Frankenstein by Junji Ito

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is perhaps one of the most well-known horror novels ever written, if only by name. In his horror manga of the same name, Junji Ito tackles the mammoth task of bringing this novel into his disturbingly visual world.

Frankenstein is such a huge part of popular culture, however, I have to be honest and say that I have never read Frankenstein the novel; Ito’s version is my first time experiencing the story itself. I knew the rough story – the Doctor creating the monster, but I needed to check the major plot points on the novel’s Wikipedia page after reading this manga, just to see how close it was. 

The eyes of Frankenstein

I am happy to report that Junji Ito’s version of Frankenstein stays very true to Mary Shelley’s novel. Even the narrative structure of telling the story from the perspective of the ship’s captain is maintained. But I can’t give a full comparison as I am not familiar with the source material.

What is Frankenstein about?

During an expedition to the North Pole, in the pursuit of fame, the captain and his crew see the towering figure of a stranger in the distance. This is followed by them finding a man out in the freezing cold all alone and in need of shelter — a man by the name of Victor Frankenstein. Victor is in pursuit also, only his pursuit is of something far more tangiable than fame. His pursuit is of a creature he decsribes — the figure that the crew saw previously.

Suffering from exhaustion and cold, Victor tells the captain his story and how he came to be out here in the wilds of the North Pole. We learn of Victor’s childhood and family, and his growth into the scientist he became. He also recounts the terrible deeds he performed in the pursuit of greatness in his unique field of study.

He goes on to tell the Captain of his creation, the Frankenstein’s Monster, and how it came to escape and ultimately wreak havoc on his family. We bear witness to the awful deeds that the monster does, and Victor’s seemingly never-ending pursuit of it. Victor’s story ultimately brings us back to the current time on board the trapped ship and to the final moments of realisation of both the monster and the creator alike.

My thoughts

As I said before, this was the first time experiencing the full story of Frankenstein. I mean, I’ve always known about the characters and the creation of the monster through parodies and tv series tie-ins like Penny Dreadful and Carry On Screaming, but never the original story.

I am glad, in a way, that reading Junji Ito’s interpretation of it was my first taste. It meant that I got to experience all of the story’s twists, turns and moments of horror, only via the expert artistry of the horror mangaka himself. That’s not to discount Mary Shelley’s talents; I’m just saying that this was a very different way to be subjected to it for the first time.

I’ll leave this here.

I thought that the intricacies of the monster himself were put across very well too. It’s moments of horrific brutality; it’s moments of love towards the family whose home he hides in; and the moments of vulnerability where he pleads for his creator to build him a mate – a mate who won’t cower and scream at the mere sight of his face. Someone he can love — and receive love in return.

I can’t say that this is my favourite Junji Ito story, but nonetheless I thought he did a great job working within another writer’s world and the limitations that it can bring. His artwork is on point as always, with the depiction of both innocence and horror so expertly portayed, sometimes through the same character.

I’ve heard said before that if you are going to remake or cover someone else’s creation, whether a film, song or whatever, you should either strive to improve on the original or at least make it different. Whilst I can’t say whether or not he improved it, I do think he brought something completely different. Perhaps even bringing this classic horror story to the eyes of people who may never have ended up reading it — like me.

In Summary

Whilst I can’t recommend reading this version of Frankenstein before the original, nor should I, I do feel that it is definitely a Manga worth reading at some point. I’m not sure about any different experiences I may have had, had I have read the novel first. The big difference that does spring to mind is that all of the visuals would have been created in my imagination – making it even more scary perhaps?

But as a standalone horror manga, regardless of the source material, Junji Ito’s Frankenstein is a great read in my opinion and worthy of your time.

The Silent Scream (Hammer House of Horror episode 7)

The Silent Scream may be one of my favourite episodes from the Hammer House of Horror series. It doesn’t contain any deaths – not of people anyway – and doesn’t really have much in the way of gore. But where this episode excelled for me was on the psychological level.

Plus, escaped nazi war scientists always bring with them a particular brand of horror for me. Memories of American Horror Story‘s Dr. Hans Grüper.

