Highlands, Deep Waters and Scratch are among my favourite IFs. The feelings of paranoia, isolation, not being able to trust anyone, never feeling safe enough to just stop for a moment and take a breath, is what makes these games shine for me.
In Highlands: The two scenes that come to mind are when the second detective was digging a dog’s bones and when your first detective blows himself at the cultist ritual. I had to read it in one go, I couldn’t stop.
In Scratch: when you are talking to your partner about the case(s) your father worked on and, later, when you mention killing the bandits at the train and getting shot in the leg, that also glued me to the screen.
I think that a lot of games here, CoG and HG, violence and controversial topics are sanitized in general. It’s not really a problem, as I understand that every game has it’s theme, audience and not every book needs to be dripping in blood and guts to be good, because I’m also a fan of reading light hearted books every once in a while, like Tally Ho.
However, games like Fallen Hero, Samurai of Hyuga, Highlands and Scratch touch on themes that i know happens in the real world. I can’t see demons, superheroes or dragons everyday on the news, but things like violence, drugs, prostitution, discrimination, corruption etc? These I’m familiar with and they “connect”(?) with me more than pure fantasy.
For example, in Scratch when you read about a case where a politician’s son kills a girl just for fun and gets away with it, I can connect with that.
In Highlands, the paranoia and anxiety, worrying about things which may not be true at all, I can connect with that.
In SoH, the effects of the opium on the population and the corruption of the government officials, I can connect with that.
In Fallen Hero, the discrimination and the effects on your mental health (depression, suicide tendencies), I can also connect with that.
The thing that makes these games scary for me is because they talk about things that happen in real life, that I can see and hear everyday, both in the news and around me. Real life issues translated to the page are thousand times more scary for me than a 9 eyed monster, a Dark Lord or a super villain. Not everyone is a fan of books with heavy themes like that and that’s okay. Sometimes I need a Tally Ho to just disconnect a bit and laugh, but they certainly affect me much more than fantasy.