PAX Aus: Top 4 Horror Games

Pick your poison: monsters in the outback, insane criminals, or invisible creatures lurking in the unknown.

The whirlwind phenomenon of PAX Aus took over the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre this past weekend, mesmerising video game enthusiasts mind, body and soul. Horror devotees seeking thrills, scares and blood-curdling dares had a small but intriguingly diverse line-up of games to choose from: Observer lets you probe the minds of the insane. An outback cruise turns into a survival adventure on a time-loop in Dead Static Drive. And Dumb Ways to Die VR offers some hilariously morbid respite. We were fortunate enough to snap a picture of Numpty.

Observer

  • Developer: Bloober Team SA
  • Publisher: Aspyr
  • Platform/s: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Release: Out now

The intersection of humanity and technology is frighteningly real in Observer, an atmospheric odyssey in which you become a member of the neural police. Much like the telepath society in Star Trek: Voyager where negative emotions are completely censored, thought crimes are serious and can be used as evidence against you in court. Luckily, you’re the one doing the investigating.

Dead Static Drive 

  • Developer: Mike Blackney
  • Publisher: N/A
  • Platform/s: Windows, Mac, Console
  • Release: 2019

In Dead Static Drive, a gentle cruise through a faded, minimalist town turns upside-down when monsters begin sprouting at nightfall. Mike Blackney describes it best: Dead Static Drive feels adult and mature, takes inspiration from the gorgeously fluid animations of Mechner’s Prince of Persia, but most importantly, it plays like ‘Grand Theft Cthulhu”. You play as an outsider travelling between dusty locales. Your choices determine what happens, but only temporarily, because Dead Static Drive rewinds the days and nights like Groundhog Day until you stumble into the truth.

Stifled

  • Developer: Gattai Games
  • Publisher: Gattai Games
  • Platform/s: Windows, Mac, PS4
  • Release: TBA

Part thriller, part stealth, and completely terrifying, Stifled is the type of game that is vying for the title of everybody’s worst nightmare. Gattai Games pair gameplay with an ingenious sound mechanic which makes microphones mandatory; any sound you make, whether in response to jump-scares, or the pure, unsettling darkness around you, generates a wave of vibrations that simultaneously light up the path ahead of you and alert whatever’s watching to your presence. Creatures of the night are out to get you, so you’ll need to stay quiet and hidden to make it out of this desolate maze in one piece. Using echolocation in virtual reality intensifies the experience, and though I only sampled a short demo, I felt several layers of fear at once.

Dumb Ways to Die VR

  • Developer: Metro Trains/Dumb
  • Publisher: Metro Trains/Dumb
  • Platform/s: PC
  • Release: TBA

While not strictly a horror game, Dumb Ways to Die VR cements itself as a twisted and hilarious evolution of the hit mobile games. Leah Waymark, the CEO of Metro Trains’ Dumb brand tells me that Dumb Ways to Die is about “encouraging a language” first and foremost: “No one wants to be dumb around their friends”, she explains, but rather than slam the public with scare-campaigns, Metro Trains is using games to promote safety around trains in an entertaining manner. And entertain they do. In their first VR venture, which will enjoy a soft launch this December, you need to prevent Botch from falling off cliffs, walking into campfires, and having unnecessary altercations with wasp nests. Naturally, players have the freedom to do exactly the opposite. Unlike the iOS and Android versions, the VR edition may come with a different monetisation approach, but nothing’s set in stone.

For more PAX Aus coverage, make sure to check out the following:

PAX Aus: Top 5 Platformers

PAX Aus: Top 4 Puzzle Games

PAX Aus: Top 4 Narrative Games

PAX Aus: Top 5 RPG Games