Eyes on You

As is my MO, I bought a cheapo little horror video game for Switch recently. It’s called Eyes: The Horror Game. If that title isn’t enough to make you cock an eyebrow in suspicion, nothing is. In actuality though, Eyes: The Horror Game is generally pretty fun! It’s a mobile port, so… you know. Super short and simple, but I can’t really leverage any major complaints.

As a survival horror game, your objective in Eyes is to run around a spooky environment whilst searching for and collecting bags of sweet, sweet cash. Oh and also there are monsters roaming around who are none too shy about murdering you. There are three stages, each with its own unique monster and mechanics. That’s not really much to burn through, but there are some extra modes and other incentives to keep playing.

Continue reading

Fazbear Frights

Lately, I haven’t been able to spend more than about thirty seconds at a time thinking about anything that is not somehow related to Five Nights at Freddy’s. I’ll admit it: I’m obsessed. It waxes and wanes, but I’m being hit really hard right now. And it’s all because of Five Nights at Freddy’s VR.

I really wanted to write something about the game other than how I’m a big baby and have a really hard time playing it, and in typical Ryan fashion, the easy out seemed to be a list that ranked each mini-game by how scary it is. So I made up a spreadsheet and started sorting them out and… Well, the game actually did a great job of already having them in a pretty good order. There really wasn’t much for me to add.

So instead, I’m just going to point out something that I found notable: The mini-games in FNAF VR that are directly based on the previous games in the series are by far the most frightening of the bunch. The mini-games that are more “inspired by” previous titles spooked me pretty good too, but when I look at the list of mini-games that I’ve been able to complete, there’s a pretty clear trend. The Dark Rooms, Parts & Service, and Vent Repair categories all went down pretty easily, but it’s been a struggle to make it through even the first night of the rest.

Well, except for FNAF3. It’s stupidly easy to lock Springtrap in place and that takes a lot away from the scare factor.

To explain a little further, FNAF VR includes fairly complete remakes of the first four Five Nights at Freddy’s games. “Night Terrors” takes some creative liberties with the way that FNAF4 worked, but it’s still a pretty close stand-in. These VR remakes are actually what really drew me to FNAF VR in the first place. As much as I like the game where you need to shine a flashlight on teleporting Plushbaby dolls before they kill you, it doesn’t nearly compare to the thrill of being in a full VR recreation of the original Five Night’s at Freddy’s game. The other three are neat too, but I never actually played any of the sequels until Sister Location

The reason for that being that the original FNAF scared the ever-loving crap out of me. I played it once. For ten minutes. And then I couldn’t sleep for weeks. Visions of murderous animatronics filled my mind whenever I closed my eyes. They could have been hiding around any corner, in any sufficiently dark area. Every light was on in my home at all times until I was able to escape the dread of being killed by a giant robot bear. That terror was apparently also able to spark obsession within me, as my mind has been constantly preoccupied by the franchise ever since.

You may be wondering then, if I was so terrified of these games, why would I want to place myself directly into them. Well, it’s that obsession, I guess. The fascination of what a cheap little indie game would be like with an actual budget is also a part of it. But mostly it’s because I’m not particularly afraid of FNAF anymore. I watch and re-watch gameplay footage and other related media all the time. I have FNAF merch strewn about my home. I’m very familiar with all facets of this series, and the only thing that could further stoke the fires of my fandom would be… to actually be in the games.

The thing is, I really do enjoy being there. Actually being behind any of those desks (or in that bedroom in the case of FNAF4) is intoxicating, and being free from the tyranny of having to control everything with a mouse pointer is a revelation. It’s so much fun! The thing is that… they cause me so much anxiety that I still have a really rough time playing them. I know that I’m going to be jumpscared, and I know what all the jumpscares are like, and yet the sheer anxiety of not knowing when the jumpscare is going to happen is enough to melt me into a puddle of whimpering goo. The first couple in-game hours are fine, but then I lose track of one of the animatronics, or Funtime Freddy starts taunting me, and everything falls apart. If you want to see the absolute fastest a human being can move, just watch me tear off a VR headset when my stress level gets too high.

Interestingly, the FNAF2 recreation has proven to be the worst of the bunch. A lot of it has to do with the fact that trying to keep track of the animatronics via the cameras becomes impossible very quickly. There are seven creatures out to get you once it shifts into high gear, which is just too much to control. And you’re going to need to keep the camera locked to the prize corner to keep that music box wound anyway. So all you can do is quickly hop between lighting up the vents and the hall to see if anything is coming. The rhythm isn’t too hard to get into, but it’s highly stressful, and having the music box constantly drowning out any helpful audio cues makes it so much worse. At least you could be ready if you were able to hear things coming.

I think that the dominance of the FNAF remakes also has a lot to do with the fact that all of the other random mini-games are just that. They’re smaller, more focused experiences. The FNAF recreations task you with keeping track of and fending off monsters for about nine minutes at a time. It’s a heck of a lot more stressful than a mini-game that has you push a few buttons and flip a few switches while listening for the approach of a single robot. Even the FNAF4 approximation isn’t quite as bad as the FNAF1 or FNAF2 nights, since you’re only dealing with one or two legitimate threats at a time.

