Ghastly Gaming E3 2019 Takeaways: Five Horror Titles To Get Hype On
Every year in the month of June, my excitement level for video games picks up to an almost unbearable level. You are probably asking yourself “Why Eric, what could cause you to have constant sweats and obtain only about four hours of sleep over a five day period”? Well, for around a week in early June, essentially all of the game developers and publishers around the world converge in Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the NA premier gaming convention. Gamers and journalists alike get their fill of exclusive game demos, new game announcements, surprise guests, electric CG trailers, and literally everything in between. Every type of game you can think of is represented in some capacity, from big budget event titles to the smaller indie developed gems. While I am hyped about some non-genre titles such as FFVII Remake, Cyberpunk 2077 and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I want to share with you five horror focused titles, some expected, others, just announced, that have me the most excited for what’s to come in the horror gaming world. Without further ado, let’s get to the list (which will include launch platforms and release date/window):
Blair Witch (XB1, PC– August 30th 2019)
This is the wild card of the all my choices. It’s safe to say that the Blair Witch franchise, for the most part, is considered a relic from the past. The success of the original movie from 1999 ended up spawning a generation of found footage horror movies, but really didn’t do much for itself in terms of franchise stability. A lukewarm sequel in 2001 and a failed reimagining from 2016, plus multiple old school survival horror PC game releases, failed to capture the zeitgeist like the original. It was quite a shock then to see developer Bloober Team (behind the frightastic Layers of Fear) release a surprisingly tense and atmospheric trailer for their newest project, simply titled Blair Witch. Pitched as a story driven psychological horror game, we certainly have played many horror entries already that want the player to run rather than fight and play with your sanity (the Outlast franchise leaps to mind immediately), but I must give credit where it’s due. I was sufficiently creeped out by the reveal trailer. On top of that, the release date is only a few months away. Can Bloober Team squeeze some good horror beats out of this moribund franchise? I remain cautiously optimistic, but so far, it’s looking somewhat promising.
Carrion (PC & Consoles – 2020)
Many people will tell you that if you are seeking unique and interesting horror experiences, you should look no further than the indie gaming scene. Titles such as Home and Uncanny Valley bring severe psychological scares and tense moments all layered within a 2D environment, while Amnesia and Outlast bring full on horror with their intense 3D worlds. At this E3, I decidedly latched onto two indie game titles that, from what I have seen so far, are going to bring the crazy and wild concepts that can only be birthed by the indie scene. First up is Carrion, from developer Devolver Digital, and this looks exactly how I want my small indie horror gems to look – completely batshit and chock full of creativity. Based on the trailer released during E3, you play as some sort of gelatinous red meat monster that breaks out of a scientific lab and causes mayhem and death to all the scientists and civilians that happen to get in its way to freedom. The meat pile produces Cthulhu-like tentacles to fling itself around each stage, and the visual of the traversal is simply marvelous and macabre. Light puzzle solving also appears to be involved, but I truly can’t wait to fly around tunnels and eat doctors for lunch. This could be pure homicidal bliss….in a good, bulbous monster sort of way. Definitely one to keep your eyeballs on.
Blasphemous (PC, Linux, Consoles – TBA)
This is my 2nd horror indie gem that I believe we all need to be paying attention to, and another title where pure bloodshed and unimaginable horrors await, aptly titled Blasphemous. Shown during the PC Gaming Show (though this was originally a successfully kickstarted title), we were treated to copious gameplay involving some sort of man with a cone shaped head and broadsword making his way across various 2D stages, destroying evil beasts and monsters of all shapes and ilk. Blood is not in short supply, as every defeat of a monster results in an explosion of viscera, red or green, as you propel yourself across the non-linear journey to your final destination. The gameplay seemed fluid, the action seemed intense, and the boss fights they showed off seemed epic. Plot details seem scarce at the moment, but any game where you fight a gigantic unholy baby with a blindfold (..and that seems like the norm for what you run into) then you have successfully grasped my attention. I find the art style to be very striking and bold, as modern 2D games can deliver some amazingly detailed environments. Being 2D also allowed great work in terms of animation, character designs and a brooding atmosphere, which can be hard to obtain in a more modern AAA fully 3D game. This is definitely one I am keeping my eyes peeled for in the coming months.
Doom Eternal (PS4, XB1, PC, Switch, Stadia – November 22nd)
This one is really a no brainer. Doom has always been the granddaddy of the 1st person shooter genre, full of guts and gore as the Doom Marine makes his way through the hordes of hell any way he can, whether it be by chainsaw, shotgun, plasma rifle or the iconic BGF 9000. However, the series was in quite a lull after the lackluster reception of Doom 3 back in 2004. Enter the 2016 Bethesda reboot of Doom, developed once again by id Software. It was a glorious carnage filled return to form for the series and established itself as one of the most fun and exhilarating shooters of the generation. Now we are getting the glorious follow-up, Doom Eternal, in a few short months. The epic gameplay that was first revealed back in last year’s QuakeCon was amped up to 11 with the gameplay segments and story trailers that Bethesda unleashed upon us at their E3 2019 conference. They didn’t disappoint, and Doom Eternal is the closest thing I can say that is a sure bet to completely satisfy its target audience and any other person who just wants to grab a controller and shoot stuff dead. New weapons and add-ons (the grappling hook is a game changer), surprisingly well implanted traversal abilities and platform sequences, return of old enemy favorites and the amazingly blistering combat that comes to equate Doom is all accounted for and ready to rock. It’s almost time to fight back hell yet again!
Ghostwire: Tokyo (TBA – TBA)
We have now arrived at the horror game that has me salivating the most. The legend himself, Shinji Mikami (creator of Resident Evil and The Evil Within), came out on stage at the Bethesda E3 conference to announce the latest project for his studio Tango GameWorks. The project, Ghostwire: Tokyo, appears to be about a rapture-like event that takes hold of Tokyo, with random individuals completely evaporating from their clothes with no concrete reasoning. However, as Tango has proven with Evil Within 1&2, things are not that simple. We are greeted with creepy long armed demons, trippy psychedelic visuals and ominous occult and paranormal characters and events unfold. We also seemed to be introduced to our protagonist, a shadowy figure who’s weapon of choice is a bow and arrow, but also has some mystical powers on hand for some more extreme encounters. That was essentially all we got, a brief teaser trailer (unsure if it was a CG cinematic or in game engine material, but it looked DAMN snazzy) and a brief vague synopsis from game director Ikumi Nakamura (who, next to Keanu Reeves coming out for Cyberpunk, was the feel-good moment of the E3 show - Side note: Nakamura has massive street cred for me because she was the lead artist on The Evil Within and she worked on Okami and Bayonetta, so she deserves this shot at lead director). However, that was all I really needed for me to get seriously intrigued and excited. Mikami is back with one of his protégé’s in Nakamura at the helm of a brand-new IP that looks cool as hell and has vast potential to be just pure awesome. Sign me up!