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15 Scary Moments in Non-Horror Games

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It’s that time of the year again where many people watch horror movies and play horror video games to get into the Halloween spirit. But some of the most creepiest, weirdest, and most disturbing moments have occurred in non-horror games. This is 15 scary moments that have occurred in non-horror games in no particular order.

1. The Morgue Scene in Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow

Batman is already a dark character, but Rocksteady Studios decided to amp up the scariness in the morgue scene of Batman: Arkham Asylum. When Batman arrives at the morgue, the hallways are filled with roaches, the freezer doors in the morgue open and close, and the sounds of spooky whispers echo throughout the room. It’s nothing too scary at first, but when players leave the room it loops back to the same room. This time three body bags sit on the tables. The only way to further the game is to open these body bags. Batman discovers the body of his dead parents who wake up to ridicule and blame him for their deaths. When Batman opens up the final bag, Scarecrow pops out and forces him into a strange hallucination where Batman has to sneak past a large Scarecrow in a large obstacle course. It’s one of the most unexpected moments in gaming.

2. The Cannibals of Andale in Fallout 3 (2008)

The cannibals of Andale

Delicious!

Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic world of Fallout is full of many horrors and dangers. Wonderers will encounter super mutants, killer robots, giant fire-breathing ants, mutant scorpions, raiders, death claws, and much more. But what makes the town of Andale scary is the mystery behind it. When players arrive at the town, the residents are very welcoming and they invite players to dinner. But as players talk to all the residents and explore the town, something doesn’t feel right. One resident even warns players to get out while they can. If players dare, they can venture into the basement to uncover the town’s mystery. It turns out the player is the dinner. Not only do the residents inbreed, the residents capture and consume their guests. The basement is covered in blood and full of dismembered body parts. When players discover this dark secret, the residents of the town become hostile and attack the players.

3. Lavender Town in Pokemon Red & Blue (1998)

Who you gonna call?

Who you gonna call?

Perhaps the most well known moment on this list, Lavendar Town has become an online phenomenon with its many mysteries and stories. It is said that the theme song to the town in the original Pokemon Red and Green was so hi-pitched that it drove many children in Japan to commit suicide. But even if that’s a fictional story, the town does revolve around death and ghosts. Trainers from around the region go to this town to mourn the death of their beloved companion. This shows children that even in the world of Pokemon, their pets (or companions) eventually die too. Even the player’s rival Blue goes to Lavendar town to mourn the death of his Raticate (it is rumored that the player killed his Raticate in battle). The whole story of the town centers on Team Rocket trying to steal the skulls of Cubones to sell them for a lot of money. One of these Cubones is protected by the ghost of its dead mother. Players have to venture into the tower full of grieving trainers, psychics, and ghost Pokemon to stop Team Rocket and restore the soul of Cubone’s dead mother. Talk about growing kids up early.

4. Max Payne’s Hallucination in Max Payne (2001)

Is this the same game?

Is this the same game?

In the neo-noir world of Max Payne, Max is an NYPD detective who wants revenge for the death of his wife and baby. With several allusions to Norse Mythology and inspirations from Hong Kong action cinema, Max becomes a vigilante who uses a slow motion bullet time effect (influenced by the Matrix) to take down his foes.

It’s not the most original story, but what makes the story stand out is that players really feel his pain. Players are forced to play the moment his wife and child were murdered right from the start. It’s a very dark and depressing story, but there’s one disturbing moment that really stands out in the game. Later in the game, Max is overdosed with a drug that puts him in a disturbing hallucination. In order to continue the game, players must venture through a nightmarish version of the house where his family was murdered. The house is warped into a disturbing funhouse of endless hallways filled with the echoes of his suffering wife and child. At the end of this maze, Max has to enter a hellish abyss. The only way to get out is to follow a trail of blood while hearing the sounds of his crying child. Geez!

5. Snacker in Banjo-Kazooie (1998)

You're gonna need a bigger boat.

