Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

Below you will find the 25 best horror games ever released on PC. To ensure the list was as accurate as possible, the compiler was locked in a dark cellar with a copy of every game in existence and a computer capable of running them all. Two weeks later, the following article was found written on the walls in blood (the postscript was recorded on an audiolog). The writer was nowhere to be seen.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Dead Space is a game so unsettling it took me years to finish it. Soon after its original 2008 release, I abandoned my first attempt. I d played and enjoyed horror games before, but something felt different about what Dead Space had to offer. I couldn t take it. Years later I would end up completing the game, but I ve never forgotten the initial anxiety that it stirred up in me. Setting aside the missteps the series would end up taking in its second and third entries, what the original Dead Space accomplishes is simple in its frightening elegance: You re trapped on a ghost ship in the midst of its own industrial/organic nightmare and you have to escape.

Much of the anxiety that I find simultaneously attractive and repulsive in Dead Space is tied to the worn-down, blue-collar approach of its story and setting aboard the massive Ishimura mining vessel. As a kid growing up around the deep, dark waters of Puget Sound, WA, I would watch big tankers roll into Commencement Bay and anchor in the shadow of the giant copper smelting tower that used to overlook the area there. It was a filthy place and I d wonder what part those mysterious rusty ships had to play in that toxic wasteland. Where in all the world had they been and what had they brought back with them?

This was the image Dead Space had drawn from my memory and that had bothered me so much. And it s one that still fascinates me, even as the game s jumps scares and lighting tricks lose their intended effect on repeated playthroughs.

This edition of If you like deals with big ships and the mysterious, sometimes evil cargo they carry. I ve picked out some novels, comics, and films that deal with what I think is Dead Space s central theme—machines that bring us into contact with new fears as well as show us the ones that travel with us all the time.

Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

Rendezvous with Rama

Clarke s 1973 novel anticipates and works with many themes that have become a staple of late-20th century science fiction. The development of planet earth in response to catastrophe, the limits of technology, and the difficulties of inter-species communication. But just like Dead Space, Rama also functions as a hard-sci-fi adventure story that puts a host of problems at the feet of some pilots and engineers and asks them to find a solution.

In the novel, a massive celestial object appears in earth s solar system. First thought to be an asteroid, it s actually an interstellar spacecraft. But the destination of the ship is unknown. The drama of the story plays out as the crew of the only ship that s near enough to make contact—a solar survey vessel—begins to explore the alien craft. The novel is a great example of Clarke s tightly controlled characterization and attention to scientific detail and plausibility. While Rama isn t a novel of space horror per se, its sense of urgency, claustrophobia and mystery should appeal to fans of Dead Space.

The Thing, directed by John Carpenter

Beyond the obvious references to the 1982 John Carpenter classic in terms of Dead Space s body horror and gore, the psychological dimension of this film also has a lot to offer. We re confronted fairly early in the film with the horrific implications of an alien being bent on murderous replication. But it s the response of the men to the psychological challenges brought on by their isolation in Antarctica that lends the film its true narrative pulse: Who can they trust? How do they escape this scenario?

Carpenter gathers a superb group of character actors to play out this test of wills, led by Kurt Russell who turns in a sardonic performance as a chess-playing helicopter pilot bent on survival. It s also worth checking out the original novella upon which the film is based—John W. Campbell s Who Goes There?

For a slightly less-serious take from Carpenter on isolation and the horrors of space, you might also be interested in his 1974 movie Dark Star. The movie follows a stressed-out group of men who work as a kind of wrecking crew in deep space, launching bombs to destroy dangerous or problematic planets and moons. Sometimes billed as a comedy, the low-budget Dark Star helped kickstart the career of Alien writer Dan O Bannon who acts in the picture.

Southern Cross, story by Becky Cloonan, art by Andy Belanger

Southern Cross

A new comic from Image that s only on its third issue, Southern Cross hits all the right notes for dark and ambitious ship-based sci-fi. The narrative so far follows the journey of Alex Braith, a woman traveling from earth to the Titan moon in order to collect the body of her dead sister. A solitary and—perhaps—troubled woman, Braith has to find a way to make it through the voyage to Titan on the giant Southern Cross spaceship, an industrial tanker and personnel carrier that appears to have a few horrors of its own to reveal.

Along the way Braith encounters a variety of strange types all looking to dig some kind of meaning out of a solar system structured around the faceless corporations that keep the fuel flowing. The writing is pithy and authentic, an approach that gels nicely with Belanger s Moebius-influenced art style. Belanger s art not only captures the sharp edges of Braith s emotional landscape, but also works brilliantly at depicting the technological complexity and scale of the comic s grimy industrial universe.

