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Tag Archives: Horror

Games Created by Women: Blackwell’s Asylum

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Would you think you would be able to survive in a nineteenth century mental institution? What if, once admitted, you were sent to an asylum known as a place where no one ever left? What if the doctors were not only there to keep you from escaping but also to perform whatever atrocities on you that they wished?

Blackwell’s Asylum is a game that tests the abilities of the player to not only survive but also  to escape a terrifying asylum for the insane. Claudia Billie Stræde was the director of this game which started out as a project for the University she was attending. Blackwell’s Asylum was a multiple nominee. It also won Game of the Year and the Adventure/Roleplay category in the Intel Level Up 2011 Game Demo Contest. The game is also interesting becuase it was inspired by true events.

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Claudia was inspired by the written chronicle from Nellie Bly. Bly was a writer who had started her career as a young woman writing; “women’s columns.”  Bly wanted to write about more than cleaning and traveled to New York seeking opportunities. There she pitched the idea of going undercover at a mental hospital to expose what was really happening behind the closed doors of such institutions. For ten days she gained information and stories from other patients. Upon her release Bly wrote down everything in her six-part series called; Ten Days in a Mad-House. This work helped not only expose the crimes of the asylum but also gained more funding for public institutions to try to improve them.

The design of the game is interesting and unsettling. The player starts off, as Nellie, restrained as a doctor drugs them. The player then tries to escape. The coloring of the game is dark and it can make it difficult to determine where in the game the player is.  The effects of the drugs only aid in making the surroundings distorted and confusing.

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There are random shouts and other noises to make it difficult to focus. Blackwell’s Asylum does have a neat effect in which large circles like sonar when footsteps get closer to the player as they sneaking in the darkness. It is the only effect that helps the player with all the distortion. The character design is very well done. The sound effects also aid in the gameplay. 

Blackwell’s Asylum is an interesting first person game of escape.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Review

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Many of us grew up with the beloved television series called Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. This year a new version was released. Based on the comics of the same name a darker, one could say a more chilling, show called The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was an early Halloween gift for us all.

Created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and staring Kiernan Shipka The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina aired on Netflix on October 26, 2018. Sabrina Spellman has a big secret. She is only half-mortal. Sabrina is also half-witch. Her whole life up to this point her family has been preparing her to make a choice that will change her life forever.

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On her sixteenth birthday Sabrina can choose either side but she must choose. She can continue to go to her mortal school and live as a mortal teenager. There are her best friends. Her boyfriend. The movies and the books that she loves. Or she can choose the path that her family has been grooming her for. She can go to an elite school for witches and live as a witch.

Sabrina is torn between both. She loves being a witch. Sabrina has grown up casting spells and being surrounded by magic in her home. She is also very protective of her mortal friends and is unsure if she can leave her life with them. Sabrina is being pulled between these two worlds that she loves. With her birthday drawing closer the pressure is mounting for Sabrina to make her choice.

The assorted cast of characters in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are fantastically written. Witch or mortal these characters bring the viewers into the world that Sabrina dwells in. The characters fleshed out creation help us to believe that we are really their with Sabrina as she fights for the life she wants. The costuming is also an important tool for the show. Every costume tells us about the town and the people who populate it.

Speaking of the town the sets are wonderfully constructed. The Spellman house is actually magical to look at. Every room helps tell a story. Sabrina’s high school serves as neutral ground for Sabrina and her friends. The soundtrack is also well picked to further the story. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into creating the world of Sabrina Spellman.

I would highly recommend watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It is a fantastic show full of well written characters and plenty of twists.  

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Review: Visage

Visage

Developer: SadSquare Studio
Publisher: SadSquare Studio
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Early Access Release: 10/2/2018
Expected Full Release: 2/2019

What’s it about?
Visage is an indie psychological horror game from SadSquare Studio. Funded by Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight, Visage is one of the many spiritual successors to Silent Hills P.T. 

