A plague on all of France, the voices of mythical monsters in your head, and a writer trapped in his own nightmares: 3 Horror-Adventure Games You Didn't Know About

By: Vladislav Nuzhnov | 22.08.2022, 10:27
A plague on all of France, the voices of mythical monsters in your head, and a writer trapped in his own nightmares: 3 Horror-Adventure Games You Didn't Know About

The game industry develops more and more every year. We're already seeing Hollywood actors appear in games, as we did in Death Stranding. We were told a heartwarming and tragic story in The Last of Us I&II. And cinematic scenes with explosions, like in Uncharted or GTA, are commonplace for us. The adventures of Geralt of Rivia or the Scandinavian journey of Kratos and his son grab our attention from the first minutes of the game. These characters and games are a crazy success. And if you haven't seen it with your own eyes, you've definitely heard about it. Some popular AAA games have historical achievements. For example, Rockstar managed to sell 11 million copies in the first 24 hours Grand Theft Auto V. The Last of Us, after a thorny path, became the best game of the decade, according to Metacritic. The Witcher 3 won more than 240 "Best Game of the Year" awards. And Kratos and Atreus' journey in God of War was the best game of 2018 . But in the shadow of such games are projects that, for some reason, have passed by a wide audience and remained less visible. This trend is most inherent in the indies that we've written about before, and the Horror-Adeventure genre. Such games provide a unique experience and can evoke a sense of dread without the usual screamers, but with more refined methods. The projects from this list are noteworthy and it is impossible not to tell about them. The editorial gg will tell you about 3 underrated Horror-Adventure games that are worth your attention.

A Plague Tale: Innocence - hiding in filthy tunnels to direct a pack of 5,000 rats at the Inquisition and then burn everything to the ground

Release Date: May 14, 2019

Platforms: XBOX, PC, PlayStation 4/5

Metacritic Rating: 81/8.5

Developer: Asobo Studio

Price on Steam: $40

Time to pass: 10-12 hours

Plot

1349 France is experiencing one of the worst periods of European history - an epidemic of plague, dubbed the "Black Death." The country finds itself surrounded by perpetually hungry plague rats, which can turn an entire city into a graveyard in a matter of minutes. At the same time, the country finds itself under the control of the Inquisition, which establishes its own rules and laws. To survive and influence the situation in this seemingly vicious circle of hell would have to a young girl Amissia and her five-year-old brother Hugo. The latter has been treated for an unknown disease all his life and until one crucial day almost never left the walls of his room and saw his older sister several times. And in the midst of the plague, the Inquisition declares a hunt for the children. Now the sister and brother have to leave their home, learn to understand and trust each other, find out what Hugo's disease is and confront the horde of rats and the Inquisition, which has taken on the children and in particular the investigation of little Hugo's disease.

Gameplay

Stealth is a key mechanic of the game. Given that Amissia and Hugo cannot openly confront the Inquisitors with weapons and armor, stealth and disguise will have to be employed. Amissia skillfully uses the slingshot, which is the main weapon and can perform several functions. You can throw rocks at metal objects to distract guards. Or hit in the head and silently eliminate the enemy. Potions are not without their own potions. Somnum helps to put your enemies to sleep, so you can move on without being noticed. A devorantis (Devorantis) will make the inquisitor remove his helmet, allowing him to get an accurate shot to the head. The second type of enemies that captivated France at the time are rats. They are primarily protected from them by the torch; they are afraid of illuminated areas and will avoid them by all means. So only by shedding light on the darkness can one pass on. If there is no torch nearby, there is an ignifer in the arsenal, which will light lamps and poles to drive away the aggressive creatures. In scenes where there are a lot of rats and you don't have a light source, there's a luminosa mix that will kill the plague carriers. There are a lot of variants to maneuver through this or that location. And in the pauses between battles you will have to solve different puzzles, explore new places, collect items and build relationships between your brother and sister.

