Horror video games should stop pulling their punches and get scary

Video games in general have been known to be safe and funny, but horror-themed video games should take a cue from the genre’s namesake and start getting gritty. Gamers will like it better, too

The “best roblox horror games” is a genre that has been overlooked by many developers. The genre should be explored and developed more to provide the audience with a terrifying experience.

Amnesia: Rebirth screenshot

Rebirth: Amnesia – Be Afraid of the Dark (pic: Frictional Games)

A reader is dissatisfied with the latest crop of survival horror games and asks creators to embrace the darkness… and the boundaries of dread.

It’s beyond midnight. You’re the last one to go to bed for the night. You walk to your window for whatever reason and, struck by a strange curiosity, draw aside the curtains. What if you’re being watched by eyes gleaming with hate from the other side?

You’re all by yourself in your home. There are no family members or housemates to keep you company tonight. Now is the time for you to retire to your bed. Do you dare to walk up the stairs in the dark after turning off the final light? What if something terrible happens next? Don’t glance back to see what’s happening: it’ll make you go even faster!

The witching season has returned, and video games are in a unique position to give the ultimate horror experience. But, if you think about it, they’ve been pulling their punches thus far. Be warned that this piece was written without having read Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but other from that, I consider myself to be rather well-versed in this genre.

Consider the following scenario: it’s a chilly, gloomy day in the English countryside — is there any other kind? The player character stands in the midst of a calm, empty road, either in third person or via their own eyes in first person. On each side, the trees grow towards each other, creating a tunnel of muted greens and decaying browns. There’s also a faint fog that forms ghostly ribbons around the trees and road.

Your sole objective, or at least what seems to be your only goal, is to go ahead. To find out what’s at the end of the path. After some time alone, the first face you see is that of a little kid, about 8 or 10 years old. If you ask him where you are and what lies ahead, he will be enigmatic and useless. His face seems to have morphed into something more hideous when you glance away from him, just as he is about to exit your peripheral view. You promptly re-examine him, only to discover that he is… ‘normal.’ Were you mistaken?

Games, much more so than movies, are well suited to such techniques. And it’s all about the tricks in horror. Tricks that are nefarious and nasty. The most terrible terror is one that deceives the senses, making you mistrust what you see or hear.

For example, I’m surprised at how hesitant horror games are to use complete darkness. Consider yourself in a vast, dimly lit room. All around you, the undead are shuffling. You have a torch, but if you use it, many nastier creatures will see you and rush at you in a heartbeat. However, you also don’t want to run into anything in the dark. You have a gun, and you can take out the more numerous weaker critters, but the shot will be loud, and both the noise and light will attract unwelcome attention.

Something like this may be quite aggravating. It’s a challenging task to master. Sometimes it should be nothing when you sense something behind you, the sound of footfall moving closer and breathing becoming louder. Something horrible should sometimes be lurking behind you, ready to suffocate you in a most gruesome manner.

The insanity effects in Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem for the GameCube were only ever entertaining sideshows, despite the game’s many charms. Always worth keeping an eye on and pursuing – but they were never harmful, merely pranks. What if they had caused you harm in some way?

There are worse things in life than death. What if some of the affects of insanity lingered for a long time, giving you a purposefully unpleasant experience? What if the creature you saw in Silent Hill 2 was genuine, and it terminated the expedition of a more daring explorer?

Alternatively, it’s feasible that everything might be so bad that it would be impossible to play. But, my, what a catchphrase it would be. The game is so terrifying that you may not be able to play it! So, did you actually hear what you thought you heard? Was it just the breeze? Is it true that you saw something dreadful lurking in the shadows? Perhaps you didn’t, or perhaps it’s better that you never find out…

DMR, a reader


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