Josh Bycer

A Trip Down Horror Lane: say cheese!

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While Fatal Frame 3 is of course the third in the series, it’s not necessary to play them all. Here’s what you need to know from the previous games: a magic camera busts Japanese ghosts.

But this is no Ghostbusters game. In Fatal Frame 3, the protagonist Rei has been cursed. Her curse caused a tattoo to slowly spread across her body. Once it’s complete, she is damned forever. Each night she dreams about the haunted Manor of Sleep. The secret to breaking the curse is somewhere in the manor. To make matters worse, Freddy Krueger rules are in effect: dying in the manor means dying in real life.

After the jump, I am afraid of some ghosts Continue reading →

A Trip Down Horror Lane: one approach to homelessness

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Although Monolith missed the mark with Fear, they came close to a bulls-eye with Condemned, a first person title with a focus on close range combat. You could pick up random items lying around to use against an army of insane hobos. The basic fighting system let you block and counterattack, which enemies could do as well. Fighting enemies was a chaotic in-your-face experience. Since different weapons had different attributes, you had to make sure you had the right weapon for the job. Larger weapons would hit harder, but were slower and harder to block with, for example. While there were guns available, ammo was always limited.

After the jump, hobo with a wrench Continue reading →

A Trip Down Horror Lane: forgetting how to fight

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Amnesia: The Dark Decent is a critically acclaimed game from Frictional Games, the makers of the Penumbra series. It completely failed as a horror experience. Every time I read that someone couldn’t finish or play Amnesia because they thought it was too scary, I mutter “lightweight” under my breath and laugh evilly for a few seconds. Amnesia has problems with design and tone. This isn’t the first horror game to remove combat, but it is the poster child for it.

After the jump, pacifist horror Continue reading →

A Trip Down Horror Lane: and you thought your family reunion was hellish

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Survival horror did not take as well on the PC compared to the consoles. Only a few PC games could be considered horror. The System Shock series, for instance. The Thief series featured scary sections, but they weren’t designed with horror in mind. In 2001, with help from horror writer Clive Barker, PC gamers got an amazing horror title to call their own.

After the jump, a double barreled family therapist Continue reading →

A Trip Down Horror Lane: the freakiest town in America

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Following the resurgence of the survival horror genre with Resident Evil, other developers attempted their own horror games. The first Silent Hill was compared to Resident Evil, as it shared the gameplay and basic combat system. However, the sequel for the Playstation 2 not only elevated the series to stand on its own, but also delivered one of the most atmospheric (and arguably disturbing) games around.

After the jump, trying to make sense of that image Continue reading →

A Trip Down Horror Lane: zombie rebirths in Resident Evil

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If we’re going to look at the horror genre, of course we have to start with the one that started it all: Resident Evil. Old school purists might call me out over that, citing Alone in the Dark as the first survival horror game. Even older school purists might cite Sweet Home for the NES. Regardless, just as Capcom changed the action genre with Devil May Cry, the same is true for survival horror with Resident Evil.

After the jump, got a light? Continue reading →

A Trip Down Horror Lane: Splatterhouse’s warm fuzzy feeling

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My appreciation for the horror genre has changed over the years. When I was younger, I was a huge baby, afraid of the dark, needles, bugs, and so on. When I was four years old, I couldn’t play the Adventures of Lolo because one of the characters scared me.

But I haven’t felt fear in a long time. Two leg surgeries and chronic pain are an excellent one-two punch to being scared of things like videogames. I’ve been trying to find a game that can scare me for the last few years. Nothing has managed to do the job.

After the jump, I’m going to dropkick some skeletons out of my closet Continue reading →

Five RPGs that Break the Rules: The World Ends with You

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I’ve saved the most unique for last. I have a love-hate relationship with Square Enix’s games. I’m not a huge fan of their bread and butter Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy series, which fall into the category of typical JRPGs. I enjoy when they do something different, such as Chrono Trigger or Kingdom Hearts. In fact, the only reason I tried Final Fantasy 12 was because I read that all the hardcore fans hated it. Turned out it was one of my favorite games that year.

After the jump, Square Enix gets trippy Continue reading →

Five RPGs that Break the Rules: Demon’s Souls

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Demon’s Souls has had one hell of a story. The game was originally set to be published by Sony who dropped it because they felt it wasn’t going to sell. It turned into one of the must-have games for the Playstation 3. In fact, Demon’s Souls was the first game I bought for the Playstation 3 from word of mouth alone. And I bought it three months before I actually owned the system.

After the jump, the wonderful world of constant death Continue reading →

Five RPGs that Break the Rules: Etrian Odyssey 3

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Etrian Odyssey 3 is really the cop-out on my list. It is the most classic RPG design. When the series was first announced, the lead designer said in an interview that he wanted to bring back classic design, and that he looked at the Wizardry series for inspiration. However, while the game’s design came from the past, it featured several major renovations to the formula that make it stand out.

After the jump, a retro role playing game revival Continue reading →

Five RPGs that Break the Rules: Resonance of Fate

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Yes, that’s a scene from an RPG.

A typical role playing game asks the player to stare at a list of commands, deciding which one he wants, followed by the same animation playing out each time. Resonance of Fate asks the player to run straight at an enemy, shooting it so he goes flying into the air, then jumping after it shooting it some more so that he slams into the ground doing additional damage, and, yes, this is still an RPG.

After the jump, turn-based bullet-time Continue reading →