Strange Horizons Store: Video Games

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Video Games

alphabetical by title



American McGee's Alice

A dark interpretation of Lewis Carroll's classic characters. This game is funny, yet creepy. The third-person view gives you a good look at the demented heroine as she cuts a bloody swath through the Queen's armies. Although navigating some of the jumps and narrow paths can be frustrating (save frequently!), the game is very engaging. The dialog is clever, the maze-like level design even more so. - RMH

Clive Barker's Undying

This first-person shooter, set in 1920's Ireland, would make H.P. Lovecraft proud. For full effect, play it late at night, with the lights off, wearing headphones -- no horror movie has ever made me this nervous. Just in case the beasts hiding in the dark don't keep you on your toes, there are also a few fairly complicated puzzles involving finding key items and places. - RMH

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

Eternal Darkness infuses the survival-horror genre with loads of fresh ideas and visuals. For example, it appears from the demo that in lieu of playing through location-based game levels, players will mark the game's progression by playing 13 different characters whose lives span 2,000 years of history, starting with a Roman centurion and culminating with a modern heroine. Nintendo didn't reveal too much of the story connecting these characters, other than saying that each represents a different point in the lineage of one seemingly cursed family. Players will not only gauge their characters' status through health and magic meters, but they'll also watch a "sanity" meter. When the sanity level drops, the character is affected in subtle ways--sometimes becoming clumsy or suffering poor aim. Substantial losses in sanity can provoke playable hallucinations in the character.
Read the review in Strange Horizons.

The Legend of Dragoon

The copious story begins with Dart, a vengeful young man with spiky hair and red armor who embarks on a desperate rescue mission to break his childhood sweetheart out of a castle prison. The two join forces with a knight who is trying to end a war that's destroying the region. Dart soon learns that he is a Dragoon -- a human who's privy to the spiritual power of dragons. Like all RPG heroes, Dart is up against impossible odds, but his newfound Dragoon magic and battle skills go a long way toward making the bet even money. - BO
Read the review in Strange Horizons.

The Longest Journey

Imagine: one day you wake up, only to find yourself apparently still dreaming. Instead of lying in your nice cozy bed, you're in the middle of a vast landscape of cliffs and canyons, with a strangely colorful sky. And there's a four foot egg dangling precariously over a cliff, held by the root of a cranky talking tree. You'd think you'd gone nuts, right? That's exactly what April Ryan thinks when she gets dropped into that situation. And that is why The Longest Journey is a good game. - RMH
Read the review in Strange Horizons.


PC & Mac (hybrid CD)
Though graphically a bit dated, this H.G. Wells-style retro-sf adventure is still pretty, and definitely deserves more attention than it ever received. The plot waxes a bit melodramatic at times, but overall it's a satisfying story, and the puzzles fit well into the environment. - RMH

The Myst Trilogy

Trilogy - PC
Myst - PC
Myst set the standard for the point-and-click, "interactive movie" genre of game, and its enduring popularity stands as a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of its creators. The whimsical, surreal worlds of the Myst universe capture players in a way that an attempt at a more complex plot might not. - RMH
Riven - PC & Mac (hybrid CD)
Riven built on the success of Myst by providing an even larger and more detailed world to explore, and remains one of the finest examples of how complex puzzles can be made to seem a natural part of the environment. This is a game that will give your mind a workout -- it requires very close observation and a good deal of thought, and includes some of the most difficult puzzles I've encountered. - RMH
Exile - PC & Mac (hybrid CD)
Exile, though perhaps not able to live up to the standard set by its predecessor, was still an excellent game, providing more exotic scenery and strange machines to play with. Also, it added some interesting touches to the storyline, and its final puzzle -- though not as fiendishly difficult as that of Riven -- is a great deal of fun if you happen to have a taste for Tolkien-style fictional linguistics. - RMH

Zork Nemesis

Technically excellent in all departments, particularly the use of stereo sound. The creators did serious historical research into alchemy, which underlies the mystery you must solve. With a compelling story, an extraordinary variety of mind-bending puzzles, and beautiful art (including real-world artworks scanned into the background), this is one of the best adventure games ever made. - RMH