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Top 10 Secrets In Games

GeekOut Top 10s

The media form so massive that it’s possible to leave thousands of details for the players to uncover… or never to uncover. Sometimes they’ll discover it decades later, or maybe players have to travel the world to uncover the truth, or devote hours monitoring every little detail. Sometimes it’s an easter egg, sometimes it’s facts about the game dispersed throughout the game or hidden behind puzzles so elaborate, it’s impossible to even begin to know how to begin!

Here we have pointed large neon signs at some of the best secrets, and some of our favourite secrets from games.


Top 10

10) Minecraft Level – Borderlands 2

Tucked away in the Caustic Caverns alongside yet more failed mining efforts from the Dahl corporation you can encounter yet more of the alien geography and local fauna that is encountered nowhere else on Pandora, a set of strange stone cubes, oddly destructible and mysteriously filled with guns and money. Wandering among these cubes are cubic beasts with green skin, usually an indicator of corrosive damage, but these explode like a Torgue teapot!

It’s not even as subtle as I’m implying, the brazen Minecraft section also includes head and skin drops that give you the pixelated, block headed look of a Minecraft character, but far more heavily armed. Just right of where the mine tracks terminate, it’s a well concealed little corner, tough for even the most thorough explorers, but these days that Easter Egg is pretty well known.

9) M’aiq the Liar – The Elder Scrolls Series

M’aiq tells many lies, or does he? M’aiq is one of the more entertaining recurring characters of The Elder Scrolls franchise. He moves very fast, to where it’s not possible to keep up with him ordinarily (there are always ways). People love to find M’aiq, as he’s always got a little story to share. I think Skyrim fans may recognise the line “Werewolves? Where? Wolves? Many wolves.” (this is paraphrased a bit).

M’aiq may be a bit more than people first thought though. The developers at Bethesda have used M’aiq to say what they (and many fans of the series) have been thinking. As an avid Elder Scrolls Online player, one of my favourite quotes from the MMO comes from M’aiq, where he says the following:

M’aiq asked an Argonian if she could breathe underwater. She asked if he could see in the dark. M’aiq had no good answer

This refers to the fact that in all other Elder Scrolls games, Argonians can breathe underwater and Khajiits get Night Vision. M’aiq knows many things, though M’aiq tells them through riddles.

8) Rattmann’s Ramblings – Portal 2

Ever masters of storytelling and cunning set design, the Portal team seeded Portal 2 with little narrative nuggets in the form of hidden chambers covered in graffiti, filled with assorted trash, and strongly implying that someone is living there, a poet, a dreamer, a scientist, a paranoid maniac who has lost his mind, who has deified Chel, and painted her in murals across every wall praising her as the saviour against the nightmarish all-seeing horror that dosed him with nerve gas and left him alone to crawl through the tunnels.

Doug Rattman also drops some seriously alarming truthbombs. He may have been wrong about the cake, but there’s an unsubtle hint that Chel’s surname is Johnson… yes, that Johnson, a theory backed up by a potato project, the one that may have taken over the science fair. Possibly the daughter of Caroline/GLaDOS, between his graffiti, his art, and the slowed down gibbers audible in some of his secluded hideaways. The contents of Lab Rat also tell how he bridged the gap between titles, have a read.

7) Piston Honda – Punch Out

Short one, but cunning. Punch Out for the NES is staggeringly well animated for the console it’s on and the simplicity of the mechanics. Look for the unique tells of each fighter that communicate, not only the punch that’s coming, but also a little of the personality of each. It makes the game feel like each fight is unique, rather than the same repetition of dodges and punches.

But Piston Honda’s most subtle tell came from a fan of his in the audience, who could apparently see something we couldn’t. There’s a tiny cluster of pixels that is set apart from the rest of the crowd because of his distinctive beard who ducks reactively when a big hit is coming. He’s the one to keep an eye on, because he’s clearly studied Piston’s fighting style more thoroughly than we have.

