Level 5: Where we start at the depths of the ocean, move on to the farthest stars and end in…Twin Peaks???
Hi there! Welcome back to my stroll down memory lane. Last time I was a major downer, this time, high on life (and drugs!) I’m all smiles. So, like I said, the first half of the 2000’s were fairly light on the scary stuff for me, but I finally got my shit together, picked up a Xbox 360, and got my horror on!
Sometime in 2005/06 I started hearing of this next game. I had made some new friends thank to returning to school. What’s that? Oh, I was in animation. Yeah, yeah, it was pretty awesome. Huh? Did I graduate? Um, well you see…don’t judge me!!
I hadn’t really played much in the way of first person shooters (FPS) since the Doom days. That game messed me up that badly. So when a pal of mine got all excited about this little game called Bioshock, I was somewhat lukewarm. Sure, the gameplay footage looked seven shades of rad, but still, it was a FPS.
When the day arrived, I shrugged my shoulders and said something crazy like, “Fuck it! You can’t shit and skip at the same time without making a hell of a mess.” And after I recovered from the mini stroke I had just suffered, I said, “You know what, I’m gonna buy that game!” And I did.
The opening, very Lost-like, sees you floating in the middle of the ocean. Plane debris litters the water around you and there is a light house jutting out of the surf ahead. With nowhere else to go, you head towards the light house. When you get there, you realize, that ain’t no light house, it’s a goddamn elevator! What else can you do but go down.
Welcome to Rapture!
You find a complete underwater city awaiting. Rapture was supposed to be a utopian society for the upper class, but shit went sideways and now it is a nightmare. Besides hordes of crazed, and often deformed, folks called Splicers, you also had to contend with the Big Daddys (No, I’m not talking about repeat screenings of the Adam Sandler movie, that would be truly fucking terrifying!!). The Big Daddys are huge ass dudes wearing old school diving gear and they will fuck you up with the quickness.
What makes the game great is that in the beginning, the Big Daddys are so threatening, that if you step to one, your ass best be ready. But, by the end of the game, you find yourself looking for those behemoths, just to smash them.
An ingenious gameplay mechanic called plasmids, allowed you to wield all sorts of amazing powers. From being able to throw fire and electricity, to being able to control the above mentioned Big Daddys, the plasmids were pure awesome!
Bioshock had two sequels. Bioshock 2, which introduced an even tougher baddie in the Big Sister, and Bioshock: Infinite, which was technically a good game, but didn’t really do much for me.
Dead Space (2008).
What happens when you take Resident Evil (that game was so influential that pretty much every horror game that came after owes something to it), cross it with Doom 3 and add in an Alien aesthetic? You get Dead Space!
As soon as you begin stalking the halls of the Ishimura, you know you’re in for some shit. It turns out that some folks have been messing with things they shouldn’t be a messing with, and have turned everybody aboard the ship into horrible monsters. What is that thing? A big statue… I know that sounds kinda stupid, but they make it work.
This one pushes some nostalgia buttons that harken back to Splatterhouse, let me explain. You don’t get the typical weapons (guns) in this one, oh no, you get mining tools. You use things that are meant for cutting and drilling. You don’t just shoot these poor bastards, you eviscerate them! With limbs flying, it feels like the spiritual successor to…that’s right, Splatterhouse.
The ship is a maze of similar looking corridors and rooms. This doesn’t become repetitive though thanks to a handy-dandy navigation system that always points you towards your next objective (without this, I’m sure my feelings for this sucker would be a lot different).
Isaac (the protagonist) wears a dope suit that would give the S&M crowd fits and he can upgrade it throughout the story. Throw in some amazing scripted events and a humdinger of an ending and you got a winner in this blokes books.
There are four more games in the Dead Space series. Part 2 was the business!! Part 3 was kinda shit. Then there was Wii game (never played it) and, if memory serves, a puzzle game called Ignition (again, never played it)
Alan Wake (2010)
Way back on the PS2, there was a game called Max Payne and it was the tits! I loved that game! Max Payne 2 was even better. So when the folks behind those two games were jumping into the world of horror, I sat up…and then waited, and waited, and waited. This S.O.B. took a long time to see the light of day.
Finally, it came out and after I wiped the Cheetos dust from my fingers, I got my hands on a copy.
Right out of the gate, I loved the premise of this game. You play as a writer named Alan Wake. Fancying myself a writer, even back then, it resounded with me. So, you’re Alan Wale, and suffering from writers block, you take your wife to the town of Bright Falls. Soon after arriving, Alan’s wife is kidnapped by mysterious forces and he has to find her.
As Alan, you encounter weird shadow creatures that can only be vanquished by light. Because of this, you are armed with a flashlight.
Bright Falls, which was inspired by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, is a freaky place. You can add it to Silent Hill as places not to take the family on vacation.
Alan Wake had a sequel called Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.
That’s it for the 360. A few other games that stuck with me on the system were: Gears of War 1 – 3 (not full horror, but still super awesome!), Metro 2033 (not the best game, but a really cool story) and Dead Island (Zombie fun, and, a Friday the 13th ester egg near the end of the game—look for it!)
See you soon with part 6!