37 – Martian Gothic. The scariest game I have ever played
Oh I remember buying this on the playstation; it was age rated at twelve, and yet it is the scariest (and hardest game) I have ever played, and let me tell you I have played many games in my eighteen years of knocking about. Although I have never finished it, I have seen a few play-throughs of Martian Gothic and every gamer who has spent the time and effort to get through the entire game says the same thing- write down every note you find, note down every finding, remember the ‘vac tubes’ and never stay in one place for too long. Not only is this game terrifying (at least it was at a young age), it is extremely puzzling, I can honestly say I have never thought so hard playing a game, and I doubt I will ever again.
‘Martian Gothic’ is set a decade or so in the future, when an excavation site has been set up on Mars, now perhaps when this game was made it was a little homage to the original ‘DOOM’ series, or perhaps trying to revamp an old survival horror motif. Either way they succeeded in making a game that leaves you the edge of your seat, too scared to get up for the toilet or something to eat in case you come back and find a ‘trimorph’ or a ‘non-dead’ snacking on your neck.
We all know the story, a base goes silent due to some mysterious occurrence, then a wholly misinformed and inadequately equipped team (generally of small unprepared numbers) go to ‘investigate’. The entire game is eerie and unsettling, perhaps it is a combination of cheesy voice acting and intense music, and the fact that the levels are totally unforgiving on those who make any mistakes whatsoever, yes you slip up, you die, so save often if you feel like trying this out!
The level designs are maze-like and claustrophobic, jam packed with decomposing corridors full of corpses and whispery ventilation, sometimes you’ll break into an equally tight room with a ‘floating zombie ghost thing’ standing between you and the important ‘thing’ you must repair/obtain/pass. Yes it never lets up, it is intense from the word go. The lack of firearms at the beginning make you totally defenceless, and even if you are lucky to find a ‘picollo’ pistol or perhaps it’s bigger brother the ‘dillinger’ the zombies – sorry, ‘non-dead’ will get back up a few minutes after you put them down – what a cruel trick!
Even the savviest of gamers will find this a challenge, guaranteed moments that will quote-unquote “Shit you up”. Even if you are smart enough to get past the initial challenge of finding a gun, getting a few key cards and more importantly a sense of direction in this hellish labyrinth you still have most of the game to face, such as the trimorph contagion, the life on Mars enigma, the microcorder stories of Jonathan Darnley, the ‘Soverign’, the enigmatic Ben Gunn and of course peculiar case of the body in the biolab…
The ending is a bit abrupt to say the very least, but it is a thrill all the same! One of my favourite games, as well as being the toughest and the most frightening, look around for a PC or PS1 copy, and share in the heart stopping, adrenaline surging rush that is Martian Gothic!