I’ve checked and I’ve somehow not written about any old-school horror games in the years I’ve spent writing and editing for The Courier. Have I ever told you how pants-shittingly scary old horror games are? Everything from camera angles, ammunition scarcity, limited saves and the naturally weird sounding SFX and soundtrack just make them so damned uncomfortable to play, and I love them.
However, for me there’s an undisputed king of 1990s console horror games; and that is the glorious tension of the Resident Evil franchise before the release of Resident Evil 4. Don’t get me wrong, 4 is great, but it’s not… scary.
You know what is scary, though? Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
For me there’s an undisputed king of 1990s console horror games; and that is the glorious tension of the Resident Evil franchise.
You know what makes this game scary? First off let me explain the damned static camera. This means that you see what the game wants you to see at all times. The tension of not being able to know what’s around the corner until you round the corner, the inability to see into rooms extending off of a corridor because the camera doesn’t look that way until you’re actually in the room. It’s the camera that makes combat difficult – aiming is so much more difficult when you’re not looking over your character’s shoulder, and whilst the majority of undead enemies are slow enough that you can manage, it’s still the frantic procedures of switching to inventory to check your ammo count, reloading your weapon, and deciding when to conserve ammunition and use your knife.
So imagine you’re used to quite slow enemies – apart from those goddamn zombie dogs that die pretty easily – and you come down a set of stairs with a large panelled window at the bottom, only for the window to shatter and a ten-foot monstrosity to burst through the window. This isn’t the first encounter with the creature known as Nemesis but this opening is unforgettable. His entire existence throws a spanner into how you’ve played the previous Resident Evil games (which I suggest you all try to find). He’s fast, he’s armed with a long-range rocket launcher, and he’s an absolute bullet sponge. Don’t think you can put him down permanently though – he’s got some mad Wolverine-esque healing-factor plot device that means that he will recover from whatever you throw at him and he will come back to hunt you – and only you – down.
It’s what made Alien: Isolation so good in 2014, what makes games like Outlast so good – the fear of a known enemy that you just can’t shake off.
You’re not just trying to escape from a house, or a city, or a nuclear explosion. You’re trying to escape from something hunting you down. It’s what made Alien: Isolation so good in 2014, what makes games like Outlast so good – the fear of a known enemy that you just can’t shake off. These enemies make everything else scarier – if you’ve burned through all your shotgun ammo trying to fend off the Nemesis, it’s going to make fighting the regular zombies so much harder, and the tension will only build if the last time you managed to save was before you fought the Nemesis last time round.
This game is perfect for anyone who likes to be kept up at night. Just, when you round a corner and hear that ominous, guttural cry of “Staaaaars…” – don’t say I haven’t warned you.