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Our Most Anticipated Psychological Horror Games



Last month, you and I looked at a handful of upcoming sci-fi horror games that have been on my mind lately. I hope our shared journey through space and time was as therapeutic for you as it was for me, because I’d really like to do it again sometime. And by sometime, I mean right now, because if horror games have taught us anything, it’s that life is too precious and brief for us to wait even one minute longer.

Considering what’s coming later this month, it only seemed right that we shift our focus to the psychological horror subgenre. Each of the following titles have at least one thing in common, and that’s to cause mental distress. These games aim to unsettle folks like you and I until we’re deeply uncomfortable and have to cool off with an episode (or six) of Rick and Morty.

Wubba-lubba-dub-dub and away we go!

Can you feel that? It’s sort of like Death him/herself is breathing directly on the back of your neck, scythe raised high, ready to cut you down. This sensation has a name, and it’s called existential dread. Get used to it, because if Outlast 2 is anything like its thoroughly horrifying predecessor, I imagine we’ll all be feeling it throughout much of the game’s running time.

Why We’re Excited: It’s the sequel to one of the scariest games this humble writer has ever played. Isn’t that enough?

Release Date: April 25 (PC, PS4, XBO)

Originally slated for a release this spring, developer SadSquare Studio’s first-person spookfest Visage was recently given a more nebulous release window of “when it’s ready”. The team behind it isn’t rushing the game, which managed to raise about $90k on Kickstarter last March, and I’m not going to complain. No sir. P.T. and (one of) the games its cancellation inspired has caused enough of a raucous already. There’s a lot of potential here, and from the looks of it, Visage isn’t likely to disappoint.

Why We’re Excited: On the growing list of indies P.T. inspired, Visage is easily one of the most impressive attempts to make up for the very bad thing Konami did to us.

Release Date: Late 2017 (PC, PS4, XBO)

The Works of Mercy may be the “purest” psychological horror game on this list, and I say that because it appears to be going the furthest in making you, the player, feel as scared and uncomfortable as the avatar you’ll control. Inspired by Polanski’s Replusion and Kubrick’s The Shining, this freaky thriller — another crowdfunding success story — stands apart in what it asks from you. Can you justify taking an innocent life in order to save someone you love? The Works of Mercy will force you to answer that question, and more.

Why We’re Excited: It’s only a game, but it’s one that asks some rather tough questions regarding morality and how far you’re willing to go for family.

Release Date: TBA 2017 (PC)

I’m surprised it’s taken so long for a game developer to try and tackle something like H.G. Wells’ book The Island of Doctor Moreau. A secluded island populated by half-man, half-animal chimera seems like it’d work nicely as the setting for a video game. Such a mash-up is currently gestating over at the Paris-based indie outfit Frog Factory, which hopes to put its own twist on the classic source material with something called Heathen.

Where Wells’ novel mostly focused on our capacity for cruelty and what it means to be human, Heathen flips that on its head by letting one of Moreau’s living experiments take center stage. Heathen is an episodic release, with the first chapter coming (hopefully) later this year.

Why We’re Excited: Unique source material, visuals powered by CryEngine, and MANIMALS.

Release Date: TBA 2017 (PC)

In Absention, it’s you against the world. In this case, the world is a lake house you inherited from your father after mysteriously disappeared — the house probably swallowed him whole, House on Haunted Hill style — and now, it wants you. This game has a feature called “time loop gameplay” that we’ll henceforth refer to as the Groundhog Day Mechanic, or GDM. As the name implies, the GDM means you’ll be experiencing the same day over and over and over again, so you can learn from your mistakes and adapt. You won’t, however, have the chance to learn the layout of the house, thanks to the procedurally generated environments and randomized item locations.

Why We’re Excited: Well, there’s the Groundhog Day Mechanic, of course. And the procedural generation, too. This game also has loads of brain-bending puzzles and support for the Oculus Rift.

Release Date: TBA 2017 (PC)

Three of the games on this list were inspired by P.T., a game that wouldn’t even exist anymore if it weren’t for the lucky few who never deleted it from their console’s hard drive. Conscious Mind joined the similarly themed Visage and Allison Road when it was first announced at E3 last year with an appropriately surreal reveal trailer. Moonville Entertainment has made what looks to be shaping up into a very handsome video game. Here’s to hoping it’s tall, dark and spooky.

Why We’re Excited: Conscious Mind doesn’t just hope to realize what might’ve been had Konami not decided to be such a giant bag of dicks. It’s also very pretty.

Release Date: TBA 2017 (PC)

Okay, so The Works of Mercy isn’t the only psychological horror game on this list that’s eager to drop us into uncomfortable situations. Rides With Strangers has a similar goal, and it’s borrowed a classic scary movie premise that should be familiar to anyone who’s watched in horror as the unsuspecting protagonist(s) enters a vehicle driven by a total lunatic. If you’ve stepped into a taxi and found reason to be concerned about the driver’s mental state, this game is going to exploit that (totally rational) fear.

Why We’re Excited: The Works of Mercy has a premise inspired by classic horror flicks and a cast of crazies who have been “meticulously constructed” with unique looks and dialogue.

Release Date: 2017 (PC, PS4, XBO)

You might remember Allison Road as the first indie game to take advantage of the sad situation with P.T. — ya know, the one where Konami suddenly transformed into a sort of giant, cavernous butthole that laid waste Godzilla style to all our hopes and dreams. You might also remember how it almost met the same fate as the very game that inspired it. It would’ve been a poetic fate to be sure, but I much prefer it be given the opportunity to make good on its promise to fill the P.T.-shaped hole in my heart.

Why We’re Excited: Damn near-photorealistic visuals and a legit terrifying bloody-mouthed ghost girl who chases you around a British townhouse. Surely that’s a winner.

Release Date: TBA (PC)

Red Thread Games has kept mum on the first-person psychological survival horror game Draugen, revealing little since it was first unveiled nearly four years ago. Set in 1923, Draugen revolves around a secluded fishing village on the western coast of Norway where all its inhabitants are nowhere to be seen. I bet the disappearance has something to do with Scandinavian folklore and/or Norse legends, both of which Draugen borrows from. As far as I know, this game is still coming. I sincerely hope it is, anyway, because if there are two things I can never get enough of, it’s fjords and freaky foreign folklore.

Why We’re Excited: According to Red Thread’s head honcho, Ragnar Tørnquist, Draugen can be described as “H.P. Lovecraft meets Dostoyevsky,” or “Gone Home meets Amnesia.” ‘Nuff said.

Release Date: TBA (PC, PS4, XBO)

That’s it! Tell me which of these games you’re most looking forward to in the comments below.