Since I’m NOT ALLOWED to recycle old content for BBP’s 31 Days of Horror celebration I have been forced to come up with something all together new and different…much to my dismay.
There’s always a lot of talk about Horror films, Halloween TV specials, comic books, and all of the usual things that we all partake in from late August until the sun rises on November first and Mariah Carey is roused from her seasonal slumber to once again dominate the airwaves. I love Halloween and aside from putting up a Christmas tree and lights there’s really no wrong way to celebrate it. It’s a holiday that can be exactly what you want it to be if you even bother to observe it at all.
With that in mind, I’m here with a terrifying trio of video games you can enjoy during the Halloween season! These are all games I’ve both played and loved. I’ve tried to stay away from the expected Survival Horror genre of games because, while I love Resident Evil 4 and I’m destined to perpetually be replaying it every couple of years…those have been talked about TO DEATH.
Night in the Woods
“College dropout Mae Borowski returns home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs seeking to resume her aimless former life and reconnect with the friends she left behind. But things aren’t the same. Home seems different now and her friends have grown and changed. Leaves are falling and the wind is growing colder. Strange things are happening as the light fades.
And there’s something in the woods.”
I’m an enthusiastic proponent of small and intimate indie games like Night in the Woods. As the indie genre has grown I’ve found myself drawn more to games that focus on art and story over the big budget spectacle of “triple A” video game release. Don’t get me wrong, I still have room in my life for both, but I’m finding more value in games that are slightly off the beaten path.
Night in the Woods is a game that I had been hearing a lot about before I finally ended up playing the version that was ported to the Nintendo Switch and I instantly fell in love with it. The game mechanics are simple, you can run and jump, there’s no life meter and you don’t have to concern yourself with keeping your character alive or accomplish any set goals beyond exploring your hometown and speaking to your friends and family.
When it comes to reviewing things I’m big on what the general tone of the piece is. If it’s bad or good isn’t exactly immaterial to me but I’m willing to overlook some rough edges based on how something makes me feel. That being said, Night in the Woods perfectly encapsulates the vibe of returning home to a small Rust Belt town during Fall. The game takes place around Halloween so all the trappings of the holiday in a Midwestern town are present but don’t overshadow the central narrative of Mae struggling to find some direction in her life.
For me, a lot of the “horror” aspect of Night in the Woods comes from that rudderless feeling many of us likely experienced in early adulthood. While it’s true there are larger issues Mae is experiencing, some of which may or may not be supernatural, the scariest part is what the future may hold for her.
Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition
“Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway running through the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it.”
Previously, I had taken issue with people using the term “Lynchian” as a shorthand to describe WandaVision’s general suburban weirdness and how it wasn’t really what I considered a proper use of that term. Now, hoisted by my own petard, I am tasked with describing a game that could very well be as close to a David Lynch-vibe as we’re likely to get.
The works of David Lynch are an admitted influence on the game per the developers (or at least the wiki article I read) so I’m relieved that I’m at least somewhat in the ballpark on my assessment. The game itself is a point and click affair where you choose dialog options for Conway, a truck driver that’s just trying to make a delivery.
When described as such it doesn’t seem like much but it’s truly astounding how a game that’s point and click and text-driven can evoke feelings of creeping dread in the player. Well, in me in this case. The game is odd and obtuse and doesn’t offer any easy answers. Kentucky Route Zero exists in its own dreamlike reality and it stuck with me for long after I finished playing it.
Since the last two entires on this list were non-typical video games this last entry is for people that are after a more traditional gaming experience. Plus, I’d be remiss in my duties if I missed out on a chance to write about my all-time favorite PlayStation game MediEvil.
My appreciation for MediEvil has been well chronicled on BBP since I got a chance to play a demo of the game at the 2019 Toronto Fan Expo and later that year Sony was kind enough to send me a download code so that I could “review” the game. Truly, it was the pinnacle of my career here. Full disclosure: I did end up going out and buying a physical copy of the game for my collection. While, digital downloads are cool I’m eternally wary that game companies may pull their games from digital store fronts leaving me high and dry.
MediEvil is a game that I’ve been enamored with since 1998 which is forever ago. It was heavily advertised in comics at the time and the first level was also included on a PlayStation demo disc. The style of the game has big Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas vibes which spoke to the college sophomore version of me.
The game is both fun AND funny insomuch that it takes itself as seriously as a game starring an undead skeleton knight can. MediEvil certainly skews more “fun” Halloween over “horror” Halloween and is only mildly challenging. The biggest obstacle you’ll face in the original and the updated PS4 version is the in-game camera being less than cooperative. You’ll doubtless experience your share of ill-timed jumps resulting in a cheap death or two.
Both the character design and the voice acting in the game are superb and were thankfully preserved for the 2019 release. I’m currently replaying the game in-between watching various Halloween specials and Horror movies and it’s proving to be a great mood enhancer for Spooky Season.