You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Now several games have monsters lurking in water levels that can make players feel very tense, but Snacker in Rare’s classic platformer Banjo-Kazooie is perhaps the scariest because of his heart racing theme song. Many would say Cranker is scarier because the first thing players see after swimming out of the tunnel is his sharp razor teeth. Plus he’s a large metal shark with bloody gashes covered all over his body. But Snacker is on this list instead because it turns out Cranker is just misunderstood. Snacker on the other hand really wants to take a bite out of Banjo.

In the levels Treasure Trove Cove and Rusty Bucket Bay, if Banjo is in the water for too long, Snacker’s theme song will start to get louder and faster the longer he is in the water (a clear reference to the movie Jaws). Eventually, Snacker will show up to take a bite out of Banjo. Players can’t outswim him by normal means, but if they can get on land he will lose interest in a few seconds. Players can actually defeat him, but he does comeback after a minute or two so players need to make that time count. There are a couple of key items to collect in the water so if players want to collect everything in the game they will have to encounter this foe sooner or later. Sorry!

6. The Carnage Final Chase in Spider-Man (2000)

Nightmare Fuel

Nightmare Fuel

The sadistic and homicidal Carnage is one of the most dangerous enemies in Spider-Man’s long list of villains. Before Cletus Kasady took on the role of Carnage, he was sent to prison for being a serial killer. With the powers given to him by the Symbiote, Carnage became so powerful that arch-nemeses Venom and Spider-Man had to team up to defeat him. In Activision’s Spider-Man on the PlayStation 1, players have to battle Carnage after defeating Doctor Octopus in the final level. When players think the game is finally over, Carnage combines with Doc Ock to create a monstrosity that has scared many people who have grown up with this game. As the laboratory is exploding, Carnage chases Spider-Man in a dark hallway with a difficult camera and control scheme. Players have to maneuver through the difficult hallways as the monster creeps right behind them. This is one of the most intense chases in any game.

7. Don’t Go To Ravenholm in Half Life 2 (2004)

Zombie Town

Zombie Town

Throughout Valve’s classic game, Half Life 2, players are warned to never go to Ravenholm. So naturally players will go to Ravenholm at some point in the game. The reason to never go to Ravenholm is because there are zombies and headcrabs in literally every corner of the town. Basically everything in the town wants to eat the player. But not only is there monsters everywhere, there are many traps set up everywhere by the town’s lone survivor. These traps can help Freeman combat the monsters, but they can also be pretty dangerous as well. Although it is a blast slicing through zombies with large blades using the gravity gun. Once the player discovers the fun of using the gravity gun it loses its scare factor a bit, but either way its dark atmosphere full of dismembered body parts, traps, and monsters makes it one of the scariest places in video games.

8. The Flood in Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)

One of the best unexpected enemies.

One of the best unexpected enemies.

In Bungie’s science fiction first-person shooter, Master Chief battles a variety of aliens with a special suit that regenerates his health and suit. Many of these aliens are pretty cartoonish and the game has many colorful settings, so there is absolutely nothing scary about Halo… right? Wrong! The game throws players for a loop when it introduces an alien parasite called the Flood. These parasites take over the bodies of human and Covenants and mutates their bodies into hideous zombie-like monsters. These monsters come in many different forms ranging from small to large. These parasites have accounted for the death of many sentiment beings in the galaxy. They are considered to be the most dangerous enemy to the whole existence of life, which means they are the most dangerous enemies in the Halo franchise. Watching fallen comrades turn into the terrifying Flood is one of the most unexpected and scariest moments in gaming.

9. The Pentagram Children of Goldshire in World of Warcraft (2004)

What the heck?

What the heck?

The world of Azeroth is full of many dangerous supernatural beings and monsters, but perhaps the creepiest is the Children of Goldshire because of the mystery behind them. Appropriately called the Creepy Children, they are a group of six human children who move around Elwynn Forest in a pentagram formation. If players wonder into the second floor of one of the houses in Goldshire at around 7:30 AM server time, they will see the children stand in a pentagram formation in the room with a creepy song playing in the room. Players will randomly hear strange noises like a banshee scream, a ghoul call, growling, a female crying, and even one of the old gods C’Thun saying “You…will…DIE!” and “Death is close.” And then the children will eventually vanish. If players look this up and look for them it won’t be as scary, but imagine discovering this on accident, especially as a child back in the early days of World of Warcraft.