Event Horizon, directed by Paul Anderson

The movie follows a rescue crew on a mission to investigate the sudden reappearance of a ship that had been missing for seven years. That ship, the Event Horizon, was tasked with attempting to make mankind s first interstellar voyage through the use of a new propulsion system that exploits gravity. Now that the Event Horizon s returned, and in a decaying orbit around Neptune, the rescue crew and the ship s designer head out to try and find out what s become of its mission.

It s no secret that horror films like Event Horizon lose a bit of their punch on repeated viewings. But I ll never forget the sheer bizarreness of my first encounter with this movie in the late-1990s. Although it was a critical and box office flop, it was the kind of film you d pick out and watch with friends just to see how they would respond—kind of like The Shining in this way.

The film s look and story owe a lot to earlier movies such as Solaris and Alien, and were an obvious influence on the aesthetics of Dead Space. And from its costuming to its acting and practical special effects, the nearly-20-year-old film holds up remarkably well. If you like Dead Space and haven t seen Event Horizon yet, it s a must-see. 

For more installments of If you like... , check out Patrick s recommendations for The Witcher, Dishonored, Mass Effect, Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Deus Ex fans. 

Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on Dead Space™ 2!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Wednesday at 10AM Pacific Time
PC Gamer

Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting PC gaming days gone by. Today, Andy goes out on a limb to reexamine Dead Space.

There were 1,332 crew members on the USG Ishimura, but it took an unassuming engineer with a power tool to defeat the ungodly evil that devastated their ship. Isaac Clarke (see what they did there?) is the unlikely hero of Dead Space, an atmospheric space horror game that came out of nowhere at the end of 2008.

After losing contact with the Ishimura, a massive planet cracker mining ship, the owners send a small team—of which Clarke is a member—to find out what happened. When they get there the ship seems abandoned and its lights are mysteriously out, so they go aboard to investigate. Bad idea.

There s nothing that unique about Dead Space. Its mix of cold, industrial sci-fi and gruesome bio-horror has been done many times before, from Alien to System Shock. But it makes up for a lack of original ideas by just being really good.

Borrowing heavily from Shinji Mikami s peerless Resident Evil 4, it s an over-theshoulder shooter that blends slow, atmospheric horror with bloody action. You can trace almost every moment back to a film, but it s so fun, so atmospheric, and so well-designed that it doesn t matter. It s a loving homage to classic horror and sci-fi cinema.

Playing it now, seven years later, I m amazed at how good it looks. A few blurry textures and low-poly character models aside, the Ishimura is still a wonderfully atmospheric environment. It s a claustrophobic warren of oppressive metal corridors that owes a lot to Alien s USCSS Nostromo. The single setting is one of its greatest strengths, giving the developers the chance to really flesh it out. It feels like a real, lived-in place that was once teeming with people, which makes its current abandoned state even more eerie.

You move through different areas—engineering, medical, the crew quarters—and in this sense it s reminiscent of BioShock s Rapture, revealing more about the place and its former inhabitants as you delve deeper into it.

The Ishimura has a lot of dark secrets to be discovered, chiefly its ties to Unitology: a fairly obvious Scientology spoof that would come to form the backbone of the series mythology over the two sequels. There s a reason why the crew are all dead and the ship is swarming with monstrous creatures, and a desire to find out keeps you engaged.

The enemies, called necromorphs, are straight out of the Stan Winston book of creature design John Carpenter s brooding 80s horror classic The Thing is a clear inspiration. To design them, Visceral s artists studied photos of car crash victims and war casualties.

Compared to, say, the genuinely unsettling denizens of Silent Hill, they do look fairly ridiculous. They re bloody constructions of squished-together body parts that flail and screech as they predictably burst out of vents. But in the heat of the moment, with five of them bearing down on you, pincers swinging, they re an effective foe.

Dead Space isn t scary. It falls into the Resident Evil camp of horror games, with cheap jump scares and tension-building looming large in its vocabulary. It won t affect you on some deep, psychological level, and it won t tease out deep-seated primal fears. It s more like a ghost train, with people in white sheets popping up and going Boo! But that s fine, because the game has no pretensions otherwise. Never knowing when a necromorph is going to come bursting through a door or out of shadowy corner is what keeps the tension taut and constant.

To defeat these creatures, you have to take advantage of the game s strategic dismemberment gimmick. You can t kill a necromorph just by blasting at it with the game s array of deadly engineering tools—you have to sever its limbs.

The game teaches you this by having the words "CUT OFF THEIR LIMBS" scrawled on a wall in blood. Then it tells you in a tutorial. Then an audio diary. Then another tutorial. Subtlety is not really the game s strong point. There are a few quieter, more thickly atmospheric moments, which sadly fall by the wayside as the game gets increasingly louder and more action-packed: a crescendo that kept on going until the end of the underwhelming Dead Space 3.

