Hello, everybirdie! I know you’re super excited to hear me ramble about the bird smooching game, but I feel it important to note that I am literally going to spoil everything that happens at St. PigeoNation’s. Hatoful Boyfriend is a ridiculous idea for a game, but it is legitimately heartfelt and a wonderful experience to play, even if you’re not a dating sim kinda person. Well, I think so, anyway. If you haven’t played it, I highly suggest it! But if you don’t care, at least you’ve been warned.
Friend of the site Kenny Riot returns to brave a haunted village with only a camera.
So, a good friend of mine, Caitlin, is a big fan of this survival horror series that I’ve been hearing about since its creation, Fatal Frame, yet I had personally never played any of them until she convinced me to try one of ‘em. So, she started me on the second entry in the series, Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. Now, Survival Horror as a genre, and I, have a bit of a tense relationship. It’s not like I’m some kind of wuss when it comes to those games, it’s that certain tropes of the genre kinda get on my nerves, and those tropes ARE present in this game, but I digress. The point is that despite my personal issues with the genre, Fatal Frame II does a whole lot of things right, and firstly, I have to give props to the setting and premise. You’ve got these twin sisters, Mio (who you play as) and Mayu (the damsel in distress) who are visiting their favorite spot to play at when they were children, a forest in Minikami, when a butterfly entrances Mayu, and so she follows its lead. Mio, trying to not lose her sister, follows her, and the two of them end up in a strange and seemingly abandoned village. Turns out, an urban legend known as the “Lost Village” is true, and now they’re in it. Mayu is now acting strange and there’s all these butterflies all over the place. Mio has to try to get her sister back and get them both out of there. Why? Well, play the game and find out.
Spoiler alert: Cursed Mountain is about a mountain that is cursed. That is sort of my biggest issue with the game. There isn’t much in the way of mystery, and I just don’t like horror that’s that simple and explainable. A dude goes missing on a big mountain, his brother goes to find him, it turns out there was some ritual for blessing the climb that went wrong and so the spirits of the mountain are angry. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good angry ghost story. I really like some of the Ju-on movies, but there just isn’t anything interesting about the ghosts in this game. There is a lot of depth to the ghosts in the Fatal Frame games, with different personalities and stories, but in Cursed Mountain they are just angry monsters that want to grab people.
There are relatively few touchstones that we talk about when it comes to the survival horror genre, and it’s not particularly a coincidence that the two with the most enduring legacy came out at opposite ends of the Playstation era, and with nearly opposed intentions of how to best manipulate and frighten the player. Resident Evil, with its b-movie goofiness and jump scares, helped kickstart the Playstation era. Silent Hill came out only a year before the Playstation 2, a much more confident exercise in psychological horror. The surprising and nasty ways in which it intimidates, confuses, and frightens the player could only come from designers who fully understood the limitations and capabilities of the genre they were working in, and how to subvert them.
From the very beginning, there’s the serious sense that something — everything — is wrong.
Friend of the site Justin Hoeger dons a skull mask and trades whale oil for today’s installment.
In Dishonored, you’re a wronged man out for revenge on evil people, and you have plenty of sharp objects to stick in them, and many ways to sneak around without being noticed before and after. At first glance, maybe it seems more Assassin’s Creed than City of the Living Dead.
Lee Spriggs returns to type at some zombies in today’s installment.
My generation learned to type with Mavis Bacon and Mario Teaches Typing. Someday, if I am so lucky, my own children will grow up learning to type with THE TYPING OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL!
Ok, that’s probably an overstatement. Although there’s a surprising amount of educational material in this game, ranging from how many permutations of the word “fuck” you can fit into a cutscene, to various creative vulgarities like “fetid fondle” and then, with the DLC, a whole bunch of Shakespeare!
Nick Rycar’s silhouette returns to write about LIMBO.
Atmosphere is a tricky thing. We’ve all encountered the same scenario at some point or another, I’m sure. Thousands of developers spend hundreds of hours tweaking every knob in the next-generation toolbox, and while the end result might be a particularly attractive rendering of a kobold’s lair or the New York subway system or whatever, within minutes our brains are able to see past the paper-thin veneer and realize that we’re traipsing through what amount to a series of shoebox dioramas connected by cardboard tubes. In other words, the experience is dull, samey, and despite the fancy trappings, not at all immersive.