The world of the game

Medieval France is shown creepy and disgusting. Rats with red eyes run everywhere. Mountains of corpses are scattered through the streets, and seemingly quiet and safe places immediately turn into a trap, either from a raid of rats, or from the arrival of the Inquisition, or sometimes from all at once. During the journey, Amissia and Hugo visit luxurious French palaces, castles, churches, long-abandoned villages, cities that have been quarantined, and the picturesque and simultaneously terrible fields of France, where in dark corners rats wait for prey and people, who are the greatest monsters here, openly commit their atrocities. The game's greatest strength is the atmosphere. Finding yourself at sunset in a small village occupied by troops, or being in the ruins, where sick people have been hung from the trees, a thousand rats are running around on the ground, and in Amissions with Hugo a single torch at hand, the player begins to get scared and anxious along with the characters. And the depressing soundtrack only exacerbates the situation, thus giving us a fascinating and unforgettable journey through plague-ridden France.

For those who want to know more. What the developers were inspired by, and what influenced the atmosphere.

The development was done by a small French studio Asobo Studio. The office of the studio is located in Bordeaux, where there are still areas from the Middle Ages. The development team walked and explored these areas every day. The creators came to the conclusion that the streets were dirty and the concept of hygiene was radically different from the present. That's why most of the locations in the game look so cluttered and shabby. This is influenced by the lighting, which is left untreated. This style was taken from paintings by Vermeer, Bruegel and Claude Laurent. Loren's paintings have a tone with orange and a soft sky that brings romance and dreaminess to the image. We wanted to implement something similar in our game," recalls one of the developers.

A location that was inspired by Loren's paintings. (screenshot: PlayStation )

During the development a lot of attention was paid to rats. The developers used their game engine to create them. A whole team was dedicated to the rats, which made them in the game as lively as possible.

Rats are first and foremost a great technical exercise. We have 5,000 simulated rats on the screen at one time. They have their own artificial intelligence, their own behavior with intelligence. This ensures that they move naturally under different conditions," David Dedeine, the developer of Asobo.

Personally, I can't think of a game that portrayed the Middle Ages in this way during the plague era. The developers make you feel disgusted by the rats, the filthy city, and the entourage of decadence. Rats in general are capable of inducing fear along with disgust. When you find yourself in the tunnels, barely lit by a torch, and you see hundreds of little red eyes all around you, it gets really scary. However, this all brings us back to the incident of Amissia and Hugo. The escape from the plague rats, the pursuit of the Inquisition, and the atmosphere of France at the time stick in my mind for a long time.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice - A girl suffers from psychosis, hears voices in her head and battles the freaks of Scandinavian mythology.

Release Date: August 8, 2017

Platforms: XBOX, PC, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch

Metacritic Rating: 88/8.0

Developer: Ninja Theory

Price on Steam: $30

Time to play: 7-9 hours

Story

Senua (Senua) is a young Celtic girl who one day decides to travel to the realm of the dead (Helheim) in order to wrest her beloved Dillion from the hand of the goddesses of the underworld Hel. Senua's peculiarity is that she suffers from a number of mental illnesses. The girl is most affected by her psychosis and the voices in her head. They are almost the only ones that communicate with the heroine throughout the game. These voices can both prompt and confuse. Although there are moments when they can just depress the girl and make her suffer even more. But she is not the only one who is rich with voices in her head. Her mother suffered from it, too; perhaps it runs in the family. Senua also constantly sees flashbacks to her past life and her family. Some of them she will have to relive. This story revolves around one man and his mental illness, which allows you to fully immerse yourself in the story and learn one thing. Can Senua, along with the mysterious voices and visions of her entire family, save her loved one? Although at times you're already starting to wonder if the girl made it all up in her head

