The Ghosts of Video Games Past: 14 Forgotten Classics

Skyrim

Happy holidays from your ol’ buddies, ol’ pals at FemHype! It’s me, your friendly neighborhood Max. With “Game of the Year” games being announced, there really are only so many triple A games that one can afford. So, for this holiday season, we are giving you lovely FemHype community members the gift of cheap, fantastic games that we can nerd out about together. So here we go, fam!

Moonmist (PC), Aphelion

A ghost of video gaming haunts 1986 interactive fiction mystery game Moonmist. When writers Stu Galley and Jim Lawrence sat down to collaborate on a new work for game company Infocom, they drew on the oeuvre of famous fictional detective series Nancy Drew (Lawrence had anonymously penned several Nancy Drew novels in the early 1980s). Historian Jimmy Maher wrote that this inspiration was so prescient, “The game and its accompanying feelies … would really kind of prefer it if you could see your way to playing as a female. Preferably as a female named ‘Nancy Drew,’ if it’s all the same to you.”

In Moonmist, you take on the role of a detective coming to the aid of your friend, Tamara Lynd, concerned about the haunting of her fiancé’s manor, Tresyllian Castle, near Cornwall, England. The classic text adventure system was praised at the time for its elegance. Copies of the game included physical materials—“feelies—to aid the player in navigating Tresyllian, including a story about “The White Lady of Tresyllian Castle,” the ghost Tamara claims has been harassing her.

Moonmist is especially notable for including a character who is arguably the first gay character in a video game—I covered the character in-depth in a piece, with major spoilers, in video game history e-zine Memory Insufficient Volume 2: Issue 2Like spooky spectres haunting a British castle, a number of free emulators of Moonmist float around online.

Continue reading “The Ghosts of Video Games Past: 14 Forgotten Classics”

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Point-and-Creep: ‘Fran Bow’ Chapter 3 Sends a Powerful Message to Survivors

Fran Bow
[PART 1] [PART 2] [PART 3]

[Trigger warning: Death, depression, and suicide. The entire game involves gory hallucinations. Or are they?]

In my last review, we followed Fran into a seemingly lovely home situated inside of a well. She finally found Mr. Midnight held hostage by a pair of conjoined twins who needed him for a spell to separate themselves. Fran discovers a hidden spell that eventually eliminated the twins, then they escaped together—only to come across the dark shadow once again. The log bridge beneath them collapsed and instead of falling to her death, Fran found her body missing, as she is now in the form of a tree.

The third chapter is aptly named “Vegetative State.” Fran and Mr. Midnight are graced by the presence of King Ziar of Ithersta, and as she tries to explain her current tree-like state, Ziar tells her that he will easily be able to find the reason by growing a seed from her head. According to the seed, he discovers that she’s a seeker of the truth, apparently a common Bow family trait. He also seems to know her as someone with a passion for life. Is this sequence meant to mimic a near-death experience, and where we go when we fight for dear life? For all we know, she may be unconscious or comatose.

He then tells her that her seed shows a world nobody should see—nobody except for one—and that Fran is not supposed to be here. Could this mean depression or perhaps even delusion? She pleads to go home, but the king says it’s too dangerous to do so. She also wonders if she is now dead. He seems puzzled and does not appear to understand her question. As far as he could tell, she’s very much alive.

Continue reading “Point-and-Creep: ‘Fran Bow’ Chapter 3 Sends a Powerful Message to Survivors”

Point-and-Creep: ‘Fran Bow’ Chapter 2 Is Frightfully Suspenseful

Fran Bow

[Part 1] [Part 2] [PART 3]

[Trigger warning: Body horror, death, and murder. The entire game involves gory hallucinations. Or are they?]

The second part of Fran Bow Chapter 2 got me thinking even more about the parallels between universes. When Fran wakes up lying down in a basket wearing a bonnet, she finds herself in an unknown kitchen with a note from a certain Clara and Mia. My Monkey Island instincts got me picking up on any and every clickable item in each room of the house, though I somehow managed to miss one or two items again.

The house was decorated with photos and decorative portraits, and it appeared that there were a pair of conjoined twins living there. Upon investigation, they weren’t always conjoined. The house seemed quite lovely and pleasant at first glance with pink and blue floral wallpaper, colorful desserts on display … but that’s where the loveliness ends, I’m afraid. That is where the creepiness truly began. Our protagonist entered a room where a decapitated corpse was lying with the ghost of a girl standing watch, eyes red and blank. Approaching her would only lead to her disappearing from sight.

I have to say that this level was the scariest one yet. Sure, the prologue had the rain of organs and bleeding animals, but it suffered from what I would call The Evil Within effect: so much gore that one becomes desensitized.

Continue reading “Point-and-Creep: ‘Fran Bow’ Chapter 2 Is Frightfully Suspenseful”

Point-and-Creep: ‘Fran Bow’ Is Delightfully Gory

FranBow

[PART 1] [PART 2] [PART 3]

[Trigger warning: Sexual abuse, cutting, suicidal tendencies, rape, and pedophilia. The entire game involves gory hallucinations. Or are they?]

I backed Fran Bow two years ago after seeing a few YouTubers tackle the Alpha Demo. It has been officially released a few days ago, and I am playing it to observe the game from a few angles, as both a feminist as well as someone with a mental illness. Additionally, some other matters may be brought up along the way, depending on what developer and artist Natalia Figueroa decides to throw at us through this quaint point-and-click adventure horror game.

Are you ready? Be warned: SPOILERS ahead!

Chapter 1 shows our protagonist being sent to a children’s asylum after witnessing the morbid murder of her parents. When she initially ran away from the gory scene of the crime with her cat, Mr. Midnight, only to collapse in a forest to be taken in by unknown parties, Mr. Midnight runs off. Upon investigation, you discover that you are being sent here not only against your will, but that your legal guardian, Aunt Grace, appears to have something to tell you.

From exploring the backdrop and observing the style of dress, this probably takes place around the ’50s or so, especially since the concept of institutionalizing people is no longer as widespread as it used to be back then. Fran Bow reminds me of the early Monkey Island games with its puzzles and simplicity. I found that I end up kicking myself when the solutions were right in front of me and I just spent too much time making things more complex than they really were.

Continue reading “Point-and-Creep: ‘Fran Bow’ Is Delightfully Gory”

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