6) The Hidden Path – Grim Dawn

The Crate team love their secret hiding places, a reward for anyone willing to click anything or try any direction that looks vaguely path-like. Go hunting and you’ll eventually find hidden merchants, chest behind walls, torches that turn revealing hidden chambers, and The Hidden Path, an enormous questline seeded across Cairn and right on your very doorstep.

East from Burrwitch prison, there’s a path through shallow water leading to a blast point. Set your dynamite and start a journey filled with tough as nails bosses, clues to unravel, and ending in a visually stunning combat with great rewards. Along the way you learn about the Witch Gods who form the backbone of the game’s most recent DLC, and discover things about the world of Grim Dawn that make the hack-n-slash deeper than your average RPG setting.

5) The Chris Houlihan Room – The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past

Well this is a cute one isn’t it? A fan entered a competition for a Nintendo Power magazine back in 1990 and in 1992, Nintendo made a room in his honour. Although, due to the lack of information available at the time, the Chris Houlihan Room was often seen, but very few people really understood what the purpose of the room was. Instead, they’d stumble into this room, get quite confused, take their treasures and leave.

There’s nothing inherently strange about this either; in the early days of gaming, competitions in magazines were common and the developers loved the response. So they added in the Chris Houlihan Room, a room filled with Blue Rupees. There’s then a sign on the wall at the far end, which reads as follows: “My name is Chris Houlihan. This is my top secret room. Keep it between us, okay?”

No, Chris. No. I’m sharing your room today and you can’t stop me.

4) The 24 Year Secret – Doom II

There’s a stage in Doom II that could never be “100 percented”, only 90% could ever be reached. By travelling around the map and exploring for more guns and ammo you’ll occasionally see a pop-up message that says “secret found”, and finding and unlocking them all has been impossible for twenty four years since the game’s release. And then Zero Master finds it.

Rock Paper Shotgun, Polygon, Screenrant and so many others made a huge deal out of… what is essentially a bland and tiny little moment in a fast paced and intense game, that requires an absurd amount of effort to set up. The location of the secret has – apparently – been known for a while, and understood to be impossible to attain because of the positioning of certain level elements that make it possible only to stand on top of it without ever interacting, unless you get a pain elemental to spawn a soul on your head while your stood in the exact right place, forcing you to be pushed downward through world elements and into the trigger spot!

A game approaching twenty five years old can finally be completed.

2) Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth vs Reverse Castle – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’s

Sometimes it’s easier to just think about things from a conceptual level – and these secrets are simply ridiculous. Both of which required the players to think thoroughly outside of the box. However, which is the better secret?

Binding of Isaac Afterbirth

Cicada 3301 is one beast of a puzzle requiring astonishingly diverse technical and historical knowledge, a capacity for lateral thinking, and the tenacity to see it through. There are theories that it was used as a recruiting mechanism for some secret organisation somewhere! Said organisation may want to look to the people who unlocked this easter egg.

I daren’t even go into the obscenely long details, that required an internet scavenger hunt through link after link, decoding hidden messages, and sending people off on a real life scavenger hunt for a tiny figurine that led to a twitter account that had to be filled with tweets before the developers closed it off and released a new character for every player! It’s something of a leviathan for the serious fans to have conquered, because knowledge of the game down to the near-granular level.

Reverse Castle – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

The Reverse Castle is one of those really cool secrets that just blew me away. When you play through Symphony of the Night, you find Richter and go ahead and kill him. That’s it, game complete – Though it’s bizarre to have a Castlevania game not feature Dracula – In fact, this is what puzzled so many fans. The game was fantastic in its own right, but why on Earth was Dracula not there?

Turns out, he was.

If you don’t kill Richter, you get a quest to go about and find some body parts for, you guessed it, Dracula. This is the true ending of the game that a lot of fans missed. Killing Richter seemed like the logical thing to do, if you look at how the game is structured. It’s a fascinating foray into how to, quite literally, turn expectations on its head. Besides, you don’t get the true ending without doing this.

1) Every Ending and Everything – Doki Doki Literature Club

Having this at number one almost feels like a cheat, but when you think about what Doki Doki Literature Club is, it deserved the top spot. A game built on secrets, portraying itself as a game that it is not… and let’s not even begin to get into how many strange real-world treasure hunts people had to go on. Let’s go through a couple of the secrets and I’ll try not to give away too much of the plot.