Lay the right bait, and almost any creature will walk in of its own accord.

Martin Blueck to Chuck Spillers

Main Characters

What is The Silent Scream about?

Chuck Spillers, played by the excellent Brian Cox, is fresh out of jail and back into the loving arms of his wife, Annie – played by TV actress Elaine Donnelly. Whilst in prison he was visited regularly by an older man, Martin Blueck – played by the ever-charming Peter Cushing. Blueck would talk with him and give him money for his time. Although this initially seemed very generous, it is soon apparent that this was just bait; grooming him for what was to come later.

True to his word, the day after his release Chuck goes to visit Blueck at his place of work – a pet shop in the centre of town. He goes to say thank you to this old man whom he now considers a friend. Blueck then offers Chuck a job, only in a secret back area of the shop.

Chuck and Annie are reunited after Chuck’s time in prison

In the back is a large warehouse where Blueck keeps all manner of dangerous and exotic animals in cages. These include Lions, Tigers, Panthers and Baboons. What is perhaps more surprising for Chuck, is the fact that the cages all have their doors open.

Blueck explains his ambitions to create zoos without bars, where animals can walk freely and still be of no danger – something that Chuck sees the benefit in having just been released from jail. These animals have been conditioned to know that the open doors do in fact contain an electrical field that will instantly kill any who attempt to pass through. Only after the power is turned off, and the loud buzzer is rang, is it safe to briefly step out to get their prepared food.

Chuck dutifully tends to the animals each day whilst Blueck is away, as he is paid to do. However, Chuck’s attention is continually drawn to a safe housed in the wall on the second floor of the warehouse. He knows he has the skills necessary to open such a safe and obtain the potential fortune within. But his greed may well be his undoing.

Prisons without bars — my thoughts

Imprisonment is a big theme in this episode: Chuck has just been released from jail, where he found the confinement particularly hard to cope with; the animals being housed in their open cages with fear of death on exit in Blueck’s warehouse; and even the limitation of locations in the episode. For the most part we are either in the Spillers’ kitchen or Blueck’s shop.

On writing this it even occured to me that perhaps the prisons that these character’s carry within them are of importance too. The way that Chuck’s desire for more leads him to crack open the warehouse safe, causing his own imprisonment by Blueck.

Or even the way that Annie is still bound to Chuck with love, even after his greed and criminal actions lead directly to his being imprisoned. And her being bound to him, attempting his rescue, leads to her own capture by Blueck.

And finally Blueck himself. His desire to experiment on Chuck and Annie, to create a prison without bars, ultimately leads to the overlooking of his most dangerous captive animals – sealing his own fate

I found this episode to have a good amount of tension — the most poignant moment just has to be that scene with the puppy. Although not gory, it still manages to leave it’s trace across the rest of the episode. I didn’t find the lack of blood and conventional Hammer Horror deaths to be a thing I particularly missed either. I mean, a bit of gore can be fun alot of the time, but in this story the suspense and tension were balanced enough to carry it on their own.

The ending was suitably nightmarish for me, although I could see it coming a mile off. This was simply due to a previous scene with Blueck driving away from a location in his car. It was a shame, because had it have been edited in a slightly different way, I believe that the closing scene could have been much more of a surprise twist.

Summary

I loved this episode. The over-arching theme of imprisonment and being beholden to the desires we carry within us was an interesting one. Some of these episodes can be a bit hit and miss for me, but there are enough good quality episodes, like The Silent Scream, that really hit the mark.

I enjoyed seeing the legendary Peter Cushing in the role of Blueck. I was so used to him portraying the side of good, like as Van Hellsing in the Dracula films and Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles. So it was a real treat to see him in such a dark role.

(I know he played Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars too, but I’m only thinking of the more horror-themed films here)

Also Brian Cox playing Chuck Spillers. He has one of those faces that I knew I recognised – I just couldn’t remember from where. Then I read his filmography and saw, amongst many other entries :

1995BraveheartArgyle Wallace

Instant recollections of the opening scenes from Braveheart hit me. That’s where I know him from!

