With the incredible success that the remakes of resident evil are now collecting (and among which it seems we can add a new launch before long), the theme of horror in video games is back in vogue. Not that it has ever been so eclipsed, to tell the truth, however the very fact of repropriating on the market titles with many years behind, revisited and modernized for the current public, makes a lot of reflection. And it makes us reflect above all on the choice of 5 author titles that we have chosen to include in our list - it is no coincidence that most of them are all of a certain age. This is clearly not a leaderboard, and the games are listed in no particular order.
Titles that bear the signature of greats artists, writers, composers, and which conceal unexpected events inspirations e influences that have allowed the birth of some of the most beautiful, fruitful and acclaimed franchises by critics and the public; or at least of those more sensibly significant for the world of the videogame industry. Let's see which ones together.
When you are talking about Deadly Premonition there is talk of a controversial game, which manages to divide audiences and critics alike; not by chance Destructoid reviewed it with 100, while IGN (American portal) gave him a 20. A title that actually made its way up a red (velvet) carpet, between cheers on one side and whistles screaming disaster on the other. However, although technically the latter may well be right - not even the Director's Cut manages to reach the standards of the games of those years, alas - it is a game that must be understood, must be contextualized and must be taken for what it is: the legitimate son of Swery. A singular, likeable and funny character, with a creative flair that is palpable to the skin: just look at him. A visceral lover of gods American B movies (come on?), caffeine addict, fantasy eater and prophet of the absurd. A character, his, that we even had the good fortune to meet live, like the last time at Game Rome 2019.
That said, Deadly Premonition bases his visionary and artistic charge on what he was the genius of David Lynch in its cult Twin Peaks. But there is also that sense of humor that I personally found in Bayonetta (even if they are peers, to tell the truth), with an investigator in my eyes who becomes his male alter ego, a cheeky smoker who holds his cigarette tight between the teeth like a lollipop, while moving immersed in a Silent Hillnian atmosphere. Now, obviously, there is no cry for plagiarism, but rather for references that, as with Conrad's Apocalipse Now and Heart of Darkness, outline similarities, tributes but different sensations and experiences. After all, we are still talking about two different media.
It's about art, the one that transpires in Swery's title, referential and self-referential, which not everyone may like. A bizarre (really bizarre) and funny story, which continues to make you laugh, smile, make you nervous, that manages to keep you glued and make you wonder what the hell is going on. A story topped off by a cast of memorable characters, absurd and abstruse (in English I would define them as "insane" to be honest). A game that must be tried, period. And now that it has also come out on Nintendo Switch no one has any more excuses.
The Evil Within
Shinji Mikami is universally recognized as one of the true luminaries of the horror video game industry and beyond, the mastermind behind some of the best titles out there. Among these we remember, needless to say, the saga of resident evil, the first title of Dino crisis, but also the lucky one Vanquish for Platinum Games. In The Evil Within, however, he joins Masafumi Takada, a great Japanese composer of video games and more, known above all for his work on the soundtracks of killer7, God Hand, No More Heroes and Earth Defense Force and Danganronpa.
In short, not bad premises for the debut chapter of the franchise Tango Gameworks (development house of Mikami himself) and published by Bethesda in 2014. A chapter that brings back in vogue the naked and raw survival genre, featuring a perfect balance on the survival and horror parts. Not by chance, The Evil Within it forces you to make the most of limited resources, nail headshots and work out the best tactics to take down both the various boxwoods and the pesky mutants. In a world that at times seems to come to life from some cover of Cannibal Corpse (the reference to the butcher scene in this sense is an obligation), while you are catapulted into a distorted dimension, which is teeming with enemies with character design aesthetically satisfying, able to instill anxiety and tension even to the bravest players, perhaps the plot lags behind and eclipses a bit, in front of the visual power and the arduous dynamics of the game.
However, even if the plot is not very original, and the main protagonist does not seem to ooze who knows how much sympathy from his pores, The Evil Within remains one of the survival horror par excellence: a title that allows you to experience the true horror of survival, while winks at one of Konami's most successful brands ever.
Silent Hill 2
A title that needs no introduction or description. Silent Hill 2, initially released in 2001 on PlayStation 2 under Konami, it is in my view the best horror game ever. Beyond personal tastes, which are precisely personal, behind a work of art of this kind is hidden the mind of Keiichiro Toyama (which then gave way to Masahiro Ito and Hiroyuki Owaku) and the hands of Takayoshi Sato e Akira Yamaoka. The first, for those unfamiliar with him, is the creator of the entire saga, who with the second chapter (after leaving Team Silent) reached the highest peak. The second is the phenomenal writer and character designer of the title, the one who made an unforgettable plot and cutscenes possible. The third, however, is the masterful composer who has created the OSTs of many titles in the franchise, including this one.
