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You can grab both Fear & Hunger games for 30% off each in the Steam Summer Sale and you either absolutely should or absolutely should not do that

Bad bad feelings at low low prices

A battle against some odd face monsters in Fear & Hunger.
Image credit: Miro Haverinen

The Fear & Hunger games are pitch-black horror RPGs quite unlike anything else I’ve ever played, taking aspects of JRPG, survival horror and adventure games and distilling them into something I’d be tempted to call bleakly nihilistic if they didn’t display so much evident love for their craft. They also both start with a content warning listing “extreme violence, gore, sexual violence, and drug usage”. You’ll want to take this seriously, and just to be clear: the third item on this list does manifest in some tasteless, albeit brief, ways in the first game. It’s a frustrating blemish on what is otherwise an incredibly evocative and creative series, though you can download a mod to censor the more egregious bits. You will miss the full effect of critically severing an ogre’s massive schlong, however.

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Either way, both titles are currently sitting at 30% off on Steam, or just over a tenner in brit-nuggets. You should consider them if you like any of the following: Berserk, Robert Chambers’ The King In Yellow, Silent Hill, Dark Souls, Hellraiser, or that thing lots of FMV games and cinematic platformers used to do where you can get killed in lots of different, instant ways by making the wrong choices. They also remind me quite a bit of tabletop game Kingdom Death: Monster. Sometimes, you don’t get killed, you just get your legs chopped off and have to quite literally crawl around for the rest of the game. Sometimes you lose both eyes. You can keep playing, if you want, you just won’t be able see anything.

The genesis for the first game, apparently, was as a sort of impromptu storytelling game that creator Miro Haverinen used to play with his uni classmates, where he’d pose them horrific moral choices in a dungeon setting, which became the first game's trap-and-trauma laden environments. As the name implies, you’ll need to keep your party of characters well fed and sane during your travels. It's likely the only game in which you can give both a dog and a child opium to calm them down. The Twitter account 'Can you offer a pipe stuffed with opiates to the dog?' is much more popular in the timeline we deserve, imo.

You’ll fail repeatedly as you play, losing run after run until you slowly start to acclimate yourself to obscure terrors, becoming fluent in the series’ uniquely sadistic grammar, and picking up tricks to eke out just a little more progress. It sound utterly miserable, but I find this kind of exploration incredibly compelling. It’s got very little to do with the points of it all, just the experience, as you slowly form a mental map of these previously inscrutable places, right down to which barrels have the best drugs in them. If you’re looking for something somewhat similar but less intense, though, Felvidek is a singularly stark indie RPG that probably won’t make you want to go for a wash afterward.

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