Thoughts on A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most recognisable titles in cinema – as is it’s villain, and star, Freddy Krueger. I felt the urge to re-watch this film after my recently-formed gaming obsession with Dead By Daylight. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that much of the film still holds up to modern viewing.

What is A Nightmare on Elm Street about?

Behind the scenes on A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street follows four high-school kids, who are all experiencing almost identical nightmares. Nightmares about a mysterious burnt man in an old jumper and hat with knives for fingers. This figure is none other than one of cinema’s most charismatic antagonists – Freddy Krueger.

Freddy has long been dead, but has since returned to feed on children’s fear within their dreams in order to kill them. While alive, Freddy was exclusively a child killer – and possibly worse in the originally draft – which makes him one of the most despicable of his contemporary killers. Yet, perhaps intentionally, this is juxtaposed with his bouncy, playful actions and the fact that through the course of his films people have come to regard Freddy as a “cool character”.

It isn’t long until one of the children Freddy is hunting, Nancy, takes it upon herself to stand up and fight back against him. This ultimately leads to a showdown where you’ll want to throw your fists up and shout “Fuck Yer, Nancy!”.

A Nightmare on Elm Street artwork

The Effects still hold up

When the Matrix came out in 1999 it blew most people away with its cutting-edge, computed-generated, effects. Less than ten years later and those effects sure did start to look dated – more so now. However, with films that focused on created actual physical effects, this dated effect is lessened quite substantially in my opinion.

A Nightmare on Elm Street, although cheesy in parts, still holds up strongly with its physical effects. Especially those bedroom death scenes from both the start and end of the film. R.I.P. Johnny. And Freddy is every bit as menacing and full of charisma as I’d remembered from watching it years ago.

Nancy in the bath
Nancy in that famous bathtub scene

It’s great when modern films take a leaf out of the books of films like this one. You really can’t beat the authenticity of good-old physical effects. Especially in horror.

A personal favourite favourite of mine of all the film’s effects, is when Nancy is asleep at Tina’s house. Freddy can be seen pushing his way through the over-arching bedroom wall from the other side. And although it’s not too difficult to work out how this could be achieved it is still effing terrifying and highly effective.

Freddy is still rock n roll

Nancy and Freddy

Freddy Krueger is one of those pop culture horror icons who sits beside all of the greats. He sits with characters such as Michael Myers; Pinhead; Jason and Leatherface. He was played so perfectly by Robert Englund and like Doug Bradley for pinhead, will always be tightly linked to his seminal role.

Interestingly what differs Freddy from many of his contemporaries, is his sense of humour and playfulness with his victims. Michael Myers was a silent shape in the darkness; Jason too was silent; Pinhead spoke only in a deep, almost poetic manner. But Freddy just toys with his victims in his cheeky, tormenting way.

Freddy has been a really fun villain to revisit and I’m looking forward to re-watching the other films too. This includes one I’ve never seen before – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. I’ve heard good things about it so will get a hold of that when I can.

In Summary

A great horror film that I think still holds strong today. Wes Craven unknowingly created an icon that would go on to become a household name – like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Coca Cola.

If you’ve never before seen A Nightmare on Elm Street, I urge you to give it a watch. Yes there are some aspects of it that will be dated, such as the fashions and the acting in places. But this really is an important horror film like all of the top films lists repeat. You wont sleep easy till you watch this film.

Charlie Boy (Hammer House of Horror episode 6)

What is Charlie Boy about?

Close up of Charlie Boy
Close up of Charlie Boy

Charlie boy is about a couple, Graham and Sarah, who come into possession of an African idol after Graham’s uncle dies. (Sarah gives the idol the name Charlie Boy). Unbeknown to the couple, the idol is cursed and is in fact a voodoo statue.

After a disagreement with his brother, Graham – sitting at home nursing a drink – takes out his anger on the Statue. He does this as he is looking at a photograph of five close friends, himself and his brother included. The rest of the episode is then about the systematic killing (or accidental deaths) of all who appear in said photograph in the order they appear.

