The 32 Worst Horror Games, Part Eight

The Top Thirty-two Worst Horror Games, Ever, Part Eight


Okay, we’re back with the second to last part of the Top Thirty-two Worst Horror Games, Ever. For those who are tuning in late, I’m Mark,


And I’m Matt,


And we’re basically running an uber-extended Playing the Lame.


Quit shilling your crap and let’s get on with it.


Okay then. This time around, the games all share a similar theme: games that could’ve worked, if only they didn’t suck.


Right. While a lot of the other games on the list were cheap knock-offs of better games, or were just bad altogether, these games might have been good, if only they weren’t developed by idiots.


There’s nothing more depressing than a game that’s mishandled. In all seriousness, I think you know what I’m talking about.


I know I do.


You see a game, think it’s going to be great, then take it home only to find out it’s broken to the point where you just can’t have fun with it. It’s heartbreaking.


So today, we’re going to pick apart some of the worst offenders. We hope you enjoy it.


Also, poopie.


Wha?


I dunno. I thought it was getting a little too serious in here.


Okay then. I’m going to start, if that’s alright with you and your poopie?


Knock yourself out.


#8: RESIDENT EVIL: OUTBREAK


That’s right, Resident Evil takes up 2 spots on this list.


Not like that’s hard to believe… there’s like a billion of the damn things. Shit happens.


I did the original review for IP somewhere around here. It’s in the archives. To summarize the review: I’d rather be circumcised with a rusty scalpel than ever play this game again. The game sounds good in theory: it’s Resident Evil, and you can go through Raccoon City with friends for zombie killing mayhem online! It’s hard to believe they screwed up what should’ve easily been a great online title.

Let’s start with the obvious…loading times. Horrible, mind numbing loading times that pop up every time you leave from one room and go into another. This might not be so bad except for the fact that there are things like pointless hallways and rooms, as well as plenty of backtracking to do. I probably spent more time waiting to play the game than I spent actually playing it. Offline, the AI for your teammates is like trying to survive a zombie attack during the Special Olympics. They will either waste time, waste ammunition, stand around doing nothing, or constantly ask “ËœDid you find it?’ The sheer amount of times the game asks you “ËœDid you find it?’ makes me want to buy a cheap copy just to break the game with a big hammer.

Then burn the pieces.

Then bury the ashes.

Then piss on the grave.

Then salt the earth so nothing grows there again.

I really, really hate this f’n game.


I couldn’t tell.


Online, the game is almost as bad as it is offline, since you cannot communicate with your teammates with the headset, and have to use preset responses like “ËœYes’. The online structure for finding a game is a pain in the ass as well, especially for a game that brags about its online capabilities. Online is most fun when you do things to screw with other people, like boarding another player in a room full of zombies, or grabbing a necessary item and hold onto it while the other players run around you in frustration since they are unable to talk to you. Well, at least I thought doing that was fun.

RE: Outbreak is a short, frustrating experience that no one should have to experience. If that wasn’t bad enough, there is also a sequel that has all the same problems as the first game!

Almost as painful as: Having sex with yo momma. Seriously, look at her!


Regarding the sequel: while I have no interest in directly speaking about it as an actual column, as I’ve played it, I’d like to expound a bit on it if I may. Outbreak was a franchise that was designed to be playable IF AND ONLY IF you owned the HDD. IF you owned the HDD, you could play the game with far less loading issues than if not. Now, I don’t hate this concept, but frankly, considering Sony basically said “f*ck the HDD” with their Slim PS2 after releasing it at $100 (the HDD, not the Slim PS2), well, their wasn’t much chance for success as far as the title was concerned. Releasing a sequel to a game that was more or less obsolete from the get-go wasn’t a terribly good idea. Compounding this, Capcom basically decided that microphone or keyboard support was counter-productive to their vision for RE:O2… which was apparently to make a broken product that no one would want to buy. The sad thing is, taken as a concept, RE:O is a pretty cool idea (Dawn of the Dead online), but as a game it’s sixteen different kinds of broken that Capcom belligerently refuses to fix, on purpose. Of course, the Japanese love Monster Hunter BECAUSE it’s broken, so they’re most likely the market Capcom was trying to appease here. If this is the case, screw Capcom for marketing to the wrong demographic, and screw the Japanese for being stupid. That is all.


