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45 comments

  • g1rldraco7 - January 24, 2014 8:46 p.m.

    If only more games followed these suggestions, we can only hope.
  • t_skwerl - January 24, 2014 7:48 p.m.

    And let's not forget different things scare different people. The first Dead Space scared the hell out of me. Sometimes, I even forgot I had weapons. Thanks to the terrifying atmosphere, the second some other-worldly monster came at me, I was running in the other direction for 10 seconds before I thought, "Oh, I have a gun!" The first divider I ran into, I saw it slowly walking towards me, it made that godawful noise and I went, "Nope." Turned my console off and waited for daylight.
  • jonathan-nielsen - March 11, 2014 6:20 a.m.

    agreed, kept on running out of Ammo because i'd panic and start spraying then realize "fuck my life....." and started going in melee. the 2nd Dead Space also had a really good atmosphere, but the 3rd one was a big meh......didn't quite enjoy that one for it's horror aspec for the storyline was good.
  • Vonter - January 24, 2014 3:40 p.m.

    I hope horror returns but like in movies is a niche genre that works best when it's subtle rather than in your face. That's why indies have embraced because again like in movies horror isn't as heavy budgeted as other genres. I did hope last gen could get scarier moments due to more graphical fidelity but like they say; "You don't show the monster early, “It’s a monster. But once people see it, they can start rationalizing it away. It’s too big to live, it’s extinct, nothing like that ever lived. If you want to really scare people, you have to do it with what scares them the most, and since that’s different for all people, you can’t show anything. Let them scare themselves with what’s in their own mind, that’s the ticket.”
  • pl4y4h - January 24, 2014 3:08 p.m.

    Idk if anyone's mentioned this (and horror games aren't really my genre of preference) but how bout stop giving enough us weapons and ammunitions to supply a small army. Cause nothing says scary less than being armed to the teeth.
  • pl4y4h - January 24, 2014 3:10 p.m.

    *us enough How do you guys not have an EDIT key already!!!!
  • shawksta - January 24, 2014 3:03 p.m.

    Pretty much yeah
  • Rhymenocerous - January 24, 2014 11:23 a.m.

    Yep, some good horror games incoming for this gen. I do agree with a lot of points here, although, even though they're cliché, I'll ALWAYS be scared of spiders and spider-based enemies. Even Skyrim was f@ck!ng terrifying for me... As was Tomb Raider 2. And Resident Evil. And Half-Life. And Half-Life 2. And Martian Gothic (look it up). Why not combine spider like enemies with the current trend of things stalking you? A spider... Hunting you... In the dark. I suppose not everyone suffers with arachnophobia though. Good feature, Dave.
  • BladedFalcon - January 24, 2014 11:03 a.m.

    Very strong article once again Mr. Houghton. Most of the ideas presented in the article are very good ones, and would definitely help revitalize the genre and make it simply better, so long as publishers can be bothered to do it right. This generation's "horror" games was so weak, that perhaps the game that scared me the most and had the the most tense was not even a horror game in the strict sense of the word: Demon's souls. Specifically, the first part of the Tower of Latria. Which even though it's only a small part of the overall game, it's to me, a far better horror game than any horror game that's come out in the last 10 years. There's no jump scares, no music either, only a lonely, dark prison tower. Upon your arrival, you hear the periodic clinging of a bell that even sounds pleasant somewhat. You enter the tower, it's big, and feels also mostly empty, aside from some octopus looking creature holding a lantern and the bell you heard, you move in confidently, thinking the creature will be a piece of cake. He spots you, creates an uproar with his bell, sounding an alarm and attacks you with a powerful spell that kill you in two or less hits. Suddenly, the sound of the bell stops sounding pleasant, and now you feel dread every time you hear it. Knowing you have to hide every time a guard gets close unless you get swarmed, overpowered and immediately killed. The best part is that aside from those guards, there's not a lot that's actually threating in the massive stage, but those guards were all that was needed to make you feel vulnerable, and always in potential danger, making you scared of every turn you made. Oh, because that's the other thing, this being Demon's souls. Death really does matter, and thus you care about not dying more than in most games. That, and the atmosphere was just haunting in how minimalist it was. There was not many of the tropes you associate with horror places, there wasn't gore or grotesque walls, no ominous, creepy music. Yet the sounds you did hear sometimes, at key places of the stage became haunting even though they came from non threatening sources. Such as the singing lady that was imprisoned, but wasn't an enemy, just someone that sold you things, yet you couldn't help being unnerved by her melody every time you went nearby.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - January 27, 2014 4:14 a.m.