When you play through, the game acts like a Dating Sim. What you actually are presented with is a horror visual novel, but you don’t realise it until it’s too late. With files that rewrite themselves, with you having to delve into your Steam folders and with images that’ll definitely disturb some viewers, Doki Doki goes from a pleasant romp of a protagonist who joins a Literature club as he has to join a club at least.

Some of the secrets include hidden audio, whole distortions to how the game looks, a menu screen that keeps changing, monochromatic images… And that’s just a couple of the in-game secrets. With secret images which had to be analysed, websites being found, leading onto secret projects, this game wasn’t a game… It was a secret finding experience.

Honourable Mentions

Not every secret is so secret, once they’re out, they’re everywhere. In our honourable mentions this week we raise a couple of such “secrets” that were once hidden, and became renowned, thus eliminating the secrecy…

Warp Zones – Super Mario Bros

Duh duh duh duh-duh duh, duhh.

Now that the theme’s stuck in your head, let’s talk about the famous Warp Zones of Super Mario Bros.

Considered one of video games worst-kept secrets, the Warp Zones are a way to quickly get through Super Mario Bros. without glitching the game. You can get to a Warp Zone in a variety of ways, but the most famous one is the one at the end of the pipe level in World 1 (World 1-2 specifically). Getting to it is simple – Get on top of the blocks where your score and everything is kept – run along the top and jump down at the end to get to three pipes.

These three pipes will take you to worlds 2, 3 and 4 respectively. If you go into world 4, you can eventually find a block that unleashes some vines leading up, off the map. Climbing these vines makes it so you go to another Warp Zones. This is how speedrunners achieve ridiculously good speeds at Super Mario Bros.

Oh and I haven’t even spoken about glitching through the world 1-2 pipe and wall at the end, which takes you to 1 Warp Zones pipe, which takes you to world -1. Yeah, Super Mario Bros. is a glitchy, fun title.

Moo Moo Farm (The Secret Cow Level) – Diablo 2

In keeping with the theme of well known, memorable secrets in video games, who could forget Moo Moo Farm? I personally love this stage and it was a great way to get yourself some experience and lots of gear. It was entertaining, tricky enough to find (except the invention of the internet meant it was incredibly easy to find it all) and yeah, it was fun. But it all stems from a seemingly innocuous item; Wirt’s Leg.

By using the Horadric Cube, you could combine Wirt’s Leg with a Tome of Town Scroll Portal. On doing this, you create a hellish looking portal. Travel through and it’ll come up saying “Entering Moo Moo Farm”. You know you’re in for a tough fight when a bunch of cows wielding halberds coming swinging at you. You’d better moo-ve it, as these bovine brawlers seriously pack a punch.


Keep this one under your hat, okay? We were never here, neither were you. Leave your vote at the door, and we’ll see you back here next week. Mum’s the word, and we didn’t even tell you that, you hear me?

Were there any secrets that we couldn’t uncover. Does your favourite still remain elusive, never ever tell us what we missed in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter. People might overhear, the truth could get out, and we will not be held responsible for that!

Hey, this is a secret! Say “I nose it” in the comments to show you found this secret. Your reward is this video.

The “Level Up” Illusion

It’s a staple mechanic of so many games, a simple metric for measuring advancement, a point of comparison to where you were compared to where you are, and where other people are around you. Levelling up unlocks new skills and powers, grants access to new gear, and ultimately makes the whole process of murder-hoboing through life a far flashier affair.

But here’s the thing… (more…)


Inventory Hoarding

My name is Joel Smith, I am a hoarder.