#7: HELL: A CYBERPUNK THRILLER:


Every time I look at Take Two Interactive (parent company of Rockstar Games, as opposed to Rockstar Energy Drinks, which is its own company that is in no way affiliated with Take Two or Rockstar Games), and how successful they’ve become, and how many good games they’ve made, I have to stop and reevaluate my perception of reality. Because, you see, every time I hear the name “Take Two Interactive”, all I think of is Hell. Not the place (although that’s certainly relevant), but rather the game. See, back in the day, Take Two made a pair of “adventure” games (and I use the term loosely), Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller (henceforth referred to only as Hell) and Bureau 13 (which we will not discuss, as it is outside of the scope of this article, but you can correctly assume it was bad as well). Hell was not only a PC release, but also found its way to the 3DO (as a lot of crappy PC games did at that time) for reasons that are beyond the knowledge of this author.


Because PC developers wanted to cash in?


Then they probably shouldn’t have picked the $700 ABYSMAL FAILURE to release games on.

Hell was a pretty big deal at the time. It was widely hyped for the PC (well, as widely hyped as anything could be at that time), and hey, Dennis Hopper and Stephanie Seymour were in it! Never mind that Hopper had been in Super Mario Bros. prior to this, and never mind that Seymour was well known as a MODEL, not an ACTRESS, (she’s still not much of an actress, if IMDB is any indication; three acting roles in ten years does not a career make) this was some interesting stuff, especially considering how new things like CGI and FMV were at the time.

Geoffrey Holder was also a voice actor in the game; I feel this deserves to be noted since so few people note this in commentaries of the game. In case you’re drawing a blank, Punjab in Annie. Still blank? Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die. Bow down, bitches. Grace Jones played a part too, though I mention this less out of respect and more out of fear that she might come to my home and kill me.

Sadly, this was all for naught; Hell, interesting though it seemed, was a mess of epic proportions. Basically, Hell was TRYING to tell the story of a couple (who were a couple) of government agents in a world that had been merged with/taken over by Hell (the place, not the game), far in the future of Earth. The agents had apparently been betrayed in some form or fashion, and desired to find out why, exactly, this had happened. The problem was, you never really understood or cared WHY they were betrayed, because the game made no sense.

Now, I’m perfectly fine with the idea of “cyberpunk”. I enjoyed Shadowrun as a concept (though never actually got to play it in pen and paper format), and thought movies like Mad Max and Blade Runner were quite good. I count HOL as one of my favorite P&P RPG experiences, and Fallout as one of my favorite games of all time. Now, most of these named products deal with post-apocalyptic end of the world stuff, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue that cyberpunk elements do not exist within each of the products I mentioned. That all said and done, the argument that Hell is “cyberpunk”, while technically true, is an insult to the genre. Those few people who claim fan appreciation of this Mongolian clusterf*ck of a game will say “Oh, it’s cyberpunk, you don’t get it”.
Nonono. CYBERPUNK is cool. THIS is a mess.

The first major problem with Hell is that it’s an adventure game. Now, back in my first PtL I said that some characters and concepts would lend themselves well to adventure games over other types, as was proven by Virtual Stupidity, and I stand by this. But the corollary to this is that some concepts DO NOT lend themselves to adventure games, and Hell is a primary example. Had this been an action title, the over-exaggerated concepts, ponderous rhetoric, and highly lame characters would have been ancillary to the “blow shit up” gameplay, and this would have been all right. As an adventure game, however, all of these issues are brought to the forefront, and as most of your standard adventure game is storytelling, it can get really hard to stomach what Take Two was trying to do here.

The whole game is based around the idea that the world is run by minions of Hell. As in fire, brimstone, all that jazz. The US government is run by a fanatical religious faction (wow, talk about prophetic) that rules with an iron fist. The usual crap goes down: no books, no free speech, no porn, no sin at all, basically. You break the rules, no prison time for you, they just toss you into Hell. This is incredibly stupid and overly blunt for a number of reasons, and sadly, Hell fails to make it work on even the most rudimentary level. You spend equal time facing down robots and demons, and it all just seems incredibly poorly thought out.

