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by Ethos

Games where the Sun Don’t Shine – #1: Dead Space

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

“Games where the Sun Don’t Shine” is a completely random, arbitrary, and pointless list of games that give off a dark and/or depressing vibe. What better way, after all, to celebrate the season of Spring?

Dead Space

And here’s the big kahuna. Granted, I haven’t played many “scary” games in my life, but Dead Space is without question the most frightening interactive experience I’ve had. And when I say that, it’s a compliment.

Dead Space, to me, is kinda like what would happen if you took the Metroid Prime series and injected it with some first-rate horror elements. Like Metroid Prime, it maintains an masterfully oppressive, isolated sci-fi atmosphere. But while Metroid Prime’s intent is to convey a sort of haunting beauty through its world, the intent of Dead Space is to make you fear for your life at every corner, corridor, and elevator. And, it pulls this off with terrifying effectiveness. Graphical presentation, sound design, and the utter hopelessness of the premise itself combine to make this one game you’d be better off playing with company.

Oh, and just for consistency’s sake: the sun definitely does not shine in deep space.

Dead Space is the scariest game I’ve ever played by far, and one of the most atmospheric. Definitely an easy choice as my #1 pick.

And that concludes my list of Games where the Sun Don’t Shine. While I don’t expect you to feel enlightened, informed, or even entertained, it was definitely… a list. And for what it’s worth, I personally guarantee that each and every one of the games I’ve listed here are worth your time and money. That is, as long as you’re not looking for anything light-hearted. Check out Ethos’ Sunshine Games for that.

Games where the Sun Don’t Shine – #2: Heavy Rain

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

“Games where the Sun Don’t Shine” is a completely random, arbitrary, and pointless list of games that give off a dark and/or depressing vibe. What better way, after all, to celebrate the season of Spring?

Heavy Rain

While Ethos seems to be turning to titles of old for his Sunshine list, I’m (apparently) sticking closer to more current-gen stuff. Stands to reason, I suppose, since you don’t find many oppressive and/or dark 2D experiences. Or maybe you do, and I’m just not familiar enough with past classics.

Regardless, I have no shame in naming Heavy Rain my #4 game on Games where the Sun Don’t Shine. As you can gather from it’s apt title, you don’t see the sun very often in Heavy Rain. In fact, you see it for the first two levels and that’s it. The premise of the story is a psychopath who drowns his victims in rainwater – so naturally, rain is falling the entire time. Sure, rain is a cheap atmosphere buff, but it’s also effective – and, in fact, it’s more effective in Heavy Rain than most other places.

SPOILER ALERT

Aside from the somber premise and awful (beautiful) weather, Heavy Rain makes things even more depressing by requiring you to do (for lack of a better phrase) some fucked-up shit. In order to save his son from death by drowning, Ethan Mars must engage in a variety of dangerous and/or unpleasant tasks – from driving against traffic to killing a man begging for life. The latter, in particular, is one hell of a scene. I was re-thinking that one in my mind for quite some time afterwards. Sort of stunning, actually, for a videogame.

END SPOILERS

And now I want to play Heavy Rain again. Hrm.

Well anyway, stay tuned for my final entry. And hopefully two more from Ethos.

Games where the Sun Don’t Shine – #3: BioShock

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

“Games where the Sun Don’t Shine” is a completely random, arbitrary, and pointless list of games that give off a dark and/or depressing vibe. What better way, after all, to celebrate the season of Spring?

BioShock

Well, this one’s a no-brainer. If any game belongs on this list, it’s BioShock. Not just because it’s one of my all-time faves, but because you spend the entire game underwater – so the sun, quite literally, never shines. Pleasant, no?

Rapture is a beautiful, immersive place for so many reasons, but it’s definitely not a place you’d go to get a pick-me-up. A ruined underwater paradise crawling with mutated freakish humans, ugly little girls, and hulking Big Daddies. It’s dark, messy, dilapidated, and violent. And all of Rapture’s “citizens” have a really weird sense of humor, too, which tends to make things awkward.

They also have a bad habit of jumping out and scaring the piss out of you when you’re in the bathroom. Odd fetish, maybe.

