Halloween is approaching, and honestly, it’s more like UTM’s Christmas. It’s our excuse to dig up our favourite spooky childhood memories and delve into discussions on all things horror. The latest UTM discuss dissects horror game past and future, and include a bonus clip of our editor getting so startled.
What was the first spooky game you played?
Connor: Pretty sure it was the first resident evil. I used to go round my friend’s house and feel cool playing it cause his mum let him have 18+ shit. I vaguely remember zombie dinosaurs in Dino Crisis too.
Nathan: I think mine was Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. To be honest, I’m expecting everyone’s to be some Resident Evil game.
Joe: The first actually scary game I ever played was probably the original Silent Hill. But the first game that ever scared me was Rugrats: Search for Reptar. I think there was a spooky level with ghosts or clowns or something.
Connor: Kids shit was mad unsettling back then.
Nathan: Damn, I was going to say Banjo Kazooie because of Grunty the Witch, so I feel ya on that.
Joe: I think I played Resident Evil not too long after, maybe it was the second one. My uncle had it and I used to try and sneak on his Playstation and give it a go. I never got very far.
Nathan: TANK CONTROLS.
Joe: “Why can’t I jump???”
Connor: Cool, i’m glad we established we were all little shits.
What’s the best one you’ve played?
Joe: I think my favourite horror games are the Resident Evil 1 remake that came out on Gamecube, and Silent Hill 2. The imagery of Silent Hill games has always stuck with me, even though they’re not a whole lot of fun to play. Guess it’s more about the atmosphere and general feeling of it, though. The Resident Evil remake is just really well designed and fun, like a good haunted house type of attraction.
Nathan: It’s actually a tie between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 7. I think 4 did a lot for horror games at the time, and 7 came at a time when my opinion of horror games had reduced dramatically thanks to all the YouTube-friendly jumpscare titles, and it did none of the stuff that pissed me off. I played 4 around 16 times all the way through, so I’ll have to go with that.
Connor: I mean, the first resident evil will always resonate with me most, cause it’s the first one I played. But I really loved Alien Isolation cause it (mostly) perfectly translated my favourite horror film and the reasons I love it into the video game format. Maybe The Last Of Us too if that counts as a spooky game.
Nathan: Alien Isolation though Connor, I need to cop. I just watched Covenant and I need to bring my Alien appreciation back up.
Connor: On sale on PStore right now, what a time for spooky games.
Joe: I love Resident Evil 7 a lot, too, I think that’s my second favourite in the series.
Connor: Damn, I desperately still need to cop that, the demo freaked me out.
Nathan: Were you as surprised as me as to how good it was? Following 6, I wasn’t hoping for much.
Joe: It did a lot to make me fall in love with the gameplay loop of it all, ditching the over-the-shoulder gameplay did a lot to give it a jolt of life, in my opinion. It was such a dramatic improvement in every way. No dinosaur zombies this time. Just a spooky old woman.
Nathan: I completed 6 fuelled on pure hatred for the game, and I just wanted it to be over.
Connor: Does anyone else feel like horror works better in first person? It’s the only time I’d rather be in first instead of third.
Joe: I think it’s entirely dependent. Like, Alien and RE7 are fantastic and they use the perspective well, but it’s hard not to feel jaded after shit like Outlast lowered the standard for horror titles. I also wanna give a shout out to the Forbidden Siren series, those games really got me interested in J-horror.
How do horror games compare from now and then?
Nathan: There’s a bit of a weird disconnect in my opinion, because the games got technically better in regards to how they looked and played and controlled, but somehow, I feel the standard has slipped when it comes to story and setting.
Joe: Everytime there’s a lull in horror game releases, a handful of really great ones pop up. Feel like this happened in the PS3 lifetime and it’s been happening again, too. I think in general horror games are in a good position right now in a post-Let’s Play and Scream at a Webcam world. I mean those videos still exist, but games aren’t targeting that as much.
Nathan: That’s what went wrong, wasn’t it? It was PewDiePie doing those Amnesia videos.
Connor: I feel like there’s been a rise of more immersive story focused horror, stuff like Until Dawn and TLOU feel very different from older ones that often just dropped you in a spooky setting and told you to survive.
Joe: Well, you say that, but Silent Hill was always super story-driven. We lost nuance when people wanted to just do bombastic BOO!!!! style horror.
Connor: Films are a little like that too. Where’s the bloody tension?
Nathan: Yeah, they both go through cycles of what does well, then every other game/film copies it until we get bored.
Joe: I think horror films are having a moment where they wanna really unsettle people at the moment, thankfully, but I get what you mean. There’s definitely cycles and trends.
What’s the most spooked you’ve ever been by a horror game?
Joe: There’s a few levels in the PS3 Siren game, Siren: Blood Curse, where you play as a defenceless eight-year-old girl. It’s such a simple concept but I’ve never felt as terrified as I have while playing that, I think.
Nathan: Either the first time Nemesis jumped through the fucking window on RE:3, Jack following me around the house on RE7 or insert video of me getting scared when Joe played Until Dawn
Connor: To be fair, I’ve been spooked about 50 times by Until Dawn and it’s mostly just deer jumping out at me.
Nathan: Em is exactly the same, she got spooked by crows so many times on our Until Dawn streams.
Joe: I don’t like it when horror uses dogs or cats against me. They’re supposed to be my friends.
Connor: I love animals but please stop putting them in horror
Nathan: Petition to never make me rip off a deer’s head again please.
Connor: I’d sign that change.org petition.
RE7 was the first big budget horror game to do VR. Do you think that’s the way to go with horror games looking to the future?
Joe: I hope not because VR makes me feel a little sick. I really appreciate that it makes things more immersive and shit, but at the same time I’d rather it just be an option than the end goal. I wanna get a little spooked, not have a bloody heart attack. Plus, I always feel like there’s some horror that just wouldn’t work in VR.
Connor: Yeah, it definitely works for immersive purposes, but I doubt it’ll replace normal horror games cause they’re still more than capable of making you poop yourself.
Joe: For first person it sounds ideal, if not a little too intense, but anything else I’d rather just sit in a dark room with a big screen.
Connor: Yeah, it’s not like you can see anything else in the room when in pitch black, that’s why horror games should be a nightime only thing,
Nathan: We talk about cycles and trends though, I think with RE7 showing everyone it can be done, more will attempt to do it as well as that. I’d love to play a bunch of well-made VR horror games, just not when the headset is so damn expensive. Then again, it could just have been a fad and maybe it’s over.
What horror game would you like to see next?
Joe: Silent Hills. Fuck you, Konami.
Connor: I’d definitely like to see some more unique settings and gameplay elements – and definitely something other than bloody zombies/infected.
Nathan: I want to see a post-apocalyptic world done right. More like The Road than Fallout 4, ya know? I think that would be tight.
Joe: Gimme something set in New England, modern or old I don’t care. I wanna see Autumn leaves and cold suburban streets or tall trees next to wooden houses where witches live.
Nathan: Because I think humans are absolutely scarier than any ghosts or zombies or anything.
Joe: Like, The Witch: the game. Or, something akin to how the original Halloween feels. There’s actually not enough games with ghosts, though.
Nathan: Oh fuck yeah, The VVitch game would be tight. Well, that setting – pilgrims n shit.
Connor: I just wanna be spooked more.
Nathan Butler, Connor Cass & Joe Price