Gameplay

The game is conditionally divided into two stages: solving puzzles and battles with enemies. We want to start with the combat system, because this part of the gameplay is the most interesting. More often we will meet the Northmen, that are divided into several types. Warrior with a sword, defender with a shield, sentry with an axe and Revenant. The latter has two axes and can throw them, as well as transform into a shadowy form and temporarily lose their attack vulnerability. To fight them Senua has only a sword, with which he can attack and block attacks, and "concentration," with which he can freeze time. A break from the battles will be helped by puzzles, most of them are not difficult, and frankly, some are as boring as possible, but still, after them you will find the continuation of the story, battles with the "Northmen" or battles with bosses. They should be mentioned separately. Each boss has a unique design and ability. How about the creature that rots and hides in the dark and protects the Gel, or the god of illusions, a hybrid of human and raven? In Hellblade, most of the battles are epic, brutal and brutal, which is what makes them memorable. A feature of the gameplay is also the dark rot that covers Senua's entire body. The rot spreads over the heroine's body until the last battle and symbolizes the girl's psychosis, consuming her more and more by the hour.

The world of the game

Do you remember many games whose events unfold in Scandinavian mythology? The most successful example is God Of War 2018, it's harder to remember further. Scandinavian mythology is not as popular as Greek mythology, which means that every new game in this style will offer something new. Such was the case when Senua went to the realm of the dead, not to Hades, but to Hel. This Scandinavian world is creepy and violent, with little appeal. Scary caves where you don't know what to expect. The lake of blood, where the heroine is hunted by dozens of northerners. Dark forests, where along with the memories of the past, a raven with blades is breeding. There will be no Odin, no Thor, no Loki. In this psychological and maddening journey will be the most terrible gods who have not heard of mercy or humanity. Hellblade skillfully plays with the color scheme. Only Senua is walking along a beach where the sun is shining, and a moment later it starts raining. Here the player is already exploring a bright Scandinavian forest, as in 5 minutes clouds hang over the forest, it's raining, and a boss battle is on the way. And this contrast from yellow to blue is almost everywhere. You don't have time to get used to any one thing and it keeps the momentum going. And the audio accompaniment is done in the best manner for Scandinavian mythology: energetic, driving, and in places heavy. Add voices sounding at every turn and the result is an atmosphere that's hard to forget.

For those who want to know more. How the game was developed

The game was developed by Ninja Theory, a small studio at the time, which created the game with its own funds. The studio paid much attention to the study of Scandinavian mythology and its characters. The developers constantly visited thematic museums and places, and shared their impressions with each other. This helped create the first concept art and set the development path. The world of the game began to be created without being tied to gameplay. This allowed the artists not to depend on the rest of the team, but to start creating the unique Scandinavian world right away.

One of the first concept-arts of the game (Art: Ninja Theory )

The team had an ambition to depict the heroine's psychosis based not on media, but on their own research. The developers consulted with neuroscientists as well as people suffering from psychosis. Most of the episodes depicting Senua's psychological disorders are exactly what people with similar illnesses experience in real life. In order to realistically record the voices sounding in the girl's head, the technique of binaural sound was used. Binaural recording is a method of capturing sound by placing two microphones in such a way that they hear the sound as well as the person. To do this, the team uses a microphone that mimics a person's head.

For our game, this allowed us to simulate voices in the head, a phenomenon that Senua encounters very often in our game. Thus, we intended to record the entire audio sequence using this method. Put on your headphones to hear the 3D binaural sound - Tamim Antoniades, developer of the game.

When I bought this game on sale for $5, I expected almost nothing from it. But honestly, it turned out to be a unique and unrepeatable gaming experience for me. From the first few minutes of hearing those voices and realizing that Senua has a mental illness, you want to get to the end and find out what happens next. At moments the game was too ugly with its scenes, reminiscent of a horror movie or a psychological thriller. Sometimes certain episodes even tickled my nerves and caused panic and fear. But the battles in the game I always liked. Especially the battle on the lake of blood. Also I recommend to pass the game with headphones only for full immersion into this Scandinavian world.