    Completely agree on DS. I've been saying that From need to take over Resident Evil for years. Forget the dark medieval fantasy setting. In terms of the themes and gameplay ideas the Souls series plays on, it's pure survival horror. And as you say, its artistic/narrative direction is also excellent, in terms of oppressive but underplayed atmosphere and sheer sense of the unknown.
  • BladedFalcon - January 27, 2014 7:41 a.m.

    Heh, From Software taking over Resident Evil would be interesting, although seeing how Capcom has been relying less on Japanese developers and more on western ones, it seems unlikely. And yeah, again, I don't tend to see the Soul's games as horror games, but they can very much work as that. Dark Souls didn't have such a stand out scary/tense scenario for me like Demon's souls did, but it still had fantastic atmosphere thorough, and areas like the Tomb of Giants and New Londo were still nerve wracking and had great sense of atmosphere. Actually... I do think a big part of what makes the Souls games good for horror is that it makes you so terrified about dying that it heightens your fear at the prospect of being murdered by anything. And that I feel is something most horror games sorely lack. If I become aware that dying doesn't have any real setbacks and I can even start relatively close from where I was, I lose fear of dying, and thus I feel less tension as a result. Which is why I had asked you about checkpoints and dying in your preview of Alien: Isolation. When you don't have that, a game stop feeling scary to me. As much as I adore The Last of US (and I do) I would never call it a good horror game, because even when it has creepy moments, I never felt tense because the checkpoint system was super generous. And also when I watched a stream of Ryan and Zack form the US team playing outlast, it felt super creepy and tense at first, but when they died and they restarted so nearby to where they last left, even they seemed to be significantly less scared than before because they realized there was not much of a big deal if they were killed. And I was left rather unimpressed by Outlast in that regard, even if it's sense of atmosphere WAS really good.
  • Firepunch - January 24, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    I kind of do believe AAA horror is coming back because big companies are releasing games like Evil within and Alien Isolation. This leads me to believe that companies are noticing how successful indie horror games are doing and are like" Shhiiiiiiit, lets get some of that survival horror cheda". However the staying power of the rise all rests on the success of new AAA horror games. So what I'm saying is buy those games day 2( Not day 1 because they might be awful and I don't want you to waste your money on awful games, I respect you to much).
  • NuAngel - January 24, 2014 10:16 a.m.

    I have a few memorable instances... Spoilers below (all games 5+ years old). 1) Playing DooM 3 on the PC a decade ago... hearing the spinning whispers of a woman saying "they took my baby" in 5.1? Terrifying. A friend of mine in college would play this game and literally one night jumped up from his keyboard, turned on every light in our dorm room, and shutdown the game, insisting he would "try again tomorrow." 2) The original Resident Evil on PlayStation. The game didn't scare me TOO much, but the scene where the dogs jump through the hallway window for the first time?? "There is no place safe." 3) This one TAKES THE CAKE for me: Condemned: Criminal Origins. Early on in the lifecycle of the Xbox 360, I didn't know anything about the game, but you could find it anywhere, cheap. So I picked it up. There is a scene where you're working your way through a mall to find the serial killer... the lights go out. The creepy Christmas music continues to play. The lights come back and you are SURROUNDED by department store mannequins. WHY? JUST... DEAR GOD, WHY? I had to pause the game, get up, and pace around the room for a few minutes for I could get back in to the game.
  • Erednaw - August 22, 2014 6:26 p.m.

