Tag Archives: horror

When I Was A Kid, Spider-Man On Genesis Was The Scariest Shit

Like a lot of people around this time of year, I spend a lot of October thinking about being frightened. This is pretty new for me. I was a nervous, fearful kid who grew up as a teen in a religious home, so I spent my entire youth avoiding horror either by choice or by compulsion. As an adult, I’ve started to delve into horror, to wrestle with its ideas and the fears of my younger self—watching movies and playing games both new and old, reflecting on what scared me then and what scares me now.

One of the first games to scare me wasn’t even a horror game at all. It was Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin, a 1991 Sega Genesis game that had Spider-Man, framed for planting a bomb in New York City, on a mission to hunt down some of his most famous villains in order to get the keys necessary to disarm the bomb.


Unlike a lot of superhero games of the ‘90s, Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin wasn’t a loud beat-em-up or a colorful platformer—it was moody, and dedicated to being as faithful an adaptation as a 16-bit video game could be. Character models were remarkably detailed, and illustrated stills that were shown between levels strove for comic book fidelity. It’s soundtrack was spare and brooding, and its animations had real weight.

I loved the game, because I loved Spider-Man. But I could never get past the second level, down in the sewers, because I was terrified of the Lizard, and always shut the console off when he appeared.

Looking back, the Lizard isn’t that fearsome-looking—the character model for Doctor Octopus is far more imposing—but it worked. I quit every time. I would quit even faster when I tried to play the game on Nightmare difficulty. That added Venom to the first stage, which scared me even more.


It’s funny that I kept trying to play this game when there were only about 15 minutes tops I could spend actually enjoying it. I suppose I wanted to try, if only for a little bit, to be as brave as I thought I had to be in order to be a hero, hoping maybe one day that I would wake up and somehow discover that courage grew in me overnight.

I don’t frighten like I used to, but that chill I felt when I pushed myself to take on something I knew would scare me, the chill that I always succumbed to because I wasn’t as brave as I wanted to be? I’m always afraid it’ll come back.

Source: Kotaku.com

This Nightmare Game Was Designed by a Dentist in MS Paint

The secret life of one Polish dentist apparently involves coding a horror game in MS Paint.

World of Horror is the passion project of part-time dentist Pawel Kozminski. It’s a retro throwback RPG that draws on the work of Junji Ito, a Japanese horror manga artist, and H.P. Lovecraft, creator of Cthulhu and all things Eldritch. The game is set in a small seaside Japanese town just as the “Old Gods are reawakening, clawing their way back into a world that’s spiraling into madness.” It features a series of branching stories helmed by five playable characters, and gameplay involves turn-based combat and “unravel[ing] puzzles and mysteries through spells that sacrifice sanity.”

Perhaps the most impressive thing about World of Horror, however, is that Kozminski created the entire game in MS Paint. Usually, game developers save themselves the horror of creating complex works in such a dated program by using custom animation software. Not Kozminski, who told Engadget that he specifically chose MS Paint for its limitations. “Creating art in Paint is actually really inspiring and somehow relaxing. The limits of the program really force you to get creative with it, which is a huge thing. I guess 1-bit black-and-white art is the closest I can get to simulate that comic book feel, too.”

Demos of the game have been floating around since 2017, but Kozminski’s profession and program of choice seem to have mostly flown under the radar until the Engadget profile. The fact that this is the brainchild of a dental hygienist, a merciless driller of teeth, who is also patient enough to create an entire game in MS Paint is truly the stuff of nightmares. (Just look at this tweet from Kozminski.) It’s slated to hit PlayStation 4, Switch, and Steam later this year (hopefully in time for spoopy season). In the meantime, you can download a demo here.


Source: Kotaku.com

This Video Primer Is a Perfect Introduction to Stephen King’s Horror Fantasy Multiverse

Pennywise sure is a creepy dude, huh?
Image: Warner Bros.

Did you know that Stephen King’s books are almost all interconnected? You probably did, it’s definitely one of those fun facts about the prolific author that gets thrown around a lot. But do you know how that multiverse comes together and just how deep those connections go?

