What time is it?
... I say, WHAT TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME IS IT?! Why, it's Bonus Link Dump Friday time! (And why are you yelling? Rude.) Anyway, it may not be Halloween, but that doesn't mean you have to wait until October for some chills. Especially not if you're like me and always have a hankerin' for scares! Let's take a stroll down Spooky Lane together. (Take a right off of 23 Chickadee Avenue.) This special edition of your one and only Link Dump Friday features some games that are creepy-cool and are worth a peek if you are brave of heart or just want to impress the big kids so they'll let you hang out with them. So yes, parents, please assume that most of these games are not safe for young children. Unless tears, nightmares, and checking under the bed for boogeymen for the next six weeks sounds appealing. Me? I spend all my time jumping rigged-to-detonate dirt-bikes over robotic lions who are also on fire and shoot bees out of their mouths when they roar. Nothing scares me.
- Absentia - Episode 1 - More atmospheric than actually scary, this little point-and-clicker is about a girl who suddenly receives a letter one day that might point to the whereabouts of her father, who vanished fifteen years ago. The narrative is the strong point here, delivered with competent voice acting, and the game plays out on photographed backgrounds that are a nice touch. What's unfortunate is that right now the actual gameplay aspect is a bit stale, consisting primarily of tracking down note fragments in different locations and then assembling them. Hopefully the next chapter will be more exciting. Maybe with a talking animal sidekick. Everyone loves those, right?
- Time to Wake Up - A slower, more thoughtfully creepy point-and-click tale of a man who receives a strange package one evening that ends up making him see things in a different light (bad pun, sorry), Time to Wake Up is the first game from its developers, and is fairly impressive as such, even if the gameplay doesn't quite feel as strong as the narrative itself. Some puzzles can be frustratingly fiddly, and narrative text takes a while to disappear from the screen. Still, the atmosphere is excellent, the style is appropriate, and there are several different endings for you to find. It definitely makes you want to see more from the developers.
- The Insanity - About as subtle as a HummVee, this point-and-click horror adventure is the gaming equivalent of trying to read a book by Clive Barker while someone shrieks in your ear every five seconds and throws buckets of raspberry jam everywhere. You wake up in a cage in a strange laboratory and need to escape the building before your bizarre captors track you down and turn you into one of the other unfortunate creatures that walk the halls. It isn't what you might call restrained, doesn't always make sense, and some of the action sequences can be frustrating, but there's something appealing about the aesthetic and the gleeful cheesiness of the whole setup.
- Desolation: The Stages of Anxiety - An exterminator gets called into a job that might be more than he bargained for in this point-and-click game with action elements. The narrative can be a little shaky, and it took me a moment of cocking my head at the screen to understand the ending, but there are some genuinely creepy moments contained herein. When you're done, you can play the sequel, although that somehow lacks the creepy-crawly impact of the original. I actually don't know why we haven't already had this in a Link Dump, but it probably has something to do with the fact that my brain is a sieve and I can never remember what I'm about to oh hello, what are you guys doing here?
- Darkbase 2: The Hive - Another competently done top-down shooter where you mow down legions of bloodthirsty aliens with progressively larger guns. It's not very scary, but it is appealingly action oriented and features lots of things bursting. (Take that as you will.) If this game were a movie, it would star Dwayne Johnson, Sylvester Stallone, and Samuel L Jackson (rock!), and the dialogue would consist entirely of the first two going "RAAAAAAAAAAAA" and firing their guns nonstop, while Samuel L Jackson was on the phone firing his agent. I'd watch it.