My mother never let me play horror games. In our house, if something was rated R then it was less of a suggestion and more of a rule. I pretended to understand when friends boasted about watching their older siblings play Silent Hill in the schoolyard and, in my early teens, reveled at how rebellious I was to secretly play Fatal Frame with my best friend at weekends.
But the fact remained that I could never buy any of these games for myself. I was reliant on the revolutionary defiance of others and their parents. As such, there was a myriad of classic horror games (and films for that matter) that I missed out on when they were in their prime and, as time went on, I felt I had missed the boat. I continued to do an awkward shuffle when people asked: “What do you mean you haven’t played Silent Hill?” And quickly changed the subject when references to Resident Evil were brought up. That was until I got Xbox Game Pass.
Xbox Game Pass is the ultimate treasure trove for horror fans like me and, after all these years, it finally let me defy my mother.
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Following the release of Resident Evil 3 Remake, I clambered deep into the horror game hole. It was the first game in the series I had ever played and, after it was done, I immediately moved onto Resident Evil 2 Remake and then onto the Resident Evil remake before finding myself at a bit of a loss. By that time, I had already worked through the Amnesia Collection and any other PS Plus horror games that I had slept on.
When the pandemic hit, I had weekends to fill. My partner had lost his job and the rare moments of relaxation we found together were in playing horror games. We had a good system going: I play the scary, he watches. But, given the loss of income, buying horror game after horror game wasn’t an option.
I’d had Xbox Game Pass for a while by then, but seldom used it. I subscribed at a time when the service was beginning to build up its offering but I didn’t see much of interest to me personally. It had become a service I checked semi-regularly or when I fancied trying out an indie game exclusive. Basically, I slept on Game Pass and it was a huge mistake.
On the off chance that I thought I had seen another Resi game on Game Pass, I booted up my Xbox One and had a nosey through. What greeted me was a treasure trove of horror games: Resident Evil 7, Alien Isolation, Soma, Blair Witch, Day Z and so much more, right at my fingertips. I went on a download frenzy.
Not only are there a bunch of relatively new horror games on Game Pass, but there are also some classic horror series like Five Night’s at Freddy’s and (to my excitement) Dead Space. These are the Xbox Game Pass games that I’m most thankful for, as they finally allow me to play the series that I missed out on in my younger years, ticking off some key backlog games and quietly bringing me into the discussions I had long been shut out from.
It’s a testament to Xbox’s fantastic backwards compatibility offering, something Sony has seriously been lacking. I'm hoping we'll see more classic horror games make their way onto Xbox Game Pass in the future, like the entire Resident Evil series, Left4Dead and F.E.A.R.
Some games stand the test of time, and allowing players to access those (without the need to drag out an old system and go on an eBay disc hunt) is one of those quality-of-life features that go a long way in game preservation.
The perfect horror service
The worry with buying any game, particularly at the cost they are now, is having to spend your hard-earned money on something that ultimately ends up being rubbish. I had this sentiment with the likes of Alien Isolation, having not watched Alien until I was an adult, and without Game Pass I would probably never have considered buying it outright. Instead, it let me try these games and decide if they were (or weren’t) for me.
It’s something I’ve heard from few friends who aren’t big horror fans: they would never buy themselves a horror game but have tried a few on Xbox Game Pass because there was nothing to lose when they already had a subscription
A genre like horror, which isn’t necessarily for everyone, benefits massively from Game Pass support for this exact reason. It encourages the curious. And for many, like me, it can help fuel the love of a genre that lay dormant for years. Sorry, mum.
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