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Games Inbox: Debating the best survival horror game

The Thursday letters page realises that the PS5 stock issue seems to be largely over, as one reader looks forward to the Pac-Man movie.

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Fear ranking
I’ve never played Alone In The Dark before but watching the videos I’m kind of shocked at how similar it is to Resident Evil, despite coming out years earlier. I’m curious to see what will be announced on Friday, especially as I’m interested to see who’ll be making it.

I’ve seen some talk that we could be on the cusp of another survival horror renaissance, with The Callisto Protocol, Dead Space remake, Scorn, Alan Wake 2, more Resident Evil, and maybe even those rumours of a new Silent Hill. I remember the last time there was meant to be a breakthrough though, around the release of Alien Isolation, and that came to nothing so I’m not going to count this one as a given.

Given how old some games are getting though, with nothing new to take their place, it also got me thinking about what is my favourite horror game? For me I think the best ever is between Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Silent Hill 2. I love Resident Evil, and some of them are scary, but for me they’re more action adventures than anything else.

Overall, I think it has to be Silent Hill 2 though. It’s got the atmosphere, the story, the scares, and, at the time, the graphics. Silent Hills looked like it was going to be so good, based on the P.T. demo, but I don’t know if we’ll ever see its like again. Except maybe Hideo Kojima’s new game? That’s another one to add to the list, so maybe the horror revival is real after all!
Fronk

The original survival horror
I might be the only person in the world right now who is actually excited over the Pac-Man movie, but I love the guy and if it’s going the Sonic the Hedgehog movie route, I’m not complaining – even if it’s terrible, I dare say it’ll be so bad it’s good territory, so I’ll enjoy laughing at it.

This got me thinking about a weird question though… what genre is Pac-Man? Obviously, the games have branched out into puzzle and platformers, but that original game just tends to be labelled as an ‘arcade game’ and nothing more.

There are no platforms, there isn’t really anything to puzzle over other than figuring out the best/fastest route, so what is it? It involves you running away from ghosts, so my best argument is that it’s a horror game, however stupid that may be. Maybe the movie will go the Blood and Honey route, which will be hilariously brilliant!
Sunny

GC: Technically it’s a maze game, which used to be a common genre but doesn’t really exist nowadays.

Call of Splatoon
Splatoon 2 was a great game and I’m sure Splatoon 3 will be too, but I think it’s fair to say that all these sequels have been very small, incremental improvements. That’s not normally how Nintendo does things and I’m curious why they took the approach with this one. Even Mario Party changes more between games than this!

The original was so clever and inventive I think they must’ve realised that there’s no point overcomplicating it or cluttering it up with modes and options nobody will use. It’s essentially the same problem Call Of Duty has got itself into each year and its interesting that even Nintendo doesn’t see a way out other than to do the same thing but slightly better.
Grobbert

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Nothing to say
Interesting that not only are game sales down at the moment but people are even switching off from streamers. Clearly these two issues are linked and, I would suggest, basically come down to the fact that nothing has happened in gaming since the launch of Elden Ring in checks Wikipedia February (I thought it was at least March!).

Since then there’s been virtually no games, no announcements, no previews, nothing… even the rumours and leaks have either been vague or obvious or both. I assume that Nintendo’s Switch 2 plans are lurking in the background somewhere and that Sony has a backlog of new games to announce but I’m doubtful we’ll hear about it this year.

The after-effects of the pandemic are nobody’s fault but I don’t feel publishers have handled the issue at all well. Letting E3 die was a big mistake, as they all just assumed someone else would keep the fire burning and in the end they’ve all let it go cold. No wonder people are celebrating completing their backlog!
Cubby

GOTD
RE: Jamie. I think my Elden Ring playthrough was about 220 hours and was about level 190 when I finished, over a month or so ago. It was such an amazing experience, I too do not know where to go next. Despite having Ultimate Game Pass, I’ve not really been able to find anything to try next. Some thoughts on my experience anyway:

Firstly, I just loved the world itself. It was so huge and varied. Caelid in particular was terrifying when I first arrived. I hated the sewers mainly because it was full of those huge monsters and little goblin things. It was such a huge and interesting map to explore, I tried to find and complete everything but there’s still probably a lot I missed, despite listening to many guides and walkthroughs.

