After a nice month of not writing, it’s good to come back to the Pulse. Of course during all that time I’ve been doing a ton of research for what I will hope to be a very popular multi column series here in Nyogtha.
Back in the days of 411mania.com, I did a column called Retrograding which climaxed with a multi-part series detailing my favorite 30 RPG’s of all time, from Slayers Royal to Valkyrie Profile. Of course, due to the nature of video game fan boys being unable to understand that “one man’s opinion does NOT equal fact,” I prepared by doing a preamble first to prevent people from going “OMGWTF! HOW COULD YOU LEAVE OUT xXx?” Or the inverse. It worked out pretty well. So that’s what I’m doing here.
Over the next few weeks/months I’m going to be doing a countdown of what I consider to be the 30 best horror/terror video games of all time. I mean, everyone associated the video game side of me with RPG’s, fighters, and 2-D shooters, and my Nyogtha audience knows me as “that guy who knows everything about monsters,” so I thought it would be fun to cover my favorite games featuring the monsters, ghouls and beasties I write about ever week in this column.
So let’s get on with the disclaimers.
1. This is All Opinion.
I can’t stress that enough. My word is not law. My thoughts and opinions on preferences are things you can take or leave. If you find you like my writing and the games I speak of interest you, then by all means, go and try and find these games and enjoy them. If you find yourself disagreeing, don’t pop a blood vessel because we have different taste. Just accept that we don’t mesh. I’m sure some of my choices will surprise you, and as always due to my eidetic memory and seeming mutant ability to have played games most people have never heard of will leave someone of you going, “I haven’t even heard of half these games!” That’s all the more reason to pay attention though, don’t you think? You’ll learn something and might discover a game that you’ll really love.
2. If it is Not on the List, that Doesn’t Mean it Sucks
That’s a common misconception I find whenever anyone does a list. People reading the list feel slighted when a game they like isn’t as enjoyed by the writer in question and so they jump to the conclusion that the writer HATES that game. The original list off the top of my head ended up being over 50 games. it was a matter of whittling things down.
3. There’s No Resident Evil Games on the List
Why? I don’t like any of them. Well, sside from 4, but the plot is pretty awful, and hell, over half the Games staff here at IP preferred Pokemon XD to it.
I consider Resident Evil games action adventure, not true horror or terror. They’re like Castlevania. Lone hero kills a shitload of monsters with lots of backtracking and little character development. I’m not a fan of the controls or the plots, and I never find them scary or jump at them. Again, it’s personal taste. Same with Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. I think that game is a slap in the face to the Cthulhu Mythos. Shooting Deep Ones and winning a one on one fight with Father Dagon is not terror to me, whch is what Lovecraft wrote.. It’s not even a respectful interpretation of the Mythos. And so you won’t be seeing that here either. Same with Dino Crisis or any other title that somehow thinks horror is “Gore with a human killing lots of things.”
4. Half the Games on this List are not Console Games
Shock of shocks, right? Only two games on my RPG list were PC games, but when it comes to horror or terror games, the PC dominated over the consoles universe in terms of originality and quality. I’ve never understood why that is really, but as we go through the list, you’ll be seeing games that you might have forgotten about but really made their mark when they were available.
5. This is NOT Your Typical Video Game List.
This is Nyogtha, not Retrograding. RG was a video game fan’s look at video games. Nyogtha is a column about folklore and sub-cultural anthropology. What this means is that the countdown and looking at the games will be done from that point of view and under that viewpoint. This is not a list written primarily for a video game fan who might be interested in survival-horror games. This is for monster/classical horror and terror fans who might be interested in playing video games. That may not sound like a big shift, but it really is.
There’re several aspects of a game I looked at to determine if it made it into the countdown or not.
The first and foremost is plot. Again, this is where the aspect of introducing fans of spooky shit into proper video games instead of introducing video gamers to spooky shit comes into play. The games that made this list all feature original plots, hold true to the trappings of classical horror and terror, and actually make an attempt to have a spooky atmosphere. This is why again, games like the RE series didn’t make it in. The Nuking of Racoon City just did not scream “Wow! Horror.” or “Terrifying!” to me.
