The Halloween List Pt. 3: Horror-Themed PC Games (1994-1995)

Horror-themed PC gaming has been going on for some time, beginning with text adventures and continuing with the action-adventures that we play today.  Some games use psychological suspense with a foreboding atmosphere, while others go for a gruesome gorefest.  It’s no surprise that there are as many variations of horror-themed games as there are in horror movies.  This series looks at those games (sorted by their release dates), and made before 2000, because after all, this is a blog about retrogaming!

Today is Part Three – 1994 though 1995…

Visit Part One here: The Halloween List Pt. 1: Horror-Themed Games PC Games (1986-1990)

Visit Part Two here: The Halloween List Pt. 2: Horror-Themed Games PC Games (1991-1993)

Alone in the Dark 3 (Infogrames, 1994). Edward Carnby is called to find out what happened to a film crew missing in an Old West ghost town built over an Indian burial ground that was once renowned for the murderers living there. Maybe not the best place to
place a movie set, but maybe the producers were strapped for budget space. Unfortunately, Carnby’s old friend, Emily, was part of the crew, and he must rescue her or discover her fate!
Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse (Viacom New Media, 1994).  Based on and using the same actors from the cheesy Nickelodeon television series, this game uses Full Motion Video to tell a tale of a haunted theatre, the Mad Magician Orpheo, and the mystery that surrounds them both.  If you were a fan of the show, you’ll love the game.  If you thought the show blew chunks, the game won’t impress you, either.
Doom II (id Software, 1994).  The unnamed Marine has cleaned up Mars, but after returning to Earth discovers that the demon hordes have already arrived.  It’s time to clean up another mess before Hell on Earth becomes a reality.  Similar in gameplay to the first game with a few new nasty surprises around darkened corners.
Night Trap (Digital Pictures, Inc., 1994).  Five girls disappeared without a trace after attending a party, and now the owners of the house have invited five more! This was a Full Motion Video (FMV) game that originated on the Sega CD, with the player stuck trying to save the lovely young ladies while staving off the vampires that want to drink their blood. Oh yeah, the house is basically one big trap, too.  Run, bad actresses, run!
Noctropolis (Electronic Arts, 1994).  The Batmanesque Darksheer fights crime and worse in the city where the sun never shines, except he’s missing in action, your character is dressed up like him with no idea how they got there, and his five worst enemies have joined forces to hunt him down and kill him.  The Succubus is the reason for inclusion in this list, as she represents exactly what her name suggests she does.
Ravenloft: Strahd’s Possession (Strategic Simulations, Inc., 1994).  Create a party of adventurers to travel the evil-infested lands of Ravenloft, ultimately facing Count Strahd von Barovich himself.  A first-person perspective RPG, this was one of the best SSI AD&D adventures, and one of two horror-themed ones to use the AD&D license.
System Shock (Origin Systems, Inc., 1994).  An adventure game mixed with a shooter and set in an abandoned (yeah, right) space station controlled by SHODAN, a rogue computer with a disdain for human life.  A true classic and an amazing game in its day, with reviewers making statements like, “Doom who?”.
Call of Cthulhu: Prisoner of Ice (Infogrames, 1995).  Another H.P. Lovecraft based adventure game, this time taking place in the confinement of a British submarine.  The crew has visited Antarctica on a rescue mission, taking aboard to mysterious crates during the excitement.  What was in the crates, and how does it relate to the crew’s horrific fate?
“D” (Acclaim Entertainment, 1995).  What could make a respected hospital director slaughter his patients and staff in one bloodstained Los Angeles evening?  His daughter, Laura, enters the hospital to find out, even as the voice of her father begs her to stay away. What really happened that night drives the plot of this moody puzzle-based adventure game.
Darkseed II (Cyberdreams, Inc., 1995).  Another H.R. Giger influenced adventure game, with Mike, last seen defeating the Ancients who implanted the dark seed in his mind, attending his high school reunion.  Unfortunately, during the night his high school sweetheart is brutally murdered, with Mike having no memory of the event and being the prime suspect.  What really happened that night, and how can Mike prove he’s innocent?
Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster (Interplay Productions, 1995).  You wake up in a laboratory to realize two things: you are Frankenstein, reanimated, and Tim Curry is the Doctor hamming it up in front of you.  Why were you brought back and how can you escape? The answer is found in the puzzles throughout the castle, and all the action is done by live actors on a digitized background. What’s a Halloween tale without Tim Curry?  

