Monday, July 11, 2016

Little games and great big games

Playing something small or out of my comfort zone between big, AAA releases keeps me from getting too jaded. Not everything can, or should, be Uncharted or Doom. There is space for little games, experimental games, and when I stumble across a little, experimental game that is also (supposedly) frightening? I would say a fool and his money are soon parted but it was only $3, so I am not that much of a fool.

Anatomy is by horror indie developer KittyHorrorShow. She has quite the collection of very small, very experimental horror games over at itch.io but Anatomy is the first that that she had asked for any money for. It received quite a few good reviews from quite a few sites, including one from The Cool Ghosts declaring it the best horror game ever.



It's not the best horror game ever, not when Amnesia The Dark Descent, Fatal Frame 2 and Silent Hill 2 are still out there, skulking in your peripheral memories, reminding you that horror is not a dead genre, it is just waiting (for the record, Outlast clamboring for your attention with cheap jump scares does not count). But it is interesting, especially as an example of how little it takes to actually scare someone.

Anatomy has no monsters. No jump scares. No blood dripping from the walls. No ghosts, no goblins, no thinly veiled satanic references. It has a story told through cassette tapes and a lot of closed doors, doors that may or may not have something behind them. They never do, there is no release, no payoff, and that just makes it worse. The game ends several times, closing itself, forcing you to open it up again, and then being different from the last time you played. It remembers, it's lonely, and it may or may not have teeth.

Cynically, I must say that it looking the a PS2 game really does not work for me, not when the fox engine is out there and PT is still the most frightening thing I have played in years. But Anatomy was made by one person on no budget with nothing more than a basic understanding of the unity engine and of what is unnerving versus what is simply annoying. For $3 you could do much worse.

Oh, and avoid old abandoned houses. Especially their basements. They may be hungry.


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