Alright, well, that’s enough content for today. Look for Ethos’ third and fourth picks tomorrow! Or don’t. You wouldn’t be missing much anyway.

Games where the Sun Don’t Shine – #4: Persona 3

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

“Games where the Sun Don’t Shine” is a completely random, arbitrary, and pointless list of games that give off a dark and/or depressing vibe. What better way, after all, to celebrate the season of Spring?

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3

Ah, Persona 3. I’ve actually written about it before, during our JRPG Relapse Week. In that article, I touch on how dark the game can be. Sure, it’s set in a high school, and there are plenty of instances in the game during which the sun is, indeed, shining.  But it’s actually the realistic setting that makes Persona 3 such a gritty, atmospheric experience. No castles or queens  here; only teenagers with guns, a dark hour, and big, creepy tower.

(Hey! That rhymes!)

Ahem. Anyway. The premise of Persona 3 involves a phenomenon called “The Dark Hour,” which occurs when the clock strikes midnight. Only certain individuals (aka Persona users) can experience the Dark Hour, during which time everyone ELSE in the world turns into a coffin of some kind. Weird, yes, but that’s kinda the point. The Dark Hour itself is a pretty trippy place to be; obviously, it’s dark, but it’s accentuated with psychedelic neon-greens, bright blood-reds, and, and a lot of nasties known as Shadows.

It would be a bit of a misnomer to label Persona 3 as “oppressive,” per se, but it’s definitely dark. And not just because of the Dark Hour either – you’ll find that the game touches on some oddly mature themes that most JRPGs steer clear of. So, while it’s certainly going to be one of the more unorthodox choices on my list, I think it earns the #4 spot.

Not that that’s any sort of accomplishment, at all, whatsoever. Anyway. Time to write up #3!

Games where the Sun Don’t Shine – #5: Metroid Prime 2

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

If you haven’t noticed, we’re celebrating the season of Spring here at Riddlethos.com. Perhaps a tad irrelevant to those of you who don’t reside in the Western hemisphere, but unfortunately for you guys, both myself and Ethos do.

Here in Murfreesboro, the icy cold grip of winter is slowly relenting, giving way to… really freaking hot weather, actually. I guess we’re skipping Spring this year, which generally consists of pleasant, 60-80 degree (Farenheit) temperatures. Damn global warming. I wasn’t READY for an 88 degree day.

But anyway. Tennessee’s schizophrenic weather aside, I’ve come up with what’s clearly the BEST way to commemorate the sunny weather and hopeful freshness of the Spring season: Oliver Motok’s List of Dark, Oppressive, and Otherwise Depressing Videogames. Or, as the title says, Games where the Sun Don’t Shine. First up…?

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

If I recall, the original Metroid Prime found a spot on my last super-vague-seasonal-theme-week-list-tie-in. And now, Prime 2 has found a way on to this one. Let’s hear it for the versatility of this franchise!

Ahem. You can ignore the above paragraph if you’d like. The reason Prime 2 makes this list is because it’s probably one of the more oppressive Nintendo games you could ever hope to play. And, I say that with a bit of a dual-meaning. On one hand, Metroid Prime 2 is a showcase for atmosphere. Like the original game, the stunning feeling of solitude and the ambient sci-fi locales make this one of the more haunting experiences that can be had on the GameCube.

The other reason Prime 2 garners this mention is because, for a vast portion of the game, the sun quite literally does not shine. In fact, it doesn’t even exist. Like A Link to the Past before it, Prime 2 makes use of a “light world, dark world” mechanic – in order to advance, Samus must frequently jump through portals that transport her to one side or the other. Neat mechanic, if not terribly original.

In fact, it could almost be said that Prime 2 is a bit too oppressive. A matter of taste, obviously, but I frankly felt that a little too much time in the Dark World was required – and you haven’t seen a “dark world” quite as dark as this one, let me assure you. I love fighting Dark Grenchlers in the middle of a deadly purple haze that drains your life force as much as the next guy, but… not that often.

But I digress. Metroid Prime 2 is a solid, atmospheric, and uncommonly challenging sci-fi adventure. And one thing’s for sure: start playing it and you’ll quickly forget about that pretty spring weather outside.