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Horror Games #blogtober

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Hi all, Dann here for another guest post.

Sarah asked me to, being that I run a video games website, write a nice, short piece on some horror games—about five, she said— for Halloween. I’m not that organised though, spooling off a list of about 25 games and starting to write out long segments for each rather than throwaway paragraphs. The deadline looms though, so here is the first few of the games from the alphabetical list.

It’s something I’ll gladly continue to compile if there’s a want for it,so if you (dis)agree with the list or simply enjoyed reading it then please let Sarah know and I’ll finish off the rest for ya’ll reading pleasure.

Alan Wake

Remedy are probably best known for the Max Payne series, or even their recently released Quantum Break. Regardless of how people know them however, anybody who has played any of their games knows that they always bring a cinematic brilliance to their games: from Max Payne’s Graphic Novel story and TV/Radio asides in game, to Quantum Break’s live action sequences and amazing visual finesse when deploying the protagonist’s time abilities.

Alan Wake, to me, is superior to both of those series. It merged the story of the ‘author-trapped-in-their-own-creation’ with a dark sense of humour, a game full of characters and moments far too ridiculous to be exist in reality, yet done in a way where you laugh and continue pushing back against the darkness.

My personal highlights in the title come in the form of the faux Twilight-Zone style segments which play out on the TV, the unrelenting FBI agent who continually slings insults at the titular protagonist while pretending not to know their name, and the foreshadowing delivered through the torn pages littered around the game world. Above all of those, however, is the fact that you almost always meet the villain of the ‘episode’ in the story, and when you face their possessed, shadowy form they often cite mundane and boring information in a haunting, jarred manner; the first haunts you along a path, all while talking about how healthy going for a brisk ramble can be.

While the game was definitely more of an action title than a ‘survival-horror’ there were times where ammo management was key, and if you hadn’t scavenged then you’d end up very short-handed. Strangely this became rarer the further you got along in the game, and not  through learned resource management… You see, the game is split up into chapters stylised as TV episodes, and your equipment is completely reset between them. It’s a very cool gimmick, but underlines the odd distribution of ammo in the earliest levels.

The best way to get ahold of Alan Wake these days is through the Xbox store as a download, as far as I know. There were some music licensing issues which saw the PC versions removed from select storefronts, but I’m unsure if this impacted all platforms.

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Contagion

Back in the PS2 era Resident Evil had a co-operative, multiplayer mini-series called ‘Resident Evil: Outbreak’. It had players make their way through various locations, working as a team and using their character’s unique abilities to solve problems within the levels. It was a truly amazing offering, and completely unprecedented — nothing like it had happened before.

As a big fan of the earlier Resident Evil games (Outbreak was pre Resident Evil 4, and so had the cool fixed-camera, tank controls of the earlier games) there was NOTHING that was going to stop me from playing this super-cool, co-operative Resi~ game with my friends from school.

Well, actually, there was. The PS2 Network Adapter was not properly supported in the UK. The interface was reportedly a clunky mess, the technology didn’t play well with our networks, and so—over here— it bombed hard.

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Oooh, tag yourself! I’m budget-Brad-Pitt!

ANYWAY. We’re not here to talk about Resident Evil: Outbreak, but it segues perfectly into what makes Contagion brilliant. Contagion is—at its core—co-operative, first-person, Resident Evil 2.

Slow moving zombies are the absolute business, and the game’s launch campaign took place in an overrun, locked-down police station. Enough to make fans of RE2 raise an eyebrow. Better yet, players had to make their way through the PD, scavenging bullets, not getting surrounded, and carefully moving from objective to objective, solving basic fetch-and-retreat puzzles.

It’s now four years from launch and the game has accrued a decent following. It’s gained a lot more modes and maps, including a few hold-the-fort/horde levels. Interestingly there’s also Steam Workshop support as well, although the vast majority of items there are new textures for weapons, player phones, and characters.

While I’m a little bit disappointed with the lack of Workshop supplied maps, it’s definitely worth mentioning that the pathway through the game’s maps do vary; locked doors, blocked corridors, and other objects have their locations assigned as the map loads, meaning that you can never be truly confident that you know the way through the level.

£6.99 on Steam at time of writing, Contagion is an absolute steal.

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Tag yourself! I’m guy in blue shirt with a headache!

Contagion is only available on PC for the moment, and as far as I know only on Steam.