The episode had some juicy deaths in its 51 minutes including a man getting thrown off a horse and on to some plough spikes. Others I can’t reveal for fear of spoiling aspects of it for you, should you choose to watch it. This story is one of the grimmest to watch overall – nobody really has a good time in this one. That being said I do enjoy a good downer of a story – there’s no light without shade.

A weaker example of the series

Charlie Boy had some potential to be a great episode but unfortunately fell a bit short for me. One big thing that let it down was the soundtrack. At times the music felt like it belonged somewhere between Confessions of a Window Cleaner and Foxy Brown. It’s a shame because the idea itself was a sound one that fits with the rest of the series well. It just seemed to be poorly executed by people who had no real vision of what Hammer Horror is.

Graham and Sarah examine Charlie Boy
Graham and Sarah examine Charlie Boy

In Summary

This is one episode of The Hammer House of Horror that I think you could comfortably miss. It does have some redeeming qualities, such as a higher death count to previous episodes. So it isn’t all doom and gloom. But yer, not the best one.

Resident Evil Kitchen Demo on PSVR

The Resident Evil Kitchen Demo is a little taster that Capcom put out around the release of Resident Evil 7. It shows off, in its short five minutes of game play, the pure horror potential for Playstation VR, and indeed VR in general.

What happens in the Resident Evil Kitchen Demo?

You spend the entirety of the demo strapped to an old wooden chair in a completely run-down kitchen. The Kitchen gave me similar vibes to the Peacock house from the infamous X-Files episode, ‘Home’. Just sitting there in the chair, both my real-life chair and the in-game chair, looking down at my bound-hands, I was already bricking it.

It felt very much like the start of the original saw film too, in that I had essentially woken up with no recollection of how I got there.

Once you figure out how to wake your friend up off the floor, he slowly gets up and tries to untie you. This is where my first palpable fears manifested. Behind him, moving in the shadows of the corridor, I could see a figure. A figure that no sooner had I said aloud ‘behind you!’, was already upon him.

Looking directly into the face of the hideous visage of a woman, who looked somewhat decayed and possessed, was a feeling like no other. In VR you can look around her head at the mangled locks of hair; the saliva in her teeth; the killing gleam in her eyes, staring directly into yours.

This is what horror really is

Horror games are always fun to me in retrospect. At the time of playing I experience what the game developers must strive for – prolonged anxiety and a fear to move onward through the game. But there really is no feeling like that of the release of tension after a well-timed, tasteful jump scare. And I have the feeling Resident Evil 7 will have those in spades.

Seeing the twisted and zombie-looking woman up close in my face actually got me turning my head away. I knew, somewhere in my mind, that this was just a game. But that held truth was buried beneath the many layers of fear from this demo. The level of immersion here is unreal and this has somehow awoken a level of computer game experience that I never even knew existed.

On to the full game

As soon as I finished the Kitchen Demo I was online shopping for the full game. I kick myself now for not picking it up in the PlayStation Store sale a few months back. As I type this sentence I am awaiting a confirmation email to come through for me to collect the game.

I have no idea how I’m going to survive this game. Outlast feels like a walk in the park now, compared to this. (It’s not – Outlast is still very scary, but Resident Evil 7 just has a whole new dimension – literally and figuratively).

p.s. I have since bought the game and have played the first hour. It has not disappointed me and I can not wait to write up my thoughts on it in full.

The House That Bled to Death (Hammer House of Horror episode 5)

The House That Bled to Death kicks off strong and stays strong throughout its 50 minutes. It keeps a sustained anxiousness until it’s very final scenes.

What is ‘The house that bled to death about?

The House That Bled To Death opening
The House That Bled To Death opening

The darkest and coldest opening of the series so far. An elderly couple are together in the kitchen about to have a cup of warm milk before bed. The husband heats the milk and slips a dark powder into one of the cups. As he sits there and lets his wife drink the tainted milk, not a word is exchanged. We have no idea as to why he is murdering his wife and in the world of Hammer House of Horror it doesn’t really matter.