Ravenloft: Stone Prophet (Strategic Simulations, Inc., 1995).  Return to the dreaded lands of Ravenloft, with this adventure set in the shifting sands of Har’Akir.  The ancient mummy Anhktepot rises from his eternal sleep, and your party of adventurers needs to help him back into his grave.  A first-person RPG with great graphics and some tough puzzles to solve.  

Roberta Williams’ Phantasmagoria (Sierra On-Line, 1995). Who would have thought the Queen of all-ages adventure gaming could produce a grisly horror masterpiece? Well, she did!  In shades of The Shining, Adrienne moves into an old mansion which begins to turn her husband into a raving lunatic whose murderous rampage she must escape.  Perhaps this was really a marriage therapy session for Ken and Roberta Williams in disguise?
Shivers (Sierra On-Line, 1995).  Accepting the challenge to spend a night in a reputedly haunted museum, the player’s character soon finds themselves on a mission to capture the source of the haunting, the evil Ixupi (South American ghosts).  A bit of an oddity for a Sierra title, this game plays more like a cross between The 7th Guest and Myst.  The puzzles can be difficult to solve, and the creepy atmosphere of a museum in the middle of the night make this a great game to play.
Terror T.R.A.X.: Track of the Vampire (Grolier Electronic Publishing, Ltd., 1995).  Hard to see why this game got a sequel, but it did.  Players get “A” or “B” choices as they play the game, and whatever they choose is reflected in the characters’ actions. Yes, there’s vampires to kill, and the game can have some grisly scenes, but, come on…it’s more like an interactive book than a game.
The 11th Hour (Trilobyte & Virgin Interactive, 1995).  Old Man Stauf is back in the sequel to The 7th Guest.  This time around, an investigative reporter goes missing within Stauf’s mansion, and it’s up to her boyfriend, Carl, to either rescue her or learn her ultimate fate. The game is still a series of puzzles with Full Motion Video clips as the reward, although the production quality is better than its predecessor due to better video compression technology.
The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery (Sierra On-Line, 1995).  The Schattenjaeger returns to supernatural action, this time in Bavaria where the villagers are being harassed by a wolf-like creature.  This was the second game in the series, and was shot with live actors yet played as a standard adventure game.  Once again written by Jane Jensen, this game set the gold bar standard for horror games! For a deeper review of the game, click Retro Game of the Week: The Beast Within – A Gabriel Knight Mystery.
The Dark Eye (Inscape, 1995).  This adventure game is based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe, and typical of a Poe tale, follows the cast of characters’ gradual descent into madness from an innocuous beginning.  If you’re looking for a new source of nightmares, this game is for you.  A true horror classic.
The Residents: Bad Day on the Midway (Inscape, 1995).  To escape the depression of an unlucky day, little Timmy decides to head to the Midway for a little fun.  Unfortunately for Timmy, the Midway is filled with unhappy people with dark secrets, and to escape, Timmy must jump into the mind of each character, living their life and learning their secrets – which takes more than one playthrough of the game to do.  Is this really a game or an elaborate piece of performance art?
Zeddas: Servant of Sheol (Caravan Interactive, 1995). Yet another adventure game set in a haunted castle, this time with a demon as the source of the troubles.  The castle was invaded by the demon and its army, and then removed from this reality. Finding your way inside, your character must defeat Zeddas and its minions to bring the castle back.  Some disturbing, horrific scenes make this first-person game “not for the kiddies!”.  Incidentally, this game was designed by Haruhiko Shono, an award-winning Japanese game designer.


3 Responses

  1. […] The Halloween List Pt. 3: Horror-Themed PC Games (1994-1995) […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by magisterrex – Dan, Nreive. Nreive said: RT @magisterrex: The Halloween List – Horror-Themed PC Games (1994-1995): […]

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