    Oh, I loved Doom 3, it is certanly not the perfect game, it's flaws are well known, but it was creepy as hell and it had one thing I never found in other game again, Doom 3 had a nice use/abuse of pitch black places and a perpetual sense of insecurity, even in fully lighten enviroments, bc monsters could come out of nowhere and from up, down, sides and from the back or even just pop up from hellish marks, you never feel secure to just go linear and busting all that appears in front of your character, bc you need to look everywhere to be secure you will don't find any monster coming up to you in silence. What freaked me the most was an empy place in which you are steping on, then the ground at your feet suddenly falls by some mechanism and then you're surrounded by monsters and the red lights and darkness don't make you aim them well, you just don't know what happened. And those mourns and girl cryes in the hell were diabolically chilling and terrifying, just plain perfect. In RE saga a thing that freaked me was the first encounters with Lickers, da hell... The scene you mention too, I remember quickly saying with fear: Aw nooo! I'm so dead... Wow that scene I ACTUALLY DIDN'T PLAYED THAT GAME, but in a small group of friends we were together playing it, we screamed like if we just saw Jeff The Killer or Smiley Dog face to face. xDDD
  • TokenGamesRadarFurry - January 24, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    I know it sounds cliche now, what with everyone knowing everything about it, but Amnesia, when I bought it a day after it was released, not knowing anything about it going in, was goddamn terrifying.
  • Darkhawk - January 24, 2014 8:48 a.m.

    The original Fatal Frame is, bar none, the scariest gaming experience I've ever had. I think there were a few things in it that worked really well: 1) There were no rules that could help the player determine when and from where the ghosts would appear. This would mean very brilliant moments like a hand coming out from under a staircase you've already walked a dozen times. 2) Not everything was dangerous. On the whole, most of the ghost appearances were harmless spirits briefly flashing past you, only to disappear again. Initial shock scare, but relief when they vanished. When the rare poltergeist did decide to stick around, it was a surprise and total terror. 3) The setting was amazing. Still one of the best-looking horror games I've ever played, filtered through that wonderful decayed-film look. Every turned corner produced a new, foreboding sight, like a creaky watermill, or the ends of a dock by the infinite lake. <<shiver>>
  • BladedFalcon - January 24, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    Agreed with this 100%. Fatal Frame was and remains my favorite horror game for the reasons pointed above. And also the fact that it had you play as a little girl armed with nothing more than an old camera, and you NEVER got any more advanced weaponry after. Not even during the later parts of the game you felt like you were over prepared, or ready for anything that crossed your way. Vulnerable, you ALWAYS felt vulnerable. And I think that's a key element of doing horror right that most games never have gotten right, even back when they were more popular.
  • Darkhawk - January 24, 2014 10:52 a.m.

    Yes, the vulnerability! Even Silent Hill 2, the moment I picked up my first gun, it immediately hampered the experience for me. (And Dead Space just isn't scary at all.)
  • BladedFalcon - January 24, 2014 11:41 a.m.

    Pretty much agreed. Dead Space COULD be creepy, but never scary, specially because even from the start being armed with a plasma gun that can easily cut limbs makes you feel like a baddass already, and later on having telekinetic chainsaws and flamethrowers just eliminates what little tension you could have had left.
  • CitizenWolfie - January 24, 2014 8:48 a.m.

    I think the one thing that's stayed with me the longest in a game I didn't really like were the sieges and villager attacks in Resident Evil 4. No jump scares, just that relentless "coming at you" despite your best efforts. Seriously, that shit used to come back to me in numerous nightmares. The other thing I think works great in horror games is that isolated exploration aspect, especially coupled with a story where you're entering a fucked up situation and the game lets you piece it together. Bioshock and Dead Space were great at this. I'll have to give Gone Home a try as well.

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