In the 1970s, the film industry began releasing horror films in batches, and slasher lines such as Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th brought huge money to film companies. Naturally, the emerging gaming industry at that time could not ignore such a trend, and players soon received the first primitive horror titles from Nintendo and Atari, which were not much different from arcade games.
These days, developers don’t often turn to the famous movie series, preferring to work with the original plot, and periodically achieve phenomenal success, as was the case with Amnesia or Outlast.
However, there have been several attempts to pay homage to modern and classic horror over the past ten years, which we’ll cover below.
Saw (2009) и Saw 2: Flesh & Blood (2010)
In 2004, screenwriters James Wan and Leigh Whannell broke into the global film industry with the thriller Saw. With a budget of about a million dollars, the film became a hit and grossed a hundred times more. Wan and Whannell then went on to build their horror legacy with the Astral and The Conjuring lines. Saw, on the other hand, has become a franchise that releases one movie a year. Of course, video games have become a small, albeit not very successful part of it.
At the moment, only two titles have been released, although the lineup already includes eight films. Saw was released in 2009 and featured the player as Detective David Tapp from the first game. The game was written in the survival horror genre, but in reality it was a series of puzzles mixed with fights.
The second part tells about the events that took place between the first and second films, and the player, already in the person of the detective’s son, Michael Tapp, tries to unravel the mystery of his father’s death.
Although the sequel also garnered rather poor reviews from critics, it fixed some of the first installment’s shortcomings, such as the awkward combat system, although the improvements did not reflect positively on sales.
Both parts were published by Konami, which hoped to launch a new line of horror games at the end of its Silent Hill horror series. If the latter has always relied on symbolism and a creepy atmosphere, then the main feature of Saw should have been its spectacular visual component. According to Konami, such a scheme would allow both series to successfully exist together, but, unfortunately, nothing came of this venture.
Alien: Isolation (2014)
In fact, more than forty games have been developed in the Alien universe for a variety of platforms, but perhaps only Alien: Isolation can be called a real horror. At the same time, if most of the games were received by critics rather reservedly, then Isolation again became an exception, having collected positive reviews.
From the very beginning, Creative Assembly chose to be inspired by the aesthetics and rhythm of the first installment in the series, directed by director Ridley Scott. Actually, the events of Isolation are developing 15 years after Ellen Ripley lay down in a suspended animation chamber, leaving the Nostromo ship. In the game, Ellen’s daughter, Amanda, is sent to the Sevastopol station, where the flight recorder from the Nostromo is stored. Not much time will pass before the main character finds herself alone at the station in the company of a xenomorph.
At this point, in other titles in the franchise, the protagonist would have already picked up a rifle and began to fight his way to freedom, gutting monsters left and right. In Isolation, things are different. Amanda needs to be extremely careful, save ammo, and intersect with the xenomorph as little as possible, while not forgetting to move along the plot.
Isolation collected high marks and even took several awards, but the overall sales still did not satisfy the publisher Sega, which means that a sequel should not be expected in the near future.
Dead by Daylight (2016)
Dead by Daylight from Behavior Interactive did not initially refer to the original sources in the form of well-known slashers, but offered players to deal with original, albeit largely stereotypical villains.
The game was immediately created with an eye on multiplayer, in which a group of players conduct rounds of survival on thematic maps with their own maniac. A live player also acts as a maniac.
At the moment, Behavior Interactive has already sold more than 5 million copies of the game, but immediately after the release of Dead by Daylight, it was received very negatively. This is due to all sorts of bugs and crashes from the game right in the middle of the round, which is like death for a title built on multiplayer.
The developers did not give up and continued to diligently patch holes, and the players were coaxed by various DLCs with new maps, «maniacs», and «victims», among which characters from such franchises as «Very strange things», «Scream», «Saw», » Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Evil Dead.
Thus, players have the opportunity to act out improvised scenes from their favorite horror films and try to survive in a skirmish with Michael Myers and Leatherface.
Friday the 13th: The Game (2017)
One of the most popular and prolific sources of slasher films of the 20th century, Friday the 13th, is missing from the franchises that inspired Dead by Daylight DLC.