I suppose the worst of it has been my need to build new houses to store my stuff, and to have somewhere nearby where I can drop things off. In my line of work I find myself encountering a lot of valuables, and they’re just there for me to walk away with, it’s a kind of salvage operation in dangerous areas, so I’m ultimately restoring a lot of valuable items to the general public, and I will sell them on, but I guess there’s only so much people can buy from me at any given time, so I end up sitting on a small stockpile of… I dunno, ebony hammers? Spells scrolls? Piles of dragon bones? (more…)


Top 10 Cults

GeekOut Top 10s

Greetings brothers and sisters and welcome, to our humble little family. Do not be put off by the burning Satanic rings around the place, for we’re merely in the process of redecoration. We’ve got a simple test to see if you’re worthy to join us, or if you might not fit our requirements. Today, we’re going to share with you our list – Our Top 10 Cults. Be prepared, for you’re about to learn about some of the limitations of the human brain.

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Review – Grim Dawn

“Joel,” you say to me in a thinly veiled premise, “why have you never reviewed Grim Dawn?”

I say nothing because there is a hot mug of set-up to my face.

“I mean,” you continue “You’ve spoken about it, ranted about it, shoe-horned it into a Top 10 wherever you could. It’s been a year since the Hack-and-Slash ARPG by Crate Entertainment was released and you’ve clocked seventy hours of game-play, and yet I still haven’t read a review from you.”

“Look over there!” I point. You politely indulge my poor deception and turn in your equally fictitious seat, “Never mind it’s dead now. Hey, look at this!” (more…)


Steam Awards and Autumn Sale

Black Friday celebrates the end of the Great Depression in the 1930’s, an American holiday that – like so much of America’s culture – has made it’s way to the UK because of how staggeringly profitable it is, but I’ll come down from my political high horse before I get the urge to ride into the sunset yelling Viva la Revolucion!

Alongside some pretty huge deals on great titles, Steam are also running their own award ceremony as voted for by the gamers. So while you pick up a stack of games for a fiver, take some time to nominate some of your favourite titles and get another pointless badge for doing so. Why not? It’s nice to give back occasionally. Here’s my picks for the categories: (more…)


In Development

The term “Development Hell” has plagued gaming history for decades. Many incredible game-projects have never seen the light of screen because matters of financing and dispute over intellectual properties have bogged them down to the point where it’s no longer an option to release them. The modern method of circumventing this issue is to release a game to the public while it is still incomplete, under the premise of releasing content for free to those who have already paid.

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It’s yet another business model that Minecraft popularized, access to the flat-world alpha version started that popularity train and started money feeding into what would become the modern standard sandbox-survival master-crafter and of course genre-spawner. It extended the lifespan of a project that could have died very early in its’ development because of its’ sheer size and complexity.

It also allowed Minecraft to stay in development for many years, in fact it had a convention and a product range to its’ name before boxes even appeared on shelves. Mojang were doing so well before the official release of Minecraft that they had even begun work on their trading card game Scrolls.

A lot of people have justifiable concerns that the method could be exploited to make a great deal of money on a game that may never actually be completed. For example, Grim Dawn when I first purchased it was around £17.99 for a single act of narrative, a dozen or so enemy types and very little by way of original features. Since then two acts have been added, as have a great many aspects of gameplay that are building to a very complex and interesting hack-and-slash, but the game remains in development three full years after its successful Kickstarter Campaign.

Games like these are changing the nature of the industry, and how funding can be found, directly from those people who would be interested in playing them rather than publishers who only speculate on the market’s wants and desires. It’s a good thing, and it’s a bad thing. Publishers have a certain resilience against the financial sink-holes that development hell creates, and often a studio will get another chance, or an idea will be remolded and repurposed into something new and possibly improved. Our money is somewhat less secure, and if a studio fails to deliver on an early access game or Kickstarter, we’ve invested money and have nothing to show for it, or something subpar and not worth what we put up for it.

Lego Worlds is also in early access, adding one of the worlds biggest manufacturers in entertainment to the list of mainstream publishers making use of the new format of funding. It’s a future that comes with incredible risks to the consumer, but also offers the opportunity of a future without Starcraft Ghost, the proeject we all wanted that never happened; or Duke Nukem Forever, which sadly happened.

A game staying eternally in development comes with its’ own challenges, no piece of art, or any other major project is ever truly finished, as anyone who has ever written a book to completion will tell… anyone who’ll listen. Even when a project successfully makes it from beginning to end it can always be tweaked somewhere in the middle, and again, and again, until it’s something unrecognizable. It’s a difficult skill to master, knowing when to stop, but when your art is your business, then you have a problem.