That's why, then, presentations and descriptions are of little use with Silent Hill 2. However, not everyone will know that other essential authors are born within its narration: we talk about Dostoevsky, we speak Cronenberg, as well as they also find themselves Fincher, Lynch, Bacon, Wyeth and even Alfred Hitchcock. And there are also numerous cultural references to history, films, literature, which fit together wonderfully with shades from the psychological aspect to the more classic horror. If Silent Hill 2 was a book, and if it came out a few years earlier, Calvino he would sure have kept it in mind as he wrote "Why Read the Classics". Because Silent Hill 2 is a classic by definition: every time it is replayed, new and different aspects are captured, which adapt to our current emotional state, to our past, to our present self.
For this reason, then, words with Silent Hill 2 are not needed. You have to play it, from start to finish, enter the fog and let yourself be guided from memories, from nightmares, from blood, from people who got lost in their Paradise Lost. And let yourself be carried away by Yamaoka's soundtracks, by its sweet and melancholy notes, by the scratchy and sinister ones, by the funereal and thinking ones. And once you leave the city, at the end of the game, ask yourself what it has transmitted to us, what it has left us. An intimate response, which will be stormed by desire to replay it at least one more time.
System Shock 2
System Shock 2 is a 1999 first-person survival horror from Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios, which boasts Ken levine as while creative and designer. Levine is actually very well known in the gaming industry for having made several titles based primarily on narration and able to explore both sociological and philosophical themes (Andrew Ryan does that tell you something?). Another trademark is his talent in mixing different artistic styles with incredible results, which give sci-fi atmospheres by touch cyberpunk.
Not surprisingly, then, in System Shock 2 many details take shape that we find in Bioshock, and themes that in the spiritual successor have not only been taken up, but also deepened. Even before Bioshock came to light, in System Shock 2 we are presented with a dystopian world, which is perhaps more reminiscent of the first Dead Space in terms of settings - a title with which, in fact, it shares a lot. With its particular combination of RPG and FPS, offers players a game experience that was extremely rewarding and rich in those days, with a significant and continuous character upgrade, a compelling exploration component, terrifying enemies and a new use of audio journals. With its immersive and fascinating atmosphere, but at the same time dark, claustrophobic and disturbing, it transports you to a world controlled by acybernetic entity, which guides players through bloodstained corridors, puzzles and combat, in a spaceship that breathes and tastes of the 90s.
System Shock 2 is an absolutely recoverable piece for fans of the genre (body) horror, even if I feel that, given his age, he has not aged very well; for this reason, playing it now for the first time could cost him much more than thathorror-appeal which instead he has proudly carried around for years, and which will remain highly appreciated by all old gamers. Just think, however, that without him Bioshock would not exist (and perhaps not even the highly acclaimed Dead Space), and that his influence for the titles to come is still undisputed.
With Parasite Eve we are talking about a full-fledged copyright. The father of this video game, in fact, is a writer who, by approaching the art of storytelling to his profession as a pharmacist, he gave life to the novel from which this little gem born in '98 was drawn. Parasite Eve was indeed the debut book of Hideaki Sena, from which Square has therefore developed and published a sort of sequel. Alongside him, however, there are two other great artists, such as the game designer Tetsuya Nomura (known for her work on Final Fantasy) and the pianist and composer Yoko Shimomura, mother of the OST of the Kingdom Hearts series.
With such a team backing him, it's not hard to see why Parasite Eve's success. Beyond the interesting reference to the actual functioning of the endosymbiosis (treated, obviously, on a science fiction basis), the spectacular cinematic of Parasite Eve its perturbing plot knows how to keep the player glued from start to finish. By welcoming him, inter alia, with an introduction that still puts the chills, positively speaking, in 2020. After all, the gameplay and in general the whole package offered by Parasite Eve were already very modern at the time of its release, so much so that it can be considered as a sort of pioneer of the SciFi RPG / horror genre.
Obviously, also given the fact that the plot has its roots in a novel, the plot outlined in the title is one of the game's greatest strengths. A story that is positioned as a sort of sequel to the book and that develops complex, intriguing, which despite not being studded with jump scare or Resident Evil situations, offers a gloomy, gothic, dark atmosphere. With musical accompaniments who are able to masterfully amplify it, especially when necessary incredibly cinematic cutscenes, goodies for lovers of gore. Because Parasite Eve, and this must be said, is definitely the game for fans of body horror, with CGI scenes that are still very enjoyable today, although the graphics are obviously that of a title that has now blown out more than 20 candles.
Have you come to read this far? However! congratulations. As always, however, we remind you that this list is extremely subjective, as well as many of those we offer in our editorials. So if you have any additions, comments, or even different points of view, we'd love to read our opinion. Leave us a feedback, if you like, and follow us on our official channels.