The gap was decided to be filled by the IllFonic studio, which acquired a license to create a video game based on this series from the director of the first part, Sean Cunningham. Then IllFonic managed to raise more than a million dollars for development on Kickstarter and BackerKit.
The gameplay of Friday the 13th: The Game is very reminiscent of Dead by Daylight, although there is also a single player mode. The game takes us back to the same «Crystal Lake», where one player acts as Jason Voorhees, and the others as camp counselors.
The goal of counselors is to survive by waiting for the end of the round, or by escaping from the location, which implies teamwork. The famous killer himself appeared in one of nine images, most of which copy the appearance of Jason from different parts of the series.
Interestingly, as with Dead by Daylight, the Friday the 13th release was accompanied by all sorts of problems. However, neither server leaks nor graphic bugs could stop true Friday the 13th fans from immersing themselves in the setting of the universe.
In 2018, the conflict between Cunningham and the scriptwriter of the first part of the series, Victor Miller, ended with IllFonic being suspended from work on the game of future DLCs, and the Japanese company Black Tower Studios took its place.
The Dark Occult (2018)
Despite the recent success of Aquaman, with Wang in the director’s chair, most fans believe that the director’s real calling is to direct horror. At the same time, Wang’s best work in this genre is considered the film «The Conjuring» (The Conjuring), which gave birth to an entire universe, within which films such as «Annabelle», «The Curse of the Nun» and «The Curse of the Weeping» were released.
Technically, The Dark Occult is not part of this universe, but looking at the game, you can immediately understand which movie was the source of inspiration for the developers at RYM GAMES. Moreover, until the release, the game was called «The Conjuring House». According to the developers, they decided to change the name to «The Dark Occult» in order to better convey the theme and spirit of the game. Still, it is possible that this was done in order to avoid future copyright problems.
According to the plot, the player goes to the house of a certain Atkinson in search of his team, which was supposed to investigate this place for paranormal phenomena. When the protagonist finds his colleagues dead, he will have no choice but to confront the demonic spirit of a woman who does not allow him to leave the house. Solving puzzles and fighting off periodic attacks of the spirit, the player must watch his every step and always be on guard.
For those who find the game too scary, the developers have even created a special «Dread Mode» that reduces difficulty, increases the main character’s stamina, and also marks important places on the map.
Blair Witch (2019)
After all the work that the Polish Bloober Team has done in their horror films Layers of Fear and Observer, it is not surprising that they were commissioned by Lionsgate to develop the Blair Witch game.
The original Blair Witch Project was released in 1999 and became a hit, grossing about $250 million on a budget of $60,000.
To date, as many as four sequels have been shot for the film, but none of them even got close to the original in terms of quality or fan recognition. In terms of games, there were three Survival Horror movie titles released in 2000 that the industry ignored.
The Bloober Team took on the project with gusto, as Lionsgate gave the team creative freedom. The Polish developers decided to present the game in a semi-open world where the player could freely explore the forests of the Black Hills National Park. The game takes place two years after the original film. Police officer Ellis Lynch joins the search for the missing nine-year-old Peter Shannon, and his faithful dog Bullet helps him in this.
By the way, the key gameplay mechanics of the game are associated with the Bullet. The four-legged friend not only helps the player himself to cope with fear, but also perfectly searches for clues, and also warns the main character if he is in danger.
All of these moments along with outstanding sound design and atmosphere were highly praised by critics, but Bloober Team fell for not the most inventive story and gameplay, which led to disappointing reviews. On the other hand, it’s safe to say that The Blair Witch Project finally has a worthy sequel.
In addition to the above titles, after 2000 there were other horror-based games like From Dusk Till Dawn, Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green, or several Evil Dead titles. As a rule, they all represented the «action» genre and did not set themselves the goal of scaring the player. The exception is The Thing, but this game has already been described in The Rise of the Survival Horror Genre.
In the coming year, we will see the release of games such as Resident Evil 3, Remothered: Broken Porcelain, as well as the new System Shock. So horror fans will definitely get their dose of fear in 2020.