If not, this video by Birth.Movies.Death is an excellent introduction to the wacky horror fantasy world that King has created through decades of books (of varying quality) and with them a slow dribble of Easter eggs and little connections that turn King’s isolated tales of terror and trauma into one big, complicated, sprawling and unending tale of terror and trauma. And also cowboys, sometimes?

The new adaptation of It doesn’t make any big gestures toward this interconnected vision of King’s, but it’s something to keep in mind as the current deluge of King adaptations hits theaters and TV. It might make things a little more entertaining, or at least remind you that somewhere in this shared universe, a version of Stephen King is puttering around, doing King-ly things with his time. Probably writing another horror novel. 

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Source: Kotaku.com

Stand by these: The best and weirdest Stephen King films, miniseries, and TV shows

Being one of the most successful and ubiquitous authors ever allows Stephen King a certain amount of freedom to explore just about every corner of the cultural sphere. In addition to writing dozens of novels, 10 short story and novella collections, and five works of nonfiction, he’s collaborated on comics, penned an unproduced libretto, acted, narrated audiobooks, and even played in a band, The Rock Bottom Remainders. His work has similarly spread its tendrils throughout Hollywood, manifesting in everything from films and TV series to miniseries and shorts, and that’s not even including the “dollar babies” that he grants to young, starry-eyed auteurs. Many of those works have taken on lives of their own as well—both Children Of The Corn and The Mangler, neither of which resemble King’s source material, have spawned numerous sequels.

All of this is to say that any definitive ranking of King’s work is fruitless: There are just too many detours. So with It Chapter Two forcing us to reflect on the breadth of King’s dominion, we decided to pinpoint our favorite adaptations across several different mediums. That includes films, TV shows, and miniseries, obviously, but also his anthology contributions and even the derivative titles his work’s directly inspired. (We considered short films, but, once you factor in dollar babies, that’s simply too much content.) Considering how, let’s say, notorious some of these adaptations are, it would be a disservice to not also highlight the weirdest—not worst—of them as well. The distinction is important, lest you be left wondering why Maximum Overdrive is nowhere to be found below.


Best: Stand By Me (1986)

Stephen King will forever be remembered as the “master of horror,” but there’s a reason a hefty handful of the best adaptations of his work—The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Gerald’s Game—skew more toward drama than genre. Because for every bloodthirsty car or haunted cell phone, there’s a heartfelt ode to innocence and imagination—just look at his most enduring work, It, which remains the most elegant, impactful intertwining of his gruesomeness and sentimentality. King’s horrors have always struggled to translate well on screen, though, and Stand By Me, a coming-of-age story set in the summer of 1960, benefits from not having to engage with that side of the author. Director Rob Reiner zeroes in on two things: character and atmosphere. Four pre-teens, each lacking in healthy role models, take rumors of an unattended dead body as an excuse to walk a rail line and, in doing so, forge a bond that’s as fleeting as it is timeless. Reiner allows these bonds to breathe across moments pure, scary, traumatic, and agonizing, and his young cast are the perfect mix of tender and reckless—River Phoenix and Corey Feldman, specifically, are tremendous. But Reiner’s nostalgia is as rich as King’s—the two are roughly the same age—and his work captures the wonder and danger of being young, unmoored, and reliant on friends whose importance you won’t grasp until you’ve long grown apart. [Randall Colburn]

WTF: The Running Man (1987)

If you’re in the market for shit blowing up, or dudes getting chopped in half, there’s very little wrong with Paul Michael Glaser’s The Running Man, which—even before you get to the opera-singing, dune buggy-driving supervillain, or a script filled with even-for-Arnie-high levels of Arnold Schwarzenegger quippiness—earns its place in the cheesy action movie pantheon with Richard Dawson’s brilliant heel turn on his own smiling-through-the-anger game show host persona. But Steven E. de Souza’s script is an objectively off-model adaptation of King’s original dystopian novel, which, like all of the books published under his Richard Bachman pseudonym, finds the author at his most bleak and blatantly un-cheesy, bordering on nihilistic. It’s mostly a matter of tone, with King’s prose emphasizing the mundanity of the titular lethal game show and none of the comic book bombast the film so gleefully indulges in. Rather than an Austrian weightlifter, the book’s Ben Richards is a scrawny, scrappy father who willingly signs up for The Running Man in order to secure medicine for his ailing daughter. (Sort of a modern-day GoFundMe campaign, but with guns and a nation-wide manhunt.) Similarly, his main opponents aren’t a squad of costumed Mortal Kombat rejects, but regular citizens and cops hoping to pick up a little cash for themselves by ratting the runner out or gunning him down on America’s pollution-clogged streets. It’s an altogether grimmer, more “realistic” take on an ostensibly similar story, with the most telling difference arriving with the endings: Rather than making out with María Conchita Alonso and kicking a Family Feud host’s ass, Book Richards only manages to eke out a victory so Pyrrhic it barely even qualifies for the name, a far grimmer (and increasingly unfilmable, to modern eyes) conclusion that Arnold never would have stood for. [William Hughes]


