Halloween is right around the corner, despite the tendency of retail outlets to forget the holiday as quickly as possible. You can’t milk consumers for as much cash with costumes as you can with guilt-induced gifts for family and co-workers they don’t like. Anyway, since horror is interesting from a variety of standpoints and I missed talking about it in last night’s Classholes podcast, I’m going to talk about three games that really get under my skin when it comes to giving me the creeps. The first one is the most recent, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines.
The Ocean House Hotel is the setting for a task you can undertake early in the game. Unlike the other two games I’ll be discussing, this setting is unique in that it doesn’t contain a single enemy encounter. That’s right. No shambling zombies. No bloodthirsty vampiric rivals. It’s just you and the hotel.
Of course, the hotel’s haunted.
The horror comes from some brilliantly simple set pieces and the building of atmosphere. The dilapidated, aging building already has a creepy air about it, the sort of building you might think of tearing down or fixing up if you could bear to get anywhere near it. Once inside, it’s even worse. The peeling wallpaper, stained carpets and flickering light fixtures all point to something being very wrong, and that’s before the clock chimes on its own and light bulbs burst without warning.
Add the chilling sound design, from the rather subtle music to the quiet whispers to the peals of thunder, and you’re bound to be on the edge of your seat for the entire time you’re in the hotel, provided you can even step foot into it. I know of people who turn their sound off and wait for a bright morning to tackle this place, and still struggle to get through it with their hearts at a calm rate.
I would love to talk more specifics, but I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t played it. Seriously, beyond the hotel, Bloodlines is a game that holds up pretty damn well despite being buggy and a bit dated in aesthetic. It’s available on Steam.