The writing is half “flux capacitor” and half “your immortal soul is mine”, but it all ultimately ends up being hard to follow and harder to swallow. None of the demons presented, not even Satan himself (who you end up having to kill, YES KILL, by the way) are terribly interesting, and none of the horror elements are implemented even remotely well in the least. You ultimately end up with a title that tries to be horrific, and succeeds for the wrong reasons. When you have Dennis Hopper as a sub-demon of sorts named “Mr. Beautiful”… a gang named the Deadly 7 (like sins, ha ha)… and, oh yes, constant trips TO AND FROM HELL ITSELF… that’s about the point where you’re actively wondering who proof-read this and thought it was a good idea. Everything is elementary school sillyness, nothing really works, and for a game that is steeped in hellish visions and conceptual horror, Doom was more scary and hellish. Yes, the first one. A game programmed by ten guys in a garage is more scary than a game with an actual, y’know, BUDGET, and it’s a better representation of Hell, to boot.

Of course, playing Hell is a lot like going through Hell, so maybe this was meant to be a concept piece. Whatever the case, it’s a waste of a concept, a waste of talent, and a waste of money. The only thing I can say is that the title is certainly appropriate, and that’s certainly not a good thing.

Almost as painful as: Suffering the tortures of all nine circles of Hell in five-minute intervals for about an hour.


The only time the words ‘Cyberpunk Thriller’ should be used in a sentence is when describing Shadowrun.


#6: ILLBLEED


Illbleed was a Dreamcast survival horror game, and it’s on the list for two reasons: the amount of money spent on controllers after throwing them at the wall in frustration at the game, and the fact that the game was so close to being a great camp horror game and failed at it. In defense of the game, though, part of the reason for Illbleed’s failure is because it simply tried to do way too many things at once.


As opposed to the other things on the list, which tried to do one thing, but f*cked it up.


Right. The game was one of few attempts to capture and pay homage to camp horror movies and films (see Obscure). It starts off with 4 friends graduating Castle Rock High School, and one of the friends has invitations to a horror theme park called Illbleed, where all you had to do was survive one night and you would win $100,000,000. One catch: lots of people have died at the park. Kinda like a lethal Disneyland.


Or, alternatively, Action Park, if you know what that is.


But hey, for $100,000,000, I’d cut my own foot off and eat it, and the kids feel the same way. Except one, who stays behind. Three days later, her friends haven’t returned, so it’s off to Illbleed to find them.

Note to my friends: I would’ve left you there.

So our heroine has to search through the various bloody themed attractions. There are several areas, each with its own theme. Sounds okay so far right? Okay, then you start the game. Illbleed almost plays like the Deception series in reverse; instead of laying out traps, each of the areas you explore are filled with traps for your character to disarm. How can you tell where the traps are?


Baking powder, infrared goggles, and stealth tactics?


Cue the meters of death.


That was my second guess.


You see, in Illbleed, you have seven meters to keep track of. That’s correct, SEVEN. Four are for the characters senses: sight, smell, hearing, and sixth sense. Taste and touch decided that they wanted no part of the game, apparently, and I don’t blame them. Then there are meters for adrenaline, stamina, and pulse. Also, in the levels you’ll find a Horror Meter that will help detect and disarm traps.

As for detecting the traps, the sensory meters are set up EKG style. You get near something that triggers your sixth sense, and there will be a blip on the meter, meaning you’re near an item or a trap (probably a trap). The other senses work generally the same… you get near a trap that smells bad, the corresponding sense meter moves. The other meters deal with survival. When using the horror meter, you can try to zoom in and mark where you think a trap might be, which uses a good amount of adrenaline. If you successfully marked the spot, then you get some adrenaline back. The stamina meter has a couple uses, like for running, but mostly you’ll be worried about when there’s a red bar above it. If there is, you’re bleeding. If you don’t stop the bleeding before the red line goes down, you’ve bled to death. Then there’s the pulse line. Bleeding slows it down. Heart stopping bad. Get scared by one of the traps or enemies, get knocked down, or hell even dodge, and meter goes up. Heart explosion also bad. Illbleed gives you many different ways to die… and playing this game means your character will die.

