Justin Counting Down To Halloween Day Four: CSI Horror
Day four is probably one of my favorite slightly hidden gems of a horror game today. Well, that’s not entirely true people just don’t seem to speak about it as much as they used to on its release, but I suppose that’s just the way it sometimes shakes in the gaming space. I’ve also inadvertently gone into a sort of a pattern with these recommendations, and I guess now it’s time to keep to that pattern, so my anxiety doesn’t get the best of me! But without further ado, today’s game is….
Condemned: Criminal Origins!
Condemned: Criminal Origins is a 2005 police horror game developed by Monolith Productions, better known these days for the super popular Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War. Still, their lineage goes all the way back to the late nineties with one of my favorite Doom-like shooters, Blood. Even touching into the Spy thriller genre with No One Lives Forever, they have a lot of horror in their blood with AvP 2 and F.E.A.R released the same year as Condemned: Criminal Origins.
In Condemned, we follow Ethan Thomas, a CSI operative with the Serial Crime Unit. Throughout the game, Ethan hunts for Serial Killer X, an infamous killer who has framed Ethan for murder. Condemned focuses on getting up and close with brutal melee combat, scanning crime scenes with equipment like a fingerprint scanner while looking for footprints and leftover fluids. It’s a great mix of CSI and horror. As we get closer to Serial Killer X, things start to feel a little more off. There is this part with some mannequins that changed forever how I look at the damn things and really cemented this as a disturbing horror game to me.
There is one big caveat for Condemned, it just kind of ends up setting up this excellent hook for a sequel, and while we did eventually get that sequel. It’s clear by the end of the second game that it was clearly meant for at least a trilogy. Unfortunately, that last game never happened. So go in, knowing there is only a partial story told between the two games. That being said, it is still a fantastic gritty game that fans of procedural crime dramas should get their hands on.
Monolith has expressed interest in rebooting the franchise if the right independent developer comes forward, and I think it’s time for that to happen. The idea of the game alone is an excellent conception, and there are so many talented indies out there. I’d love to see one of them take a crack at Condemned: Criminal Origins.