Tape Of The Ghouls: You’ve Got Some Red On You
After tearing through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredders Revenge twice in three days, I decided it was time to put it down for a couple of days and just give myself something to paper cleanse myself back into horror. Of course, the best way to do that was to play some retro doom-inspired shooter-ish game. So that’s how I found Tape Of The Ghouls. A VHS, 1980s-inspired doom-styled first-person survival horror game. Alot I know, but you know what? It kicks ass.
The story for Tape Of The Ghouls is shown to you upfront on this Warning Top Secret splash page. Taken from that, it says: This videotape was found in May 2002 in the state of Pennsylvania. This tape reveals the event that unfolded in a condemned hostel that was demolished in 1984.
The content is beyond explanation and may shock the audience. The recording was codenamed Tape Of The Ghouls. Get ready to watch.
That’s really it when it comes to the story, but I’ve realized lately that with a base premise but fun and engaging gameplay is more than enough. Tape Of The Ghouls does precisely this.
While I say this is like Doom, it is more just an MS-DOS-looking first-person game. There is no shooting. All you have to use is your flashlight and doors. However, you will quickly discover that outside the starting room, there is a monster/zombie-looking thing you can do nothing but run from. You’ll be weaving around him, goading him into rooms to be able to get around him. The issue is when you come across rooms that are just covered in viscera, but not only that, you’ll see other versions of these zombie-looking things. Some are just top halves, their guts spilling onto the chair they inhabit. Others are these hunkering things eating what seems to be other people who tried to escape who have been reduced to nothing but a pile of gore.
The main goal in Tape Of The Ghouls is to escape. This is a much more challenging task than it initially seems. The monster that chases you at the beginning doesn’t stop. In fact, you’ll come across multiple of these monsters that start chasing you. Each with a disturbingly unique look, although the one based on I’m assuming the poster in the starting room could have been toned down a bit. But there are alot of these monsters, and if you get stuck between two of them or get cornered, you will die very quickly. I only came across one health pack in the entire thing, but the fact that two to three hits will kill you doesn’t matter much, and with enough planning, these monsters can be outsmarted.
The level design in Tape Of The Ghouls might frustrate some because the building we are trying to escape is a giant winding maze, with enough piles of blood mush and blood splatter on the walls that sometimes you might get lost, but that feels like the point. Eventually, you get desensitized to the guts grandpas, the crawlers, and the weird guys holding onto their intestines. Once you get to the exit, it’s a fairly dark ending that comes as a bit of a gut punch. It took me about thirty minutes to escape with a few deaths, but it was a fun experience for lovers of the MS-DOS stylings of Doom and Blood to check out.
Lastly, but briefly, the audio design in Tape Of The Ghouls is horrifying, something I never grew accustomed to. There is something about walking around to a dull eerie soundscape while hearing something gutterly say, “Who’s there?” along with the other growling hunger noises the other monsters make. Nevertheless, it’s effective and immersive.