Wait dreaming no longer!
Hallowe'en is a special time of year. So special, in fact, that we couldn't let our celebratory Halloweek go by without making a very special effort to do a very special thing indeed. To that end, we've resurrected the ghost of H.P. Lovecraft, master of fevered horror and creator of Cthulhu, to write a few game reviews for us. It wasn't easy. We had to enlist the eldritch help of Aleister Crowley to even get the ritual started--fortunately he haunts the right-hand toilet cubicle on the first floor--and he's a notoriously cranky old bastard.
But succeed we did. So here's old Howard Phillips, to take over the article and furnish you with his finest, most considered responses to this year's biggest games. See you at the end. If you're still alive, and sane, and not the prostrate thrall of an elder god... Good luck on all that.
Super Smash Bros.
Every bone of my wretched skeleton froze to fragile ice, liable to shatter with the steadily creeping weight of the endless moment. I stared into his eyes, seeing not life, nor light, nor comprehension. Only madness. And worse, it was not the disarrayed, fragmented, scattershot madness of the fractured-but-harmless lunatic, but one focused and aware, if it were aware of anything at all, of rapturous delight in its own insanity.
He looked back in silent, intent vigil. At me, through me, within or without me, I could not fathom which, and nor did I wish to try, for to follow his gaze back along the deep, fissured path to its source would surely have seen me lost forever. Perhaps it was days. Perhaps only a handful of eternally contorting seconds. But when my lucidity returned, to snatch at my hand and turn me shrieking away, I could not help but feel that our exchange was not yet over, nor would it ever truly be so. His empty glare lingers over my shoulder to this day.
Score: Despair / 5
The sights that I witnessed surely cannot have been real, but rather the twisted dream of an insane god. One by one, two by two, three by three the brawny beasts left the portal, emerging from the stygian blackness beyond to lurch, pound and creep toward the chamber. Upon that profane altar they assembled, these unholy constructs, these perverse amalgamations of man, rock and beast. Over and over again they threw themselves against each other, breaking and crashing their gnarled forms into the most terrible, impossible shapes.
Oh, the depraved lies that my deceitful eyes wrought during that unhallowed spectacle! Please, in the name of all that is reasonable, they must have been lies! For the creatures appeared, for the longest time, to stretch and contort their bodies into the most sacrilegious configurations, creating such heaving knots of ligament and flesh that the very stinking air around them must have defied and defiled all hope of logic, science or intellect. And worse! So much worst an abomination! Upon finally falling, rendered and broken, these hulking molestations of the rational inflicted further contempt upon my sanity, reviving, reforming and recommencing their assault as if nary the slightest of affronts had ever been committed.
Score: Devastation / 5
There is a man in the room above mine own. I cannot see his face. In my dreams, he comes to me and tells me that he is unhappy, and that he requires seven things. Seven things, are what he requires. A simple fountain pen, a handful of purple bread, the shoulder of a cloven beast, the sap from a tree, a red cloak, and the soul of a banshee. Only then will he show me his face.
I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I cannot see his face. I see his face. Darkness.
Score: Decay / 5
Forza Horizon 2
The world of my senses dissolved into a garish blur. Illuminated only by the weighty mystery of the waning gibbous moon, my uncontrolled acceleration from the civilised plane was an irresistible trajectory into the void. Far from the lights, far from the path, further and further into the murk I went, my journey into blackness punctuated by intermittent flashes of blinding light upon unrecognisable scenery, bursts of sickening colour shaking incoherently at my core.
Above me, the pale, shadow-draped satellite watched in silence. If the gloom from which it half-protruded held any answers, then those answers were not forthcoming. Only the cold, faceless glare of that cryptic moon, half-shrouded in the same darkness to which I was committed. And on, on I plunged! Further, faster into the unformed night! The ground beneath me--if it were still the ground at all--rattled and contorted with a searing rage. Explosions and unseen shatterings shook the very air around me, as unseen objects tore past my face. And everywhere, in the periphery, I knew they lurked. Out in the night, watching for me and waiting for me. The pig people. Always watching, and always waiting.
Score: Devilry / 5
The drone of a thousand thousand human voices is echoing around my ears, threatening to lull me into a sleep that I fear I may never awake from. I desperately glance into the virtual eyes of a man known only as 'Messi', who answers my stare with a hollow gaze of his own that--such is its artifice--sends a dread chill through the core of my very being. I am helpless now. As a shrill whistle punctuates the infinity of our exchange, I realise that this game--this spectacle of fools--is already over.
The men are moving now. They chase a round object that objectively matters nothing to their existence, yet they pursue it as if a very legion of slave masters compelled them. They matter not. The object becomes entangled in a white web, which wraps around it like a cloak, presumably choking the life from its spherical victim. The men cheer, but I know that they are already dead. They always were.
Score: Dread / 5
Mario Kart 8
Around I went again. Around and around and around, never to slow, never to rest, never to look back at the blissful innocence left behind. How many times now had this dread circumvolution claimed another haunted hour of my experience with its obstreperous drone? How long had this sleepless sun driven my fevered senses from rest? How many hours, months, or years had it scorched my skin and flooded my senses with the foul stench of flame, of oil, of burning steel?
The dread beast was upon me now. I had, in my nave inattentiveness, been unaware of its presence at first, its ponderous, sluggish lurching registering barely a shadow upon my perception. But now it was here, a thundering blight of teeth, scales and talons. Beyond that, I will not describe it. Beyond that, I cannot describe it. Even if my mind were able to fully comprehend is fearful countenance without breaking entirely, I fear that the bumbling foibles of human language would be as naught in the face of its horror. But it matters not. Soon it would strike. Soon, and so close, so painfully close to sanctuary, that deathly azure inevitability would drag me down once more. My only solace would be a swift descent into oblivions sweet respite. Until the next time. And the next. And the next
Score: Desperation / 5
What is this place? This prison? And who am I? I stare longingly into the Pandora's Box nestled in the palm of my hand, hoping it will somehow allow me regain my humanity, and escape this dreadful virtual zoo. As I run my rough hand over its smooth surface, I feel the world shifting around me. What devilry is this? I shall surely die here.
A fellow entity suddenly draws beside me in his motorised carriage. Wordlessly I slide into the seat beside him, and he duly mirrors my movement. I am now alone. I spur on my magical vessel and drive forever, spurning the temptations of some foul demi-god, who urges me towards a constant stream of empty activities. In his language, the beast calls them 'Fixer missions', but I know them to be evil traps that will forever enslave my consciousness. I must be wary.
Score: Darkness / 5
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn
Sorry, got caught up in the moment there. Ahem. Where were we? Oh yes, that bit at the end of the article where we ramble on a bit in a desperate attempt to fill a final paragraph, before passing you on to some links to other stuff. H.P. would be brilliant at this. He's great at rambling on a bit. But alas, we have already laid him back to rest, with the promise not to bother him again until at least this time next year. All part of the deal to get him to write this for us, I'm afraid. He's a bit antisocial like that. But anyway, links!
How does an editorial on Why most scary games fail as real horror, and why they always have sound? And then maybe a Photoshop gallery of your favourite video game characters zombified? Yeah? Awesome. Enjoy.