10. Death Hand in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

I need to change my pants!

I need to change my pants!

The Legend of Zelda series has many disturbing moments and enemies, but perhaps the creepiest is Death Hand. Imagine being a young innocent child and playing Ocarina of Time for the first time on the Nintendo 64. While playing the game, imagine being a child and going down the well in Kakariko Village. Eventually, players will see giant hands stick out of the ground. Of course, it’s natural to investigate what’s going on. When players do, one of the large hands will grab Link and a giant zombie-like monster with a large mouth will pop out of the ground to consume the player. Players barely have time to get away from the hand as the monster slowly moves toward Link with its horrible eyeless gaze. But hey at least players get the Lens of Truth out of the encounter, which makes the also creepy Shadow Temple a whole lot easier.

11. The Dentist in Bioshock (2007)

Worst jump scare ever!

Best jump scare ever!

People will say Bioshock is a horror game, but it’s more of a steampunk science fiction first-person shooter that has some horror elements. After his plane crashes into the ocean, the protagonist Jack goes into the underwater city of Rapture that was intended to be an isolated utopia. But the discovery of the genetic material ‘ADAM’ (that grants superhuman powers to users) drives many people crazy and the utopia eventually becomes a dangerous dystopia. In one part of the game, players will be in a laboratory where they will listen to the audio logs of a dentist. When the players are at a desk, they will start to be surrounded by mist. When they turn around, they will be greeted by that very dentist in one of the scariest jump scares in all of gaming.

12. The Winterlodge in Fable 2 (2008)

How lovely! Wait.. what?

How lovely! Wait.. what?

In Lionhead Studio’s Fable 2, if players travel through the Bloodstone Demon Door, they will find a welcoming lodge in a beautiful and colorful winter setting. It’s straight out of Jack’s discovery of Christmas Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas. But when players walk into the lodge, it immediately shifts into a broken down and ransacked torture den. The floor is covered in skeletons of past murder victims. Outside the den, it becomes very dark and ominous. The welcoming street lights have totally vanished. The woodcutting block has a decapitated corpse lying next to it and a blood stained sack full of human body parts hang from a tree. But hey at least players are rewarded with a master longsword for being terrified and dumbfounded.

13. The Vortex Queen in Ecco the Dolphin (1992)

This is a kid's game, right?

This is a kid’s game, right?

At first glance, Ecco the Dolphin seems like a very cute game about dolphins swimming in the ocean with its friends. Life is great for Ecco. He is hanging out with all his friends in a bright, sunny part of the ocean and doing cool flips. Ecco does a large flip in the air and then the screen suddenly starts to flash and a strange alien noise is heard as all of Ecco’s friends get sucked up in a large waterspout. Ecco is left all alone in the deep dark ocean. It turns out the whole ocean is in chaos and it’s up to Ecco to defeat the aliens to save it. But this isn’t even the scariest part of the game. The final boss of the game is the Vortex Queen which looks like a large Xenomorph from the Alien franchise. And the only way to defeat it is to dismember it. Did anyone see this coming when they bought this game?

14. The fight against Giygas in Earthbound (1995)

Very disturbing

Very disturbing

Earthbound (known as Mother 2 in Japan) isn’t a horror game at all. Most of the enemies are animals, robots, or aliens. But then Nintendo unleashes one of the scariest and most disturbing bosses of all time, Giygas. This boss is literally just a background of screaming faces with a very creepy background song. The final part of the game is a huge contrast form the rest of the game as players have to travel up weird fleshy looking pipes to reach the boss. There’s been a long Internet debate on whether the boss is a fetus or not. Looking at the image above, the black parts of the picture are clearly in the shape of an infant. But it’s unclear if that it was intentional or not. Either way, the final boss is hellishly psychedelic as the background constantly warps and twists. There’s no way to fight it. All players can do to damage him is to pray (not kidding). The end of the fight gets even more disturbing as the background becomes very staticky and the music becomes more disturbing. This is easily one of the scariest bosses of all time.

15. The Piano in Super Mario 64 (1996)

Perhaps the scariest memory of all for 90's kids.

