Shadows of the Damned was one of my favorite games of last year. It was hilarious, fun, quirky, and downright raunchy. I have to admit, though, that with the talent behind it I was definitely expecting it to be more of a horror game. With Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami producing it and Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka crafting the soundtrack, Shadows of the Damned had all of the necessary ingredients to become one of the scariest games of all time. It never came close to realizing that potential, but I can't say I'm disappointed, because the final product was still unforgettable.
The Silent Hill series is known as one of the few major survival horror franchises still alive today. Some of my most terrifying video game-induced nightmares have come from my many trips to that foggy town. That is, until Konami decided to hand the reigns over to a new developer, the California-based Double Helix Games. Now, before anyone gets up in arms, let me just say the game wasn't bad, but it also didn't feel like a Silent Hill game. It felt like an action game set in the Silent Hill fiction, where the character you controlled was far too overpowered for things to ever get scary, and visually, too much was taken from the 2006 film adaptation of the series. Thankfully, Vatra Games brought the series closer to its roots with the more recent Downpour, though that game too had some serious issues.
There's something about that little girl with the long black hair and the red dress that just freaks me out. Alma has become a staple of the F.E.A.R. series, ever since she scared the pants off many of us in the original game. F.3.A.R. had everything going for it, in that developer Day 1 Studios had finally made the wise decision to reinvent the game's multiplayer, as well as bring in two of the biggest names in the horror genre: Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and John Carpenter (The Thing, Halloween). Instead of being the scariest game of the franchise, F.3.A.R., while technically superior to its predecessors, wasn't scary in the least.
Ever since I watched Candyman and Hellraiser at the ripe old age of six—yes, my parents and I are still a little surprised I didn't turn out to be a serial killer—I've been fascinated with Clive Barker. Undying was a fantastic game, so we knew it was within Barker's power to bring gamers a satisfying horror game, and his—let's just call it "unique"—style is something we hadn't really seen in video games. With Jericho, Cliver Barker finally had a talented team (Castlevania: Lords of Shadow developer MercurySteam) and a decent budget to work with; all he needed to do was infuse some of his trademark bloody magic into it for Jericho to become another terrifying success.
If I had to come up with a list of games that burned me the worst, Jericho would be near the top of that list, because the final product was little more than a boring, repetitious mess with few scares. The only saving grace was the creatively designed monsters, though taking a second to enjoy them was difficult because of the game's unforgiving difficulty and fondness for sending wave after wave of them at you until they broke your will to keep playing.
Date: August 30, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*