Underhell, a Half-Life 2 Mod, based on SMOD.
Actually I was looking for some sort of Horror game the likes of Cry of Fear, which is heavily Let's Played these days and is enjoying a huge success so I scanned ModDB and found something right on the frontpage. While Underhells description doesn't tell too much and the screenshots on exhibition are showing all sorts of things that look like some tactical shooter, I went and downloaded it to check it out myself and I must say, lucky I did.
Underhell combines a good amount of classic and greatly crafted horror elements with a (more or less) tactical shooter and, on top of that, the personal story of the guy you play Jake Hawkfield. Jake recently lost his happy life just after he moved in a new house with his wife. Now he's alone.
Or is he?
Well, I'm not here to spoil the plot that much, so lets talk about how the Underhell developers went about combining this horror with tactical shooting. It's quite briliant I think. The aforementioned house serves the game as "Hub" from there you start your missions or explore the house to find out about Jakes misery. Now, I should add that the Mod is not exactly finished when it comes to storytelling, as it is released in the oh-so famous episodic model. I can see this working very well actually - although I must say when I think about episodes and Half-Life 2 I'm always sad I don't know yet what happens to Gordon next.
As far as Underhell is concerned they managed to pull off a nice prologue followed by the beginning of a first chapter which will apparently be released soon, I shall keep you informed about that. While there clearly is a lot of shooting and some serious Bullet-Time action, the focus is on the story and it is being told very convincingly. The voice acting is simply amazing and the soundtrack too - well if you like the game you should clearly buy or listen to the soundtrack.
There is also "mild violence" where the shooting is. I stumbled upon a couple of dead bodies that started to bleed hard just from walking over them and I also accidentally squashed a SWAT team member of mine with a huge gas tank I kicked out of an elevator. Whoopsie.
Also worth a mention is the lack of an actual crosshair. I will admit that I'm really, really not the fan of crosshair-less games but Underhell went for an interesting approach which is okay for me. Laser sights and dots. There are only 2 weapons (that I found anyways) that do not have some laser sight stuff on them, a shotgun and the standard pistol of which there is also a version with laser sights. Yay. That helps a lot and one doesn't need to run around with this infernal iron sight stuff all the way. This is a nice balance and I hope in coming episodes they are not going to scratch that feature.
So what's for the horror?
It ranged from subtle "oh crap what was that noise" stuff too the "HOLY SHIT I NEED FRESH PANTS" kind of surprise effects. And you will not find that horror stuff where the shooting is, at least not in the prolouge. There are some strange and mildly disturbung elements in the shooting missions that flow in from the back story (I think they do) but that's about it. The real horror is happening somewhere else but I dare say, that's up to you to find out where it is.
What I can say is, that right now the combination of shooting and horror and the slight influence of both in each others is really what makes this game so great, aswell as the execution, of course. What exactly I mean by that, is also up to you to find out.
I am definitely looking forward to the next episodes and you should try Underhell too.