The Pixelated Ghosts of Horror Games Past Are Haunting Us This Year

After years of admiring it from a distance, I recently began my very first playthrough of Silent Hill 2. To say it shows its age would be an understatement; spoiled by such modern accoutrements as free camera control and single dedicated attack buttons, I often found myself struggling against the game. But as I got a handle on the clunky controls, I became enmeshed in its fearsome world.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/nep5a7/low-poly-horror-games-returned-2018
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It’s interesting to see how age and transition have changed different franchises for the worst and for the better.

Silent Hill 2, to me, still stands as one of the best pieces of horror fiction every brought to video games. The weird controls elevate it, enhancing the fear, and though they are frustrating, you feel that’s the point. Silent Hill Homecoming and beyond tried to make those controls better, and they seemed to lose the thread about what makes the Silent Hill games great.

But alternatively… Resident Evil 7 has come out, taking the tank controls of before and making them tighter, and yet it’s one of the best horror games to have come out this generation.

If you had told me I’d have genuine fears on the scale of Silent Hill 2 in RE7 years ago, I would have laughed. RE looked like it would never have that tone, with how RE 5 and Umbrella Corps were. But then RE7 put an old lady in a wheelchair at the end of a dark hallway, and there you have it… Genius fear-crafting on scale with a Silent Hill game.

To see the franchises flip in tone, with the schlock that was RE becoming a brilliant Texas Chainsaw homage, and Silent Hill becoming bad movies, pachinko machines, and cancelled demos… It’s just weird.

Also, on the topic of Indie horror games, I’ve been following this one called Beware a bit. It’s set entirely in a car:

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Thanks for this article! It’s definitely got me interested in Paratopic: I was unsure about it because the “Lynch and smash cuts” reminded me of Virginia (which imo used neither of those elements particularly well), but the fact that the designer mentions my favourite term “hauntology” means that I’m definitely confident in what they’re doing.

Stuff like Yume Nikki, Anodyne, Petscop, etc. has gotten me massively into the idea that games can be a really interesting vehicle for the sort of “warped nostalgia” / studies in hauntology that I find really interesting. The fact that Silent Hill 2, the PS1 is very much “my era” has got me very intrigued.

Basically, thanks for writing an article that mentions both Silent Hill and Mark Fisher

On another side note, Silent Hills 2 through 4 have this very peculiar association in my mind, partly for their sheer unavailability now. I’m kind of happy to accept they probably won’t live beyond being my memories of playing them (appropriately) on a tiny CRT in my boxy old childhood bedroom