Visage can be considered a haunted house game. You are exploring a rather old and large house, attempting to uncover the terrible things that have happened there. As the game is in early access, there is only one chapter available thus far.

What did I think?
After playing through the demo, which is currently available on steam, I can tell you that Visage is a phenomenal game so far. You can certainly tell that the developers have put a lot into this game and have used their Kickstarter funds wisely.

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This game gets intense very quickly. The opening scene can be triggering for some, so proceed with caution. After the jarring beginning, you find yourself in a giant house with almost no direction. You’re meant to explore, to find your own way, however there are tutorials on how to use necessary items.

Visage takes an excellent approach on managing your character’s sanity. You can do one of two things to keep yourself from going insane: take pills or stand in well lit places. The pills are easier to find than well lit places. You also have to find lighters, candles and lightbulbs to help manage your sanity levels.

The story of the first “Visage” is compelling, terrifying and sad. You are uncovering the story of the brutal death of a young girl without a jaw. But you need to be quick about it, or else she’ll kill you for snooping. Your only sign that she’s anywhere near you is her labored breathing.

There are some jump scares in the game, but my favorite thing about Visage are the fake outs. You can hear something and be absolutely certain that it’s right there, just inside the next room. You have no choice but to go in there, terrified. And, when you do, the noise stops and you’re alone. I love the build up of suspense, especially when it doesn’t end in a jump scare.

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Do I recommend it?
Oh, yes, I very much do. Visage is the first horror game to actually frighten me in years. It didn’t just make me jump or feel tense, it actually lingered with me long after I finished playing. I can’t wait to see what the final game looks like. For now, though, check it out on Steam and tell me what you think in the comments below!

Staff Favorites: Horror Games

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Fatal Frame. I vividly remember the first time my brother and I turned out the lights while playing it… That didn’t last long.
– Oresan Fells

 

 

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I would have to say that one of my favorite horror games is Eldritch Horror. It combines two of my favorite things; the Cthulhu mythos and tabletop gaming. Players choose a character and then set off o try to stop the ancient evil from rising. Players are faced with many horrors and even if they win they will probably not leave the game with all of their sanity. Play if you think you are strong enough, if not when then “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” Happy gaming and always keep sparkling!
-Thia the Bard

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I love Alice: Madness Returns because it’s a twisted Alice in Wonderland. Everything is spooky, crazy, and wonderfully dark. You get to stab mobs with knives, smack them with a horse head or fire upon them with a teapot. Plus, you block with an umbrella. Not to mention the costumes.. Steampunk Alice is the best! -Azkadelya

 

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Damn it, Karen, stop writing on the wall

Layers of Fear is my favorite horror game. The story is engaging, the jump scares are minimal, the building terror is enough to make my skin all tingly, and it doesn’t make me motion sick since it’s basically just a walking simulator.
– Vanri The Rogue

 

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Growing up I got this board game called Nightmare. Very early 90s, mind you. A VHS board game and I loved every second of playing it. I made my neighbors play it with me over and over again. We recently played it on stream and I still love this game, no matter how old I am or it is.
– Crymson Pleasure

Review: The Haunting of Hill House (TV Show)

I love horror. Be it movies, books, TV shows.. I want it all. So when I heard that Netflix was going to do a series called The Haunting of Hill House, I could not wait! The day it came to Netflix I started watching it, and I was hooked. None of us are immune to binge watching, but be prepared to not put this one down.

First, let’s do a little history on the show. It is a re-imagining of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 Gothic novel The Haunting of Hill House. This book is one of the best horror stories of the 20th century and isn’t so much about the horror as the terror. To be exact, it wants to make you dread what comes next more than it wants to scare you and gross you out like most in the genre. It was originally adapted into a British movie called The Haunting in 1963 where a group of paranormal investigators investigate Hill House. Most people probably know the 1999 version of The Haunting, starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor. I know that was my first introduction to this story, and I love that one as well.

