It’s the spookiest time of year, aside from the annual Thanksgiving dinner when your uncle Dustin will “drunkingly” put on a leopard-print thong and ask your family to baste him like one of those French turkeys. October is all about the tricks, treats, and horror! Over the years there have been several horror games that aimed to scare the living hell out of you, but have fell drastically short of their potential. Here are ten of the most disappointing and least scary horror games in recent memory.
The 3rd Birthday
The Parasite Eve series sports a level of horror similar to the original Resident Evil games. Cheesy jump scares for everyone! The PSP Parasite Eve spin-off The 3rd Birthday doesn’t even offer some jump scares, just a third-person action shooter with enough cheese to constipate your uncle.
A bunch of “twisted” monsters spawn in New York City and a body-swapping lady must destroy them all before her clothes are torn off. Battle damage in the game reveals more and more of Aya’s womanly body. Yeah, women are frightening. Better keep her away from the enemies so they don’t damage her and expose her lady bits! The enemies aren’t scary in the slightest and take on the form of insectoids, tentacle monsters, and various other creatures from the “Generic Enemy Design Handbook.” Even if you did manage to be afraid of these creatures for some unknown reason, you’re able to swap away from them and into the body of a healthy friendly if you ever get overwhelmed. Why run away when you can warp into an armed solder? Horror game logic!
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Besides H. P. Lovecraft’s work becoming the new trend at Hot Topic, it also has a lot of influence on film and video games. Most notably, perhaps, in the game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, which serves as a reimagining of the novel The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
As you can only imagine, the game wasn’t very good. The game took a “realistic” approach to gameplay by offering a fully HUD-less experience. Realism in a game with a poorly rendered Cthulhu probably wasn’t the wisest choice. Despite the iconic mythos it’s based on and the approach of realism, Dark Corners of the Earth is nothing more than another generic action-FPS with mediocre voice acting, a broken save mechanic, unskippable cutscenes, and an overall boring presentation. Also, fishmen are about as scary as Auqaman is relevant.
There’s nothing scarier than rummaging through the woods while collecting papers, except, well, anything else. In Slender you do just that, go on a scavenger hunt while a sharp-dressed man watches you from the distance. If you putt around too long in an area or stumble upon areas deemed taboo, the screen with distort with static and the annoying audio cue will alert you of Slenderman’s presence, effectively eliminating any successful jump scares the game could have managed to pull off. This makes Slender no scarier than Tetris.
The millions of Let’s Plays of people’s terrified reactions while playing Slender are either recorded by people playing up the “terror” aspect by overreacting for viewer pleasure (read: ad revenue), or they are recorded by people who still sleep with a nightlight on and shave their mother buy them all their video games.
Zombies are scary, right? I mean, they symbolize the slow, impending death that none of us can escape, regardless of how hard we try. Let’s up-play the horror aspect of the zombie genre by dressing in drag while using plastic lightsabers as weaponry! Horror! While the Dead Rising series is a lot of fun, it’s far from scary.
If anything is scary in the series, it’s the ill-conceived countdown timer that locks certain events, forcing you to start over time and time again if you want to actually complete the game the way it was intended. When a bad save system and countdown timer hamper your progression more than actual scares, your horror game is a laughable mess undeserving of the survival-horror namesake.
Much like Clive Barker’s Jericho, F.E.A.R. decided to be a first-person shooter with unique gameplay mechanics first and a horror game, well, never. Fighting mechs and soldiers aren’t exactly something to be F.E.A.R.E.D.. Ha! See what I did there? Oh, I’ll stop. Besides being a pain in the ass to type for game journalists, the F.E.A.R. series has always been a prime example of how not to make a horror game.
You play as a super-soldier with the ability to slow down time to easily disperse your enemies. In-between shootouts, you’ll encounter bloody footprints, flickering lights, and a little girls with magical powers who will kill your enemies and other members of your team. While the thought of giving birth to a little girl is enough to have me running for the hills, a psychically psychotic little girl whom only serves as story progression through the boring gunfights isn’t very frightening.