The short version of what I’m rambling my way around is that I don’ know what to make of the “Early Access” phenomenon and its’ inherent risks and complexities. The industry is changing, but is it for the better, or just for the different? Talk to me in the comments or on Facebook! You can also share your opinion on Twitter, where Tim will tell me what you think…


Palette Swapping

It’s a padding device as old as games themselves. Throw in a little variety in your creature catalogue by changing the colours, copying the code over and slapping a completely different name on it. Cheap trick it may be, but it’s not without it’s up-sides, and it’s not impossible to do it well.

Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde became very distinct personalities in Ms. Pacman, but in the original Pacman they were just multicoloured clones of one another. Aside from the obvious advantage of giving them cool names, what benefit is there to making them different colours? It would have been simpler to leave them all the same colour, or perhaps change the colours between levels, increasing the sense of progression, but for the player, having unique colours makes it much easier to keep track of each ghost’s movements. It’d be easy for four identical ghosts to fade into your peripheral vision, and thus make them impossible to spot until too late, but changing the colours keeps the player’s attention.

inkyblinkypinkyclyde

Another early example of identical creature given a variety of colours, the aliens from Space Invaders: the block of sprites has a very singular strategy, one that never changes no matter how many you destroy, no matter their colour. Aside from breaking up the wall of enemies, the changes in alien design help the player track progression, although the colours have no effect on the game, the stripping away of layers is much easier to track mentally by colour than by number.

Now let’s talk about Diablo…. here’s a prime example of palette swapping gone wrong. Of all the hundreds of monstrosities Diablo 2 (for example) has to offer, they boil down to a grand total of 72 sprites for general mobs, maybe another 20 or so for unique bosses. The classic of course that we all know and love: The Fallen

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Identical tactics, identical sounds and art, but with different colours! Now I don’t expect miracles from a turn of the millennium game, but I think my real question is why go to such drastic lengths with the naming scheme? I feel like it’s some poor attempt to make us believe that they’re supposed to be different creatures, and I’m not buying it. Great game, but compared to its’ contemporaries like Titan Quest or Grim Dawn (two games I talk about far too much, this is why I promised at the start of the year I was going to try and get through my Steam list) where creatures like the Satyrs are palette swapped, they’re named as different breeds, rather than different creatures.

Done well, this kind of palette swap can build up a kind of ecology, and feel within a world, make it a little more real by keeping some small level of consistency. So it really needn’t be all pointless corner cutting.

In short, I’ve grown accustomed to palette swapping, but I’m old enough now to realize that M&Ms aren’t different flavours because they’re different colours. Recently though, I’ve started observing palette swaps appearing somewhere I didn’t expect.

More and more, Games Workshop are producing twin model kits, swap a few pieces here and there on the spru and the figure counts as a completely different unit on the table, initially I was fine with that, not a big deal when the difference was between one type of tank or another, an assault sphinx or a transport sphinx:

But I find myself drawing a line when one build is an entirely different faction to the other as they have begun to be recently, and the differences are not suitably significant to be drawing that kind of distinction. I suppose my biggest question here is why? Is it to give the builder more options with the kits they buy, rather than being bound to a single model? Or is it just to save some money in plastic and moulds, because apparently the price increases just aren’t helping any more.

Call it a sideways move on the topic, but this feels like a palette swap! A cheap rehashing of old material sold as something different, and they’re not the only ones. Fans of Ashens, the action figure/cheap tat reviewer of YouTube will know how full the industry is with repainted figures resold under a different title, even as a different intellectual property. One of my favourite tabletop games is packed to the brim with palette swaps:

Krosmaster-Arena-Miniature-Board-Game-04

How many can you find?

Resources are limited everywhere, that’s a fact, be that resource plastic, money or time. Unfortunately this means corners will be cut here and there, but at times clever design can make this kind of cheat to great advantage. This is one major incident where we can look to the past for lessons to apply today. At one time the limited resource was colour, but it was used to greater effect than perhaps it’s used today.