Best: It (1990)

To say the 1990 TV miniseries of It looks dated is to undersell it. The overlit sets, clunky editing, and who’s who of ’80s TV actors in the lead roles all mark it as being of a certain era. But what makes it so memorable—and such a successful adaptation of its tricky source material—lies primarily in the casting of its malevolent antagonist. Tim Curry’s Pennywise remains iconic after all these years because the actor captured the warped sadistic spirit of the supernatural clown. He could be genuinely goofy and playful, in a manner that actually went some way toward showing why kids fell for the act—which is what made his heel-turns to menacing and saw-toothed so much more disturbing. In addition to successfully evoking the nostalgic hue of the ’50s-set portion of the novel, this adaptation remains a source of nightmares for every former kid that happily tuned in to be scared shitless. Curry made the clownish evil into a source of fascination—he pulls you in, just like his magnetic alter ego. [Alex McLevy]

WTF: Bag Of Bones (2011)

Honestly, what isn’t “WTF” about Bag Of Bones? It opens with a scene of a woman being mowed down by a bus to rival Meet Joe Black’s infamous auto accident, and ends with Anika Noni Rose slapping Pierce Brosnan around in the guise of a vengeful tree. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of mind-numbing moments in between. Time moves oddly in Bag Of Bones, which suffers from baggy pacing, a chaotic structure, and strange internal laws of physics that transform all of the jump scares—a fiery truck explosion, a sniper’s bullet flying through a window mid-conversation, a fucking raccoon falling out of a ceiling—into giggle-inducing non sequiturs. Then there’s Brosnan’s performance, full of misplaced intensity that original A.V. Club reviewer Zack Handlen described as “looking like he’s going to burp, fart, and sneeze simultaneously every ten minutes or so.” All this garish goofiness turn relatively minor storytelling tics and narrative crutches from King’s original novel into glaring absurdities, dragging its source material into the waterlogged madness along with it. [Katie Rife]

TV series

Best: Mr. Mercedes (2017-)

If there’s a reason Mr. Mercedes has yet to puncture the zeitgeist, it’s probably due to it being relegated to the Audience Network, a portal exclusive to DirectTV. That said, DirectTV’s done well by the show in terms of giving it the chance to breathe across multiple seasons, with the third season premiering next week. David E. Kelley’s smart, surprisingly gruesome adaptation of King’s sorta-supernatural detective trilogy—originally published between 2014 and 2016—improves upon the books in myriad ways, namely via an on-point cast that includes Brendan Gleeson, Harry Treadaway, and rising stars like Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us) and Justine Lupe (Succession). Kelley plays fast and loose with King’s narrative, restructuring the books’ timeline and smartly elaborating on the journeys of compelling, underused supporting players like Breeda Wool’s Lou Linklatter. Toying with King’s template is dangerous, but there’s a thoughtfulness to Kelley’s approach that preserves the book’s hard-boiled spirit while carving out its own narrative. If this thing ever hits streaming, it’s going to gain a whole slew of new fans. [Randall Colburn]

WTF: Under The Dome (2013-15)

