November 15, 2022

Stoic’s Top Ten Indie Horror Games

Topics: General

The Mortuary Assistant

I don’t normally get spooked but this game scared me. The combination of having to learn the mechanics of embalming a body while scrambling around the mortuary just waiting for the next haunting to happen really put me on edge. Even after several shifts, I’ll still get startled now and again. But once I got over that initial anxiety, I really enjoyed the experience. The gameplay loop of preparing a body for embalming while also trying to deduce what demon is trying to possess you is fun. The hauntings start to get tiresome, especially the grandma one, after seeing them several times. Once you get all the endings, there is not a lot of reason to keep replaying. I got the game on sale but even at full price this is an easy recommend.



The low poly PS1-era aesthetic is becoming more common as gamers who grew up during that era become nostalgic for it and create their own games in that style. But it’s rare to find a game that really pulls it off effectively. Alisa nails it down to the look, feel, sound, and design. It really does feel like a lost PS1 game. The design of the dollhouse is reminiscent of the iconic RE mansion. It has that recursive level design that I love and also updates old areas with new enemies as you continue to unlock additional areas. My first playthrough was very difficult as I kept running low on ammo and healing items, but once I started using the sword melee weapon I had a much easier time. I didn’t realize until after my first playthrough that you could block an enemy attack with it which is a bit OP.

Exploring new areas, solving puzzles, and killing enemies to collect cogs for new gear was a lot of fun. I ended up playing through three times to get additional endings. There are also rooms and items you can’t unlock without multiple playthroughs. I love to see a game with great replay value. The story isn’t anything too special and some of the bosses are really annoying the first time you play through. There is also some unnecessary backtracking and routes that can’t be unlocked that would have greatly reduced the amount of time it takes. Minor gripes though. Glad to see the survival horror genre is being kept alive and well thanks to indie devs like this one.


Who’s Lila?

A surreal horror adventure game experience with some ARG elements. Instead of picking a dialogue option, you pinch and pull on certain points of the player’s face to make facial expressions. How you decide to emote will lead to different responses from characters and sometimes branching paths. Each playthrough is a snippet of the overall story which you need to piece together. It can take a lot of patience figuring out what you’re supposed to do in certain situations. There are also points where you will have to fight to make certain facial expressions. I always struggled to make the neutral expression when this happened. The esoteric elements of the game are fun to discover on your own but I’ll admit I had to use a guide to find all the endings. If you’re dedicated enough you’ll discover Who’s Lila?


Iron Lung

Iron Lung is the embodiment of less is more. You navigate through the depths of a blood sea checking off points of interest. The catch is you can’t see where you’re going. Instead you have to navigate using coordinates and a map for reference. You can also take a grainy photo of what’s outside your submarine. The sub is very claustrophobic. It creeks under the pressure of abyss and steam shoots off the pipes. It feels like it could implode at anytime. Worse you can hear noises outside your ship. You are not alone. The game is less than an hour so it’s best to experience it firsthand.


Lake Haven – Chrysalis

What’s past is prologue and Lake Haven Chrysalis certainly takes a lot of inspiration from the past; particularly the Silent Hill series. It is a very short gameplay experience clocking in at about 90 minutes so you can easily finish it in one sitting. You’ll be running around a small farm in Kansas trying to piece together what happened to Eleanor while solving classic adventure game puzzles along the way. Most of the puzzles boil down to finding a key or item needed to progress, but there are a few logic puzzles in there as well. You also have a gun with infinite ammo but there is little in the way of combat. I am hoping combat evolves in the full game as dealing with enemies while managing limited resources is a key aspect of survival horror. The visuals and audio design go a long way in capturing the spirit of that era. I follow the composer SurvivalSpheres who does an amazing job of invoking the feel of classic horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. The game really picks up in the last 30 minutes and gives me high hopes for the full title.


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