 


Top 10 Indie Horror Games

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For once we decided we’d actually talk about the games themselves, not an element within gaming. So this time around, we thought we’d do the Top 10 indie horror games.

Be it a horrific story courtesy of a story from Creepypasta, or a unique experience delivered to the world by a small team, the indie horror scene has become one of the most innovative areas on the market.

Sadly though it is filled with imitators to the originals, clones if you will. Today though, we revel not in the clones but in our Top 10 indie horror games. Oh we also have some would be contenders as well, but the top 10 are 2spooky4me.

Now I’m spooked… But this is horror, my friends. We move on – To be horrified.

 


Top 10

10. 5 Days a Stranger

Created by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, 5 Nights a Stranger is a point and click horror adventure game where you uncover what is happening in the house that you are all stuck inside.

You play as Trilby, a cat burglar who wears… A trilby. He’s a pretty damn good cat burglar and he doesn’t actually mean ill-will on anyone, he’s pretty much a perfect gentleman in all honesty. He investigates the strange happenings of the house, the guests he’s staying with and how to escape the house. Undead, machetes, manacles – this game is thrilling yet simple. A nice combination to play through. Quite soft on the horror but it’s intriguing and worth a look.

 

9. The Binding of Isaac

Roguelikes are not exactly known for their tension-building atmosphere and gut-wrenching terrors, but what the Binding of Isaac brings to the table is an altogether different type of horror. Driven into the basement of his house by his delusional mother, Isaac discovers quickly that he was not the first to have been cast into the darkness in obeisance to the divine voices in her head.

Demons, spectres, and too many of Isaac’s undead brothers and sisters to count have been lurking beneath his feet, and the only weapons at his disposal are his anguished tears. Headup Games helped see this independent game see the light of day, but a bigger better remake is on the horizon.

 

8. Home

A psychological horror mystery of sorts, where you walk through a house, some dark and dank places, the outside and more. But why are you doing this? You’re walking so you can find out what happened last night, as you just can’t remember.

Then you finally arrive Home. The realisation of everything dawns over you and you’re clear in your head what you need to do. But what do you do? This game changes depending on what you click on and see. Your character comes to different conclusions with different possible ways of ending the game. It’s short and sweet – just how I like my horror games!

 

7. Don’t Starve

A horror survival game, where the goal is literally to not starve. Taking a dark theme, within a dark randomly generated world, the goal is basically to survive as long as you can, or find the story when you’re in the game and play through the story that way.

From spiders and Beefalos, to pigmen who are pretty damn useless and men with names like Wilson and Maxwell, this is the game that we hoped Tim Burton would produce. Instead he didn’t produce this game, but we got it anyway!

 

6. SCP Containment Breach

All you need to know about SCP Containment Breach can be found in the SCP Containment Breach wiki. Seriously, this is a free indie horror survival game… That has a damned wiki.

You play as a test subject who’s there during… Well a containment breach! There are many SCPs around the facilities, some are friendly and some are hostile. The goal is to be able to guide your test subject through the facilities and basically not to be killed by SCP-173. This game has a concept similar to Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels – SCP-173 is deterred by being looked directly at. Throughout the game, your character blinks. Whenever line of sight is broken, the SCP can move towards you. Good luck, as this game punishes you for irresponsible blinking!

 

5. Penumbra Trilogy

If you expected to see Amnesia in this line-up you are going to be disappointed. Frictional Games first series was just as terrifying as its’ most famous work. You investigate an abandoned facility in Greenland, that naturally turns out to be less than unoccupied. Hungry dogs guard the doors, and they are lethal in their own right, slabs of meat and scavenged pickaxes are little help, and the dogs are only the beginning.

If Amnesia got you by the innards and twisted, Penumbra is absolutely worth your time. You may not be quite so helpless, but you’ll still spend more of the game running and hiding than trying to fight.