A lot.

One of the problems is that there are traps, well, everywhere. Another problem is that some of the traps will trigger enemies you have to fight, and the combat could suck chrome off of a trailer hitch. Enemies are cheap and your characters are weak, though you always have the option of running… as long as you can put a little distance between the baddies and the character (and can tap the B button like a maniac). But because the traps are everywhere, even if you’re good at spotting and marking the traps and have enough adrenaline power ups to keep it up forever, the game is agonizingly slow. You’ll be fighting for every step you take while hoping your character has enough adrenaline, isn’t bleeding to death, and has a regular pulse while juggling the other meters.

So why bother playing the game at all? Partly because the game is probably of the most unique survival horror game you’ll ever encounter. Outside of the screen full of meters, each level is a bizarre experience in itself. My favorite is the one where you get to play as a toy doll named Cork whose owner died and his toy girlfriend “ËœSexy Doll’ (which is a female bending over with a giant booty…we’re talking major junk in the trunk) is buried with his owner.


Oh, God… here comes the Stockholm Syndrome.


Cork is depressed because he was planning on getting some, and tries to go to the cemetery to see the grave… only to have their ghosts materialize to tell him goodbye before getting interrupted by an evil force. Even more depressed, he hits up a bar, gets drunk, kills some oversized eggs and goes to jail. There he finds out that he can go see Sexy Doll if he dies and goes to hell. He’s all excited about this and makes his way to the gallows. But this is interrupted by the same person who told him he needed to die. According to the Toy Bible, he needs to go to Toy Hell, not normal Hell, so he needs to be buried with a kid. Armed with that knowledge, he goes off, finds a kid, and then kills him.

You read that right.


That’s not that shocking. I do that all the time.



What?


Um, then he goes to Toy Hell, where he has to save his Sexy Doll from the entity that runs the joint… none other than Zodick the Hellhog, a giant evil hedgehog that bleeds rings and does a spin attack. Sound similar to another game character?


… I give up. Who’s it supposed to be like?


Never mind. That’s how weird this freakin’ game is. You’ve got to see it to believe it. Throw in a bunch of other horror references and you’ve got Illbleed. Perhaps the most unique horror game ever made, which could’ve been a killer Horror game if the combat had more to it… and if there were less meters cluttering up the screen.

Almost as painful as: Taking a hot girl home, getting all hot and heavy with her and then finding out that she’s a man.


I never really got to play Illbleed. That is to say, I TRIED to play it, but never managed to really do much with it beyond die a lot. As I didn’t own it, trying to make progress in a product I didn’t own is somewhat difficult when one has no interest to do so. I think that about sums up my feelings on the matter.


#5: CALL OF CTHULHU: DARK CORNERS OF THE EARTH:


No, I’m not reusing Lucard’s posted boxart, why do you ask?

Most people take certain memories away from the games they play, memories that continue to stick with them long after the game has left their possession or frame of reference. Sometimes we don’t remember the games we play, or if we do, these memories are vague and uninteresting. Sometimes our memories are good, and we remember the games as fun and interesting experiences; sometimes they’re bad, and we remember the product as a hateful pile of crap.

In ten years, if anyone were to ask me my memories of CoC: DCotE, I’d probably say “I spent an hour repeating the same section until I fell off of a box, broke my leg, and was shot to death.” Of all of my experiences, this is far and away the most prevalent.

Horror-wise, Lucard’s already had his say about the blatant inconsistencies present in the title, but to recap: HUMAN GUNS SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO KILL AN ELDER GOD. Period. I can’t make it any plainer than that. People tend to get into this mindset that just because the term “god” is tossed around to explain any one of a number of things in this stupid medium (that being video games, not literature), that “gods” are indeed not all that powerful, et al. So please allow me to clear this discrepancy up ever so slightly.


If I say no, will you stop?


No.

