Op-Ed, Video Games

Games with Amazing Environments: Horror Edition

A good setting is vital to a video game. While good gameplay can carry a game, a great environment with that gameplay takes it that next step. When talking about in game worlds there are so many different ones that deserve credit. It’s almost impossible to narrow down the list to just a few. The following are a few that deserve credit, in the horror genre, as being some of the best worlds to be explored by gamers. Whether impressive in their size, detail, or just aesthetically appealing these worlds are great to explore.

Dante’s Inferno

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While it doesn’t have the most unique gameplay, Dante’s Inferno does really shine in it’s environment. This game does a great job interpreting the epic poem about an artist’s journey through hell. Each one of the levels has a unique look to it and paints a vivid picture of what that level of hell is supposed to represent. Lust is stormy, Greed covered in rivers of melted gold, and Treachery portrays an icy world. Aside from the levels themselves Inferno also highlights other features mentioned in the poem, like the rivers of blood, and individual parts of the larger levels. Inferno can be disturbing, and it’s no surprise that it made people uncomfortable. However, if you are going to take a work of literature and put it into a game it’s the details that are important. Inferno doesn’t turn away from being disturbing, it is supposed to be an interpretation of hell. Instead it embraces it and makes a dark and screwed up environment. It’s worth playing to experience seeing the poem brought to life.

Dead Space

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The Ishimura is one of the scariest game environments that many gamers have ever played in. It’s dark, bloody, and terrifying. The setting can make or break a horror game, and in the case of Dead Space the Ishimura makes it. Gamers feel isolated and trapped within The Ishimura not wanting to go further, but being forced to. Add in the awesome moments of being in space and they’ve created a recipe for a setting that is both awesome and scary.

Bioshock

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While Bioshock borrowed gameplay elements from the System Shock series, the world it’s set in is brand new. Rapture is a brilliant mix of art deco and sci-fi elements, it’s very easy to get sucked into this game. The Bioshock franchise hasn’t stopped with that game. The follow up managed to expand on Rapture, while honoring what made it so amazing in the first place. Infinite took gamers out of Rapture and into another setting, this time in the sky instead of under the sea.

Silent Hill

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In large part Silent Hill gets it’s place because it’s impossible to think of horror “locations” without thinking of Silent Hill. A town shaped by tragedy that has seen better days, and the Otherworld of Silent Hill. Corroded, dark, and filled with enemies that just want to see you die. There is so much about Silent Hill to hate, and yet we as gamers love it. The older games were masters of atmosphere with the fog, lighting, and feeling that you would never actually be safe.

Alan Wake

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A strong environment feels especially important in horror games. Alan Wake may have mixed reviews for it’s actual gameplay, but the setting is truly scary. Darkness surrounds the world of Alan Wake, and the isolated town is finely detailed. Be it the actual town that reminds the gamer of Twin Peaks, or the forests, or the ultra creepy corn fields, Alan Wake keeps the gamer in an interesting and ultra creepy environment. This dark atmosphere serves this game well, adding to the fear and holding the player in.

Eternal Darkness

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Eternal Darkness moves the player through many different characters, settings, and even times. It’s a terrifying game that challenges players to push themselves through a game with challenging enemies and puzzles, as well as an unforgiving sanity meter. The icing on the cake to make this game horrifying is the settings. They are all dark and richly detailed. The Cathedral especially stands out for gamers as being a terrifying setting in the game. Eternal Darkness fills its environment, with blood, bodies, and a dark atmosphere. Having such a terrifying environment is part of what makes gamers feel so trapped. This is a key element in horror games and Eternal Darkness does not disappoint.

Video Games

The Best and the Worst Video Game Twists

previously published on 30plusgamer, a no longer active site

Twists can add a real umph to whatever you are experiencing, they can also completely cut it down and leave you wanting. Both good and bad twists can incite a large reaction, and video games have had their fair share of both.

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

Best Video Game Twists

Would You Kindly/Andrew Ryan Is Your Dad- Bioshock

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I combine these two because both of these mind blowing twists are revealed at the same time pretty much. You discover that the man that has been guiding you through Rapture is actually the main baddie of the story. Not only that but he has control over your mind with the phrase, “would you kindly”. It’s safe to say that the second play through of this game you become very aware of just how often you are told “would you kindly”, and what the implications are.