Stephen King’s Under The Dome is about how the big, human problems of a small town get accentuated and twisted by the sudden appearance of a giant dome with extraterrestrial origins that cuts the town off from the outside world. CBS’ Under The Dome, despite sharing a title, some character names, and a giant dome with extraterrestrial origins, might as well be a completely different story. Part of that was by necessity, since the show was a surprisingly big hit and had to fill three whole seasons of plot, but it did that by diving headfirst into needlessly complex sci-fi origins for the dome and a race of aliens with the ability to control people. It had a post-Breaking Bad Dean Norris as the villain and noted comic writer Brian K. Vaughan as showrunner, but it also had a mountain of mythology about alien eggs and mini-domes and underground caves that needlessly complicated a story about the residents of a small town becoming increasingly unhinged and killing each other. At least we’ll always have the cow that got split in half. [Sam Barsanti]


Best: “The Cat From Hell,” Tales From The Darkside (1990)

As with all the impish spawn of EC Comics, both the anthology series and the 1990 movie version of Tales From The Darkside have a punchy comic-book sensibility that give their tales of ghastly terror a larger-than-life feel. That proves to be an asset for “The Cat From Hell,” a segment from the film based on King’s 1977 short story of the same name. Sometimes, King adaptations stumble by trying to present his more outlandish ideas—like, say, a cat clawing its way down a human’s throat like a boa constrictor in reverse, grotesquely turning the man into a human puppet as it goes—at face value. Within the heightened universe of Darkside, however, the idea of a black cat with a blood grudge makes total sense, allowing director John Harrison to extract both amusement and disgust from the premise. Casting Academy Award nominee William Hickey alongside New York Dolls frontman David Johansen, and then having Hickey give the more outrageous of the two performances, deepens the interplay between nightmarish horror and comic-book kitsch, for a King cocktail that goes down mighty smooth. [Katie Rife]

WTF: “The Lonesome Death Of Jordy Verrill,” Creepshow (1982)

As far as King adaptations go, this Creepshow vignette is actually pretty faithful; certainly, it hits more story beats from its source material, the author’s 1976 Lovecraft-but-with-plants riff “Weeds,” than most of its cinematic ilk. No, the WTF-ness of “Jordy Verrill” comes almost solely from the man cast as its titular cash-hungry, sense-poor yokel: One Stephen Edwin King. As far as acting goes, King is, well, one of the most successful novelists of the 20th and 21st centuries—which is to say that there is much that should be overtly horrifying about “Jordy,” as a series of dumb, desperate decisions swiftly promise to doom the entire human race beneath a carpet of hostile foliage. But, in practice, there’s nothing a bushel of space seeds can do, Constant Reader, that’s even remotely as horrifying as watching one of America’s most respected authors—equipped with a cornpone accent, wildly rolling eyes, and some make-up effects that must have cost George Romero upwards of $9.95 at a local party supply store—attempt to convey either comedy or horror while screaming about his alien-weed-infested dick. King has continued to cameo in various projects over the years, but “Jordy” is his only starring role. Thank god for that. [William Hughes]


Best: The Lawnmower Man (1992)

Brett Leonard called his 1992 adaptation of Stephen King’s bite-sized “The Lawnmower Man” one of the most “radical adaptations ever,” but we’re just gonna go ahead and say it’s not an adaptation at all. To be fair, it’s technically not, as King detached himself from the project after suing for the “misleading and deceptive use” of his name. He was right to do so—Leonard’s script, originally titled Cyber God, was retrofitted to the IP with, well, a lawnmower man and little else. But Leonard’s The Lawnmower Man somehow emerged more interesting than the bizarre story it tried to exploit. Its imperfect tale of a scientist’s journey to boost the IQ of a dull gardener via VR still has something compelling to say about virtual worlds and their impact on the human mind and personality. And the movie’s distinctive digital effects, while dated, remain aesthetically interesting in an age where what’s digital often strives only to be more lifelike. The Lawnmower Man’s virtual landscape is silly, sure, but it’s also singular, composed of odd geometric flourishes and religious iconography. It’s almost enough to make up for the weird cyber-fucking. [Randall Colburn]

WTF: The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)

