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Underrated Video Game Scares

/ Oct 31st, 2015 No Comments

Halloween is a time when grimness is celebrated, fear is capitalized upon and candy flies off market shelves. It’s also the season when gamers are bound to look for good horror games to celebrate the season.

But not all horror games have the luxury of being considered great. Some titles are ignored or not given due credit. Since Halloween is a celebration of the old, here are five games designed specifically for a scary experience that did not receive the praise they sought.

Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within (1998)

Released exclusively for PlayStation, Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within, despite its title, is neither a sequel or has any connection with the 1996 game Clock Tower.

The story, set in Japan, follows Alyssa Hale, a young but shy student who has, after years of treatment, apparently been cured of her multiple personality disorder. Upon being released from the mental hospital, she returns home to find neither her family or friends waiting for her.

Word to the wise, Alyssa: run like hell!

It should go without saying that if you see this guy in Clock Tower II then you’d better run like hell!

What she does find however are strange, green body parts ushering in a night of surreal horror.

Like its two predecessors, Clock Tower II uses a point-and-click interface, something very rarely used for PlayStation games. Players must rely on their wits, hiding skills and quickness to survive the game.

Despite the game receiving mixed to negative reception from critics, Clock Tower II possesses a kind of B-horror movie charm accompanied by terrific scares.

The Blair Witch Trilogy (2000)

Despite being divided into three games, The Blair Witch games, published in 2000 by the Gathering of Developers, technically encompass one single linked narrative that constitutes a lengthy story.

Split into three time periods, the first chapter begins in 1941 with Rustin Parr. The title engages players in the supernatural investigations of Spookhouse, a secret organization featured prominently in the 1999 game Nocturne.

Enemies, like this one from The Blair Witch Volume II: The Legend of Coffin Rock, are hands-down the most frightening aspects of the Blair Witch games.

Enemies, like this one from The Blair Witch Volume II: The Legend of Coffin Rock, are hands-down the most frightening aspects of the Blair Witch games.

As opposed to going forward in time from there, players are designed to experience the story going backwards. The first game, Rustin Parr, is set in 1941. The next game, Legend of Coffin Rock, takes places during the American Civil War before finally ending in 1785 with The Kelly Edward Tale.

All stories, despite being varied, share a number of connections with the primary one being their setting in the town of Burkittsville. The events of all three involve its protagonists having to deal with the horrors and creatures conjured up by the Blair Witch.

The three games received very mixed reviews on release with the final two entries receiving the most negative reception. Yet all three manage to make great use of mood, atmosphere and unique game mechanics to create frightful delights for horror-seeking gamers.

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi (2003)

Drawing huge inspiration from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the classic German film Nosferatu, Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi is a unique first-person shooter placing great emphasis on survival horror.

Playing as a nameless character attending your sister’s wedding in Transylvania, you find yourself fortunate for being a day late as he has kidnapped and threatens to kill your family. Naturally it’s up to you to kill Malachi and save as many of your family as you can.

Malachi's castle is obviously full of horrific pests like this one. Don't expect to have an easy time playing exterminator however.

Malachi’s castle is obviously full of horrific pests like this one. Don’t expect to have an easy time playing exterminator however.

Weapons are limited and movement is often constrained by your surroundings that are randomized with every new playthrough. This results in players needing to emphasize survival and preparedness if they’re to finally meet the game’s villain. In fact, the longer you play, the harder Malachai will be when you face him as he sacrifices members of your family, thus growing in power.

Even though the game suffers technical issues and a short gameplay experience — both of which resulted in it receiving a less than stellar reaction from critics — Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi still stands out as a truly unique horror title.

The X-Files: Resist Or Serve (2004)

Needless to say the X-Files has well established itself as a staple of horror and the supernatural. The show’s also had its fair share of spin-off titles, including three video games. The X-Files: Resist or Serve for PlayStation 2 remains one of the last video games based on the show to be made.

Set sometime during the show’s seventh season, the title sees Agents Mulder and Scully sent to the small town of Red Falls in Colorado to investigate a series of incidents involving what appears to be black magic. Before they know it, they’re up against zombies, witches and ghostly apparitions.

Shooting up zombies in a police station. That sound familiar?

Shooting up zombies in a police station. That sounds very familiar.

Taking its style from the classic third-person survival horror mechanics innovated by Resident Evil, lets you finally play as the famous agents who each have their own divergent stories for added replay value. Likewise, expect true X-Files scares as the game goes above and beyond to replicate the look of a standard X-Files episode.

Despite the game receiving average to negative reviews due to its technical issues, lack of polish and rather disappointing story, Resist or Serve manages to provide genuine scares bundled with moments of true suspense. It’s to date one of the few games to grant its fans, horror fans and gamers alike a true X-Files experience.

Clive Barker’s Jericho (2007)

Taking huge influence from Judeo-Christian Mythology, Clive Barker’s Jericho is not only very action-packed, it’s also very frightening. That shouldn’t be unsurprising as the said horror writer played a direct role in crafting the game’s story but its development.

The game tells of a squad of the Department of Occult Warfare, a secret government organization designed to fight against the supernatural. They are tasked with preventing a being known as the Firstborn, a creature existing since the beginning of time, from entering our reality. This results in a time-hopping adventure to seal the breach that would allow the creature into it.

This piece of nightmare fuel has been made possible to you by Clive Barker.

This piece of nightmare fuel has been made possible to you by Clive Barker.

That summary alone doesn’t truly describe the complex storyline or exactly how in-depth it becomes as you play it. Don’t expect to complete it easily either given the tremendously horrific enemies that range in size from small to huge. Beating them depends on you making extensive use of character switching along with utilizing each of the squad member’s unique abilities.

Despite the game gaining mixed reviews due to issues such as the less than stellar AI, irksome gameplay mechanics and a lacking ending, Clive Barker’s Jericho is still a superb frightfest. If nothing else, it boasts a tremendous story, scary enemies and a virtual world that’s unrelenting in its efforts to unnerve you.


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Jonathan Anson

Jonathan Anson

Jonathan has been a lover of video games since his father brought home a Windows 95 computer. When he's not doing that he indulges in his other passion: writing. Jonathan holds an AA degree in Journalism from Saddleback College in Southern California.
Jonathan Anson
Jonathan Anson

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