Fast forward some time ahead and we are with this episode’s family, the Peters family. They are buying the very same house where the murder occurred, unknowing to them, from one of the creepiest estate agents in a TV series ever. As soon as they begin moving in, strange things start happening – doors jamming, strange visions and the most gruesome death of an animal I’ve seen in the series thus far.

As they try to bare the strange goings on in the house, tensions are increased both within the family and with the neighbours and friends. The poltergeist-like happenings culminate with the most shocking child’s Birthday party I’ve ever seen. But just when you think it’s all over, we see one of the most interesting – in my opinion – closing scenes of an episode of Hammer House of Horror I’ve watched.

I wonder about the child actors

Every time I see these sorts of series or films I can’t help but wonder how the children are affected. I mean, obviously if there’s a dead body the child wouldn’t necessarily need to physically see it. Through the magic of editing this effect can be produced. But when you have a scene such as this episode’s Birthday party, where the children are directly affected, this must be an awkward conversation with the young actors’ parents.

Sophies Birthday Present
Sophies Birthday Present

Nonetheless the child actors do a really good job in this episode. Their terror is almost palpable – which is worrying on a couple of levels. Sometimes I find the younger actors more convincing than their superiors. This could simply be down to the fact that children, in their very nature, are innocent. So the horrors that befall them are that much more horrific.

In Summary

Definitely one of the strongest and most memorable episodes of the Hammer House of Horror TV series. The House That Bled To Death has everything you could want from a hammer horror series.

The feeling of claustrophobia is maintained throughout most of the episode from being limited to the interior of their house. The house too is not a house that would necessarily stand out. You would see many houses like it passing through most built up city suburbs. This in itself is scary. The fact that it isn’t some huge eerie castle or dark, set-back mansion. This is a regular house, for regular families, who have to endure some far-from-regular things.

Growing Pains (Hammer House of Horror episode 4)

What is Growing Pains about?

We open the episode to see a small boy looking around a laboratory at the different coloured powders on the shelf. He then proceeds to eat one of the powders, which immediately sends him into a trance-like fit before dying on the grass outside. His parents run out after hearing breaking glass only to find their son, William, dead in the garden.

Matthew Blakstad as James
Matthew Blakstad as James

After the tragic opening we move to some time in the near future, the length of which is never revealed. The mother is picking up her newly-adopted son, a very polite – and slightly odd – young boy. After a near-fatal accident on the way home, the boy starts to become integrated into the family.

However, something just doesn’t sit right with the parents Terence and Laurie – something about their new son just isn’t right. After an increasing number of strange, and graphically horrific, occurrences happen around the home and the father’s lab, the story ends on a darkly melancholic note.

Put the bunny back in the box

I find that any horror that is being told is almost always amplified when children are involved. Whether that involves the child as being either the victim or the perpetrator. Take the rabbit killing scene for example: if an adult breaks the neck of a rabbit on screen, yes it is horrible. However, put that action into the hands of a small child, whether possessed or not, and the violence takes on a whole new angle.

Hammer House of Horror was going places and trying things that other shows at the time just weren’t doing. At least that’s what I believe based on my limited research. We can see parallels with modern anthology series like Black Mirror and Inside No 9, which themselves are doing things others just aren’t. Both of these no doubt took some of their cues from this TV series.

Gary Bond as Terence Morton
Gary Bond as Terence Morton

Although this episode was a bit of a slow burn for me, there was still enough to enjoy it as a whole. I thought the child actor at the time, Matthew Blakstad who played adopted son James, was suitable creepy. But from all of the reviews / critiques I’ve read of this episode, all mention him as being an evil boy. Although that was the impression I had from the start, I didn’t feel that by the end. Instead, I believe him to be a sheltered boy who unwittingly becomes possessed by the late Willam.

Summary

This episode is definitely the weakest of the first three i have watched so far. Although it did have a few redeeming qualities for me. You wouldn’t be missing too much if you bypassed this episode. But, for any of you fans of the Hammer House of Horror series, you should find enough interest to warrant 50 minutes of your time.