Alan Wake Remastered - writer wanted to relax in nature, but had to fight otherworldly creatures with a flashlight

Release Date: October 4, 2021

Platforms: XBOX, PC, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch

Metacritic Rating: 83/8.0

Developer: Remedy

Price in EGS: $30

Time to pass: 9-14 hours

Plot

Writer Alan Wake travels with his wife Alice to the quiet American town of Bright Falls (Bright Falls). The purpose of the trip is to overcome Alan's creative crisis and try to write another book. The couple settle in a house, located on the small island of Cauldron (Cauldron). But the same evening, Alan's wife disappears, and the hero wakes up in a car on the side of the road and can not understand anything. Alan tries to get to town and find someone, but first he encounters incomprehensible black creatures that resemble humans and are clearly unfriendly. After surviving the "hospitality" of the guests, Wake finds Sheriff Bright Falls, who takes the writer for a lunatic after his story. The only one who tries to help make sense of what is even going on in this town becomes the writer's best friend and agent, Bari. On his journey to find his wife, Alan, along with Bari and the other characters they meet, will have to figure out what's hanging over Bright Falls and why the town turns into a horror movie after the sun goes down. In parallel, Alan will find creepy manuscripts scattered around that look like his own, and the worst part is that the manuscripts begin to actively come true and the writer loses his sanity and plunges into darkness.

Gameplay

The story is divided into episodes, each one starting during the day, but soon it's nighttime, and that's where the fun begins. Alan has a specific goal in each episode: getting to or escaping from some place, finding a character, and just surviving another night looking for Alice. But in accomplishing these tasks, Wake will have several unpleasantnesses waiting for him. First are the people who are overrun by darkness, and Alan calls them "takens" (Takens). Also present are flocks of crows and objects flying directly at Alan. To fight them there is a revolver, a shotgun, a flash grenade, a pyrotechnic torch, a flare gun and a flashlight in the arsenal. The latter is a key feature. Before destroying teikens, they must be blinded by the flashlight and then attacked. This technique works with crows and objects. Only this must be approached intelligently, because you need batteries for the flashlight. I would not say that the passage would feel a big shortage of ammunition and batteries, but it is better to try to aim fire. The situation is simplified by the moments when you are allowed to drive a car. Thanks to the headlights you can do damage on the fly and not worry. The game also features boss battles. Not all of them are unique, but there are still huge flocks of crows, and there is even a battle with a bulldozer.

The world of the game

Bright Falls is executed in the best traditions of cozy American cities. Authentic cafes and gas stations, wooden houses, forest and lake, and the love of the locals for hunting animals. Alan has to go around almost the whole town. Construction sites, police station, asylum, downtown, hydroelectric power plant, bridges, forest, mine, train depot and that's not the whole list. Under the cover of night all these locations become terrifying and make you want to leave as quickly as possible. Also scattered everywhere paranormal phenomena, further increasing the fear. Events and locations change one after another, you want to go further and further. And when the story comes to an end, it gets really sad, because you want to be at Bright Falls again. The situation is saved by the story additions The Signal and The Writer, that will make you stay in the game for a few more hours. The world of Alan Wake turned out to be creepy and mysterious. On the one hand it is all frightening, and on the other hand the mysteries that have taken over this cozy place don't let the player go until the credits themselves. Although the game manages to offer some funny emotions, which dilute the ominous atmosphere and allow you to relax. The game has no problems with the soundtrack. There is an audio track for each situation, so it intensifies the emotions. They even created a prequel series "Bright Falls" about journalist Drake, who came to Bright Falls to be interviewed.

A still from the "Bright Falls" series (Photo: IMDb )

For those who want to know more. How the game was created.

The game was created by the Finnish studio Remedy, known for such games as Control, Quantum Break and Max Payne. At the beginning they wanted to create the game in the open world. The game was supposed to resemble a survival-horror, where the player collects supplies during the day and defends from creatures at night. According to the studio's creative director Sam Lake in an interview for ARS this approach created difficulties in development, and the concept had to be changed. At one point, the story had to show a volcano at all, leading to the evacuation of the city and leaving Alan alone with supernatural forces. It took the team a few years to finally decide what their game should be.