All of that said though, FNAF VR is still a solid lock for best game in the series. I mean, it pulls together the best parts of all the games that came before and remakes them in a stunning virtual environment. There’s really no competition. It’s also important to note that it shows a really high level of polish; there are so many little touches and hidden secrets, you can really tell that the developers were passionate about bringing Freddy and his cohorts to life. And I’ve got to say that even though it forced me to wait almost two years to finally play the game, I’m glad that I didn’t settle for the “flat” version. It would still be a lot of fun, but could never compare to the exceptionally well-done VR version.

Now that I’ve said my piece, it’s almost noon and I’ve only checked about thirty-seven times today to see if there’s a release date yet for Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach. I gotta get Googling!

Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 5

Well, Spooktober is over, but I suppose I still owe one of these. Let’s hop right into it.

~ Halloween ~

The 1978 original. I don’t go back to this one as often as Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street, so it was a nice change of pace. I was absolutely aghast that it wasn’t available on any of my usual streaming services. You’re going to make me pay to rent this genre-defining classic? Huff!

I don’t think I can say anything new or insightful about it, 40+ years later. I do appreciate that its scares are a lot more subtle than just constantly having teenagers chased and tormented by an unstoppable maniac. The scenes where Michael is just standing off in the distance, unmoving and expressionless, before vanishing a split second later are super creepy. If I saw someone just standing in my parking lot, staring up at my unit, I’d be more than a little creeped out. Probably wouldn’t leave for days after that.

It does bother me a bit, though, that Mikey is immortal. You don’t have to go in-depth on why the guy is a mute serial killer, we can blindly accept that. Especially in 2020, when we know a lot more about psychology and mental illness. But it doesn’t make any sense that he can recover from any injury. You can explain away the six or seven gunshot wounds by suggesting that he picked up a kevlar vest somewhere, but the dude got stabbed right in the neck. Characters in horror movies die from way less than that all the time. Outside of this one little detail, Halloween is very much grounded in reality, so it sticks out like a sore thumb. Oh well!

~ Pet Sematary ~

I went against my better judgment here and watched the 2019 remake, instead of the original. I’ve never actually seen the 1989 version of Pet Sematary though, so it’s not like I had any prior investment in this story.

And the story, as it goes, is about a family who moves into a sleepy backwoods town. Their cat gets hit by a truck, and a local hillbilly (played by John Lithgow) shows the father a secret place where you can bury dead things to bring them back to life. Only they come back somewhat more evil. Things escalate when the daughter also gets flattened by a truck and… Well, I think you can piece together the rest from here.

I can’t say that I really enjoyed Pet Sematary, but I was somewhat interested in the main plot line and how it would unfold. There was a secondary plot about the mom’s childhood trauma that really didn’t tie into the rest of the movie at all. Perhaps it was more meaningful in the novel (which I haven’t read), but here it was just an out-of-place distraction. The mom didn’t really have much else to do, but the writers should have been able to give the character a more relevant role.

It also made no sense that dad was able to dig up his daughter’s corpse and not be immediately besieged by a police investigation the next day. Someone would have noticed the gaping hole and empty coffin in the cemetery. It seemed to be right next to a main thoroughfare. There should have been a phone call, at least.

Uh, anyway, I wouldn’t really recommend it. I wasn’t bored or anything, but there just isn’t enough there to make it worth the watch. The characters are flat and there’s too much cruft. This didn’t need to be a two-hour movie. The premise was interesting, but not quite enough so to support a feature film, and it’s probably the most predictable movie that I’ve watched this season. John Lithgow was by far the best part, as he often is.

Here’s Something New

I don’t think that, in the nearly 18 years that I’ve been operating a website, I’ve ever once written about clothing or fashion. At least not in any capacity that relates to me and my fashion sense (or lack thereof). So this is… this is different.

2020 has been a bit of a tire fire, but if there’s one positive thing that I get to take away this year, it’s that 2020 is the year that I discovered skinny jeans.

Continue reading

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: October 2020

You know how it is. This month, it’s all about judging games on how SPOOKY they are. Let us see!

~ Game Over ~

Shadows Peak (PC) – A game about exploring an island to find your girlfriend, all the while being pursued by ghosts and a teddy bear possessed by the spirit of a fire demon. I also streamed it so you can watch that if you want to know more about the BIG TWIST(S). The scariest thing about it is that I can’t trace back where I even got this game… Spook Factor: 8.5

Vernon’s Legacy (PC) – Spooky house adventure-’em-up. Doesn’t have a lot going on, other than an endless supply of text logs to read through. I quit after an hour because I was stuck and bored. Spook Factor: 3

Sophie’s Curse (PC) – Another haunted house game, but this time there are lots of things happening. Mostly a spooky ghost girl out to murder you. The goal is to run around and keep the crank-powered lights active throughout the night to keep her away. It’s a lot of fun, nice and short, and very scary. I’ll be seeing Sophie’s face in my nightmares for weeks. Spook Factor: 10

Continue reading

Return of Vintsevych

When I decided -a couple weeks ago- that I was going to play Gynophobia on stream, I had no idea that it was from the same developer as Shadows Peak. You don’t have to watch very far into the video below to hear the contrasting delight and terror in my voice as I boot up the game and learn this fact.