This latest version of the original story is terrifyingly surprising. Netflix and creator Mike Flanagan did a superb job creating this masterpiece of terror. I do warn you, there might be some spoilers ahead, so read on if you dare!

The Haunting of Hill House is about a family of 7, the Crain’s, that once lived in Hill House. The children are now grown up and each has their own problems in life that all stem from their time spent there. They have all tried very hard to keep the past in the past, but it’s catching up to them and there is nothing they can do about it. I really don’t want to reveal too much, but each of the 5 children is special in their own way and despite their hardships and differences the family sticks together in the end.

The journey the Crain’s take in this 10 episode season is remarkable. There are moments of love, of pain, of sadness and trust me you will feel all the feels right along with them. There are most definitely jump scares, hidden ghosts, and subtle hints as to what’s really going on. Be prepared for many, many flashbacks that eventually make a lot of sense. The red door is a big part of the plot, as is Mrs. Crain, so keep your eyes on them.

The cast does a tremendous job at portraying their characters and telling you the story of the summer that rules their lives. I would absolutely love to see another season of this in the future. I’m not sure if continuing on with the Crain family’s future would be the way to go, but I’d love to see the story behind the original owners of Hill House and how they became what they were. They don’t play a big part in this story, but they are definitely part of the reason the house is what it is.

I didn’t find this series horrifying and I didn’t get any nightmares from it, but it does seem to truly scare some. So beware if you get easily spooked! The story unfolds at a steady pace, so don’t worry about any slow moments making you wish you were watching something else. In fact, it will probably be over before you are expecting and then you’ll miss the Crain family and all the suspense in their lives.

Top 10 Horror Movies You (Probably) Haven’t Seen!

Halloween is near and with it comes the itch. The Horror movie draw. It’s a sickness really… It’s time to grab a big bowl of popcorn, a comfy blanket, and watch people be mercilessly murdered… or psychologically assaulted… (See, it is a sickness) Horror movies take on many forms, from the slasher flick to the psycho thriller. Many movies that are, in fact, Horror movies are not even billed as such, and even then there is such a saturation of absolutely hopeless movies that claim to be Horror. The following is a list of potential stories you may not have seen (or heard of) that can scratch that Serial Killer, Ghost Haunting, and blood-curdling-scream itch. Enjoy!

(But First! A note on this process and what to expect: Please take the time to do some research before watching any of these movies. Horror movies are not afraid to challenge your fears and paranoia. They often include intensely horrific scenes which may include rape, dismemberment, and anything you could possibly imagine that is, or was, horrific. Keep that in mind when choosing a movie to watch.

Each movie listed are movies that I have seen and can personally vouch for. This list is my own. If there is a movie you think should be included or a personal favorite please leave a comment below and tell us about. I look forward to adding a few titles to my watch list.)

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10. Hard Candy (2005, R)

Psychopath vs. Pedophile. Ellen Page plays Hayley, an underage woman who meets a man whom she suspects is a Pedophile and… Well. You should see this movie. It’s disturbing on many levels, well acted, and tends to strike the right nerve at the right moment making you more and more uncomfortable as the movie progresses. 

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9. Troll Hunter (2011, PG-13)

A “Found Footage Mockumentary” about college students finding Trolls in the Norwegian Wilderness. It’s also a great way to get a crash course in Norwegian folk-lore as the movie pays homage to those roots. It’s often funny, but still manages to be vicious and scary as hell.

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8. Bone Tomahawk (2015, R)

Western… Horror… Kurt Russell’s facial hair… All reasons to watch this movie, but not the only ones. It’s sad just how poorly this movie did on it’s release. Undeserving, even. A Fantastic movie that fills a need I didn’t know I had. It’ll make you squirm and writhe in your seat as there are MANY intense scenes of graphic horror.

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7. Monster Squad (1987, PG-13)

Not enough people have seen this Goonies-esque monster flick, in which a group of young boys strive to fight off a ravaging band of A-list monsters an answer an age old question: Does the Wolf-man indeed have nards? Easily quotable and lot fun.

