Sadly, 2021 was nonetheless largely haunted by the ghost of 2020, and as such, escapism remained a significant element of day-to-day life. Fortunately, there was loads of it on provide.
2021 marked an enormous 12 months for maybe the largest identify in horror video games, Resident Evil. Not solely did the sequence rejoice its twenty fifth anniversary, however the eighth mainline sport was additionally launched and proved there was nonetheless loads within the tank for the franchise’s future. Elsewhere, Silent Hill 2 turned 20 with rumblings of recent entries within the franchise sadly nonetheless simply that. Nostalgia was nicely rewarded in 2021, with ports and stellar remasters of revered classics resembling Alan Wake, Quake, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors among the many restored hits.
While it’d be good to only swim in a sea of hazy sentimentality, 2021 had loads of new video games to find as nicely. One factor that struck me this 12 months was the sheer number of horror experiences on provide. A lot in order that I struggled to maintain it at simply ten. So first up, just a few honorable mentions that, for numerous causes, didn’t fairly make the ultimate ten.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood: Shallow as a puddle in so some ways, however let me let you know, I actually loved being a hulking eco-warrior who can flip into a daily wolf and a monstrous werewolf.
Deathloop: Look, Deathloop is improbable. I find it irresistible lots, and slapped the entire 5 skulls on it for this very web site, however it could be a bit a lot to have it adorn a prime 10 of the 12 months for horror. Violent, bloody, and glorious it could be, but it surely leans additional into sci-fi than horror.
The Final Stand: Aftermath: A stable apocalypse survival sport that performs out like a severe tackle Dying Highway to Canada.
Nix Umbra: A deceptively easy rating assault sport setup results in an unsettling, visually-captivating folks horror expertise
Jupiter Hell: Doom as a top-down, turn-based sport? That’s primarily what Jupiter Hell is, and it pulls it off fairly nicely.
Christmas Bloodbath: Proper on the dying, Puppet Combo dropped a festive rating assault sport the place you’re a serial killer, racking up kills towards the general public while dressed as Santa. Beautiful.
Proper then, onto the Finest Horror (and sure, generally horror adjoining) Video games of 2021. Clearly, these are my private picks, and as such, if one thing isn’t right here that you simply suppose needs to be, I didn’t play it or didn’t get on with it as a lot as the remaining. As ever, your personal private picks for video games of the 12 months are greater than welcome within the feedback part beneath!
Tormented Souls (Developer: Twin Impact – Format: Multi)
A throwback survival horror with a PS2-era perspective, Tormented Souls is honest sufficient with its schlocky melodramatic try to recreate the likes of Haunting Floor and Rule of Rose to be forgiven for a few of its technical misgivings.
The work of a small studio is sort of spectacular right here, particularly within the element of its creepy previous non-public hospital setting. I doubt it is going to find yourself gaining something just like the cult standing of the video games it’s impressed from, however Tormented Souls invokes the spirit of them fantastically.
Returnal (Developer: Housemarque – Format: PS5)
Extra sci-fi motion than horror? Sure, you can certainly say that of Returnal. But my largest takeaway from it was that of horror. From the Giger-esque environments of its alien world of Atropos, to the cosmic horror monstrosities that inhabit it, and within the unusual occurrences that blight protagonist Selene, Returnal is all ambiance and dread.
What actually sells it’s the punishing arcade-inspired fight. Each motion feels vital to Selene’s ongoing survival, and figuring out the consequence of falling to the tendrils or power blasts of one among Atropos’ nastier inhabitants is a visit again to the beginning that manages to be exhilarating the place it may simply have been irritating.
Again 4 Blood (Developer: Turtle Rock – Format: Multi)
To try to seize the lofty heights of Left 4 Useless is a daring alternative, and this 12 months alone, there have been just a few makes an attempt, however for Turtle Rock Studios, to take action was private. Having its personal storied historical past with Valve’s zombie shooter sequence, there was a lot expectation at hand when it introduced Again 4 Blood.
Was it met? No, it by no means actually may, however the effort to proceed that legacy is honest, and at its greatest, Again 4 Blood doles out explosive, nervy co-op motion in spades.
Bloodwash (Developer: Black Eyed Priest, Henry Hoare – Format: PC)
Torture Star revealed this punchy, dirty slice of retro horror set virtually fully in an remoted laundromat at the hours of darkness. The remit of Torture Star is brief sharp horror video games with an unsettling throwback aesthetic and Bloodwash ticks these packing containers while nonetheless managing to be its personal factor.