Fulfilling the dreams of everyone who ever thought, “What Carrie needed was less psychological intrigue and more late ’90s nu-metal,” The Rage: Carrie 2 takes everything dark and intense about its progenitor and finds the campiest possible reworking of it. Justifying its narrative logic under the wafer-thin veneer that new protagonist Rachel (Emily Bergl) and the original Carrie White are half-sisters from the same father—thereby granting her what are now officially designated as hereditary powers of telekinesis, we guess—the movie proceeds to deliver the same beats, in hilariously extreme manner. (“This is a Carrie who gets biz-zay—consistently and thoroughly!” the film’s execs presumably uttered at some point.) To wit: Rachel’s only friend (Mena Suvari) dies early on in a manner so over the top, it could be its own Lifetime movie; Rachel snaps after a sex tape of her first time gets broadcast at a party; oh, and the final explosion of her powers? Explaining it with “Home Improvement’s Zachary Ty Bryan gets his dick shot off with a harpoon gun” doesn’t quite do it justice. The title makes more sense if you imaginable someone yelling “Rage!” like they’re in an old Surge commercial. Rarely has the description “stupidly fun” emphasized the stupid quite so much. [Alex McLevy]

Source: Kotaku.com

Control’s Hidden Puppet Show Is A Horror Masterpiece

Control could be called a horror game. It’s creepy and unsettling, right down to the title cards that pop up in every new location. But Control is also a good action game, with fun, bombastic gunfights. It’s probably best to just call it a thriller—at least, until you find the first episode of Threshold Kids, an inexplicable puppet show you can find clips of in the game. Those puppets? Definitely horror.

It doesn’t take long to find Threshold Kids—if you’re attentive in the game’s first hour, the first tape is pretty easy to spot playing on a TV in one of the mail room’s side offices. At this early point in Control, previous videos have all been of men smoking and monologuing, or men in lab coats enthusiastically talking about their work.

Threshold Kids is different. It appears to be a children’s show set in the game’s Federal Bureau of Control, where Topher and Meg, two macabre-looking puppets, deal with the intricacies of FBC protocol. It feels out of place in a way that’s amusing at first—the latest in Remedy’s long tradition of putting parody TV shows in their games—but it pivots to feeling wrong pretty quickly.

Here’s an example, which is my favorite of the first few episodes and is found early in the game.

In this episode, “Missing Momma,” puppet Meg is distraught because her mother seems to have died on an FBC mission. The heavily-redacted letter she’s received about it doesn’t make the cause of death clear. It’s already unnerving to have a withering satire of bureaucratic inhumanity depicted via a children’s show, but “Missing Momma” takes a hard left turn when, after Topher confesses he doesn’t know where his mother is either, Meg says they’ll look for her “togetherrrrr,” dragging out the last syllable as she looks to the camera. The shot holds long past the point of comfort.

Later episodes—and I won’t spoil them here—follow a similar pattern. Meg and Topher encounter something strange and potentially supernatural, and then grapple with the relevant FBC regulation for dealing with it. The show hones in on the incongruity of Control’s world, where paranormal events with horrific outcomes are met with drab bureaucracy and paperwork. Inhabiting that world could conceivably break a person, leading them to make something like Threshold Kids—a maybe-successful attempt to pass that brokenness off as normal to impressionable kids.

Threshold Kids really sticks with me, partly because I stumbled across it late at night alone in my home, but also because it also aligns with a very particular kind of horror. It feels like the creepy oeuvre of WhamCity Comedy, famous for “Too Many Cooks” and “Unedited Footage of A Bear,” which present themselves as a ‘90s sitcom and pharmaceutical ad, respectively, and then slowly devlove into murderous horror. Or the abrupt, disconcerting puppet videos of YouTuber Jordan Walker, formerly known as Jordan Underneath, who pivoted without warning from run-of-the-mill videos about games and such to surreal shows about Sesame Street-esque puppets that are equal parts friendly and monstrous.

Threshold Kids feels like discovering something that lurks in a space that’s impossibly big—in the case of the above YouTubers, it’s the internet; in Threshold Kids, it’s a video game. This kind of comedy-horror makes clear that you can’t really know everything about a space, no matter how often you occupy it. The creepy, offbeat nature of Threshold Kids reminds me that games, and the internet, are things that are just too big to believe our narrow slices of them are representative of the whole.

You click on a YouTube video, or round a corner in the corridors of Control. You stumble upon a video that feels wrong, like it shouldn’t be there, but is. You’re reminded of how narrow your perception of a thing really is. And you spend a little bit longer falling asleep that night.

