During recent Summer Game Fest events, trailers for several upcoming games such as The Callisto Protocol, Aliens: Dark Descent, Fort Solis, and Routine proved that horror games set in space continue to be hugely popular. Since nothing is scarier than the vastness, emptiness, and weirdness of space, it’s no surprise that many upcoming games attempt to tap into cosmic horror and fear of the unknown. that the universe provides.
While waiting for these new titles, gamers should explore some of the space horror games that already exist. Some of these titles, such as dead space series, helped shape the history of the game.
The White Room (2005)
Originally created for a university project, The white room is a 2005 indie point-and-click adventure game that features animated cutscenes, voice acting, approximately two hours of gameplay, and eight possible endings. The game follows an amnesiac woman who wakes up in a coffin in a large abandoned space station. As she explores the rusty facility and avoids the terrifying creatures, she slowly uncovers the mysteries behind her past, the train station and the titular “White Room”.
Although the development team behind the project disbanded shortly after this game was completed, lead designer Richard Perrin continued to create the surreal puzzle game. Cairo. Well-known voice actress Kira Buckland, who has voiced many video game and anime characters such as 2B from NieR: Automata, began her career by voicing the heroine in this game.
Yandere Space (2021)
Released in 2021, Yandere space is a Maker-esque RPG adventure that’s also one of the best Yandere-focused games. After an apocalyptic event renders Earth uninhabitable, a small group of humans decide to board a spaceship and travel to a new Earth-like planet. Although she could have stayed to save the planet, one of those humans, Luna, joined the crew simply because she fell in love with one of the other crewmates, Alex.
But, when she finds out that he has started dating another crew member, she snaps and tries to kill everyone on board. As a small orange robot she made named Digit, the player must try to calm her down and save the crew.
Martian Gothic: Unification (2000)
Although considered by critics at the time to be a resident Evil clone, the game 2000 PC and PS1 Martian Gothic: Unification only has the aesthetics of a traditional survival horror while the gameplay is all about point-and-click puzzle solving. Set in 2019, the game follows three characters named Martin Karne, Diane Matlock, and Kenzo Uji, who are sent to the Mars base Vita-01, which was the first human settlement on Mars, to investigate why it has been radio silent for 10 months.
After entering through three separate doors, each of the three characters explores the seemingly abandoned base and discovers that the inhabitants have turned into zombie-like creatures. Since the three characters will also mutate if they meet, the player must constantly switch between them to solve puzzles. Had the game been released a few years earlier, the game’s unique gameplay mechanics and detailed lore might have made the title a classic.
Originally released as a free Flash game on Newgrounds in 2010, then re-released as an updated paid download on Itch.io in 2016, REDUCE is one of the best horror-based Metroidvanias. Players take on the role of an astronaut named Hannah who is forced to land on Mars because her spacecraft ran out of fuel. As she explores the abandoned civilization on Mars and avoids the elaborate defense systems, she finds and slowly takes the glowing gems she needs for fuel.
Although the game initially looks like a metroid clone, the eerie music from iconic Flash horror game creator Amon26 tells players early on that something is wrong. Eventually, the player realizes that by taking the gems, they are destroying the planet, which slowly becomes a mess filled with glitches.
Iron Lung (2022)
Created by David Szymanski, who also developed one of the best horror-based FPS games DUSK, Iron Lung is a 2022 indie atmospheric horror story that combines cosmic horror with ocean horror. After an event known as the “Quiet Rapture” wipes out all habitable stars and planets, the remaining humans who were on space stations and starships struggle to survive on the limited resources that remain.
As an anonymous convict, the player is tasked with investigating an ocean of blood on one of the remaining moons using a poorly constructed submarine dubbed the “iron lung”. If they manage to take the necessary photos, they will get their freedom. But, as they navigate the claustrophobic submarine, they might find they’re not alone.
Alien: Isolation (2014)
Often considered one of the best horror games in the Extraterrestrial franchise and one of the best horror games ever made, Alien: Isolation is a 2014 survival horror stealth game set 15 years after the events of the original 1979 film Extraterrestrial. The game follows Amanda Ripley, who is the daughter of recurring series protagonist Ellen Ripley, as she tries to investigate her mother’s disappearance.
After entering the Sevastopol space station, Amanda discovers that the ship has been completely compromised by the Alien and must find a way to escape. With the Alien’s excellent AI, this game is definitely one of the best stealth titles.
Similar to games like Unleashed loop and lost dimension, GNOSIA is a 2019 game that combines social deduction gameplay with an RPG visual novel. After deciding on the protagonist’s name, stats, icon, and whether it’s male, female, or non-binary, the player finds himself on a spaceship where he discovers that some people in edge were infected by the Gnos, which means they are now Gnosia.
Since the Gnosia are a deadly threat to humans, other teammates must deduce who the Gnosia are before they get killed, which is similar to games like Mafia Where Werewolf. The protagonist and his non-binary ally Setsu are also in a time loop where they must keep playing the game, with everyone having different roles each time. As a human or Gnosia, the player tries to beat each loop while uncovering the truth behind what is happening.
Developed by Arkane Studios, which is best known for the Dishonored series, Prey is a 2017 stealth FPS with RPG and survival horror elements. Set in an alternate universe where technology has advanced rapidly after humans discovered aliens known as Typhon, the player controls a young man or woman named Morgan Yu who is apparently recruited by their brother, Alex, to join the research team on the Talos I space station.
During a suspicious quiz, however, the other humans are suddenly attacked by a Typhoon. Morgan eventually discovers that they have been living on the station for three years already, and the station is now overrun by Typhoon. To deal with this threat, Morgan will need to obtain items, gain alien abilities, and make decisions that will determine which ending the player receives.
Dead Space Series (2008-2013)
With a remake of the first game slated for 2023, now is the perfect time to revisit the dead space franchise. Directly inspired by System shock series and Resident Evil 4, dead space is a trilogy of over-the-shoulder third-person FPS games that follows a ship engineer named Isaac Clarke.
When the USG Ishimura mining ship, where Isaac’s girlfriend currently works, suddenly stops communicating, Isaac joins the crew tasked with figuring out what happened. After arriving, his life changes completely when he discovers that the ship is overrun by grotesque creatures known as Necromorphs, and everything is tied to a strange alien monolith known as the “Red Marker” that the Church of Unitology wants to get.
System Clash Duology (1994-1999)
Nowadays, System shock and System shock 2 are still considered two of the most impactful games ever made. Since several beloved franchises such as Bioshock, dead space, and Deus Ex were all spiritual successors, it’s no surprise that the series returns with a reimagining of the original System shock some time this year.
In this action-adventure FPS game, the player explores vast non-linear environments as he tries to stop an evil artificial intelligence named SHODAN. The sequel also added a new enemy, parasitic worms known as Many, and RPG game mechanics.
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