Thus far, Grand Thrash Auto has been a deeply personal look into some of our favourite musician’s top games, seeing them recalling childhood memories and late nights with friends. This latest instalment is no different, exploring everything from those moments when you discover something breathtaking to those days spent with friends, listening to music and passing a controller around, but it’s also an intriguing one as the first piece from a fully anonymous group. The leader of avant-garde death metallers Epiphanic Truth is in the firing line this week, choosing everything from horror classics to platform racers.
The band’s immersive music, binding death metal to doom, black metal and dark ambient, is always powered by a rich atmosphere akin to being fed psychedelics by some cave-dwelling cult. Perhaps it’s no surprise to find dark fantasy and horror amongst the picks here, then, but the other picks may surprise you!
It was either this or Bloodborne, but Dark Souls is the game that got there first. I remember experiencing that feeling you sometimes get with games – for a long time after getting hooked on Dark Souls, other games lost their appeal. This is what Albert Camus would play – the Sisyphean loop of rolling our boulders through each environ, only for the boss to shove it back into our faces until we finally grasp what is needed for progress. Few games manage to captivate me as much as Dark Souls did and still does. The depth of storytelling contained within despite presenting it in such a hands-off manner, simplistic yet varied combat and a desolate world that demands exploration to achieve understanding or mastery. Its design also evoked in me the memories of my childhood watching films with Ray Harryhausen’s Claymation effects. Fingers crossed Elden Ring knocks this off the ‘best game ever’ pedestal!
The first horror game to truly terrify me – I played Resident Evil before it, but Silent Hill sunk its teeth into my psyche before most other series. I will never forget when the elementary school becomes engulfed by Alessa’s nightmare – it took me months to progress as I was too scared to play after the transition! Yamaoka’s sound design bears a great deal of responsibility for my undying love towards the original trilogy and spurred an interest in ambient, noise and industrial music. Nowadays I’m an absolute sucker for the ‘location with latent supernatural powers’ trope and its countless variations, so (as a video game obsessed kid) Silent Hill served as my entry point to it. The original game may well be clunky and uglier than the sequels that followed it, but it came into my life at an age where most of the horror I’d experienced was goofy series like Critters, Wish Master and From Dusk Till Dawn. Inspired by so much of the media that I now revere, let down by Konami in their desire to squeeze the brand for all it’s worth. I’m cautiously excited over the rumours of a reboot, if it’s going to happen I think Team Silent really ought to be involved in its creation.
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
Ocarina Of Time long served as my favourite game of all time, until Dark Souls rocked up and felt like a natural progression from the semi-open world that still pushed you in a linear path. I was absolutely awful at Majora’s Mask. Wind Waker and Twilight princess were great but still felt like honed versions of OOT. Breath Of The Wild was the evolution I had long awaited from the series (although I’m still waiting for a full-on future/cyber scenario and to finally play as Zelda). While it fell a little flat in certain respects I admired the ambition and risks Nintendo took by finally biting the bullet to make big changes to the formula. It’s so good Genshin Impact has pretty much shamelessly ripped it off! It was the game that convinced me I needed to buy a Switch, a decision I would not regret even if it was the only game worth buying for it. While OOT cleverly convinced me as kid that I had embarked upon an epic, untethered adventure, BOTW was the first Zelda game to actually deliver upon my childhood imagination – I guarantee that I have spent hundreds of hours in this game. Hopefully the upcoming sequel will improve on the sections that lacked and expand upon what was established. And let us play as Zelda for a bit, It’s about bloody time!
As one of the children of the generation that got to play *THAT* official PlayStation magazine demo disc which included the first ever glimpse of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, I was addicted to the series ever since. Then Skate power-slid into existence and had that same affect Dark Souls had on me, I no longer enjoyed Pro Skater. It felt ridiculous! Skate was far more relatable, it had a difficulty curve not unlike skateboarding itself yet let me surpass my real life skating ability in a way that felt authentic to myself and friends. I have such fond memories of the Friday night and weekend sessions we’d have – a night of Skate accompanied by biftas and beers, soundtracked by the likes of Sleep, Earth and Neurosis. Skate 2 and 3 are probably the better games, but by the time they came out our lives had moved on, so those memories were never forged with those games. As for Session, it wishes it was even a scintilla of the game Skate is/was!
This arguably is my most played game of all time. Before it was on consoles, I was spending some of my lunchtimes in the IT rooms at school playing the flash dirtbike Trials games. RedLynx simply turned those games into a polished product. It was bad enough when it was on Xbox 360, now that it’s available on Switch I can finally ruin my life entirely! I spent the Euro 2020 group stages with the games on but playing Trials until it sounded like things were getting interesting! It has a similar Sisyphean feel to the loop for me as with Dark Souls – you keep pushing and failing, pushing and failing until you push all the way to the climax… Then you start over to improve your time until you achieve gold! Even my fastest times are barely in the top 100,000 times on leaderboards, but who cares when it’s such a simple and satisfying game loop around?!
Bloodborne (it’s basically equal to Dark Souls)
I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream
Resident Evil 4
Dark Triad: Bitter Psalms To A Sordid Species is available on Bandcamp. Order here.
Intro: George Parr