One of the wonderful things about horror is that it doesn’t usually take much to take root in your mind especially late at night, alone at home. It can be immensely engulfing or leave you standing back yelling at the screen for someone not to go in there. It’s in this way that a game can be even more immersive than a movie because you are controlling what happens on the screen, you are making decisions that will affect the outcome of the storyline. This storyline doesn’t have to be long to be engaging, the demo P.T put out to tease Silent Hills is a great example. We will probably never see Silent Hills come to be but P.T., which takes place in just a single hallway, will do down as a great horror game even if it is a bit short. It is with the idea that horror games don’t need to be multi-million dollar productions or be 20 hours long that DreadXP has compiled a collection of 10 teaser length projects called the Dread X Collection.
The concept is simply this: 10 different indie video game developers were given the task of creating a game in 7 days with the idea of a P.T. style teaser in mind. The developers were free to do any style of game they want to as long as they complete it on schedule then DreadXP, the sister site to Dread Central, packaged the 10 games together into the selections below.
The first game I hopped into was one made by the developers of Soda Drinker Pro called Rotgut. The title is done is a sprawling writing that looks like maybe a kid’s writing done with crayon. The game is about going to a rave in the woods and starting to experience things which may be an awakening of bad things… or maybe you gotten dosed and you have to walk it off. This game is a prime example as to why you should always have a buddy system when partying. Deciding that the rave is too boring the player eventually starts walking down a long tunnel covered in weird graffiti. After seeming to walk forever things definitely take a twist as the game slowly builds up suspense. Going for a mix between P.T. with Soda Drinker, Rotgut gets odd if not necessarily scary which is about what you would expect from SDP developers. Definitely have headsets on because the sound plays a big part. In my opinion this is the weakest of the games with glitches tha are fine with a 7 day build but it doesn’t seem to fully stick the conclusion either.
Mr. Bucket Told Me To:
The name of the game kind of loans itself to being interesting, my first thought was of Wilson in Castaway of he had been a sand castle building bucket at the beach. Generally when inanimate objects tell you to do something it’s not a very good thing and this really is no different. Unlike in Castaway though things get a lot less hospitable when the sun goes down and the freaks come out at night. Also unlike Tom Hanks in that movie you have a whole bunch of “friends” wearing drawn on smiley faces like Mr. Towel, Mr. Spear and we can’t forget Mr. Bowl who tells the greatest jokes. You get the picture. Will having more friends make the night’s go by better or just give you more to worry about in the darkness? Liked the ending song too. Short but looks nice.
The Pay Is Nice:
The Pay Is Nice is a very narrative game where you play a scientist working for a clandestine company that apparently got head hunted and offered your current job. What is it? Well you’ll have to play the game to find out, though one thing you can say no matter what: the pay is nice. The narrator is starting his day, storing things in his personal locker, entering high security sections with intimidating doors and low ambient light which brings the impression of underground or at a minimum you are going deeper and deeper into a facility. The character you are playing seems a little odd, he randomly tells you some very personal information which seems to have very little to do with his job where “the pay is nice”. It reminds me a lot of the original Alone in the Dark where you have a downward 3rd person angle of the character that you are moving around in a large dimly lit place. It’s a bit short and really does feel like the intro to a game. If this were a P.T. style teaser for a game I would definitely give the game a play. As long as the price is nice.
Don’t Go Outside:
This game is really unique and learning how to play it is part of the challenge. It has old school Super Nintendo level graphics mixed with a kind of Blizzard Hearthstone card playing game. You cruise around a dark dungeon with a tight time limit using real time strategy movement and playing cards you have been dealt to try to get through it. Using great sound effects and and a slasher style font odds are you will be playing this game a few times over just to get used to the brutal gameplay, and that’s a good thing. You get a feeling of accomplishment doing good in this game. Not gonna say much more about this than I want this teaser to become a game badly.
This is the game I was anticipating the most, the trailer I saw for it showed it to have an almost P.T. style game while still being it’s own. The graphics are nice quality almost photo realistic as you cruise around a house looking for… something. You find yourself eventually going outside… which the name of the game kinda warns you that you may have wanted to stay inside instead. Making me think of a creepier nighttime version of Children Of The Corn I found myself wishing I had put a baseball diamond in place of the cornfield so that all I only had to worry about old ball players. Make sure you don’t give up after the first time, it changes between playthroughs making it a definite winner for a teaser because if you find yourself playing a demo more than once odds are you would love the full length game. Dear Developers at Mahelyk, please use this as a proof of concept and get a whole game made out of it. Dear Players, make sure you play until the end. This was my favorite of the lot.