The score, although largely forgettable, makes use of Krzysztof Penderecki-style timpani rolls and sharp, piercing strings to build the suspense, a ploy straight out of Kubrick s The Shining. Visceral watched hours of horror films during the game s development to get ideas for scares. Cult scary sci-fi flick Event Horizon is another obvious influence, with a story, locations, and monster designs so similar, it almost feels like an adaptation at times.

This is a game that s quite unashamedly steeped in imagery and sounds from the silver screen. As a result it can feel overly imitative, but a few visual elements—particularly the green glow of Isaac s clunky helmet and the Unitology stuff—are distinctly its own creation.

PC gamers were short-changed with the port, and you ll need to tweak a few things to get it running satisfactorily on modern machines. Disabling vsync on modern GPUs causes certain events not to trigger, making progress impossible. But with it enabled, the game feels unplayably slow and clunky. You have to disable it in-game, then enable it through your graphics card control panel to fix this.

There s also appalling mouse/controller lag on some PCs. But wrestle with this stuff successfully and you ll discover an enjoyable horror romp with a memorable setting and great set-pieces.

In moving away from a single, focused setting and introducing more third-person shooting, the sequels never really recaptured the magic of the first game. Hopefully the next—if they ever make another—will take a step back and try another smaller, slower game like the first. Alien: Isolation is proof that bigger and louder isn t always better.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Nathan Grayson)

Ahhhhhh, memories.

What is the most terrifying thing? I mean aside from spiders. And human nature. And that one episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Yep, that’s right: being forced to admit there is a legitimate> reason to open Origin, to dig it out of your PC’s sullen grave of a start menu and rack your brain to remember your password. But at least now you can pair terror with terror, as Dead Space will be completely free on Origin until May 8th. And that’s free to keep> – not just to play.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
Dead Space

EA doesn't want your money anymore. Well, it does, but mostly for its newer and shinier selections. Starting today, the publisher will choose one older game from its library and offer it On the House, a new Origin category for games available free of charge. First up: Visceral's disturb-tastic Dead Space.

EA hasn't specifically said how long an On the House promotion will run for a given game, but judging from the expiration date displayed for Dead Space (May 8), we could add a free title to our libraries once every month or so. Otherwise, the promotion looks pretty string-less. It's also a rather strong display of EA's apparent intent to park itself with other online markets running similar costless campaigns such as GOG. "Who doesn't want free stuff?" reads the diminutive FAQ. Who, indeed?

On the House is on Origin, and you can grab Dead Space either through the client or via the website.
Shacknews - Andrew Yoon
Updated with information on EA's "On the House" promo. If for some reason, you've yet to play the original Dead Space, you'll be able to pick it up for free on Origin today. Simply add the game to your cart and checkout, and it'll be added to your digital library.
PC Gamer

EA getting a Humble Bundle sounds like a thing that should raise eyebrows, but considering how much money is being raised for charity right now - and how many normally-quite-expensive games can be had for pocket money - I'm finding that my cynicism chip is just not activating. The explosion-studded bundle has raised nearly $8.5 million already, with EA's entire share going to charities the Human Rights Campaign, watsi, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. In addition to the likes of Dead Space 3, Mirror's Edge and Battlefield 3, you can now get C&C: Red Alert 3 - Uprising and Populous if you pay over the average of $4.84.

Here's the full list. Pay what you want to get Dead Space, Dead Space 3, Burnout Paradise Ultimate, Crysis 2, Mirror's Edge and Medal of Honor, or pay over the average to get C&C: Red Alert 3 Uprising, Populous, Battlefield 3 and The Sims 3 thrown in too. You'll get Steam keys for some of the games, plus the soundtracks to BF3 and The Sims 3. It's quite a good deal, and it's quite a good deal that ends in five days.
PC Gamer
Mirror's Edge

The Humble Origin Bundle is live, allowing you to pay what you want for Dead Space, Dead Space 3, Burnout Paradise, Crysis 2, Mirror's Edge, and Medal of Honor. Paying more than the average (roughly $5 at the time of this post) unlocks Battlefield 3 and The Sims 3 with some DLC.And all of EA's share goes to charity.

I know, right?

The offer runs for two weeks, and benefits the Human Rights Campaign, watsi, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Bought separately, the bundle would cost over $200 U.S. While Origin keys are provided for all of the games, you'll also get Steam keys for each of the games that are available on Valve's platform. Origin is also throwing in the soundtracks for Battlefield 3 and The Sims 3.

Check out the whole bundle at It's a heck of a deal.
Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on Dead Space Pack!

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!


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