Source: Kotaku.com

Unlike The Movie, The Blair Witch Game Doesn’t Seem So Scary

If you’re familiar with its source material, Blair Witch, the upcoming game for PC and consoles, has a lot to live up to. It’s impossible to understate the influence of 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, a found footage film that blurred the line between fact and fiction and emphasized a slow-burn dread over outright scares. Few horror works are as distinct, and Blair Witch, the forthcoming game, is an attempt to create a video game rendition of that film’s slowly encroaching horror. After playing a short demo of it a few weeks ago, I’m not sure it will succeed.

In the early 1990s, filmmakers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez made a horror film disguised as a documentary. It was about a group of young people who went deep into the woods of Maryland to find a witch who supposedly haunted the region, only they never made it back. The filmmakers marketed the fictional movie as a real documentary, even suggesting the stars—unknowns who played characters they shared real names with—were actually missing.

In 1999 The Blair Witch Project was released to phenomenal success, fueled in part by speculation: though Myrick and Sánchez were frank about the true nature of their film in interviews at the time, audiences still thought the movie’s events might have been real. The success of The Blair Witch Project essentially invented a genre of film and changed horror in ways that are felt today in various media, including video games.

Twenty years later, recorded footage, slow-burn horror, and the notion of being stalked by an unkillable madness-inducing entity are all part of the horror game bag of tricks, popularized, ironically, by streaming. With games like Five Nights at Freddy’s, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and Outlast influencing a whole new generation of horror, it’s the perfect time for a Blair Witch video game in the modern horror mold.

In this Blair Witch, developed by Bloober Team, the Polish studio behind Layers of Fear and Observer, you play as Ellis, a former cop who joins the search for a boy named Peter Shannon who has gone missing in the woods of Maryland circa 1996. You’re alone, with the exception of your dog (which you can pet), occasional radio calls from others, and whatever might be lurking in the woods.

My demo session with Blair Witch wasn’t conducive to the extended descent into the forests and my own paranoia the game seems designed for. I played a series of five vignettes from various parts of the game, each about 5 to 10 minutes long. In these vignettes, I began my trek through the woods, was chased by an entity I could not see, got lost in a tunnel, fended off monsters with my flashlight, and finally approached the home where the eponymous witch lures their prey.

It was a varied taste of what Blair Witch has to offer, but it was at odds with the kind of experience players will likely have in the final game, which I was told is one continuous experience not broken up into levels or sections. So while I got to see a lot of the game, nothing really had an effect on me—the anticipation and dread so necessary for horror like this to work was more or less absent thanks to this presentation. Beyond one or two jump scares, the game never got in my head. The monsters were barely visible, vaguely humanoid blurs that rushed through the woods and were scared away by pointing my flashlight at them. They weren’t all that creepy, and the woods never felt sprawling enough to get lost in.

Aesthetically, the game nails the movie’s feel. The dense, plain-looking forests felt sinister, and the crude wooden symbols from the movie were strewn around as creepy collectibles. I just can’t be sure if it’s to an effective end, since I was unable to linger in any moment of this game for too long.

Though my time with this truncated version of the game left me skeptical, Blair Witch could still work when I get the full game, turn off the lights, and play through it in a night or two. There’s some good stuff here—your dog, Bullet, is not susceptible to the Witch’s Curse and is impervious to the visions that plague your character over time. He’s kind of a compass or early warning sign, so you get antsy when he’s not around or starts barking at things you can’t see. In the demo, I got nervous when Bullet started barking, filled with the kind of dread that’s good for a horror game.

Blair Witch’s approach to found footage is pretty fun as well. In certain areas, you find tapes you can play on your handheld camcorder. Tapes show you something that happened in the place where you stand, and by watching them you can change the environment. A door that’s shut in front of you might be opened on the tape, so if you scrub to that moment and then look up, you’ll find the door open. It’s a neat, unsettling trick that, while very simple, could lead to some fun moments. There are also great, creepy instances when you have to navigate with the camera—what you see on its screen can be very different from what’s in front of you.

