Wow, it’s really not been that long since I last wrote an editorial thanks to my poor “time-management” in September and weirder still is that we’re already in October… or as the internet calls it “The Month of Halloween!”
Yes, Twitter and the various fantastic blogs I read are already firing up their pumpkins and kicking the spookfest into overdrive in anticipation of that chilling spectacular that occurs on or around the 31st of the month. Here in the UK of course we’re always a little behind the latest trends so it’s no surprise that when I was growing up Halloween wasn’t the event that it is now. As an adult I’m bemused slightly by the spectacle that this monstrous month seems to have on my friends across the Atlantic… especially as I’m usually more excited by the prospect of Guy Fawkes night that occurs a few days later.
The good news about Halloween is that it is an excuse for me to think about all the games that fall into that spooky horror category. I’ve probably mentioned before, but I wouldn’t normally class horror as a genre I enjoy, however many of the games that I’ve enjoyed over the years could be classified as horror. I’m going to sidestep the obvious series and instead mention Silent Hill 2, a game that is regarded by many as a fantastic combination of storytelling and grizzly horror that not only rates highly in the best games on the Playstation 2, but represents the pinnacle of the series and regularly makes lists of the best games of all time.
… unfortunately I can’t find the darn thing!
We moved here a little under four years ago and I was pretty sure that a selection of my favourite PS2 games made it here with the remainder being in a box … somewhere… in my old family home. The problem is that the only PS2 games I can seem to locate are my wife’s collection and my own favourites are nowhere to be found. I keep going back to the bookshelf where I was sure that they were… seriously, just here… they’re here I tell you! Look for yourself…
So the bad news is that I can’t find Silent Hill 2, so I can’t really give you much of a retrospective. It’s been a long time since I played it, but I can say that it is a chilling descent in to James Sunderland’s guilt as he travels through that cursed town of Silent Hill. If you’ve never played it then I thoroughly recommend it!
September Wrap Up
Despite the brief window between this and my last editorial, I did manage to publish three posts and mostly my gaming time was spent in the retro camp. One game I played that wasn’t all that inspiring was the VR experience “Torn”, and as I’m unlikely to do a full writeup of it, I thought I’d jot my thoughts down here.
I picked up “Torn” one idle evening and finished it a few hours later. It stood out thanks to its impressive art-deco inspired setting; a mansion seemingly infected with cables, wires, and antiquated computing equipment. In VR this is a visual treat, unfortunately that aspect alone isn’t really enough to draw a recommendation out of me. Gameplay gets repetitive very quickly and the core mechanic is too simple and isn’t really developed further throughout the game. Essentially the player explores the different rooms of the mansion and must complete circuits in the walls. These are neatly revealed using a flashlight tool … thing… The player must use hidden symbols on the various items in the room to complete the circuit. In short this involves moving items and furniture around the room to the correct position and sticking them in place. The problem is that there is very little challenge; it’s just shine torch until you find the right thing and then move it. To add to this the rooms are cluttered, so moving a large object around tends to result in that awkward twitching jumbling of objects as everything physics-engines off each other. I guess the plot might hold your attention, but in that respect I’ve seen similar ideas done much better (not in VR) and would recommend the fantastic Stories Untold if that’s the angle that interests you.
With the 20th anniversary, I also revisited that giant of the PS1 era, Metal Gear Solid and wrote about the experience. There was something relaxing about going back to a game that I know so well. Despite what I sometimes consider, I don’t have the time or energy to replay games now, but when MGS was released the generally shorter game length combined with my increased gaming time meant that I could really explore a game and unlock all its secrets. In some respects I found that Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece shone even brighter now as a lean and carefully crafted experience given the direction that the series has moved since.
Still in a Metal Gear mindset I decided to dust off my NES and fire up the original Metal Gear. After some initial surgery to bring the system back into fully working order I embarked on that 8-bit outing which turned out to be much more of a marathon that I originally anticipated and, despite finding it interesting from a “historical” context, I don’t think I’ll be revisiting it anytime soon.
The third and final post was also on a retro theme, but this time retro inspired. I jotted down my experiences of the Duck Hunt inspired “Duck Season” on HTC Vive. Despite not being entirely sure who it was aimed at or what it was ‘going for’, I spent a surprisingly long time playing. Maybe it was just the simple pleasures of blasting virtual mallards that drew me in.
Looking Ahead to October
I’m not really sure what this month will bring. I haven’t been playing anything really since I finished Metal Gear. The fabulous Kim from Later Levels very kindly donated a spare key from that PnC classic Myst to me and I’ve been periodically battling away at it. It’s actually very interesting although I am finding that the clunky controls used to guide me through that pre-rendered 1st person environment meant that I can only play for short periods… and of course I still have no idea what’s going on!
… Other than that I’d really like to track down that darn copy of Silent Hill 2!