The Thirteenth Reunion (Hammer House of Horror episode 2)

Leading on from the series’ opener, Witching Time, is the second episode of the eighties British anthology series Hammer House of Horror. The Thirteenth Reunion is a step away from the supernatural – perhaps consciously so in order to display the show’s diversity.

What’s The Thirteenth Reunion about?

Ruth is a newspaper reporter who has been stuck reporting on the mundane for too long. As part of her job, she is sent to a nearby health retreat called “Think Thin”. The owner has some questionable encouragement methods and she is sent to get the story.

During her first day she meets Ben, a well to do banker who dies that evening. His death occurs soon after taking a slimming pill that was given to him by the clinic. Although she is initially shocked at the news of his death, Ruth wastes no time in turning the suspected foul-play to her advantage. The advantage being the possibility of breaking a potentially big news story on her own.

Ruth and Ben have drinks in The Thirteenth Reunion
Ruth and Ben have drinks in The Thirteenth Reunion.

She is approached at Ben’s funeral by the director, who suspects his bosses of being up to something shady with some of the bodies – Ben’s included. She takes this opportunity to team up with the funeral director to investigate his bosses’ strange goings on. These events set Ruth on her passage of exploration that ultimately lead her to an unforgettable twist ending that will leave you open-mouthed long after the credits roll.

The horror is not knowing

There is no way to talk about the closing ten minutes of this episode without ruining it for you. What I will say is that you wont see it coming, not the full story at least.

All the way through this episode we are kept in the dark almost as much as Ruth is. We do get to see some of the interactions between shady characters that she doesn’t, but never enough to give the game away.

The Thirteenth Reunion is an episode that plays its cards very close to its chest. The majority of the episode is pretty standard investigative journalist stuff and it isn’t until the final few minutes that the real horror begins. And the majority of that horror is not in what it chooses to show you, but in what it chooses not to.

Witching Time (Hammer House of Horror episode 1)

One evening David is composing the score for a new film when a loud but brief storm hits. When his dog, Billy, goes running off, he pursues it into the nearby horse stables. However, in the stables he doesn’t find Billy; instead he finds a mysterious woman in a black robe lying in the hay.

Black magic woman

Witching Time (Hammer House of Horror episode 1)
David Winter introduces Lucinda to electricity

Lucinda claims to be a witch from the 17th Century who managed to escape her execution by sending herself forward in time to the present day. She is played excellently by fiery red head Patricia Quinn. Lucinda is probably my favourite of the four main characters in this episode. Her portrayal of the ever-maddening witch is an entertaining watch, albeit not as scary as I would expect from this series.

As she becomes infatuated with David, Lucinda finds new and interesting ways to get inside his mind. Using the knowledge of David’s wife’s infidelity to her advantage, Lucinda slowly twists his mind against her so she can try and have him to herself.

Winter is coming

I knew I recognized the actor playing David Winter by not only his face, but also his distinct delivery of his lines. It was none other than Jon Finch, who I remembered from Hitchcock’s underrated ‘Frenzy’. Finch plays David with a similar, direct intensity – even in quieter scenes – that I remembered fondly from Frenzy.

I enjoyed seeing David’s slow descent into madness as the story escalated towards its heated conclusion.

What happened to Billy?

Witching Time (Hammer House of Horror episode 1)
Lucinda Jessup frightens Mary

Although this is not the strongest – or my favourite – episode of the series, it does have one of my favourite concepts for a story. The horror is downplayed considering it’s the first episode of the Hammer House of Horror. However, there are plenty of unsettling moments that should appease the hardest of Hammer Horror fans.

Unfortunately nobody knows what happened to billy.

Too alive – Thoughts on the game Outlast

Dark, disturbing and utterly terrifying. I don’t think I’ve been quite so scared playing a game than I have been with Outlast. It came to a point where being killed was a blessed relief from then suspended tension. Things were always going to get bad for our hero, I just didn’t foresee how bad things would get.

What is Outlast about?

