A Horror Game Where Reloading Is The Scariest Part

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Screenshot: Dread XP / Kotaku

Reloading in video games is rarely something you think a lot about. Often it’s a moment in time when you’re forced to stop shooting. But a new indie horror game makes reloading fun, nerve-wracking, and interesting. And it’s just one part of a great collection of horror games released earlier this week.

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Released on April 13, Dread X Collection: The Hunt is a new compilation of indie horror games, but unlike the previous Dread X Collections, all of the games in The Hunt are shooters of some kind. This caught my interest. Then I saw how you reload a musket in The Fruit, one of the games in The Hunt, and I rushed to download it. I mean, look at this:

Gif: Dread XP / Kotaku

You have to hold the reload button, then use your mouse to pull back the hammer, open the musket, pop out a bullet and replace it with a new one. All the while, you can be attacked.

For those worried that this looks annoying or frustrating, well it can be, but in a good way. This is supposed to be a horror game, and the person you play as isn’t familiar with guns. This reloading system makes every shot count. When you miss in The Fruit, you regret it not just because you wasted a precious bullet, but because you now have to fight off an enemy with your axe or risk running away and reloading fast enough before they reach you and kill you. It makes even simple 1 vs 1 fights tense. It’s also not as finicky as it might look. Clicking and dragging the parts of the musket feels satisfying.

It took me about an hour or so to beat The Fruit. By the end of it, I was much better at reloading the musket. But when a few enemies surprised me near the end, I still fumbled around while reloading and panicking. That’s a feeling few shooters have ever instilled in me while simply reloading my gun.

Illustration for article titled A Horror Game Where Reloading Is The Scariest Part
Screenshot: Dread XP / Kotaku
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The other game I really enjoyed in the collection is very different. Uktena 64 is a horror game designed to look and sound like an N64-era hunting game. It has colorful menus, fun music, and low-poly visuals. But beneath the surface of this cute-looking world is a dark story about animals who are seemingly infected by some otherworldly disease. You play as Jeb, a local hunter who gets a bounty from the “CDC” to hunt these animals down and snap photos of their corpses.

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Screenshot: Dread XP / Kotaku
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When you take these pics you get graded, like Pokemon Snap, complete with silly catchphrases and music. At the end of each hunting mission, the photos of dead, low-poly animals are shown in a bright and colorful slideshow. It’s all uncomfortable, and as you progress through the various missions, things get darker and Jeb becomes more unsure of what he’s involved in. But even up until the final moment of the game, Uktena 64 never completely drops its N64 vibes, creating a chilling and odd experience.

I don’t want to spoil too much more about Uktena 64, The Fruit, or the other five games in the collection. The compilation is $11 on Steam, and these two games alone are worth the price of admission, with the other games adding even more value to the package. If you love horror games and shooters, this collection is worth playing.

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

DISCUSSION

When I first read the headline I thought it meant reloading the game. This gave me an interesting idea for a horror game. What if there was a random chance, like say 1%, that when you died, your save game would be deleted?

I feel like that would add immense pressure to a game and make it a lot scarier. If you had to hold your breath during the reload sequence and hope that you re spawned at your checkpoint.

I mean, think of all the viral twitch videos of people freaking out when they find out that RNG made their character death permadeath. Or the relief of seeing their character re spawn

Just an idea. If someone with programming skills wants to do something with it, go for it!