Perhaps the scariest memory of all for 90’s kids.

As seen on this list, Nintendo has a history of terrifying children with their games. Super Mario 64 is no different. There are several scary moments that could be put on this list from this game, such as Chopper attacking the player from its chained post, the giant eel, or the large piranha that will eat Mario whole. As Mario ventures through the castle, he will eventually see a Boo in one of the hallways. If players follow the Boo, they will be lead to a small fountain area with several boos. One of these boos contains the scariest level in the game, Big Boo’s Haunt. The level is a haunted mansion and has a lot of spooky elements, but it’s nothing too scary. That’s until the players arrive in a large empty room with just a piano. Of course, there is a red coin behind it so players will jump over it to get the coin. If they get close, the piano will wake up and attack Mario with its large razor sharp teeth. The piano’s crunching sound is terrifying as it chases Mario throughout the room. It may be the most classic jumpscare of all time considering nobody would think they would get scared in a Mario game. This piano will forever be in the hearts of anyone who grew up with this game.

And that’s 15 scary moments in non-horror games. Even to this day, many of these moments are just as scary as they were the first time. If they aren’t anymore, people will still remember being a child and being absolutely terrified. There are many more scary moments that could be on this list, so please share anymore in the comments below.

Happy Halloween!

Sebastian was born in the Sunshine State. Growing up at the dawn of 3D gaming, he has been playing video games since as long as he can remember. The first game he remembers playing was Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. He has many favorite franchises and loves a wide range of genres. He has owned every console that has come out, but his favorite console of all time is still the PlayStation 2. Sebastian became a Pokemon Master in 1998 when he was 5 years old and has remained one since then. When he’s not being a gamer, he enjoys writing, especially about video games and sports. Sebastian is a huge Miami sports fan and follows his teams very passionately. Graduating from FAU with a Bachelor’s in English, he hopes to become a professional journalist. Preferably in gaming and/or sports journalism. When he’s not being a nerd, he enjoys hanging out with his friends and relaxing at the pool. Wait.. who is he kidding? He’s always a nerd.

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Most Important Games of the Decade: ‘Dark Souls’

Despite the difficulty and learning curve, gamers are still flocking to the Dark Souls series, and the genre it spawned, in massive numbers.

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Dark Souls Remastered Review Nintendo Switch

Over the course of the last decade a lot of games have made large and influential impacts on the medium of gaming but few have done so as significantly or triumphantly as Dark Souls

The pseudo-sequel to Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls took the framework of the original title and altered it considerably. Gone were the many individual stages and hub area, replaced by a massive open world that continuously unfolded, via shortcuts and environmental changes, like a massive metroidvania style map. 

Dark Souls also doubled down on nearly every aspect of the original. The lore and world-building were elaborated on considerably, making the land of Lordran feel more lived in and expansive. An entire backstory for the game, one that went back thousands of years, was created and unfolded through small environmental details and item descriptions. 

Dark-Souls-Remastered-Darkroot-Garden

The bosses were bigger, meaner and more challenging, with some of them ranking right up there with the best of all time. Even standard enemies seemed to grow more deadly as the game went on, with many of them actually being bosses you’d faced at an earlier time in the game. Tiny details like this didn’t just make the player feel more powerful, they added to the outright scale of the entire game.

Still, if we’re here to talk about the biggest influence Dark Souls had on the gaming world, we have to talk about the online system. While the abilities to write messages and summon help were available in Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls improved on and enhanced these features to the point where they changed the game considerably. 

The wider player base made the online components work more consistently as well. Rarely were players left standing around for 15-20 minutes waiting to summon or be summoned for a boss fight. There were more messages on the ground to lead (or mislead) players, and the animated spirits of dead players warned of the hundreds of ways you might die while playing through the game. 

Dark Souls

The addictive nature of the game and its rewarding gameplay loop would lead to the establishment of the Souls-like genre. Like with metroidvania, there are few compliments a game can receive that are as rewarding as having an entire genre named for them.

Since 2011, the year of Dark Souls’ release, dozens of Souls-likes have emerged from the ether, each with their own little tweaks on the formula. Salt and Sanctuary went 2D,The Surge added a sci-fi angle, and Nioh went for a feudal Japanese aesthetic, to name just a few. 