Throughout the demo, the Bloober Team developers present stressed that they didn’t want to make their Blair Witch a translation of any particular film or prior text. While the events of the movie happened in the world of the game, the developers want their take on Blair Witch to be something other than a slavish reproduction of the film. The game has the vibe of the movies—dense woods, creepy abandoned homes—, but it also feels like a modern horror game. You don’t have a weapon, just your flashlight, your camera, and your radio or cell phone. You rummage through shelves and discarded items, finding spooky photographs and turning them over in your hands for possible clues.

At the same time, a horror game with an unarmed, first-person protagonist trying to solve a mystery has been done before in ways that felt more frightening than what I experienced of Blair Witch. I hope that when taken as a whole on August 30, Blair Witch will feel more like a proper, dread-filled Blair Witch experience—or even just a solid horror game.

Source: Kotaku.com

Report: Another Classic Halloween Character Is Returning for Halloween Kills

Michael Myers has new prey.
Image: Universal Pictures

Laurie Strode was deeply, abidingly traumatized by her experience facing off against Michael Myers. But she wasn’t the only one.

Remember the kids? The ones she was babysitting, on that night in the original Halloween. Well, according to a pair of reporters on The Sneider Cut, a podcast put on by Collider reporter Jeff Sneider, one of those kids—Tommy Doyle, specifically—is returning to the world of masked horror in Halloween Kills.

If you remember Doyle, it’s probably for one of two things. Either, one, he was the one who definitely spotted Myers before Laurie and tried to warn her. Or, you remember that he was played as an adult by Paul Rudd in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. So, bad news on that front: the reporters also said that, while Rudd was indeed approached for the role, he had to turn it down for Ghostbusters.

So who will be filling Rudd’s legendary, weird-sequel shoes? Unclear. But the character’s return suggests that this series is only beginning to plumb the depths of the impact Myers made on the community he terrorized.

Halloween Kills comes out October 16, 2020. And there’s still time to say yes, Paul Rudd. Do it for all of us.

[h/t Bloody Disgusting]

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Source: Kotaku.com

One Night In Darkwood Will Ruin Forests For You

“Respect the woods,” Darkwood cautions you before you start playing for the first time. It’s part of a warning that mostly uses more practical language, letting players know that they’re about to play a “challenging” game, and that they “will not be led by the hand.” It’s a single evocative line in an otherwise perfunctory note. Respect the woods. What a perfect little warning. What a classic way to start a horror story: with a single rule that I have no choice but to violate.

Initially released in 2017 after a three-year early access period, Darkwood makes the leap over to consoles this week with ports to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. In the game, you play as a man who wakes up deep in the woods of Soviet-era Eastern Europe, which have grown wild and twisted by supernatural forces, swallowing up everything within. If there’s a way out, you have to find it, but first you have to survive.

To do that, you’ll have to make the best of the ramshackle hideout you wake up in. You’ll scrounge for resources like wood planks, rags, and gasoline, craft them into makeshift weapons, barricade doors and windows, get generators running, and prepare for the night, where you have no option but to hide indoors and fend off anything that gets inside. Survive until morning, and you do it all over again—except maybe this time, you’ll get to explore a little farther, perhaps find a little more. Or maybe you’ll get swallowed up by something horrifying.

When it was first announced in 2013, Darkwood was unusual for being a 2D horror game with a top-down perspective, bundled with a lot of ideas that were exciting at the time: procedural generation, survival mechanics, and a distinct art style. Those things are all still there and part of its appeal, but after six years of other games that have embraced those features, they’re also the stalest part of Darkwood. After a gripping, linear prologue, the game opens up to become a more traditional survival game where the tension mostly comes from the risk and reward of venturing out into the unknown in the hopes of finding new, interesting things.

It’s fortunate, then, that there are a lot of inexplicable, unsettling things to find in Darkwood. Like strange humanoid creatures worshipping a glowing stone. Or a man with a wolf’s head that is open to talking and trading with you, even if he regards you with considerable disdain. Or that one night, when I heard a knock on my door and found an invitation that told me to go to a location on the map the next day. I went, and found a wedding celebration full of ghosts—ghosts that had been waiting for me.