To add to that moment you also discover that Andrew Ryan is your character’s father. Ryan is not much better than all the others that played their parts in destroying Rapture, but the confrontation with him does shed a lot of light on his motivations. It also sheds light on the fact that he knows you are a slave and then has you kill him. Combine the two and you have a huge amount of “what the hell?!” that flies at you.

It Was Really James- Silent Hill 2

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James is searching the town of Silent Hill because he is called there by his dead wife. He is haunted by their memories, tormented by Pyramid Head, and just plain broken because of her death. Of course it turns out that James is in fact the person who killed his wife. Depending on how you play the game there are a few different outcomes that follow this, but it’s a very shocking moment. James, up until that point, seemed rather devoted to his wife, and even stood by her when she was dying from an illness. Turns out, not so much. It turns out that the punishment of Silent Hill is his own guilt over killing her.

The Nuke- Call of Duty Modern Warfare

It’s pretty awesome when a game makes you think “Was I just Nuked?” and yes, yes you were. It’s something that kind of takes you by surprise. What makes the whole nuking even more dramatic is the fact that your character doesn’t die from the blast. No, instead you have a few more first person moments that allow you to think “no I might make it” then nope, you die.

John Marsten Dies Anyways- RDR

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After playing through the game, John has done everything asked of him. He turned his back on his old friends, he worked for the government to do what they felt he owed. Hell, he even redeemed himself in more ways than one along the way. John did everything asked of him to get his family returned and to live his life. Ultimately though it doesn’t matter. John is gunned down by the very people that he worked for and it’s taken away. It’s a rather heartbreaking moment though, and a twist that is actually needed, as sad as it is. It ultimately ties up the game, and the message there of, in a sad but suiting way.

Samus is a Girl- Metroid

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Really the plot twist is not so much a plot twist. It’s also lame by today’s standards when compared to the rest of what gaming plot twists have to offer. However at the time it was pretty mind blowing. Get through the game and you are rewarded with the knowledge that this whole time you’ve been playing not as a badass dude, but a badass lady. A+

Worst

The Cannibal Family- The Walking Dead, Episode 2

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It’s not that the twist is bad per se, rather it’s that it’s so predictable. From the moment you meet the bunch you know that something is up with them. They take you to their farm blah blah blah, then you find out they are cannibals. There seems to be little attempt to hide that this is coming, yet it’s still billed as a shocking reveal. If you are a fan of horror you should have seen this coming a mile away. It’s still a good episode, just a bad twist.

The Precursors Are What?- Jak 3

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It started with Jak and Daxter, the mystery of the precursors. Who were they, and why are they gone? They left insane technology behind, and it’s an ever present question throughout the games. Even with traveling to the future in Jak II, and all the other issues that came up the over all, the mystery of the precursors was there. So Jak 3 finally reveals the great secret. That they are the damn ottsels like Daxter and make the whole thing a joke. It’s kind of a slap in the face after wondering, and days spent on these three games to ultimately have the whole thing feel rushed and giving the gamer more questions than answers.

The Origami Killer- Heavy Rain

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There seems to be people on either side of this being one of the best and one of the worst plot twists in gaming history. Finding out that the killer was Scott Shelby is a moment that may people say “they never saw coming”. However, the argument can be made that the reason you never saw it coming is because there is a massive plot hole in Scott being the killer, namely that he couldn’t have killed one of the victims because he was in a different room. Ultimately it’s just kind of a let down, and a twist that depends on gamers ignoring a few things to buy it.

It Was All a Dream- Super Mario Bros 2

If I am being completely honest the whole “it was just a dream” is generally a crappy twist regardless of if it’s a game, movie, book, whatever. It takes a lot to pull this ending off without it completely and totally sucking. It is possible, just not likely. Super Mario Bro 2 did not pull it off. It’s annoying, unsatisfying, and kind of lazy.

It Was Jill- Resident Evil 5

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Oh shocking the hooded figure was Jill? No way, I did not see that coming at all. The game kind of keeps slapping you over the head with Jill this and Jill that, then we are supposed to be shocked when we come face to face with her? The only reason why the twist might have shocked some people is it takes way too long to get there, so they might have forgotten there was a hooded figure by the time of the big reveal.