Either way, Dark Souls’ influence has been long felt in the gaming industry ever since. Despite the hardcore difficulty and intense learning curve, gamers are still flocking to the series, and the genre it spawned, in massive numbers. For this reason alone, Dark Souls will live on forever in the annals of gaming history. 

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Game Reviews

‘Riverbond’ Review: Colorful Hack’n’Slash Chaos

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Sometimes a little bit of mindless smashing is just what people play video games for, and if some light sword-swinging, spear-stabbing, laser-shooting giant hand-slapping action that crumbles a destructible world into tiny blocks sounds like a pleasant way to spend a few hours, then Riverbond might just satisfy that urge. Though its short campaign can get a little repetitive by the end, colorful voxel levels and quirky characters generally make this rampaging romp a button-mashing good time, especially if you bring along a few friends.

Riverbond grass

There really isn’t much of a story here outside something about some mystical leaders being imprisoned by a knight, and Riverbond lets players choose from its eight levels in Mega Man fashion, so don’t go in expecting some sort of narrative thread. Instead, each land has its own mini-situation going on, whether that involves eradicating some hostile pig warriors or reading library books or freeing numerous rabbit villagers scattered about, the narrative motivation is pretty light here. That doesn’t mean that these stages don’t each have their various charms, however, as several punnily named NPCs will blurt out humorous bits of dialogue that work well as breezy pit stops between all the cubic carnage.

Developer Cococucumber has also wisely created plenty of visual variety for their fantastical world, as players will find their polygonal hero traversing the lush greenery of grassy plains, the wooden piers of a ship’s dockyard, the surrounding battlements of a medieval castle, and the craggy outcroppings of a snowy mountain, among other locations, each with a distinct theme. Many of the trees or bridges or crates or whatever else happens to be lying around are completely destructible, able to be razed to the ground with enough brute force. Occasionally the physics involved in these crumbling structures helps gain access to jewels or other loot, but this mechanic mostly just their for the visual appeal one gets from cascading blocks; Riverbond isn’t exactly deep in its design.

Riverbond boss

That shallowness also applies to the basic gameplay, which pretty much involves hacking or shooting enemies and environments to pieces, activating whatever task happens to be the main goal for each sub-stage, then moving on or scouring around a bit for treasure before finally arriving at a boss. Though there are plenty of different weapons to find, they generally fall into only a few categories: small swinging implements that allow for quick slashes, large swinging implements that are slow but deal heavier damage, spears that offer quick jabs, or guns that…shoot stuff. There are some variations among these in speed, power, and possible side effects (a gun that fired electricity is somewhat weak, but sticks to opponents and gives off an extra, devastating burst), but once an agreeable weapon is found, there is little reason to give it up outside experimentation.

Still, there is a rhythmic pleasure to be found in games like this when they are done right, and Riverbond mostly comes through with tight controls, hummable tunes, and twisting levels that do a good job of mixing in some verticality to mask the repetitiveness. It’s easy for up to four players to get in on the dungeon-crawling-like pixelated slaughter, and the amount of blocks exploding onscreen can make for some fun and frenzied fireworks, especially when whomping on one of the game’s giant bosses. A plethora of skins for the hero are also discoverable, with at least one or two tucked away in locations both obvious and less so around each sub-stage. These goofy characters exist purely for aesthetic reasons, but those who prefer wiping out legions of enemies dressed as Shovel Knight or a sentient watermelon slice will be able to fulfill that fantasy.

Riverbond bears

By the end, the repetitive fights and quests can make Rivebond feel a little same-y, but the experience wraps up quickly without dragging things out. This may disappoint players looking for a more involved adventure, but those who sometimes find relaxation by going on autopilot — especially with some buddies on the couch — will appreciate how well the block-smashing basics are done here.