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6. In the Mouth of Madness (1994, R)

The best Lovecraftian movie ever made… Even though it’s not billed as such. Strong elements of Insanity, excellent acting, and its Lovecraftian roots make this worth a look.

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5. The Midnight Meat Train (2008, R)

This 2008 horror flick, based on a story by Clive Barker, is less than perfect (wait until you hit the third act…); however, it’s well acted (Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones, ) and strikes a cord with viewers looking for that Psycho Thriller itch. I always thought Vinnie Jones seemed like he’d murder people on a Subway; though, I didn’t imagine it quite like this. This movie is graphic and horrific in unimaginable ways.

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4. Under The Skin (2013, R)

Though not a traditional horror movie (Listed as SciFi), Under The Skin provides a deeply disturbing and sensual experience. Scarlett Johansson plays an otherworldly being who’s constant lack of empathy is easily the most skin crawling element of an uncomfortable movie.

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3. Bubba HoTep (2003, R)

Bruce Campbell plays Old Elvis. Ossie Davis plays Old JFK. They fight a hillbilly Mummy sucking the souls out of old peoples anus’s. I shouldn’t have to say anything else.

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2. Let The Right One In (2008, R)

What’s Horror without a little Romance? Between two 12 year old children… Wait a second, don’t leave! This movie follows the relationship between a bullied 12 year old boy and the vampire girl he befriends. It’s sweet, horrific, and heart wrenching… And Swedish. Hopefully you don’t mind subtitles.

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1. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006, R)

If you thought “What We Do In The Shadows” needed more gore then Behind The Mask may be the movie for you. This Horror Comedy follows the life of a would be Slasher who’s hired a film crew to chronicle his escapades. It’s funny, smart, and underappreciated. I have a few “comedies” on this list, but this one really stands out, separating itself from the others with just how smart it is, putting the likes of Scream to shame and taking my number one slot. 

Hey all hope you enjoy these movies! I know I did, sort of… Leave a comment below letting us know what underappreciated or relatively unknown horror movie is your favorite!

 

Review: Narcosis

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We all know how much I love me some horror games. I’m always looking for new games to play, especially from amazing indie developers. I was ecstatic to get a review copy of Narcosis from indie developer, Honor Code, thanks to my fellow Mixer streamer and friend, Rorifett, who put me in contact with David, one of the writers and the marketer for the game.

What’s it about?
A hundred leagues under the sea lies several research facilities. Narcosis follows a nameless man as he attempts to find his way back to the surface after an earthquake destroys these facilities and kills almost everyone else down there. He must find his way to the single escape pod, while avoiding aggressive squids, bloodthirsty fish, and terrifying spider crabs. All the while, the game is being framed and narrated by an interview, possibly on a talk show.

What did I think?
This game is visually stunning. The detail in each chapter was so painstakingly realistic, both visually and atmospherically. Each piece of floating debris made me jump. Each spider crab injected a new nightmare into my brain. Each squid caused a mini panic attack.

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The story was slow building and kept me at the edge of my seat. What happened to the other survivors? Would we ever get out of here? All questions were answered in the end, which is extremely satisfying in a horror game. I don’t want to be left with more questions than I started with. I want to be left wanting more content, not answers. Narcosis accomplished this in bounds.

The most important thing – to me – is that this game actually terrified me. My stress level was so high throughout the entire game that I had to take my anxiety meds. Not only am I terrified of the ocean as it is, but the creatures in the deepest, darkest reaches also fuel the worst nightmares. If I never see a spider crab again, it will be too soon.

Do I recommend it?
Highly. If you like horror games, this game is for you. If you like deep sea exploring, this game is for you. If you want to be afraid to go into the ocean for the rest of your life, this game is for you. (That last one’s a joke, of course, I was already afraid to go into the ocean!)

Narcosis can be found on PC and Xbox One.

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