Deadly Premonition

Deadly Premonition is easily one of the most divisive titles I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying throughout my many years of playing games. It captures the ridiculous quirks we awkwardly chuckled at during old movies, and the strange, ‘secret-world’ moments of most of David Lynch’s works. As a matter of fact, if you enjoyed even a smidgen of Twin Peaks then you’re likely of the mindset where Deadly Premonition will, simply, click with you.

Players control an FBI agent sent to investigate a brutal, disturbing murder in a quirky, Pacific Northwest town. It’s not just the town that is quirky, everything is. The FBI agent talks to an invisible friend, and reads messages from coffee; even the most mundane, trope citizens have quirks and secrets, and there are hidden messages everywhere.

The game is especially feature rich as well, besides from the main story there’re a lot of extra jobs and side-missions which can be completed around the game’s open-world. Not only this, but each of the characters have a routine, giving the game a feeling more reminiscent of slice-of-life games or titles like Shenmue and Yakuza over the likes of GTA & Saints Row.

The biggest negative of the game then, is the combat. Combat is a mandatory section of the game, with clunky aiming and strange warping monsters bookending most of the game’s story missions. While the game has a PS2-era aesthetic, the combination of warping monsters and early Resident Evil style tank-controls is abrupt; it’s like if Resident Evil 4’s running zombies were to be faced off with Resident Evil II’s slow-turning and rough three-height aiming. It’s no surprise that it was added in late, and it’s a shame it was.

Despite this, Deadly Premonition is definitely worth experiencing for it’s strange setting and characters.

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Deadly Premonition launched on PS3, Xbox 360, and —later— PC. I believe it remains available on each of those as we speak.

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Dead Rising

The first Dead Rising (previously Xbox 360 exclusive) was an unforgiving game which both encouraged player death and questioned almost every zombie, horror game trope. At the start of your journey the game feels unfair, and it does a pretty poor job of teaching you how to get better—feeling over-engineered at best, and unfair at worst—until it all suddenly clicks.

Where previous games had equipped you with blades and guns, Dead Rising allowed you to use hundreds of items from around the mall. Where previous games had funnelled you down a set route with no timer, Dead Rising offered an open world but with timed missions mandatory for a main-story finish. Where previous games had put two-or-three zombies into a room to force you into a little combat before you navigate onwards, Dead Rising dropped hundreds-of-thousands into an open mall and taught you that even in dozens they were really just environmental hazards.

In fact, I might go as far to say that the first Dead Rising was very much the Night of the Living Dead to the games horror scene: If you were getting killed by zombies it was because you didn’t know the rules, or you were just really unlucky. That said, you will die. You’ll die to start again with your unlocks, or you’ll die against the game’s real villains, the psychopaths: people mad or driven mad by the situation on hand.

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signing off

Dann.

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G is for Gaming

Gaming – I am a gamer, I am very proud of the fact that I am a gamer, start talking about Elders Scrolls and I will not shut up, I even did a post a while back on my favorite game Skyrim..

I have been gaming since I was 11, the first game I ever played was The Sims, back in my friends house we set up a home and a little family and I was hooked, I had asked about game bits for Christmas and I got a Playstation, not the lot with the numbers after it, this was the massive box of a thing that had an external hard drive to keep all your saves on it, I had two games, The Rugrats – Search for Reptar and The X Files game, I played… mainly The Rugrats one almost daily until I got bored but I couldn’t afford any new games and I couldn’t convince anyone to get me any for Christmas.. so I stopped.

When I got my job in Sainsburys, I suddenly could afford things, I got a DS for Christmas and started buying DS games and obviously buying The Sims 2 for my PC, which in my honest opinion is the best Sims game to date! I also saved up and brought an XBOX 360, roughly around the time I started to date Mr S (or Daddy Cat heh) so I could play games with him, with my sparkly new XBOX, I also got this wonderful fun game called Left 4 Dead, I highly recommend you give it a go as its so much fun with four people..

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I started to really love gaming again, and then in 2011 when this wonderful RPG called Skyrim came out (number 5 in a long history of Elder Scrolls games) I was lost in this whole new world.. I wont bore you much about it but it was incredible..

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I now spend my evenings on my XBOX One, I say mine even if Mr S paid for it, but hes often on his PC so its totally mine, playing games and having fun with some friends.. its my way of unwinding after my day with three demonic children..

