By: Lena Judith Drake
For those of us who have Apple computers, it can be difficult to find cheap or free Mac games to play, especially horror games. I’ve been through more expensive Mac games, like BioShock and Amnesia, and I’ve dug out my finicky old Windows laptop for some Silent Hill (my favorite horror game series). But frankly, I want more!
Luckily, with a lot of research, I’ve found a long list of free and cheap horror games available for Mac. (Natively available for Mac, without the need for tedious extra steps, like Boot Camp, Virtual Machine, torrenting, emulators, etc.)
As a hardcore horror game fan, I’ll be reviewing each of these free or cheap games, most of which are indies, all of which are available for Mac. Windows people, you’re in luck too, since most of them are also for Windows.
First up, a review of an eerie little free game called One Late Night:
According to the creators of this indie horror game: “One Late Night is a short immersive horror-game experience, starring an unnamed graphic designer employee, working late one night at the office, until strange things start to happen. The basic idea is that players who have been in similar situations, and worked with similar office jobs, will relate themselves to the game setting and scenario and become immersed.”
Near-normalcy is, in my opinion, is the absolute creepiest thing a game can do, and this one does it well. (What’s “normal” is different for everyone, of course, but for me personally, I was able to relate.) Throw magical, fantasy settings at me in horror? It probably won’t creep me out. Give me a house, apartment, or other common setting—in this case, a fairly boring business office? I will burrow myself under my covers when it’s time for bed. Real, believable setting equals real, believable scares. Simply wandering from room to room, knowing something will happen (it is a horror game, after all) but not knowing quite what, is exactly the immersive experience the game designers promise in the summary. Clues, like co-workers gone missing, start leading the character to the root of an evil lurking in the office. In the mean time, I was cringing in anticipation.
However, once the bulk of the actual game gets underway, it becomes considerably less terrifying, until the ending becomes, frankly, yawnable. Basically: oh no, it’s a witch ghost thing, that’s what’s up with the office environment being freaky! There’s one simple weakness she has that allows you to kill her given enough time and dedication to an ongoing boss-battle-over-time, and then the game’s over. it continually gets less and less scary over time, since there’s one concrete villain with a concrete weakness. The atmospheric fear diminishes a lot once this is revealed.
Anticipation is one of the most frightening things for me. Often, once I figure things out, meh. But character depth helps too.
For instance, in the Silent Hill series, I know the spoilers, I know the dynamics of the universe, but I’m still perpetually disturbed by the games, mostly for the psychological elements and taboo themes. Silent Hill‘s essentially a Rorschach test for the player characters and NPCs alike. We glimpse into the horrors of each character’s psyche, and have to speculate about many of the symbols we see.
One Late Night, on the other hand? It really doesn’t have much characterization at all. Sure, it’s a short game, built with probably very limited resources. Maybe it’s not fair to make comparisons. Still, I know shorter, lower budget, and more experimental games that do villains and characterization better (which you’ll see in upcoming reviews).
Overall? I had fun for a while, because my uncertain, confused imagination is a more terrifying place than this game’s plot. The setting is well done, and their main goal of immersiveness works out. Possibly worth checking out if you have the time and like atmospheric eeriness. But I wouldn’t play it again.
One Late Night is available for a free download here.