What I particularly take pleasure in about Bloodwash is how nicely it captures the sensation of current within the mundane throughout the hours when everybody else is asleep or partying. Bloodwash’s 24/7 laundromat and neighboring shops exude a seedy, again of past ambiance lengthy earlier than a killer reveals up.
In Sound Thoughts (Developer: We Create Stuff – Format: Multi)
To make any type of assertion in first-person horror video games as of late, you both must shake up the standard concepts or present a meticulous understanding of the right way to make the most of them correctly. Each collectively can be good, although…
In Sound Thoughts largely goes for the previous, by carving its trippy story into a number of distinct sections, every knowledgeable by the psychological problems with a selected affected person of the psychiatrist protagonist, who’s himself cursed with a supernatural entity forcing its manner into his psyche.
Sure, there’s smatterings of the trope-laden stuff that makes you roll your eyes, but it surely’s used as cement for the extra attention-grabbing bricks of ingenuity and vibrancy used to construct the home of In Sound Thoughts’s typically psychedelic journey into insanity.
Sunshine Manor (Developer: Fossil Video games – Format: Multi)
Whereas Sunshine Manor takes extra apparent inspiration from video games resembling Earthbound and Undertale, its spooky mansion setting, stuffed with ghosts to bust, and secrets and techniques to uncover, brings to thoughts Luigi’s Mansion by means of Resident Evil’s Spencer Property.
Key to the sport’s attraction, nonetheless, is its darkish humor positioned subsequent to its lovely 8-bit visible type. You actually wouldn’t anticipate a sport a couple of psychic little one surviving a home of a possessed serial killer and spirits to look this cute.
Resident Evil Village (Developer: Capcom – Format: Multi)
No doubt, Resident Evil Village is the largest horror sport of 2021, and such expectations hold heavy on it. So it’s fairly a aid that Village doesn’t get too slowed down with that weight, and presents surprises among the many familiarity.
Certain, moving into anticipating an entire heap of meme magnet Woman Dimitrescu would depart you disillusioned, however I’d argue the sport’s strengths lay away from the tall vamp. Village finally ends up getting the stability of absurd melodrama and gore-splattered nastiness that makes an awesome Resident Evil nearly proper.
Within the sport’s second space I discovered among the best issues to come back out of a Resi sport in years, and it’s a departure from system in addition. the place for those who’ve performed it. How may you overlook?
Spookware (Developer: Beeswax Video games – Format: PC)
The extra observant (or simply extra invested) amongst you may have a look at Spookware on this listing and go ‘hold on there for a minute, you place this in final 12 months’s honorable mentions!’ and also you’d be proper in a manner. That is nonetheless Spookware within the sense it has the identical primary thought of a goofy horror model of Wario Ware, but it surely’s an entire different sport that’s greater and higher.
Now the Wario Ware-style micro-games are simply an ingredient in a genuinely amusing RPG a couple of trio of skeleton brothers occurring an afterlife-changing highway journey that takes in highschool commencement, cooking, and a homicide thriller on a cruise ship.
Every little thing that made the comparatively small iteration of Spookware from final 12 months so endearing is current right here, and boosted by a correct fleshing out of the world the micro-games inhabit.
Mundaun (Developer: Hidden Fields – Format: Multi)
I need to admit, regardless of loving the pencil-drawn type of Mundaun, I discovered it a troublesome sport to get into at first. Fortunately I received to some extent the place all of it clicked and have become one of many 12 months’s most original horror sport setups.
Exploring a rural Swiss mountain city rife with cult exercise is an attractive premise by itself, however throwing in Mundaun’s distinctive visible type elevates it into one thing otherworldly. You begin with an investigation of your father’s dying, however issues take an more and more bizarre and horrific flip that stands out when in comparison with its first-person horror contemporaries.
Inscryption (Developer: Daniel Mullins Video games – Format: PC)
A card sport you recognize nothing about performed out in a candlelit cabin towards a wild-eyed determine, cloaked in shadow. That’s how Inscryption begins, and for a short time, that’s all it appears to be. Then the unusual issues begin taking place. The playing cards start to talk to you, they usually provide an opportunity to flee; to provide something extra away would spoil a deeply engrossing expertise.
What I like about Inscryption is the way it retains hanging little morsels of a supposed fact in entrance of you, begging you to snaffle them up and fall deeper into the sport’s mysteries. A fast spherical of its relatively violent card sport is out of the query as curiosity leads you elsewhere, and positively not the place you’d anticipate. The locations this sport goes are really thrilling as a result of it by no means settles on one path, however manages to make a coherent entire by the point issues wrap up.
Unnerving, unsettling, compelling, chaotic, and downright mind-boggling, Inscryption is a straightforward alternative for my Recreation of the 12 months.