Call gaming a waste of time if you will but for me its a time well spent.. exploring worlds and going on kill streaks..

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A nice break from the real world and its insanity..

Until next time

Mummy Cat.

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E is for Escapism 

Escapism –

Hi, Dann here! Sarah’s other half, and I’ll be taking this next letter in the alphabet because I wouldn’t shut up when she was brainstorming ideas for topics beginning with E.

Personally I think there’s loads of topics that could be waffled about starting with E; Enki, the Sumerian god; EGad, and other funny blasphemy-dodges; (Sir Anthony) Eden, and political waffle. While history, language and politics are all hobbies—Oh gosh I sound like a bloody dullard— of mine I’m instead going to talk about something that encompases my other hobbies, and, well, all hobbies really. Escapism.

Escapism is critically important to all of us, even if we only find it while taking the long walk home some days, or in taking a moment to reflect before we put our heads down to sleep. A major one, that we probably don’t give much credit to as parents, in when we play —relaxed— with our kids; laughing and smiling, forgetting about the daily grind.

For me, and many people, there’s other major forms too. I don’t spend time watching TV, or watching films, and I also don’t really consider browsing the web downtime in any way these days—except those accidental hour-long Wikipedia & IMDB trawls that we’ve probably all been on. No, for me it’s the occasional moment with a book, or a few hours with a game. Yup, gaming is a big one for me.

One day there’ll be a better term for video games, board games, card games, than simply games, because an ever increasing amount of them transcend the normal definition of games. Video games like Dear Esther, What Became of Edith Finch, Proteus, and thousands more transcend a mission to win, they exist as little narrative experiences, areas to walk around in and be told a story. Other games pride themselves equally on having no win conditions even though they are very much traditional games – what is the point of beating an arcade game like Donkey Kong? Is there any point in surviving 500 years in Crusader Kings II? How will you change the lives of those around you in The Walking Dead?

Proteus, 2013

For me the chance to do something else, even if it is for —almost— no reason, to do something which stimulates the mind with new experiences, choices, and events, is unmatchable. But, it’s also important. It gives perspective, it gives context, and it gives experiences—even if they don’t transfer directly to the real world.

They’re also social experiences in many ways, especially in the case of tabletop games. In many ways the board games and card games of today are the parlour games of yesteryear; we can still play Charades, or Pictionary, but Bucket of Doom—a game which challenges you to evade a deadly situation with items plucked at random from a deck of cards— is equally fun. Yes, we can all do a big puzzle if we like, or we could all take part in solving a murder mystery as consulting detectives!

Here’s a few links, if you’re bored, to click through and see some of what I just talked about (Clarification, as you can see they are not in any way sponsored links).

Video Games I mentioned (PC, Steam links)

-Dear Esther

http://store.steampowered.com/app/520720/Dear_Esther_Landmark_Edition/

-What Became of Edith Finch?

http://store.steampowered.com/app/501300/What_Remains_of_Edith_Finch/

-Proteus

http://store.steampowered.com/app/219680/Proteus/

Board Games I mentioned (Physical, Developer Sites)

-Bucket of Doom

http://bucketofdoom.co.uk/

-Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detectives (The Thames Murders)

https://www.asmodee.us/en/games/sherlock-holmes/

For some it’s a bath, for some it’s skydiving, for some it’s the ol’ Netflix ‘n’ Chill, what is it that you do to escape?

Daddy Cat.

 

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The Talos Pilgrimage.

I play a game called Skyrim, in the game you are the dragonborn, the chosen one, only you can defeat alduin the world eater and save all of tamriel!

Sorry if that made no sense to any of you but there are many in this world who hold the name of Dovahkiin proudly, so much so they get various tattoos from the games universe!

And what do we dovahkiin do after we defeated the big bad? Why we go on walks! Skyrim is a stunning place full of trees, waterways, towering glaciers and marshlands and more importantly, hidden treasures! Namely shrines of one of the nine, Talos..

Now Talos.. also known as Tiber Septem, wasn’t technically a god, if you believe what the Thalmor say, but to all who inhabit Skyrim, he is very much a god or one of the Nine Divines and himself dragonborn.


The Talos Shrine Massacre – Just off from where you first start in Helgin, before you reach the Guardian Stones there is a path off on your left, follow that and you will stumble upon a horrible scene, The worship of Talos is forbidden and the Thalmor aren’t to kind to any who they find worshiping at the shrines.. its not the best place to find at the start of the game but it may change your view on how you plan the civil war to end.