Gynophobia didn’t imprint on me nearly as strongly as Shadows Peak, and it’s clearly the older of the two games, but I do have some appreciation for it. Gynophobia played with my expectations more than a little, though it’s definitely a lot more straightforward than its younger sibling. Still, a fun, wild ride – and my playthrough is much more watchable at a brisk 42 minutes.

Honestly I can’t wait to crack into Andrii Vintsevych’s most recent game, Witch Hunt, at some point. But it’s not in the cards for tonight’s stream. No, this week is going to be something a little more special…

Terrifying Reality

It should be well-established by this point that I’m a big ol’ Five Nights at Freddy’s fanboy, yes? Okay, good. With that understood, there’s one facet of the franchise that’s been absolutely gnawing away at me for a little over a year now: Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted. This is the VR entry in the series, and needless to say, I’ve had no VR headset to play it on, and the “flat” version that got released a while after just didn’t appeal to me. It seemed like a “why bother?” kind of situation. The whole point is to be in it. You take that away and you’ve got… well, you’ve still got a pretty robust game. But it’d be missing the spark that makes it truly special.

I’ve spent a lot of time watching people play “FNAF VR” on YouTube to vicariously get my fill, but again, it just wasn’t the same. And I had absolutely no idea on just what level it wasn’t the same. Last weekend I was finally able to strap on an Oculus Quest 2 headset and take my first trip into a virtual version of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.

The title screen – the title screen – is God. Damn. Terrifying.

Continue reading

Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 4

I… I didn’t watch any movies last week! Oops!

But that’s because I was spending my free time doing other spooky things, like playing spooky video games, or watching other people play spooky video games, or watching a spooky new Netflix series called…

~ The Haunting of Bly Manor ~

I could just cheat the system and not write anything this week, but why not at least put up a short post about this series that surprised me in several very good ways? The first, and I’m going to spoil everything right off the top, is that I really liked it. Like, I would be okay watching the whole thing again basically right away, under the right circumstances. I can’t say that about all that many TV shows.

Another one that comes to mind though, is The Haunting on Hill House. Which is a Netflix series that came out last Halloween, and is the predecessor to Bly Manor, because apparently “The Haunting of…” is going to be an anthology series now. It’s a little like American Horror Story, even, because about half of the actors from Hill House carried over to Bly Manor. I had no idea about any of this when Bly Manor was first released, and was happy to pass on the series. But then I heard about the connection, and I really liked Hill House, so it just seemed natural to check out the next entry.

The Haunting of Bly Manor, is, like Hill House before it, based on a novel. The difference is that this time it’s a novel I’ve actually heard of: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’ve never read it, and in fact I didn’t even know it was a ghost story, but I’ve heard of it! And I really want to read it now!

The setup for this one is that an American lady trying to run away from a troubled past travels to England to get a nanny job in a creepy old mansion… Stop me if this sounds familiar. She does get put in charge of real children though; a young boy and his little sister. Both are a touch on the weird side, and maybe a little bit annoying at first. I have to admit though, that after a few episodes I really took a liking to little Flora. She’s just so darned cute!

There are other characters, as well. Obviously. An absent-minded housekeeper, a fabulously mustachioed cook, a tomboy gardener, and an absentee uncle. Oh, and also a whole host of spooks and spirits. Despite the fact that the show is set in a very haunted mansion, only the first episode comes anywhere close to scary. After that, it’s basically just character drama with a somewhat creepy atmosphere. There are still ghosts, mind you, but most of them are fully-realized characters, and almost never do anything scary. In fact, the scariest one is basically exorcised less than halfway through the series.

Despite my disappointment at the lack of spookiness, I still really enjoyed The Haunting of Bly Manor. The characters are great and the plot is compelling, which resulted in me getting hooked on it very quickly. I don’t really have any idea if Bly Manor is a shot-for-shot remake of The Turn of the Screw or not, but I would imagine that a lot what makes it so good is that it’s based on classic literature. It certainly couldn’t hurt that they started with a solid base. I don’t think that Bly Manor is quite as good as Hill House, but the fact that the story is told in a much more linear fashion makes it a lot easier to understand, if nothing else. It’s a very good second entry in this anthology, and I’m stoked for a third series next Halloween.

Dani’s 80’s jeans drive me absolutely bonkers though. Euuuuugggghh.

Screaming into the void

I don’t actually expect anyone to watch these things. They’re more for me to rediscover and reminisce about in six or seven years from now. This livestream of A Girls Fabric Face, in particular, is hilarious(ly bad) because of just how frightened I was by it. But stuff like this gets me. I just can’t deal with haunted houses or ghosts. I just can’t do it.