Haunting Ground

I love survival horror games, though I haven’t played as many of them as I would like. I tried to play Silent Hill on the Wii once, but I panic-waggled the remote so hard that I injured my shoulder. I did manage to complete Amnesia: The Dark Descent though, so I can be pretty hardcore when I try (just don’t tell anyone I only played it during the daytime and I screamed the whole time).

Yaaaaay I’m so hardcore!

With the popularity of  games like Amnesia and Slender, there’s been a resurgence in survival horror games that emphasise the survival aspect of survival horror. No more overpowered weapons.  No more copious supplies of ammo.  All you can do is run, hide and hope to god that you maintain your sanity long enough to find a way out.

I love these sorts of games. They really compliment my play style of freaking out and flailing madly while bumping into walls and crying like a little girl.

An old favourite of mine is a PS2 game called Haunting Ground (known as Demento in Japan).

In Haunting Ground, you play as Fiona, a young girl who awakes from a car crash to find herself held captive in a mysterious castle. The creepy inhabitants of the castle are out to get you (and your ovaries, or something like that) and you have no choice but to run and hide when you see them coming. The castle is littered with hiding spots, but the enemies aren’t always easily fooled. Hide in the same place one too many times and they will flush you out.  If Fiona panics the screen becomes blurred and her movements grow increasingly difficult to control, which usually results in death. Her death is never actually shown, but the sound effects that play over the game over screen suggest some truly horrific things are being done to her.

Your only protection against these creepy bastards is a dog named Hewie. Hewie will attack enemies, help you solve puzzles and warn you of imminent danger.  But you need to actively build your  relationship with Hewie. Pet him and praise him often and he will be more responsive to your commands. Kick him too many times and he won’t come to your rescue at all, potentially ending the game early. It’s kind of like Nintendogs meets Silent Hill.

I played this quite a few years ago so I’m not sure how well it holds up today, but if you can track down a copy it’s well worth a play. The atmosphere is suitably chilling, and the soundtrack is incredibly frightening. The companionship of Hewie never feels like an escort mission (if anything, Hewie is the one doing the escorting). If I could compare it to anything I’d say it’s almost a survival horror version of Ico. At the very least it will keep you satisfied until Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs comes out.

If, of course, you think you are going to be able to handle that one!


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