After the disappointment that was “The Evil Within” I’ve decided to go back to games that actually freaked my beans a little.
I will concede that the first Dead Space game can be considered “scary” and a “survival horror” game. The sequels it spawned did not scare me nor make me feel as if I was “surviving”. With that being said, I retire Dead Space as last-gen’s “scariest game”. I do not agree with that statement but I can understand why it is accepted as a truth among the community.
If sci-fi horror does not interest you, would you be interested in playing through your own nightmare? Do you own a PS3 or Xbox 360?
It is an absolute shame that Konami did not kickstart a yearly Saw game early on in the film’s franchise. The Saw video games came around as the film’s premise was stretching very thin. If these games came when the franchise was hot, I think you’d be staring at a very different series.
Let me get one thing straight. The Saw video games are not terrifying at all. They are, however, a little disturbing. The environment is so familiar that the player can immediately connect with it. You begin to see yourself as the barefoot protagonist walking slowly upon glass shards to avoid cutting your feet. Every time you see a clock countdown, your heart beats faster the closer the timer gets to zero. You begin to hear the other test subjects getting closer. Suddenly your collar beeps to life, giving away your location. The test subject sees you and charges you. Your options are to fight or flee. If the player is in close proximity with a test subject, their shotgun collar becomes active. If it is active for too long. BOOM! You are dead.
The first Saw video game does not stray far from the tried and true formula of survival horror. You are minimally equipped most of the game. You have a few shivs which allow you to murder quickly or force your way into a locked space in addition to a few melee weapons. However the combat quickly falls apart once you start participating in combat. Your fist is the best weapon. Every other weapon is sluggish and useless by comparison.
The earlier portion of the first game are more thrilling because the game is more fresh. By the end, you’ve solved every type of puzzle more than once and every major trap more or less hinges on the same mechanic.
The environment is still creepy throughout.
Saw 2 (Video game) does a much better job maintaining freshness throughout the game. The major fault is that the game manages to make bad combat even worse by replacing it entirely with a quicktime event. The combat is awful.
However, what the game lacks in action mechanics, it makes up in abundance with environment and puzzle mechanics. There are puzzles that instantly feel familiar as well as returning mechanics but there are new traps and traps that are less repetitive or do not appear as often. In Saw 2, you feel as though your problem solving skills are being tested a bit more. It is true that the idea of using your flashlight to illuminate glow-in-the-dark paint is used excessively, there are puzzles that rely on code cracking abilities or spacial reasoning and even your perception, perspective or point of view. For instance, when forcing your way through a locked door using a nail in a lock, the camera shifts to the point of view of the nail as you guide it/rotate the tumblers so it can unlock the door.
The story from the Saw game is more or less what you’d expect from the movie but stretched over a six to ten hour game. I wont spoil the story but honestly, pound for pound this is the scariest franchise of last generation.
The games really only fall flat when it comes to combat and how repetitive the puzzles can be. The environment and sense of dread is spot on.
I recommend checking them out in order. If you did not like the first, the second game will not do anything for you.
The Jaded Gamer (IamFN2K@gmail.com)