As they were described by Lovecraft throughout his various works over the years, his creations such as they are can be considered as hellish beasts not of this world. They are powerful beyond all understanding, able to drive the most mentally well-rounded man, woman, or child batshit insane, and are generally unpleasant beasts the likes of which human mentality cannot comprehend. Cthulhu, Dagon, Hastur, the Shoggoth, the whole bit, all massively grotesque, all far more powerful than humanity can comprehend (and far older, to boot). Remember Ghostbusters? Zuul? Gozer? Right. Gods will unquestionably whip your ass, period, and there’s not really much you can do about it. Perhaps a fuel-air bomb or a nuclear weapon might stop them, but that’s a pretty BIG “might” there.

So, yes, stopping Dagon with bullets is outright insulting. I could potentially deal with killing a Shoggoth, mainly because they’re kind of bullshit on the Elder God pecking order, but Dagon? Nonononono. Not reasonable, highly suspect, does not compute. Period. ANY possible alternative action to end the game would have been preferable.
That’s really just the tip of the iceberg, though. CoC works perfectly fine as an adventure game (or perhaps I should say WOULD have worked), and the storyline is largely acceptable and entertaining, especially if you’ve no prior experience with the subject matter in question. My issue with the game is simple: every single thing that could be considered by some to be “unfair” that occurs throughout the course of the game amounts to having to negotiate your character through events which you MUST complete in a certain way, no other, and if they are not completed EXACTLY as the game requires, you die, period. There’s a fine line between “linear” and “do this or die, f*cker”, and CoC treads over that line FAR more often than it should. The example I mentioned above is the FIRST actual action sequence you encounter in the game, and even if you KNOW what needs to be done, everything you must do must be executed flawlessly. This is compounded by the fact that each death means fifteen seconds of loading to get back to the beginning of the section you died in just to repeat it. This is ALSO compounded by control mechanics that, should you not be aligned properly, make you open the door instead of lock it, for example.

Then, of course, there is the fact that your character tends to have fits and other sorts of problems. As he takes injuries, the screen turns from color to black and white, to indicate his pain and suffering. While in the air, looking down even the tiniest bit subjects the character to vertigo. And, oh yeah, scary things make him go nuts and you have to hide and face the wall just to keep him from blowing his brains out. Artistically, this is all incredibly cool; in terms of playing the game, this is all rather frustrating and disagreeable. He tends to break things (as in, bones) far more often than would be expected, and tends to have to hide from enemies lest he find himself facing down the physical incarnation of Death itself armed with a Gore-Ex Rotary Tenderizer and Bladecaster (or some such mortal equivalent). These are interesting play mechanics by themselves, but hiding from enemies whilst limping around on two broken legs is not terribly tense so much as it is terribly annoying.

All told, CoC is just not very fun to play. As a Lovecraftian title it commits the cardinal sin of committing blasphemy against its subject matter. As a horror title, most of the suspense in the game is contrived and forced, and half of it turns to frustration pretty quickly. And as an actual game, it’s difficult to play and appreciate, and after multiple years in development, it’s a hideously underwhelming achievement. Really, this is like having a Yugo propped up on blocks in the front yard; it’s a terrible car that doesn’t work, and if you can’t even drive it, what purpose does it serve?

Almost as painful as: You remember that scene in “A Clockwork Orange”? The one where the guy watched the movie with his eyes held open? Yeah. Imagine that, only instead of rape and war, you’re watching your parents have sex for nine hours. Yeah.


Actually, I thought the first 3 or so hours of the game were pretty cool. I liked the escape sequence in the beginning of the game, and I thought the game pulled of a couple of interesting concepts… until you get a gun. To me everything kinda went downhill from there. Like what Mark said about shooting Dagon? Not going to happen. If you’re going to go by Lovecraft then the main character’s sanity would’ve completely snapped like a Slim Jim from just laying eyes on an Elder God. If you want to play a good Lovecraft inspired game, go out and grab a copy of Eternal Darkness for the Gamecube.


Indeed. Well, that wraps it up for today. Come back on Friday when we hit the final four and unveil what is THE WORST HORROR GAME, EVER.


Was the emphasis really necessary?


Yes. And not only that, but we’re going to have a special guest! And by special, I mean “cool”, not “touches himself in public”. Until Friday, I’m Mark,


And I’m Matt,


And we’re out, for the second to last time.


PART FINAL.