Sawbuck Gamer

Scare Tactics

Catachresis: A Way Too Scary Game has no choice but to scare you with what you can’t see.

By Danny Gallagher • September 20, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

To my frustration, modern horror movies often forgo some fundamental rules of creating terror. They work to please our fickle modern attention spans with instant gore gratification and cheap jump scares. They’ve made the law of slow, building terror—laid down by films like Jaws, where the revelation of the monster’s form is saved for the end—more obsolete than an 8-track player in a stagecoach.

Catachresis: A Way Too Scary Game uses that Jaws law to create real tension. That’s an impressive accomplishment for a game that not only goes out of its way to be funny, but also uses old fashioned video game graphics to create the illusion of being trapped in darkness. The story is a strange blend of Ghostbusters and John Dies At The End with players controlling a “ghostologist” sent into the woods to investigate something he knows nothing about. He walks through long, ever side-scrolling forests and darkened buildings as an ominous horror soundtrack threatens to change tempo at any moment, heightening the tension to a tourniquet strength grip. There isn’t much action, but the weird story was enough to pull me through what feels like a movie where the audience controls the main character’s movements. The comedy and horror are very self-aware, playing cheekily with Catachersis’ limited visual capabilities. They both make use of what the game can’t show to deliver something compelling and scary, regardless of whether or not there is a big scary monster waiting to jump out and go “Boo!”.

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6 Responses to “Scare Tactics”

  1. SamPlays says:

    I miss the days when Lorum Ipsum wasn’t a dead language.

  2. SamPlays says:

    I may have found a bug in the game. After the first visit to the house, I spoke with the first two investigators who then directed me to Terrence. I walked past Terrence and activated a dialogue about the books. I tried to leave and the game told me I had to talk to Terrence. When I went back, I couldn’t initiate the dialogue. Fucking Terrence, always acting like a pissy brat.

  3. TreeRol says:

    So, is this game a joke, or…?

  4. William Burr says:

    Can you HOLD THE RIGHT ARROW KEY? I bet you can’t HOLD THE RIGHT ARROW KEY! Step right up, test your reflexes, your strength, your mind, as you HOLD THE RIGHT ARROW KEY!