For Our Consideration: How a forgotten ’80s gem created the formula for video game horror

Imagine an alternate timeline where Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, instead of riding the wave of critical praise and commercial success that enabled it to become a template for so many modern games, had faded into obscurity. Unable to capitalize on a handful of enthusiastic reviews and dragged down by a platform that’s fast becoming obsolete, its innovations pass largely unnoticed and its influence remains minimal. In this hypothetical world, one of the medium’s most revered works is remembered almost exclusively by hardcore devotees and the occasional archive-snooping journalist. Eventually, the genre it should have been credited with spawning is rediscovered independently by another game—perhaps no less worthy, but definitely more zeitgeist-attuned—a few years later. This theoretical tragedy is the real story of Project Firestart.

Screenshot: Project Firestart

Conventional wisdom tends to ascribe the birth of survival-horror to Alone In The Dark. Infogrames’ 1992 Lovecraftian adventure bore …

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