John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Spooky Adventure Games

Suddenly I find myself in my periodic mood for a spooky adventure game. The Lost Crown was the last one I played, and I enjoyed it quite a bit when I wasn't being frustrated with it, but I don't know that I'm up to watching Nigel Danvers glide-walk painfully slowly around a seaside village in Kent again just now. I think I'd like something a little less ghostly and a little more weirdly this time around, probably because of all the Lovecraft I've been reading lately.

Problem is, short of The Lurking Horror there doesn't seem to be much in the Lovecraftian adventure market. There are plenty of "survival horror" games with a bit of Lovecraftiana tossed in — sirfox tried to turn me on to one called Eternal Darkness that had fun with "sanity" effects, and I was kinda-sorta interested in it, except for the fact that I had to keep shooting zombies with shotguns. Peculiar as it may sound, I don't want the imminent death of my character by something jumping out from behind a wall and attacking my health meter to be a factor in a horror game. That emotion, assuming it conjures up something other than "annoyance" or "amusement" is terror, not horror.

See, what I really want isn't a "horror" game at all, but a "weird tale" game — it's kind of a hard distinction to make other than to point and say "Yes, that's it!" or "No, that's not it." But what makes a weird tale weird, is that its essential premise is that on some level, the world just doesn't work the way you think it does, and you have to come to terms with that, as opposed to a horror story, which is about either scaring the pants off of you or making you toss your lunch, depending on when it was made and the intelligence of the creator.

So for instance, if Eternal Darkness hadn't had all that mucking about with forcing you to fight waves of zombies, it would have been closer to a weird tale, but since it was spending so much time trying to make you afraid that "you" were about to die, it was more of a horror, see?

There's more to the topic than that; my ideal version of such game would probably be half 1930s Sim anyway, or at least be heavily themed in that direction, with a cozy-style mystery that gradually unfolds into some sort of cosmic horror. Think The Dagger of Amon-Ra, except that at the end the murderer turns out not to have been an art-smuggling cop [1], but an ancient Egyptian wizard trying to bring forth Apep to devour the world. Or something along those lines.

And spooky. But without any real combat to speak of.

-The Gneech

[1] Is it possible to spoil a long-OOP Sierra adventure game from 1991?
Tags: adventure, fantasy, gaming
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