In other words, this list is being done from the perspective of a person who enjoys House of Leaves or the works of Lovecraft, Chambers, Sheridan LeFanu, or Teuthold. This is NOT being done by a person who enjoys any of the Nightmare on Elm Street or Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, or general slasher horror films. My film tastes are more Ninth Gate or In the Mouth of Madness. Things that are more on the terror side than gore splattered crap. I like my horror intelligent and intriguing, not body part central. That’s not even horror to me; it’s just blause gore. Only one game on the list could be considered a gore game, but it’s also the father of that style of gaming and actually was highly innovative when it came out. So it skirted on.
The second aspect is play control and/or gameplay. If the controls totally suck, there’s less of a chance a game is going to be on here unless they have an amazing plot or are very influential. An example is the game that the RE series took its original control scheme from. That game is on the list. Why? Amazing plot, and the PC version’s controls via the keyboard weren’t god awful.
This is also why several of the games on here are “point N click.” Easy controls to learn that stack on top of some well written storylines and good scares. This also encompasses a lot of the older games on the list. Again, this list is not “Top 30 Horror/Terror Games for the Hardcore Gamer.” This is “Top 30 Games for Classical Horror/Terror Fans/Fans of Nyogtha/Lovers of Spooky Things and Parapsychology Will Enjoy if They Ever Manage to Track Some of These Games Down.”
The final aspect I focused on was if there was any attempt to be scary. God knows I’m the biggest Megaten mark in the world, but I wouldn’t put them on the countdown. Sure they have demons and Nyarlathotep and the like, but I don’t consider them scary, horrific, or frightening at all. On the flip side of that a teeny proportion of games on this list have no monsters in them at all. Unless you count Man itself as a monster. Why? Because sometimes we are truly horrifying as a species and in the games that made the list where another human being is the main antagonist it was because of the plot, characterization and it actually made me say “Oh Shit!” out loud. This is also why well made games like Maniac Mansion and The Haunted Mansion didn’t make the list. They may have monsters, but they make you LAUGH.
I’m going to be devoted equal focus between the games and why they are great, but also in true Nyogtha fashion, going into details about the monsters/haunted places in question and their place in folklore/what inspired the developers and writers. This is not going to be a straight up “I lurve video games.” So don’t go in thinking that. Nyogtha is a column about they whys and hows of where the concepts of monsters and the dark things lurking in the corners of Man’s domain came from. That’s going to remain the focus.
8. Have Fun!
I’m having fun writing this. Have fun reading it too. That’s all that needs to be said.
The countdown begins next week.
Been a while since we’ve given you guys a recipe, hasn’t it? Well as it’s been a while since I’ve been back, I decided to go with something simple and yet delicious.
We all know, I like spicy food. We all know I like shellfish. This week I decided to pull out a recipe. Down in New Orleans, a popular starter treat is barbequed shrimp which are generally coated in various peppers and spices. This dish is a bit of a variant, choosing to go with Chipotle peppers (as it’s the current pepper trend in cooking) and going more for a dipping style sauce. It’ll be a bit messy with the peeling and the sauce most likely splattering as you dunk, but really, isn’t that half the fun?
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry red wine (Yes, really. Red.)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cans chipotle chilies, minced (I’m going canned as I don’t know the quality of everyone’s supermarket, and canned is easier to get than fresh at a lot of places.)
3 tablespoons Adobo sauce
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, still in shell (This should be about 50)
1 baguette for dipping in sauce
1. Preheat over to 400 degrees F, ensuring your rack is in the middle of the oven.
2. Get a 2-3 quart ceramic (or glass) baking dish and set it aside.
3. Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in the red wine, Worcester sauce, peppers, garlic, salt and adobo sauce. Pour sauce into the baking dish and toss with shrimp.
4. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through.
I’ll see you next week as we get ready for four straight months of horror game commentary.
Good night out there, whatever you are…