White River Valley –  Northeast of Whiterun and part of a side quest from Elisif the Fair, this shrine is hidden away in a cavern, You are asked by Elisif to deliver her husbands horn to this location as an offering to the gods, and as I said before Talos worship is prohibited in Skyrim, you are asked to be discreet in delivering it, there you will find one very angry Thalmor looking for worshiper blood.. nothing a dragonborn cant handle!

Weynon Stones – You will find this one just southeast of Fort Dunstad, nothing really remarkable about this location, there are no quests leading to it and its pretty much out in the open to find if you fancy a bit of rambling in the snow.

Talos by the Lake – Of all the Talos shrine locations this one has to be my favorite, its situated next a small lake near Gallows Rock, I walked right past it when I tried to find it, its hidden away and unless you put the way-finder in the correct spot, you will probably not even realize its there.

Whiterun – The one we all see, the one we all hear Hemskir shouting and preaching at from dawn until dusk, many find his yelling irritating and tend to murder him when they first encounter him, but hes not doing anyone any harm, just sharing information of Talos.

Riften – If you are like me and are a skilled thief, in the game obviously, you will see this shrine of Talos more often than anything else, its just on the secret exit of the thieves guild and actually handy if you haven’t found immunity to whatever is lurking down in the ratways.

Sea of Ghosts – This is my second favorite location in the game, in the north coast of Skyrim is the Sea of Ghosts, underwater shipwrecks and plenty of treasure lurk here, I love walking this shore and its collection of in game secrets.. Don’t forget to drink a water breathing potion and dive into the depths of Pilgrims Trench for more hidden treasure!

Temple of Talos – This one is hidden away in a temple in Winterhold, it is an actual church with the shrine in it compared to all the others scattered around the land, you’ll find a solo priest inside keeping watch over the temple.

Temple of Talos Markarth – In Markarth directly underneath the Temple of Dibella you’ll find this lonely shrine, hidden away to protect those who secretly still wish to worship Talos while the Thalmor hunt for them, this area is part of a quest after you witness a murder in the market place shortly after you arrive in the city.

Froki’s Peak – Froki’s peak is found just up the mountain from Froki’s Shack, a small hut which you meet a man who can give you Kyne’s Token if you complete his sacred trials, there is also a dragon around this area so expect an epic battle if you tempt to reach it.

Ilas-Tei’s Last Stand – Northeast of Ysgramor’s Tomb (any Companion will know this location) you’ll find a unfortunate site, a dead mage surrounded by scrolls of calm and a skeever.. something tells me his spells didn’t go to plan.

Winterhold Glaciers – This is one of those odd places that you cant help wonder why and how it even got here, overlooking the Sea of Ghosts and covered in ice, this is east of the tomb Saarthal where you have a Mage’s Guide quest and north of Alftand.. be careful you don’t slip on the ice!



Bloated Man’s Grotto – Be wary of the bears and the spriggons, this one place is a tough little area for any unskilled in the art of sneak, you’ll find at the base of the shrine Bolar’s Oathblade which is itself a unique weapon.

Overlooking Windhelm – Looking over the city of the kings, looming  and glaring at Ulfric Stormcloak is one of the few shrines that are visible without having to do a great deal of hunting. This was the first Talos photos I decided to take and it inspired me to get out my map and go on a hunt for the rest.

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And that’s it, I know this isn’t exactly in keeping with what I write on my blog, but I thought it would be something fun to do, and I really enjoyed walking around the world of Skyrim snapping the forbidden god Talos and honestly, I normally choose the Imperial story line when it comes to the civil war, but doing this and learning more about Talos himself has made me choose Stormcloak..

I promise you that next post is mummy and baby related.

Until next time

Mummy Cat

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Photograph Friday

ITS HALF TERM!! (Please send help)

This weeks photo is something a little different, it’s from a game! The game in question is Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls V Skyrim which I have been replaying during my down time of not needing to be a mummy..


The photo was screenshotted in the city of Riften on a very foggy day, this is a modded version of the game on the Xbox one, which allows mods now! Brilliant times ahead for this Khajitt (cat humanoid).

If anyone wants to read more stuff about games and gaming news head over to my husbands website Big Boss Battle

Until next time.

Mummy Cat
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