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Throwback Thursday – Underappreciated Survival Horror Game – The Thing

It’s Thursday and I’m conscious that we’ve not done a Throwback Thursday for little while. Perhaps we can revisit this idea more often on a slow news day?

You may have realised by now that we have quite a few survival horror fans here at PUG Towers, and for many of us this goes way back. So here we go.

“Now I’m going to show you what I already know.”

The Thing (2002) on the PlayStation 2/Xbox is a game that really sticks out in my mind, I remember shouting at my friends, “How do you not think this game is awesome? What’s wrong with you?”, while they shrugged their shoulders with a collective “meh”. Back around the time that “meh” started to be a thing.

While I was waiting for my next fix of Silent Hill or Resident Evil, it was The Thing that came along and gave me a much-needed dose of third person horror goodness to satisfy my addiction. The game got me through the frustrating wait between Resident Evil: Code Veronica and Resident Evil 4. The less said about the recent Silent Hill entries the better.

The Thing game is set up as an interactive sequel to John Carpenters 1982 classic horror film of the same name. The film itself was in fact a remake of an even older movie that was an adaptation of the novella ‘Who Goes There?’ by legendary sci-fi writer John Campbell. Complicated? Perhaps, but the novella and both films, the earliest of which is in black and white, come highly recommended.

The premise of the story is that a malevolent alien life form has infected the staff of an Arctic research base by mimicking them completely (down to their teeth) by brutally killing the originals. This creates a paranoia that sweeps through the characters making it impossible to know who to trust and will the man next to you turn on you at any second.

The game really manages to get this paranoia across and every credit to it, because as a PS2 game it really was ahead of its time. For the most part the game plays like an early Resident Evil title but with a team based twist. Before you can recruit an NPC to join your ranks you must earn their trust; usually by handing them a weapon, healing them, or by executing infected members of your team in front of their eyes before they mutate and eat your face.

The Thing successfully blended survival horror, team based shooting (far before the advent of online shooters on console) and RPG elements. Unlike the Resident Evil Outbreak games The Thing didn’t have online functionality, which is a real shame. However The Thing balanced horror with action in a masterful way, which is something horror titles today still struggle to get right. Playing it today gives real Resi 4 vibes, and what you consider how influential that game has been; one has to wonder did Capcom take any inspiration from The Thing?

When released it was met with positive reviews but failed to sell enough units to justify a sequel.  Most gamers who weren’t already fans of the franchise or obsessive horror fans sadly passed it by. Those of you who enjoy The Last of Us, The Evil Within or Resident Evil do yourselves a favour, read the book, see the movie, dust off your PS2 then pick yourselves up a copy of The Thing from a bargain bin.

Wait…..(Shines flashlight)…. Who goes there….?

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