poltergeist-carole-anneI’m horrible at watching scary movies and television shows but that doesn’t really stop me from still needing to see some of them. The line I draw between what I will willingly sit through (mostly with hands covering my eyes) and those I have to read plot summaries of on Wikipedia is a bit blurry. For example, the new TV show The Strain is vile (what is up with those spring loaded tentacles?!) and scares the heck out of me but I’m obsessed with it and watch it every single week. That may also have something to do with Corey Stoll (I can’t wait until he loses that awful wig) but I digress… On the other hand, I refuse to ever watch any of the Saw films — although I know what happens because I read all about them. I also tend to read the synopsis for movies like The Purge (sorry Ethan Hawke) and while I sat through the first Paranormal Activity in the Theater I skipped the rest in favor of — you guessed it — getting the 3 paragraph rundown online.

Another show I love is The Walking Dead. Zombies! Yay! It’s also gory and peppered with silly jump scares that I gullibly fall for every single time, but I keep watching and now I’m not only watching but playing the game.

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During a recent Steam sale I picked up the Walking Dead game for just a few dollars and I played it for the first time over the weekend. I’m happy to report that when you totally blow it, can’t figure out the game controls, and your brains get eaten by zombies it simply restarts the scenario you’re in and lets you give it another go. This is a relief because I’m sort of hopeless when it comes to playing a video game for the first time. This is probably compounded by the fact that for years I’ve really only played World of Warcraft and, let’s be honest, not that well. So each new game that I try entails me flailing about and fumbling with the keyboard for a good hour before I can make heads or tails of anything.

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I also have this thing where I apparently can’t figure out how to open doors. I seriously couldn’t get inside a sliding glass door for like 35 minutes. The character I was playing just kept saying, “I wonder if anybody’s home?” over and over and over again until I wanted a zombie to eat him. Finally I had to google it and find a video. It was a little less embarrassing realizing that it seemed to be a common problem for players, but since the same thing happened to me while trying to get into the Gone Home house I’m starting to get a bit of a complex. Plus, I don’t really want to “cheat” and look up things every time I run into a snag in a game. Google is like the 2014 version of the Game Genie. Sure I beat lots of games with that silly add-on back in 1991 but in truth the only 2 video games I ever completed all on my own were the NES version of Paper Boy (OK…admittedly I’m kind of proud of this one) and Toe Jam and Earl: Panic on Funcotron for Sega.

Anyway, eventually I did get inside the house and things picked up a bit more. What I enjoy about games like The Walking Dead are the choose your own adventure style of narrative. This game, much more so than The Novelist, really pivots your storyline and progression dramatically depending upon the choices you make and the interactions you have with a myriad of characters. I’m not very far in but I’m intrigued. The storyline is wonderfully paced, unique, and engaging. I was honestly a bit worried about the gore/horror factor but since the graphics are done in a comic book style I’m pretty desensitized to it. I mean…the Oculus trailer is scarier than anything I’ve experienced in this game so far and let’s hope it stays that way because I’d much rather immerse myself in the psychology of the storyline than guts and blood.

But let’s be honest, I can’t help but wonder…what are the REALLY super scary games? The ones I probably should read about on Wikipedia and not play late at night in a dimly lit office. There’s a long weekend coming up. Any suggestions?

PS: As of August 27, 2014 The Walking Dead Season 2 game is on sale for $9.99 and Season 1 is only $6.24.

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