The Halloween List Pt. 4: Horror-Themed PC Games (1996-1997)

It’s Day 4 of the look at the roots of horror-themed PC gaming, with previous entries examining the period between 1986 to 1995, sorted by release date.  These are the games that came before the Left 4 Dead 2 and the like, and are the retrogaming roots of the entire horror PC game genre.  Some games are sheer bloodsplattered action shooters, others atmospheric adventure games with the sense that something awful is around every corner, and there are many variations inbetween.

Today is Part Four – 1996 though 1997…

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

Alien Trilogy (Acclaim Entertainment, 1996).  It’s time to play Lt. Ripley in a first-person shooter that has heroine killing any alien she finds: drones, facehuggers, dog aliens, and even the Queen.  The game takes place in locales found in the first three movies.  Sounds a lot more fun that it actually is.
Amber: Journeys Beyond (HUE Forest Entertainment, 1996).  An adventure game with a Myst-like game engine, but involving ghosts and a haunted mansion.  Roxy is a paranormal researcher using a new experimental device to seek out ghostly activities. When she mysteriously vanishes during her experiments, her friend Joe must enter the mansion and discover her fate.
Bad Mojo (Acclaim Entertainment, 1996). It’s not everyday you run across a game that transforms your character into a cockroach and sends you on a quest to restore your humanity from the cockroach point of view.  This game has been described as Kafkaesque, and that would be accurate. Freaky!
Caddy Hack (Virgin Interactive, 1996).  It’s a 9-hole miniature golf game, but with a horror theme.  Lots of twisted humor and one or two gruesome scenes (like the Voodoo Baby).   This game was repackaged by a different publisher in 1998 and retitled as “Slice ‘n Hook”. (Yes, the image is for the re-release!)
Harvester (Virgin Interactive, 1996). You play Steve, an amnesiac stuck in Harvest, a small town from the 1950’s,  filled with extremely odd, bloodthirsty folk. You need to escape, but also need to discover why your memories are missing.  The two are connected…but why?  Gruesome and creepy at the same time, with lots of adult situations.
Mummy: Tomb of the Pharaoh (Interplay Productions, 1996).  A rather bland adventure game wherein you play a corporate investigator looking into why a mine in Egypt has stopped producing.  The workers claim that they woke up a mummy and now it’s terrorizing them.  Vast quantities of squandered gaming potential here.
Quake (id Software, 1996).  A true 3-D shooter, this game is included on the list for the various zombies, ghosts, and other undead that show up in some of the levels.  I never thought Quake beat Doom for level design – maybe it was all the bland colors they used.
Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle of Flesh (Sierra On-Line, 1996).  Sequel to Roberta Williams’ classic horror game, but sans Roberta Williams, and not nearly as fun to play.  The story revolves around Curtis, a 30-something with a horrific past and a mysterious present.  Curtis must discover why people around him keep dying, and how that connects to his father’s illegal secret experiment for the very corporation he now works for.
Zombie Wars (Microforum International, 1996).  This arcade shooter sequel to Alien Carnage involves the player making their way through various levels absolutely abounding with zombies.  The ultimate foes are aliens who have a zombie manufacturing base that needs to be destroyed. Wait…what?
Blood (GT Interactive Software, 1997).  Well, the game is aptly named as I doubt you could find a game more gory than this one prior to its release.  A first person shooter with plenty of crazed cultists and undead that keep getting up after you think they’ve expired, this game is a classic.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (Activision, Inc., 1997).  Sometimes you get a bad deal from life, and that’s what happens to Kain, a noble who not only is set upon and killed by bandits, but is also raised from the dead as a blood-thirsty vampire by a secret cabal bent on using him to rule the world.  Kain is a killing machine, one who needs blood to survive, and whose on vitality leaks away as time passes without him getting it. His quest for vengeance and sheer body count make the game for mature gamers only!
Clock Tower (Human Entertainment, Inc., 1997).  Taking inspiration from an 1845 story about the Red, Long-Legged Scissor Man, this frightening adventure game involves a group of orphans who are adopted by a benevolent woman, only to then to be chased down and slain by a psychotic man wielding a giant pair of scissors as a weapon.  Actually, that’s kind of freaky, isn’t it?
Flesh Feast (SegaSoft, Inc., 1997). Another greedy corporation makes a careless mistake and an island paradise shortly becomes the center of a zombie outbreak.  You control one of four characters (or all four by giving orders to the other three to follow), as you try to avoid becoming a zombie snack, rescue any other survivors, and stop the outbreak before it can spread.  This one could have been Left 4 Dead, but somehow just didn’t connect with gamers.  Still, any zombie game featuring golf clubs and chainsaws as weapons can’t be all that bad!
Realms of the Haunting (Gremlin Interactive, 1997).  Another adventure game set in a haunted house, but this time the house is built over an ancient Satanic temple.  The player’s job is to prevent the end of the world by visiting other planes of existence and learn of the true underpinnings of reality.  Full of quasi-mystical, New Age wordplay, which is scarier than the plot.
Resident Evil (Virgin Interactive, 1997).  A special operations team is sent in to investigate a series of odd deaths in the outskirts of Raccoon City, only to be trapped within a mansion filled with the walking dead…and worse.  A classic PC game in the survival horror genre!
Shivers 2: Harvest of Souls (Sierra On-Line, 1997).  The second game of the Shivers series, this time taking the action out of the museum and into Cyclone, a small deserted town in the American southwest.  You’re supposed to meet the rest of your band there, but not only are your friends missing, so is the entire town.  Clues are found by solving puzzles as well as watching music videos, which was somewhat unique.


2 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by magisterrex – Dan, magisterrex – Dan. magisterrex – Dan said: The Halloween List Pt. 4: Horror-Themed PC Games (1996-1997): […]

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