There aren’t a whole lot of horror games coming out from the big game publishers in 2016. Instead of trying to scare you, EA, Activision and the rest are dropping a ton of tried and true war simulators, fantasy games, and sequels. But don’t despair. This is great news for fans of horror games. In order to see a return on their massive budgets, “big” games are generally built to satisfy middlebrow gamers’ endless thirst for adolescent power fantasy. Real horror, though, relies on vulnerability, on taking power away instead of providing it. So instead of aiming at the soft middle of the gaming demographic, indie developers are talking directly to horror fans, crowd funding quirky, unexpected and terrifying interactive experiences tailored for fans of horror.
None of the games listed below will sell as well as this year’s Call of Duty, but 2016’s crop of crowd-funded horror games are pushing the envelope in terms of innovation, whether you’re into old-school slasher fun or experimental horror. These games aren’t for everyone; they’re for you.
The last time Jason Voorhees showed up in the world of video games was in 1989’s slip-shod, widely panned NES cash-grab Friday the 13th. This time, though, things are going to be very different. Developers Gun Media raised nearly a million bucks from Kickstarter and used it to get the band back together. They teamed up alums from the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, like special-effects creator Tom Savini, Kane Hodder, who played Jason in three of the movies, and Harry Manfredini, the composer responsible for Jason’s signature song: “Ch-ch-ch-ha-ha-ha,” and are aiming for video game greatness. Although Friday the 13th will be dripping with slasher-nostalgia (expect big hair, dumb teenagers and truly gruesome kills), the gameplay promises something new. It’s an asynchronous multiplayer game, where up to seven players are relatively weak camp counselors while one lucky person gets to strap on the hockey mask and play as Jason himself. Look for Friday the 13th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in Fall 2016.
Created by Deep End Games, a studio headed by former BioShock developers, Perception is a survival horror title with a monster hook. The main character is completely blind and “sees” through echolocation. In order to navigate through the world, you must make noise, but you quickly learn that the sound of your white cane tapping alerts “The Presence” that stalks you. So are you going to sit in the dark? Or are you going to risk It hearing you? Just judging from the videos released so far, Perception uses the unique possibilities of the medium to provide the kind of dread and terror that can only come from a video game. We expect big things from this one.
Like any self-respecting monster, eerie, first-person survival-horror game Allison Road was born from weird circumstances. The story starts with the 2014 release of “P.T.”, a mysterious demo for Konami’s Silent Hills. Silent Hills was to have been a collaboration between Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro. As you’d expect, the demo was batshit. In it, a simple walk through a house becomes excruciatingly suspenseful and eerie. (if you haven’t seen it, check it out.) The Internet went nuts for this brief taste of a game that could revive the ailing Silent Hill series. Ultimately though, even Kojima and Del Toro couldn’t save Silent Hills; Konami pulled the plug on the title, leaving nothing behind but videos of the demo and a bad taste in gamers’ mouths. Although not officially connected with Konami’s game, “P.T.” so inspired Lilith Ltd. founder Chris Kesler that he sought Kickstarter funds to expands on its concepts. Before the crowd-funding could even reach its conclusion, Allison Road was snapped up by publisher Team17. Whether this game will come close to delivering on the amazing promise of the “P.T.” demo remains to be seen, but here’s hoping. Allison Road’s platforms haven’t been announced yet, but the projected release date is the third quarter of 2016.
You really can’t go wrong with a horror game that takes place in an insane asylum. Influenced heavily by H.P. Lovecraft, Asylum promises mature psychological horror set in the sprawling Hanwell Mental Institute, where unimaginable atrocities are a way of life. This first-person game will feature over 100 rooms to explore, countless mysteries to uncover, and I’d expect some evil psychiatrists and angry psychopaths from which to cower. Asylum will be playable on both PCs and Macs, and its developers have sworn to the kickstarter faithful that it will be released in 2016.
Through the Woods is a bit of a wildcard. It draws its horror not from Japanese ghosts or American zombies. Instead, it’s set in Norway, and uses Norwegian folktales and Norse mythology to scare ya. In this third-person psychological horror tale, you play as a grieving mother, walking through a terrifying forest in search of her missing son. Developers Antagonist says it’s trying to recreate the dreadful feeling the woods can give children, and judging from the Through the Woods demo, they’re on the right track. Look for Through the Woods to be released in the first quarter of 2016.
To read PART 2 of our Most Anticipated Games of 2016, click here!