (military shooters in particular) and the gameplay is...dated, but its presentation is pitch-perfect and it has an excellent soundtrack. Definitely takes Fuller approach to logic. Whether that's a plus or a minus you have to decide for yourself, I think.

      1. Aaaah, I knew I wasn't quite right when I said Penumbra was by thechineseroom. The association was in the right ballpark, just the wrong match between column A and column B. Thanks for the correction!

        Gone Home started as a Dark Descent mod? Okay, now I REALLY need to play it.

        I've never been big into shooters outside of stuff like Half-Life, but Spec Ops: The Line definitely sounds like it's worth checking out. Thanks for the rec!

        - Ian

    2. I am a wimp and therefore don't play any horror (even the Deep Roads bits of the Dragon Age games scare me), but as a Russian I have to plug the Metro 2033 games. My husband has played the first one and liked it.

      1. I've really been interested in checking out the Metro games, actually. Most of the reviews that I've read seem to say that even when the gameplay or even the story's lacking the world is so immersive and unique that it makes up for it, and that definitely errs on the side of my own taste when it comes to gaming.