Not every video game needs a sequel. In fact, some work better as one-off experiences. Some games are able to say everything they need to say by the time the credits start rolling, so when you finally set down that controller, you do so with the satisfaction of knowing the tale has been told. As much as I adored my time with games like BioShock, SOMA, and Oxenfree, I didn’t walk away believing there was so much more I still needed to see. That’s not to say a talented developer couldn’t find a meaningful reason to revisit those worlds, as 2K Marin did with BioShock 2’s surprisingly thoughtful Minerva’s Den DLC. Some games are special that way.
Then there are the games that clearly only managed to scratch the surface; their beautifully realized worlds left brimming with more stories to share and memorable characters to meet. This is what we’re going to get into today: a look back at a handful of memorable horror games that never got the follow-up I feel they deserved. There’s plenty other series that were building to something interesting before being cut short – such as Condemned, Dino Crisis, or Dead Space, to name a few – but that’s a list for another day.
Without any further ado, let’s get our wish list on.
It feels weird to say it, but Alien: Isolation was better than it had any right to be. A licensed game adaptation of a franchise that’s long struggled to find success in video game adaptations, made by a developer that, while respected, was known more for its many popular strategy games.
If Isolation had merely been a mediocre game, it might’ve been given a warmer reception than it deserved thanks to its close proximity to the colossal turd that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, but it wasn’t mediocre, it was fantastic. Scary, too. A frighteningly advanced enemy AI played a pivotal role in transforming its main baddie, a lone xenomorph, into an instantly unforgettable foe. The creature felt smart because it was smart, and it was scary because you knew that at any moment it could materialize behind you from the shadows like a slender, eight-foot Boogeyman.
Visually, this game blew it out of the park with a world that benefitted greatly from an authentically grainy, 80s aesthetic and an attention to detail in each environment that could’ve only been achieved by developers who were also genuine fans of the films. Unfortunately, it seems a majority of the original Alien: Isolation team is no longer at Creative Assembly, so a sequel seems unlikely, at least for now.
I’ve written about my bottomless desire to return to Bright Falls no less than one thousand times over the last decade, and I’ll continue to do so until I’m certain a sequel is literally impossible. Alan Wake’s strengths lie not only in its quirky cast of characters or the gorgeous world they inhabit but also in the combat, which manages to be fun and frantic, balanced with just the right amount of strategy and skill. It’s still rare for a horror game to deliver exceptional combat like this, and I’d easily rank Alan Wake among the all-time greats like Dead Space and Resident Evil 4.
Alas, our prospects of seeing more of Wake & Friends isn’t likely to happen for the foreseeable future. For years now, Remedy has been open regarding their interest in turning Alan Wake into a franchise – I haven’t forgotten about American Nightmare, I just wouldn’t consider it a true sequel – but for reasons unknown, Microsoft hasn’t mirrored that interest.
It’s a shame because bringing back a series like Alan Wake would go a long way in making Microsoft’s paltry list of Xbox exclusives a little less embarrassing than it is currently.
Perhaps one of the most underrated horror games of the last generation, Shadows of the Damned wasn’t necessarily a critical darling, nor did it light up any sales charts. What it did do was steal my heart with its colorful visuals, stellar soundtrack, and unapologetically juvenile humor. It, too, had some solid combat and buckets of gore to boot.
If you haven’t experienced the soul-warming joy that is this delightful little gem of a game, you should know it’s not too late to do the right thing and give it a try. It’s uniquely goofy and often genuinely funny, but the aural pleasure doesn’t end with its foul-mouthed characters, no, that honor belongs to the soundtrack I mentioned earlier. Not only did this game bring together the epic minds that are Goichi Suda (aka Suda51, creator of No More Heroes and Lollipop Chainsaw) and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil, The Evil Within), it was also backed by a score composed by longtime Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka.
If you missed Shadows of the Damned and you’re not yet scrambling to remedy your past mistakes, I wish you all the best in life, but you’re probably a broken person.
As surprised as I was when the teaser for From Software’s next project turned out to be the excellent-looking Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, I’d be aghast to find out they weren’t going to return to Yarnham eventually. It feels like an inevitability that Bloodborne will get a similar level of attention the developer’s given to Dark Souls, but seeing as the last three games on this list each have decidedly less optimistic futures, I just thought I’d break up our shared misery with a modicum of actual hope.
Vampyr gave me something I’ve spent years asking for: a serious vampire game. I’m of the opinion that vampires will never not be cool, no matter how hard authors of young adult fiction try to ruin them. My hope is this game will open a door, of sorts, for more vampire-themed video games to follow. If it simultaneously breathes some much-needed life into B tier video games, that’d be swell, too. The world of Vampyr is one that absolutely needs to be fleshed out more, if only to give developer Dontnod an opportunity to flesh out the morality system, as well as fix the disappointing combat – and also, maybe, because I’m an insatiable lush for period gothic horror and I desperately need to feed.
It’s too early to say whether or not we’ll get to step back into the muddied boots of Jonathan Reid, our doctor-turned-vampire antihero, but it has been recently confirmed that Vampyr was successful enough for publisher Focus Home Interactive to label it a “robust” commercial success. We also know its setting is still ripe with more stories to tell, as the game is currently making its way to small screens with an upcoming TV series. It seems Dontnod has the beginnings of a franchise here, and I for one am fascinated to see what that means for a possible sequel.
I’m going to go ahead and cut the shit and demand we get more Little Nightmares. Come on, Tarsier Studios, what are ya, chicken? [Insert chicken noises here with your mind’s eye] Are you too afraid to give us a sequel, is that it? You know, I bet that’s it. That’s got to be the reason.
Alright, I may still be a little upset over Alan Wake, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Little Nightmares is a beautiful indie horror game that needs a follow-up. You can beat the game in just a few hours, guaranteeing it never outstays its welcome, and that ending? Boy, what an ending. You want me to tell you about it? Without spoiling anything, let’s just say it’s the kind of ending that leaves you hungry for a sequel.
I’m not aware of any talk of a Little Nightmares 2 just yet, but it could be a good sign that Tarsier felt it worth returning to for three (very good, also woefully short) story expansions. Then again, you could also see that as their wrapping up a great game with a solid DLC epilogue, though I’m going to go ahead and hope for the latter.
What about you? Is there a game you’d like to see get a sequel? Let us know in the comments!