Hand Of Doom:
Doooooommm! Gloooooom! How about a magic themed game with a Doom or Wolfenstein 3D level of graphics (bad enough to make the connection but cleaner than their predecessors)and a great creepy soundtrack? Playing it took me back the years to those other games so fast and yet I could appreciate it’s focus on casting instead of shooting which made it smarter than just point and shoot. To open doors you need one spell, to light up something you need another. All spells consist of ETH, ORT, TAL, and IST (possibly a bit of blood here and there too). Their order, repetition and whether or not one is used at all depends on the spell. Basically it’s a fun puzzler dropped into an old school FPS. It easily was my second favorite of these games and had a nice amount of playtime. I really want a game, maybe a series of them, made from this.
A game that has nice graphics when you can see them, Carthanc is a first person dungeon crawler with an updated puzzle system where instead of shooting a gun you set up a flood light. In a tomb with limited oxygen you need to solve the light and darkness of the dead pharaohs without annoying the screaming, fast-moving spirits. Negotiating this game is hard and fast which might result in more than one run at a section of it, the sooner you are comfortable with this the more you will appreciate working along through some decently difficult parts. Right about the time I got particularly in my groove it was the end. Please make this, it’s definitely a great start.
Shatter starts out with a bit of a different starter screen, it lets you choose an empty slot to save your game to. Some of the other games may have offered different difficulty levels so players can still get the whole story if they aren’t that great with that style of play but want to know the story. I think this is the only one I remember that let’s you save your play which I always appreciate on a game. I might not put the save system to use but I always like knowing it’s there if I decide to, so that say I’m playing at the office on lunch I can save it and finish it the next day.
Of course being able to save gameplay doesn’t matter much if the gameplay isn’t worth coming back to. This game also has an old Wolfenstein 3D low graphic feel as you travel through a maze of destroyed streets, cars, toilets (there is a used full bowl you pass) and the background is destroyed skyscrapers. You find out that “Gods rule everything outside London” in the shape of giant pink murder hornets which I have to admit look kinda scary when they are the size of a house. There is an actual story in this game and missions to complete which is even more impressive considering they only had a week for the entire game.
This is one of the games I was most looking forward to since I was just about the perfect age for Tiger handheld games when they hit the scene and owned a few over the years, some bought new others at garage sales. Over time they went by the wayside though due to inactivity which made this game that much more inviting.
The screen looks just like one of the handheld games to the point of even having art around the screen and controls on the screen just for appearances. Using WASD you move your little guy across the old school LCD looking screen to collect mushrooms and falling stars while dodging monkeys throwing their poop onto the screen to block you. Bigger badass bad guys show up as you progress all while you are starting to run low on batteries which means game over. It’s fairly simple but quickly addictive and feels like a complete mini game though I wouldn’t mind a longer version coming out with more creepy foes and things to collect. Make sure you play all the way until the end…
The Pony Factory:
This was another title I was looking forward to playing and it didn’t disappoint. It goes for a noir feel right off the top with everything being black and white and lots of dark spaces and tunnels in a basement maze of damaged walls and piles of who knows what on the ground you have to walk on. Just so you know you have a reason to be concerned, also a reason to want to keep your bolt gun close, sometimes the game will allow a little more color… like red for blood. I highly recommend playing it in the dark and with headphones on. Just not before bed though, you might not find yourself getting much sleep afterwards. The game even has multiple difficulty levels and a “Lights Out” mode. Very nice work.
The Dread X Collection is a great demonstration of using demonstrations as an art form and even with that challenge they only had 7 days/nights to do it in. The results really are both fun and amazing, I have spent more money on far worse games than most in this collection. A couple are a bit rough but when considering the time restriction it’s crazy they aren’t all a sheer mess, yet alone having some real gaming gems in the midst. The price is only $6.99 which is stunning and part of the money goes to Doctors Without Borders dedicated to dealing with COVID19 out in the field. Helping the world and getting some great gameplay for a remarkable price? That should tip the scales in the worth it category if they needed tipping. Now give these developers money so they can take care of the cliffhangers and give us some full length games!