 

4. Killing Floor

Co-Operative Survival Horror game. Yeah Killing Floor is a bit of a silly name, but ignoring the fact that the name implies the floor is on a murderous rampage, this is the ultimate zombie killing experience for all you indie gamers out there. Available on Windows, Mac and Linux – as well as even having a game on the Ouya, Tripwire Interactive were on a winner when they approached the developer of the original Killing Floor mod.

Zombies, blood, gore and guns galore, this game is fun with a capital F. Get your friends together, be prepared to jump occasionally as zeds approach you from all directions and remember to weld the bloody door.

 

3. Slender: the Eight Pages

Once this game was made and released, that was it. All hell broke loose as just about everyone went ahead and made a Slender clone, much in the same way that everyone made a Flappy Bird clone. There’s no harm in clones, as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Still Slender: the Eight Pages started it all off. You run around a forest trying to collect… Well… Eight pages. All the while, you’re being chased down by this being with no face. If he catches you, don’t expect him to give you any hugs – He will kill you… But not before giving you a screen of static and his face. Well, at least you get to see the handsome fellow before you die, I guess.

 

2. Limbo

Lost and alone in a dark forest, a small boy awakens. The world he inhabits is filled with vast, silently shifting spiders, mind altering parasites, and sadistic little killers. The game is entirely monochrome, there is no music, very little sound at all, drawing you in deeper to a world that will kill you on a whim. Limbo contains very few jump-scares, but it’s style is chilling, designed to tap into your every childish fear and scrape your nerves raw.

Limbo is the first, and currently only title by Playdead, and was greeted with wide acclaim and several rewards. Their next title, Inside, looks like it’s going to be self-published as well, and looking at the early trailer you should be afraid already….

 

1. Five Nights at Freddy’s

It’s just a simple security gig, sit in a cushy office in a pizza place with “cute” animatronic bears and ducks and whatnot, keep an eye on the security cameras. Oh, and by the way, those adorable mascots were implanted with some weird AI, and if they catch you at night as they wander around they will assume you’re a mascot out of costume, and try and stuff you into one of the vacated empty bodies.

Scott Cawthon brings us a horrifying game. There is no escape, you can only hope to spread your limited power around to keep yourself protected from the nightmarish teddies that stalk the night, mocking smiles leering at you through the monitor, and through the door.

 


Honourable mentions

The next two titles are worthy contenders to be in our Top 10 indie horror games list, but we had to think realistically. For the time we spent playing, to the innovation and the likes these two just missed our list.

However, we thought we’d still go ahead and mention them as we felt they are good candidates and heck, perhaps one or two you won’t know of!

Escape from Lavender Town

Most people steer clear from this game as it’s a freeware game that you can get from websites like GameJolt. It comes as just a standalone .exe file which of course could potentially have been malicious – but when I heard of the game I decided the risk was worth it. Plus, others had played it before and didn’t yet die.

The premise of Escape from Lavender Town is simply to wander around Lavender Town and listen to the various residents of Lavender Town. They explain the weird circumstances and you can listen to the oddly chilling Lavender Town music with the infamous hidden frequencies re-adjusted for the game. Once you finish reading, press escape and it’s all over… Honestly. Go ahead and give it a try today. I promise you, it’s not that bad.

 

Grim Dawn

Fair is fair, this isometric hack-and-slash is not a horror game, but Grim Dawn – created by the remains of Iron Law’s Titan Quest team – has a very strong horror theme. An apocalyptic punk-styled world overrun by the undead, demonspawn and worshippers of Elder Things, your hero is possessed and released by an otherworldly horror that leaves you with the power to use their portals against them.

It’s not scary, but it’s a brilliantly dark game with some fantastic Diablo-style gameplay. It’s in ongoing development after a very successful Kickstarter campaign, but you can buy it now and get access to the ever expanding content.

 


I hope you all get some sleep tonight, as these horror games will leave you either on the edge of your seat or sleeping with one eye open.

But not to fear, we’re going to tone down the scares a bit now…

Oh no, it’s the day of all the blood!

Join us again next time for another Top 10 – and as always, join in the conversation! What are your favourite indie horror games? Did we cover it? Do you agree with our above list and hey – go play some of the free ones. You know you want to!