Archives
Categories

Why Recent Horror Games Suck

There’s a well-known problem within the industry today and it is the fact there are very few genuinely good horror games out there on consoles. So far we have had a few games that have provided a few chills and thrills such as Dead Space, Resident Evil and Condemned but other than that there is a giant tumble weed flying through the genre’s think tank.

But there is a reason for this if we take time and consider horror games in relation to horror films. Before anyone says ‘films aren’t the same as games’ I know they aren’t but if we think about this in a balanced way then we begin to realise how horror is created and how it will work for both forms of media.

In what conditions did you last watch a film at the cinema? Was it dark, quiet with the volume cranked up? Yes it was, I can see you nodding. Now compare this against the conditions you last played a game (or horror game) in. Apart from the loud part, the other two ingredients for making a tense atmosphere are clearly missing from all our gaming experiences these days.What’s worse is that we are told not to play games in a dark environment which is clearly not going to help a games chances of creating tension.

If we delve deeper into the subject and look at the industry, regardless of genre, it is one full of patterns and trends. As such games developers like to stick to these trends and rely on them heavily as opposed to finding new ways in which to scare its audience. There’s the usual jumping out of a doorway scares, lights flickering mischief and the even more predictable enemy behind you gig.

Even the audio is wasted on gamers who don’t have a powerful audio setup or a dedicated set of gaming headphones. When played through a TV or quietly it is hard to fully appreciate what the music is trying to achieve in the moments where high drama is needed.

Even the real world gets in the way of our game habit today which doesn’t happen when we are at the cinema or even watching a film at home. Knowingly or not, we are doing something else as well as playing a game 99% of the time. Whether it’s having the computer running in the background or flicking around on Twitter on your phone, you become detached from the game you are playing.

It’s a simple solution; before we slate games for being poor when it comes to the scare factor, why don’t we take the time to consider that some of its shortcomings may actually stem from us rather than them? Let us all experience the game through a sound system or play in an environment that suits the genre.

You may be interested in this...

6 comments
Jonathan Stoffregen
Jonathan Stoffregen

the only good horror games this gen (in my opinion) siren blood curse dead space condemned 2  dead island ( the hotel level was scary) bioshock 1 & 2 fear 1 amnesia cryostasis and lastly  penumbra of course these a my opinions everyone has their own opinions :)

MartinB105
MartinB105

Do people REALLY try to play games whilst simultaneously messing with their phones?  Unbelievable how people can't even make the slightest effort to appreciate the experience that a game provides.. When I play my PS3, I use Dolby Headphone virtual 5.1 surround on studio grade headphones.  I sit close enough to my 42" TV that it fills a significant portion of my field of vision.  I completely black out the room, and I make sure my phone is NOT in the same room.  I wouldn't play games any other way - horror or otherwise. Games can be actually be MUCH more effective at providing scares than movies in my opinion. Something I'd like to see in horror games is less frequent check points (or an option for it).  A game can create a lot more tension if it makes you fear having to replay the last fifteen minutes again if you make a mistake.  I was inspired to this idea by playing Doom on PSOne recently, which has no save feature aside from passwords between each level; this aspect of the game made it surprisingly scary to play, despite the dated visuals and old-school style gameplay. :)

JayDiCee
JayDiCee

Totally true... Res E, Silent Hill, even Dead Space had to become more 'action orientated' to please the masses.

Adam Holland
Adam Holland

About the checkpoints, one game immediately sprang to mind: ZombiU. No checkpoints at all :D

stecarter91
stecarter91

 I try not to but I always find myself messing around with the phone or laptop when i'm gaming. If you look at most people, i bet they dont dedicate all the attention they should to their games...

MartinB105
MartinB105

I must be in a completely different mindset to most people. :p This past weekend, I sat down and played inFamous 2 for six hours straight and barely even stopped to think about the outside world, much less interact with it.  Fun times. I think these attention issues in gaming that are brought up in the article are a symptom of a much wider problem of recent society and people in general. Becoming distracted from a game may be fairly harmless, but it's hard to imagine that people who can't go a minute or two without their phone are not contending with some kind of mental or self-discipline issues. Recent research has shown that a significant portion of the British population suffer anxiety when they temporarily lose access to their phone (battery dead, forgot to pick it up, out of credit, etc.).  (sorry, I don't have a link to this off the top of my head). Worse still, it tends to manifest in ways that can be quite destructive to the individual or others around them:  For a start, there are huge numbers of people who pay for ridiculously expensive mobile Internet contracts because they can't go their 30 minute daily commutes without Facebook. Then you have the people who completely disregard airline safety instructions who switch on their phones as soon as the landing gear hits the tarmac. And people who can't resist the urge to respond to texts in the cinema, being an annoyance to everyone else. The worst for me is the growing trend of people who assume that something is wrong or they've done something to upset you because you don't reply to their IM or SMS immediately (thankfully still not too common amongst my friends - or perhaps they just know me well enough). Personally, I don't even carry a phone with me unless I know beforehand that I'll need one for some reason.  Yes, I know this puts me in a minority - one that I'm glad to be a part of. :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Burden of violence Appreciating the flaws The Top 5 worst game controllers of all time Why horror games suckVideosNyancat? No this Nyan Pokémon! Rambo the video game – Cinematic teaser Need for Speed [...]