It’s been quite some time since the Gaming page has been enthralled with a smash-hit horror game that leans so heavily into the genre while also delivering top-class gameplay. In 2021 we did get Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach on December 21, but its well-received new approach didn’t deliver much on the horror or scary front as previous instalments have done.
Instead, we have to look back to the 2020 sensation Phasmophobia for the last major horror game to capture the imaginations – and sudden yelps – of gamers. The ghost-hunting game was indie-crafted and only available on PC. In 2022, however, we’ve not only been treated to a bizarre array of superb and unique horror games, but the genre has excelled across the board in entertainment.
With such a string of success and surge of interest this year, The Callisto Protocol’s December 2 release date on PlayStation appears to be perfectly timed to capitalise on the love of horror right now.
The Callisto Protocol Will Push You into the Fear
With horror-game veteran Glen Schofield behind the wheel, it’s clear to see the game’s Dead Space heritage. But this game is much more than a modern remaster in a new setting. Through the gameplay footage shown so far, the DNA of the 2008 classic is very much there, tapping into the Uncanny Valley to unleash disturbing aesthetics and gruesome combat results. With modern technology behind the developers, Striking Distance Studios, it seems as though fine-tuned visuals and sound design have been mastered to deliver the horror thrills.
The chief technical officer of Striking Distance Studios, Mark James, told VG247 that the team meticulously studied the art of horror and the psychology of fear. This allowed the team to create the right sense of atmosphere and tension, with the CTO noting that half of all horror is found in audio. Still, what looks to be the most impressive element is AI. It will sometimes decide not to attack the player, instead running across the screen to increase the tension as the AI sees fit. This is allowed by the game’s “full vent system.”
The game is so wrapped up in its horror and gore elements that the studio claims that it can’t make the cuts required to release in Japan without drastically hindering the game. As we at NerdBot noted, the combat and grotesque nature of The Callisto Protocol look to be its biggest selling point, which is great. It’s been too long since a big-budget game was purely focused on delivering frights. But there has been an upwards trend for the horror genre of late.
The Resurrection of Mass-Appeal Horror
The world of online entertainment, particularly online casinos, has been able to respond much quicker to emerging genre trends and customer preferences as the products don’t take as long to make as movies or video games. Now, it’s been a while since horror was the big-hit genre theme, but in 2022, it’s been on the rise again. Immortal Romance and its bingo spinoff have been the big winners of the resurrected horror trend at Betway, with the classic slot immersing players in a horror-gothic love story. More traditional horror slots have also seen an uptick, like Blood Suckers II, Voodoo Hex, Blood Queen, and Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs.
It’d be fair to say that this renewed fascination with horror in entertainment sectors like online casinos has been inspired by the prominence of horror on the big screen. This year, Nope, Orphan: First Kill, Terrifier 2, Jeepers Creepers, Halloween Ends, Umma, Hellraiser, Smile, The Black Phone, and especially Ti West’s X Trilogy have put the spotlight back on scary movies. Some lean more into suspense, others like the gore, and some are all about the classic jump scares, but across these and other 2022 releases, horror has had a good year.
A myriad of horror plays in 2022 gaming
The Callisto Protocol is, first and foremost, a horror game, which drives this in with atmospheric corridors, body horror, jump scares, and the forcing of the player to engage with these things up close and personal. It will mark a major return to the pure sci-fi horror angle. Still, 2022 has produced some great takes on the genre already. Dying Light 2’s greatest horror moments still come when you go exploring for a bit too long and get caught out at night, needing to flee with precision parkour to stay alive.
On a smaller scale, Poppy Playtime turned out to be a creepy little number, and Ravenous Devils brings the genre to the cooking simulation genre. Evil Dead was based on the movie franchise being more of a fun co-op survival game than a true horror, while The Quarry gamified horror movies and starred the likes of Ariel Winter, Justice Smith, Brenda Song, and David Arquette. Madison offered creepy tension through the all-revealing instant camera flash, Cult of the Lamb makes you a demonic cult leader, and Scorn is a squelchy, squishy, squeamish puzzler that excelled in puzzle rooms but flopped in combat.
It’s been a great year for horror overall, and The Callisto Protocol is in a prime position to make a splash right at the peak of the surge in interest.