Skip to main content

Horrifying games

I'm not much for Horror Novels and while I've read lots of Stephen King I've more or less avoided all his scary books. I never saw the point of it. I had however read one of his horror novellas: The Mist which I completely enjoyed.  When I was in Japan, nursing a broken collarbone that kept me indoors for months, I entertained myself playing with the Play Station. I had a couple of games two of which proved to be amazing ones. One was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which had a lot of nostalgia Gothic flavor and the other one was Silent Hill.

Playing Silent Hill was an altogether new experience for me. This game did it right, it felt like you were playing a horror novel or a good horror movie. Before actually reading the Mist, I had heard a radio play done in 3-D audio which was utterly fantastic (and better than the decent movie Frank Darabont did a few years back). Silent Hill felt like you were there. Surrounded by the mists, that rolled off the sea in the little fishing town I lived in. But even better was the sound design, the subtle alarms that sounded in the background seemed to be coming from outside and only when the game was turned off did you realize they were in fact in the game. No other game had created such a feeling of tension that I actually jumped once when a friend knocked at the door.

Silent Hill 2 followed up on the first game and managed to still be scary even though it had more or less the same mechanics. However since then most horror games, like Resident Evil (called BioHazard in Japan) are more action games that derive their tension mostly from scarcity of ammo or from jumping-cat in frame tricks. That is till last year...

Frictional Games a indie game producer which was mostly famous for being one of the few developers at the time that released games for the Linux platform (now many do -- yay!!) came out with their new game Amnesia: Dark Descent.

I had bought Frictional Games' previous games, the Penumbra series and I hadn't been impressed. I bought them on sale and mostly to help the developers. So I had low expectations for Amnesia. Which were quickly blown away.

Amnesia is a seriously scary game. While Silent Hill was the game that made me jump, Amnesia is the game that made me queasy, seriously nauseous and dizzy. And it did it without cats jumping into frames. It achieves it in a few cool ways: you are unarmed and you feel vulnerable for real, then the longer you stay in the darkness the quicker you loose your mind and see hallucinations. And when something really scary happens your character gets vertigo and the moving camera is truly disorienting.   And finally taking a page from the Mist in 3-D Audio it does it with sound. In no other game is the wind slamming the door shut behind you so scary. Footsteps are not only indicative of a monster roaming nearby but also just background noise that seems to keep you on your toes.

Amnesia also uses the limited ammo mechanic but instead of ammo, you have tinder boxes to create light. Light that preserves sanity, while darkness quickly takes it away...

The game itself is a bit of the same old explore and puzzles but it's the ambiance that really creates the game.

This is yet another great indie game, like Braid and Aquaria, available for the Linux (and Mac) platform.

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How to configure Ubuntu's keyboard to work like a Mac's

Typing accents on a PC is a complicated Alt + three numbered code affair. One feels like a sorcerer casting a spell. "I summon thee accented é! I press the weird magical key Alt, and with 0191 get the flipped question mark!" For a bilingual person this meant that writing on the computer was a start-and-stop process. With Mac's it a whole lot easier, just Alt + e and the letter you wanted for accents and alt + ? for the question mark. No need to leave the keyboard for the number pad and no need to remember arcane number combinations or have a paper cheat sheet next to the keyboard, as I've seen in virtually every secretaries computer in Puerto Rico.

Linux has a interesting approach to foreign language characters: using a compose key. You hit this key which I typically map to Caps Lock and ' and the letter you want and voilá you get the accent. Kinda makes sense: single quotation mark is an accent, double gets you the ümalaut, works pretty well. Except for the ñ, wh…

Fixing Autocomplete in Github's Atom Text Editor for Ruby

I really like Github's Atom Text Editor. I really like that it's multi-platform allowing me to master one set of skills that is transferable to all platforms and all machines. 

On thing that just burns me of the default set-up in Atom is the Autocomplete feature that seems to change my words as a type them. Because Ruby uses the end of line as a terminus for a statement you usually finish a word with pressing the return button and you get really annoying changes to your finished typed word a la MS Word. I find myself yelling "No that's not what I wrote!" at the screen in busy coffee shops.

I disabled autocomplete for a while but it is a very useful function. Then I found out they changed the package that gave the autocomplete to a new one called "Autocomplete Plus" that gives you more options. All that I needed to change to make autocomplete sane again:

1. Open Atom's Preferences
2. Search the bundled packages for "Autocomplete Plus"

3. Go to t…

Contrasting Styles of Writing: English vs. Spanish

There is interestingly enough a big difference between what's considered good writing in Spanish and English. V.S. Naipul winner of the 2001 Nobel prize for literature publish an article on writing. In it he emphasizes the use of short clear sentences and encourages the lack of adjectives and adverbs. Essentially he pushes the writer to abandon florid language and master spartan communication. This is a desired feature of English prose, where short clipped sentences are the norm and seamlessly flow into a paragraph. In English prose the paragraph is the unit the writer cares about the most.

This is not the case in Spanish where whole short stories (I'm thinking this was Gabriel Garcia Marquez but maybe it was Cortázar) are written in one sentence. Something so difficult to do in English that the expert translator could best manage to encapsulate the tale in two sentences. The florid language is what is considered good writing in Spanish but unfortunately this has lead to what …