These are incredible moments, brought to vivid life by Darkwood’s distinct animation style. The way characters move feels earthy and full of weight, as if they were animated by hand with heavy pencils. It makes you think of Ralph Bakshi films and illustrations in very old books. Which is fitting, because Darkwood feels like a rumination on the dark and macabre folklore that forms the basis of fairy tales. Stories about simple things in the real world that scare us—the woods, wolves, shadows twisting in the dim light—given strange and deadly life.

If there’s a drawback to all this, it’s that Darkwood’s structure can make it terribly slow at times. Hiding really is the only real option you have at night, and in the early stages of the game that means for every 30 or so minutes you spend exploring, you’re gonna spend about five minutes doing more or less nothing while you wait for night to pass. The game mitigates this a bit by having some sort of haunting trigger in your hideout most nights, and later on enemies get more aggressive about breaking in, but still, hunkering down is a great way to kill momentum, as is scrounging for materials to craft a torch in order to go check out one of the more pitch-black areas.

But based on a few hours with the game’s PlayStation 4 port, Darkwood does enough right to suck me in and accept the slow pace as an occupational hazard. So much of this game breathes slowly—the way the trees above you appear to throb, or fungi seem to audibly quiver and inhale, never really moving but not quite static. Most life moves slowly, outside of the clumsy perception of humans. The forests of Darkwood are here to remind you of that life, and how deadly it is. Respect the woods.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Glass Staircase Gets Why Retro Horror Games Worked

Here’s the first ten minutes or so!

The Glass Staircase, released last week for PC and Mac, tries to capture the feeling of classic horror games like Clock Tower and Silent Hill. When I saw my coworker Luke Plunkett post the trailer on Kotaku, I was intrigued. My early time with The Glass Staircase has been tense, revealing a moody game that silently waits until you’ve finally relaxed before killing you.

Capturing the essence of fixed-camera horror games can be tricky. It’s not simply about having tank controls or adding a little bit of fog to your game. The Glass Staircase has those things, but it also understands the value of a good slow burn. You play as a group of children inside an run-down manor. One by one, you are made to explore and perform simple tasks: Grab this package that was delivered, light all the candles in the house.

But something’s wrong. A dark force lingers just out of sight, and when you least expect it, tragedy arrives. In my first hour or so with The Glass Staircase, two of my playable characters seem to have died, and I’m sure that more deaths are to come. It results in a sort of Groundhog’s Day loop. Each new day starts calm before slowly shifting to something more sinister. That cyclical structure might allow me to get to know the manor grounds better but it can’t prepare me for bloody monsters.

What I appreciate about The Glass Staircase most at the moment is how it uses space. One of the things I love about games like Resident Evil is how the fixed camera perspective is used to create a sense of alienation and dread. You don’t really know what’s down the hall or around the corner because you can’t see it. Games that shift perspectives, like the recent Resident Evil 2 remake, have their own tricks for keeping things tense—enemies that stalk you, gory combat—but they miss out on this particular brand of unease.

For instance, one early part of The Glass Staircase involves a hedge maze. The camera makes it all the more easy to get lost, which is uncomfortable and even a bit frustrating. It also means that the maze can shift off-camera, or add a terrifying monster right out of frame. It’s smart, using the limitations of early horror to create a memorable set piece.

I’ve not progressed far enough to get to the gorier bits teased in the trailer. I haven’t picked up a gun and shot a shambling husk-creature yet. But The Glass Staircase has proven a solid student of the slow burn. Whatever explosive confrontations await, there’s been plenty of silent wanderings to go with it. That’s some solid horror game design, sure to please anyone eager for a fresh scare.

Source: Kotaku.com

2019 Game Is A Tribute To PS2 Horror

The Glass Staircase is a new release that’s inspired by two things: PS2-era horror games and Italian zombie movies.

Specifically, stuff like Silent Hill and Clock Tower from the former, and Burial Grounds: Nights of Terror and House by the Cemetery from the latter.

Despite those influences, I’m also getting a strong Alone in the Dark vibe from it—especially from those bathroom tiles—which is a very good thing.

The game runs for around 2-3 hours, and lets you explore a haunted mansion as a variety of characters. It’s available here for $6 on PC or Mac.

Source: Kotaku.com