Secondly, the enemies. I loved the variety and many of the boss designs. I wasn’t always a fan of how to kill them though, often just slashing at a foot or ankle! I think Dragon’s Dogma made that aspect of boss battles more interesting.

Thirdly, the gear. There is so much of it but, as Jamie said, you can’t use most of it because of the high upgrade costs and finite top tier upgrade materials.

For my build, I probably spent 75-100 hours with the same armour (Crucible set) with the Blasphemous Blade. I did swap around some of the talismans and incantations but even then, I settled on a mix which got me through 95% of encounters. Similarly, despite having loads of summons, I just used Mimic Tear and Black Knife Tiche most of the time.

I have not yet brought myself to go into New Game+, as quite honestly I loved my first playthrough so much I am worried a second one might feel repetitive. I think one playthrough of a game this epic is enough… at least for a little while.

Anyway, despite some minor criticisms, it’s still the game of the decade for me.
Tom

A higher level
Like Jamie, I’ve just beaten Elden Ring too, seeing my first FromSoftware end credits! The open world exploration certainly helped with the wall I’ve hit in their other games I’ve played (Dark Souls 1 and Bloodborne) of being stuck at the next mandatory boss. The checkpoints outside almost every boss room were a sanity saver. After 120 hours of a greatsword and shield build, I was at level 169 for the final boss – full disclosure, I used Godrick’s Great Rune so I was effectively level 209 – and relied heavily on the summons Black Knife Tiche, for the final run of bosses (Malekith onwards).

Armour-wise, I stuck with my opening Vagabond set for most of the game because I liked the look of it and with a 100% block shield it didn’t seem to matter all that much – only on the toughest bosses did I switch, changing into armour that had the best resistance to lightning/holy/whatever their key damage type was.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to start Journey 2 right away, but will definitely re-spec my character and use a different playstyle and armour throughout. I also feel encouraged to go back and try Bloodborne again, I loved the atmosphere of that game but found the pace of fights, like Father Gascoigne, a bit much (I’ve never been good at parrying). I reckon I’m going to miss the quality of life improvements in Elden Ring though!
The Light Knight

Good stock
PlayStation 5 disc version with Horizon Forbidden West is in stock on ShopTo for £449.85. Another bundle includes the PlayStation 5 disc version, extra DualSense and Horizon Forbidden West for £559.85.
Andrew J.

GC: We’ve noticed it’s barely been out of stock this month. The bundles are still in stock at GAME, as we write this, and just the console alone ‘by invitation’ at Amazon.

Special case
It’s quite interesting seeing the generational cycle come around again and again, bringing the same kinds of comments every time. We’re currently in the ‘This generation has been a disappointment so far’ part of the cycle. It always seems to happen in the first couple of years, after a new round of consoles are released.

I understand it’s frustrating for those who shelled out on the new machines in this period, but it happens every time – developers still need time to get to grips with what the new machines can do, and publishers are hesitant to release next gen only games and thus miss out on the much greater sales potential of releasing on the previous gen consoles too, which limits what the developers can do.

Once we get to three to four years from the start of a new generation is when things really start to get into their stride, but that period never seems to last for long before we’re into the ‘When’s the next generation going to be announced?’ stage of the cycle.

There’s something strangely comforting about it all. I’ll miss it a bit when we inevitably go streaming-only.
Sparky the Yak

GC: You’re right to say that the first two years of a new console are often lacklustre (although the Switch certainly wasn’t), but there’s no pretending the start to this generation hasn’t been very different. The lack of next gen exclusives is for very different reasons than the ones you describe. Before the pandemic, for example, Sony intended to give up on cross-gen games a lot earlier than they have.

Inbox also-rans
Someone mentioned it before but I am loving all the Welsh accents in Elden Ring. And apparently Ranni’s voice actor is in Xenoblade Chronicles 3? I never thought I’d find myself curious to play that game!
Teze

I really hope Sonic Frontiers isn’t the most exciting reveal at Gamescom later this month. I could really do with some cool reveals and new games to look forward to, it feels like this summer games drought has been going on for years.
Sooty

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Cosmo, who asks what’s your favourite video game universe?

Which game or franchise do you think has the most interesting fictional universe? Is it because of its lore, its characters, its art design, gameplay, or something else? What makes a good fictional world and how has your pick elevated the games it’s been in?

Have you explored the game world in media outside of video games, such as books and comics, and do you feel it’s interesting enough to be adapted as a TV show or movie?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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