Alan Waco was influenced by many movies, books, and shows. Most of all the developers were inspired by the writer Stephen King. Also, some scenes were reminiscent of King's movie adaptation of the novel The Shining and his novel Christina. King agreed to use his work in the game. Remedy sent the writer a copy of the game in gratitude, but Stephen never played it, because he didn't have a game console. But King wasn't the only one who influenced Alan. Alfred Hitchcock's horror film The Birds inspired the developers to create flocks of crows. And Bright Falls, where they flew, drew inspiration from the early '90s TV series Twin Peaks. Although the developers also traveled over 3,000 miles across America to create the city we see in the game.

We wanted to take something that was familiar to people and create something new and unique to the game industry, but still familiar from other areas of artistic creation - the Remedy development team.

When I first started going through this game, I didn't even think to look up that it was specifically a horror game. I was sick of covid, glory days, and I needed a game to take my mind off it all. But already after the first episode I couldn't tear myself away from the incident in the mysterious Brytha Falls. And in just three days I got through the entire game and two additions. Alan Wake will be a great choice for those players who just want to try the Horror-Adventure genre. The adventure of Alan the writer will give an interesting story, good gameplay and horror atmosphere that is not based on clichéd scrimmers or antagonists that want to teach people to love life.

What is the future fate of this series of games?

Despite the fact that this trio didn't grab the stars from the sky and didn't get much attention, they managed to establish themselves and now all 3 studios are actively working on a sequel. Asobo Studio is already at the finish line in developing a direct sequel to A Plague Tale with the subtitle Requiem. In the world of the game, six months have passed from the events of Innocence. Amissia and Hugo head south in search of a new and peaceful life. But adventure has once again caught up with her sister and brother. Hugo's illness has worsened and Amissia must travel with him to a secret island where there may be the key to curing her younger brother. The world is becoming a more violent, disfigured place, and the rats are only increasing. Along with this have increased weapons, tools, magic, and variations in destroying the enemy. The release of A Plague Tale: Requiem is scheduled for Oct. 18 on XBOX Series X, PlayStation 5 and PC.

After the release of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Ninja Theory was bought by Microsoft. And now the development team does not need to spend the last cents of their wallet on voice acting or motion recording. Under the wing of Microsoft the processes must speed up and get better. The sequel to Hellblade is called Senua's Saga: Hellblade II. There are no plot details yet, it is only known that the game will focus on shamanism, and the events will unfold in Iceland. Ninja Theory explored forty locations in Iceland to scan them and transfer them to the game's engine. The team didn't even allow its level designers to invent new paths or structures in the locations. And one of the developers, Tamim Antoniades, said that the goal of Hellblade 2 is to create an experience that feels more believable and refined. According to Tamim, Senua's Saga will make the first Hellblade look like an indie game. No release date is yet known, but the game should appear on PC and XBOX Series X|S.

Remedy still hasn't recouped its development costs for Alan Wake Remaster, and despite the studio's struggles, it's working steadily on a sequel to the Alan Wake story. Remedy creative director Sam Lake said that all is well with the development of Alan Wake 2. The team has gotten serious about production, has plenty of material, and a short cut of the game is even playable. However, the studio is not yet ready to give more details. Alan Wake 2 was unveiled at The Game Awards last December, but has yet to receive a short story description. All we have: a trailer of the game and some concept art. The game is scheduled for release in 2023.

If you've been looking for something to play, you'll definitely like these 3 games. They didn't have a huge budget and advertising campaign when they were created, but the developers did their best to create quality projects that you want to mention over time. While the studios are working on sequels, there's a great opportunity to get to know these game worlds. And we'll keep looking for good games to talk about later.

For those who want to know more