As Halloween is fast approaching, we’ve been busy with many things, especially playing games that has some supernatural themes like DOOM, Bloodrayne, Darksiders, Dark Souls or Vampyr, or horror games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Little Nightmares, Dead Space, FEAR, etc. to celebrate the month of magic, monsters and horror. Resident Evil games are widely-known and popular, and there’s a chance you’ve already played them, but how about you try a video game that gives you a genuine horror experience, but it didn’t brand itself a horror game, and it’s a modern military cover shooter with the patriotic gungho personality of Call of Duty and has the grit and gusto of Gears of War?
This sort of combination is unheard of in horror or horror-centric games because your muscle-bound and fearless characters simply plow through hordes of zombies with powerful weapons, landing headshots and ripping their enemy’s guts out with their bare hands. The game we’re recommending you to play this Halloween is so unconventional that it uses the invincible fearless hero stereotype and then the game flips things around to give you an experience you’ll only find in horror games designed to make you feel fear, guilt and depression. We’re talking about Spec Ops: The Line.
Is Spec Ops: The Line really a horror game though? In our opinion, yes, and here are the reasons why Spec Ops: The Line is considered a horror game, and why you should definitely play it for Halloween. And we’ll try not to spoil the story much.
Spec Ops: The Line Story Synopsis
Massive sandstorms has engulfed the city of Dubai and the city was eventually cut off from the rest of the world—incoming and outgoing communication couldn’t penetrate the storm wall, all roads leading out of Dubai has been covered in sand, and the constant sandstorm prevents any vehicle land, sea or air from leaving. Before Dubai got completely cut off by the storm, the US military battalion called the 33rd Infantry led by the highly-decorated Colonel John Konrad volunteered to aid in the evacuation. Unfortunately. evacuation proved futile as the storm wall completely engulfed the city and the 33rd Infantry declared martial law to police the panicking civilians and manage the dwindling resources like food and safe drinking water. Six months of silence later, a pre-recorded radio communication from Dubai penetrated through the storm wall and the message repeats: “This is Colonel John Konrad, United States Army. Attempted evacuation of Dubai ended in complete failure. Death toll: too many.”
You play as Captain Martin Walker, and along with Lieutenant Adams, and Sergeant Lugo, you are a three-man Delta Force who are sent by the US Military to conduct a reconnaissance mission in the ruined city to confirm the status of the city, its civilians and the whereabouts of Col. John Konrad. From a recon mission to a rescue mission, Delta Force has seen many horrors of war and the city of Dubai may be their final resting place.
Why should you play Spec Ops: The Line this Halloween?
1.) The story revolves around the horrors of war, PTSD and the choices you make have consequences
Even with the best of intentions, war atrocities happen and Walker has seen a ton of it as he and his team explored the ruined Dubai. There are key moments where Walker has to decide on the best course of action, and sometimes, these decisions aren’t obvious to the player leading to Walker making bad mistakes like unwittingly murdering civilians. Instead of blaming himself for his mistakes, he continues to play the hero and blames John Konrad for everything that has transpired. Desperate to survive and with his blind sense of justice, Walker and his men gradually suffer mental breakdowns resulting in them committing the same atrocities as the 33rd Infantry without even knowing. These murders are justified, they believed, and the one to blame for all of this is Konrad.
The dialogue plays an important role for they show how mentally exhausted and degraded Delta Team has become. At first Walker, Adams and Lugo are your typical soldier buddies cracking jokes once in a while and in combat, Walker issues commands professionally like “take out that sniper!”, “enemy down!”, or “threat neutralized!” But after their sanity is dwindling, battle scarred and their voices became slurred, the combat chatter changed to “fucking die motherfucker!”, “kill that sunnovabitch!” “fuck you!” These once proud soldiers slowly became nothing more than desperate people trying to survive.
2.) It’s a psychological horror game
Psychological horror is a difficult type of horror to create compared to jumpscare horror with zombies jumping out in front of the player to scare them because it requires pacing and subtlety. Spec Ops: The Line shares some similarities to Silent Hill 2 like the main character is experiencing their own personal hell and the horrors they see are the ones of their own making. Walker has made mistakes that cost the lives of everyone around him. He blamed Konrad so much so he became obsessed and started hallucinating, creating illusions in his head to make him feel that he made the right decisions all along. Could we have avoided the deaths of many? Are we really in control of Captain Walker?
The visuals are another important factor to the horror experience. Battle after battle, after battle, Delta Force’s character models gradually change from sharply dressed to rugged, filled with cuts, blood, burns, and bandages. At the start of each area, we always see Walker, Adams and Lugo descending downward and never up. The further they go down, the atmosphere becomes oppressive and feels otherworldly as they scaled toppled buildings and entering abandoned sand-filled plazas. We see piles of rotting corpses lining up the corridors; we see dead soldiers hanging by their necks on street lights, and we see in gruesome detail what incendiary munitions can do to human flesh. Did these events happen or are these all inside Walker’s deteriorating sanity?
Spec Ops: The Line is a one-of-a-kind video game that gives you a genuine feeling of misery in a gaming industry where war is portrayed as exciting, fun, inconsequential, and power fantasy video game experiences. It’s very rare to see a video game that shows the horrors of war and how war traumatizes people whether you’re a civilian or a soldier with a family waiting. Quite frankly Spec Ops: The Line is a very fine example of this, and honestly speaking, it’s a video game that captures the horror found in this modern world we live in, and it’s something to be experienced this Halloween.