Left 4 Dead
I may get some flack for including Valve’s beloved zombie series on this list, but it’s simply not scary. The entire game is a constant run from point A to B scenario and the only terror comes from turning a corner to find a zombie standing there that can then easily be killed by a single shot to the foot. There’s nothing scary about reanimated corpses when all you have to do is kick them in the shin for them to die. The special infected are slightly more terrifying, but their suspenseful musical cues alerts your team of their presence, making their encounter far less scary than it could have been. If you know something is going to happen before it happens, that’s a failed execution of potential fright.
In theory, I imagine the game can be scary during your first playthrough, but even then the fear comes from not knowing what they hell is going on and the content of the game itself. It’s hard to be afraid of death when three other teammates (AI or real) can easily revive you if you fall off a building or get rammed passionately by a special infected.
Dead Island was one of the biggest kicks to the taint a video game has ever preformed to gamers. You should never judge a video game by a teaser trailer and Dead Island beat that over our heads when the game was finally release. The original teaser tickled our jollies with what appeared to be an emotionally terrifying story of the zombie apocalypse.
Instead we got a game where you hit zombies over the head and get shot at by bandits. The entirety of the game is wandering an island where you’ll encounter zombies scattered about that will shamble at you. You hit them and knock them down, then mosey on your way. Much like many other zombie games, there are special zombies in Dead Island that only serve as headaches instead of scares. Ugh. At least they can’t make a MOBA out of the franchise… oh wait…
Psychological horror is my favorite type of horror. I love feeling like my mind is being violated while being legitimately terrified of what might happen next. With that said, just what the hell is Deadly Premonition? It calls itself a psychological horror game, but a PBS children’s show is much more psychologically horrifying. Good ol’ DP developed a cult following almost immediately, but that cult following isn’t there because it’s a horror game. Well, it’s the Internet, so I’m sure there’s some people who find it scary, but those people are idiots and their opinions are invalid.
Maybe it’s the fact that the game was released in an unfinished state with outdated visuals and more bugs than a Vietnamese hostel, or maybe that the game is secretly a joke and not meant to be taken seriously, but can someone please explain to me something the slightest bit scary about Deadly Premonition? Really, I want to know. I am desperately trying to understand what the developers were smoking while creating the game because I want to try some of that for myself.
Clive Barker’s Jericho
Clive Barker may be the master of horror, but he’s also a master of shit. Jericho is horrifyingly shitty, so it’s almost a horror game, right? Beyond the large amount of bugs, glitches, idiot AI, and pathetically predictable linearity, Jericho isn’t scary at all. It’s a squad-based shooter with playable squad-mates with superpowers. Yeah, it’s that cheesy, and that level of cheese is only scary if you’re lactose intolerant.
Jericho has some nightmarish looking enemies, but that’s as far as the nightmare fuel goes. If they only had some kind of behavior that resulted in scares, I’d be able to overlook all of the flaws the game has. Because in reality, the story sounds interesting and I would love to experience it without wanting to travel back in time and kick my mother in the womb. The enemies just run at you, you shoot them, they die, and then more run at you. They will take out your AI teammates with ease, causing more of a headache than fear because then you have to locate your fallen team mate to revive them… over and over again.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Let it be known that I loved the living hell out of Amnesia: The Dark Decent. If we ever do a “Top 10 Horror Games” article, chances are it will be the top entry on the list. A Machine for Pigs on the other hand couldn’t be farther away from the top. They managed to take everything influential and genuinely terrorizing about the original and threw it out the window in favor for a linear and predictable “mind-fuck” story.
The only scares to be had in Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs comes from the frequent shaking of the screen and rare enemy encounters. I guess in a certain light recurrent seizures are scary, but I’m not epileptic so I don’t have to worry about my world waiting for the bass to drop. Loud mechanical noises and shaking! Are you soiling yourself yet? I know I didn’t when I played through the disappointing horror game. Even the enemies couldn’t manage to get a scare out of me. The handful of encounters the game has are laughable thanks to the ease of escape. Every time I saw an enemy I ran around it while mentally playing the Benny Hill theme song. TOO SPOOKY!
What horror games do you laugh in the face of?
Tags: Amnesia, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, Call of Cthulhu, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, Clive Barker's Jericho, Dark Corners of the Earth, Dead Island, Dead Rising, Deadly Premonition, F.E.A.R., FEAR, Horror, Left 4 Dead, Senderman, Slender, The 3rd Birthday, Top 10