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Game Reviews

‘Earthnight’ Review: Hit the Dragon Running

Between its lush visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, Earthnight never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

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Earthnight

In Earthnight, you do one thing: run. There’s not much more to do in this roguelike auto-runner but to dash across the backs of massive dragons to reach their heads and strike them down. This may be an extremely simple gameplay loop, but Earthnight pulls it off with such elegance and style. Between its lush comic book visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, it creates an experience that never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

Dragons have descended from space and are wreaking havoc upon humanity. No one is powerful enough to take them down – except for the two-player characters, Sydney and Stanley, of course. As the chosen ones to save the human race, they must board a spaceship and drop from the heavens while slaying as many dragons on your way down as they can. For every defeated creature, they’ll be rewarded with water – an extremely precious resource in the wake of the dragon apocalypse. This resource can be exchanged for upgrades that make the next run that much better.

This simple story forms the basis for a similarly basic, yet engaging gameplay loop. Each time you dive from your spaceship, you’ll see an assortment of dragons to land on. Once you make a landing, you’ll dash across its back and avoid the obstacles it throws at you before reaching its head, where you’ll strike the final blow. Earthnight is procedurally generated, so every time you leap down from your home base, there’s a different set of dragons to face, making each run feel unique. There are often special rewards for hunting specific breeds of dragon, so it’s always exciting to see the new set of creatures before you and hunt for the one you need at any given moment.

Earthnight is an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.”

Earthnight

Landing on the dragons is only the first step to slaying them. Entire hordes of monsters live on their backs, and in true auto-runner fashion, they’ll rush at you with reckless abandon from the very start. During the game’s first few runs, the onrush of enemies can feel overwhelming. Massive crowds of them will burst forth at once, and it can feel impossible to survive their onslaughts. However, this is where Earthnight begins to truly shine. The more dragons you slay, the more upgrade items become available, which are either given as rewards for slaying specific dragons or can be purchased with the water you’ve gained in each run. Many of these feel essentially vital for progression – some allow you to kill certain enemies just by touching them, whereas others can grant you an additional jump, both of which are much appreciated in the utter chaos of obstacles found on each dragon.

Procedural generation can often result in bland or repetitive level design, but it’s this item progression system that keeps Earthnight from ever feeling dry. It creates a constant sense of improvement: with more items in your arsenal after each new defeated dragon, you’ll be able to descend even further in the next run. This makes every level that much more exciting: with more power under your belt, there are greater possibilities for defeating enemies, stacking up combos, or climbing high above the dragons. It becomes an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.

Earthnight

At its very best, Earthnight feels like a rhythm game. With the perfect upgrades for each level, it becomes only natural to bounce off of enemies’ heads and soar through the heavens with an almost musical flow. The vibrant chiptune soundtrack certainly helps with this. Packed full of driving beats and memorable melodies with a mixture of chiptune and modern instrumentation, the music makes it easy to charge forward through whatever each level will throw your way.

That is not to say that Earthnight never feels too chaotic for its own good – rather, there are some points where its flood of enemies and obstacles can feel too random or overwhelming, to the point where it can be hard to keep track of your character or feel as if it’s impossible to avoid enemies. Sometimes the game can’t even keep up with itself, with the performance beginning to chug once enemies crowd the screen too much, at least in the Switch version. However, this is the exception, rather than the rule, and for the most part, simply making good use of its upgrades and reacting quickly to the challenges before you will serve you well in your dragon-slaying quest.

Earthnight

Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.”

It certainly helps that Earthnight is a visual treat as well. It adopts a striking comic book style, in which nearly every frame of animation is lovingly hand-drawn and loaded with detail. Sometimes these details feel a bit excessive – some characters are almost grotesquely detailed, with the faces of the bobble-headed protagonists sometimes seeming too elaborate for comfort. However, in general, it’s a gorgeous game, with its luscious backdrops of deep space and high sky, along with creative monsters and dragon designs that only get more outlandish and spectacular the farther down you soar.

Earthnight is a competent auto-runner that might not revolutionize its genre, but it makes up for this simplicity by elegantly executing its core gameplay loop so that it constantly changes yet remains endlessly addictive. Its excellent visual and audio presentation helps to make it all the more engrossing, while it strikes the perfect balance between randomized level design and permanent progression thanks to its items and upgrades system. At times it may get too chaotic for its own good, but all told, Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.

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