In Outlast you play Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist who is looking for his story within the walls of the Mount Massive psychiatric hospital. He has been given a tip-off from a whistleblower within the Hospital about some shady goings on. It is here that you begin the story – parked up outside and looking for a way in. But of course It’s not long until things go pear-shaped and your quiet entrance becomes a frantic search for escape.

The game is played from the first-person perspective of Miles. Seeing it through his eyes really added to my emotional investment of it all. With all the lights turned off in my living room, the small shafts of light in-game were my only illumination.

The further through the hospital you advance, the more dark and twisted the story becomes. So too do the creatures searching for you in the dark become harder to best. Made excruciatingly difficult at times with the complete inability to fight back.

An inability to fight back.

One big aspect of Outlast, that sets it apart from most, is in its fighting mechanics… or complete lack thereof. It is impossible to fight back or even defend yourself in Outlast – all you can do is run, hide and try to sneak past whatever lurks in the darkness. This fundamental rule is what makes this game so unique in all the games I’ve played. Other horror games, like Silent Hill and Resident Evil, allow you to collect weapons and ammo in order to at least try and fight back. However, in Outlast, you must use only your wits, and more often than not your cowardice, to survive.

Throughout the halls of the quickly-deteriorating hospital, you’ll find all manner of places to hide. Under beds; behind up-turned mattresses; toilet cubicles; lockers. One time I even found myself staring directly at my enemy, only under the cover of the pitch black. These hiding places aren’t guaranteed sanctuary though, as those hunting you won’t think twice about tearing a door from a locker or searching under beds.

Because of the zero fighting, all of the controls you play with are geared towards your movements. Whether it be glancing behind you as you sprint away from a pursuer, peering round a dimly-lit corner, or creaking a door open as slowly as you can. Opening a door is actually one of the initial things that got me so immersed in the game. You have the option of just opening the door normally, which results in a thud, or holding down the button and easing forward with the controller’s analogue stick.

Utterly Terrifying

No game has made me so consistently scared of playing it than Outlast did. There was never a moment when I felt any degree of safety, with every room and corridor serving only to raise my fear and anxiety levels. The amount of times I went into it saying “it’s only a game – if I die I can just try again.” was many. But I simply couldn’t disengage from the game on an emotional level. In times between playing it I’m sure part of me staying there – trapped inside the hospital with Miles.

With the game being split into chapters, I found myself unwilling to play past more than one at a time. The constant state of tension really took its toll on me after a while. Although saying that I did do the last three chapters in one sitting, which I’m actually pretty proud of.

I’ve talked about the darkness and the things that lurk within, as well as your complete lack of defences. But fear not, for you do have one item by your side throughout your time at Mount Massive that may just save your life – your video camera.

Just a man and his camera

Your only accessory that you take with you on your journey is a digital camera with its night vision mode. This camera is your only friend in the dark, often pitch black, hallways you find yourself exploring. I found myself, at least half of the time I was playing, with the camera up to my face – night vision turned on. One memory that sticks with me is being trapped in a prison area, all prison cells opened, with a huge bulking creature searching for me. Using the camera to search the blackness was the only thing that got me out of there.

But the camera’s battery won’t last forever, which is why you should always be keeping an eye open for the game’s only consumable items – extra batteries. The game doesn’t really make the prospect of exploring every nook and cranny inviting. But I strongly advise you to look around for those batteries. Luckily I never ran out of them but there were many times when I came damn close.

As well as batteries you’ll also come across numerous documents, which shed some light on the history of the hospital and what went on before your arrival. These are an interesting read if you want to deepen your understanding. If not, just run.

Not for the faint hearted

If you are of a nervous disposition you will NOT want to play this game. I’m not easily spooked but this game had me in a constant state of anxiety. Sometimes to be caught and have your heart ripped out is a nice way to break that tension… sometimes. All in all I really enjoyed this game, but it’s a game that look back at with enjoyment – when I was experiencing it I was petrified.

It’s for this reason that I can’t decide whether I want to play the Whistleblower DLC and the recently-released sequel. I mean I want to… but do I really want to?

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.