In Defense of Fixed Camera Angles

Something that I feel always gets looked down on in games is fixed camera angles. The argument against them is usually that they are clunky or a thing of the past, which I can’t exactly say is wrong. However, I don’t think people really understand how fixed camera angles can really enhance or improve an experience! Even in this modern age of free camera control.

So I won’t try and say that fix camera angles should become the norm or anything like that. I’d rather argue that they still have a place in some modern games though. Namely horror games! A big part of horror games can be taking some control away from the player, giving them that helpless feeling. And fixed camera angles are perfect for that. I feel like most people see fixed camera angles as a forced limitation. After all, they were used so much back in the PS1 era because there wasn’t many ways to control the camera on your own back then. But just because it was a limitation doesn’t mean it can’t still be used to enhance a game!

As I said, horror games in particular can really benefit from the use of fixed camera angles. Mainly for the fact that it allows you to basically control where the player is looking. Apart from the fact that you can quickly switch the camera over if you want a quick and easy jump scare, you can always use it for far more clever scares as well.

For an example of a game series that I feel really knows how to do this well, look no further than the Fatal Frame series. More specifically the earlier entries like 1-3. I’d honestly argue that, while I never had an issue with fixed camera angles, I didn’t understand how well they could be used until playing the games. Given the fact that game designers always know where the player will be looking, they were able to put in a lot of clever scares! One that comes to mind is a camera angle looking in on the player from outside a window they are walking by. As you walk down the hallway, you are able to see for a brief moment that a ghost is right behind you in the hallway as well! However, you’ll only be able to see this right before the camera shifts once again to a new angle. And walking back to try and see it again will show that the ghost is seemingly gone now. Super spooky! And a perfect way to cause the player some fear and worry without having to rely on a big sudden scream or scary face.

‘Subtly’ is a good way to describe the kind of horror and fear you can get from things like this, and it’s honestly very unique as well! I feel like when players ask developers to bring back fixed camera angles in horror games they are wanting things like this rather than just the nostalgia of not being able to control the camera as you play. Which is probably why a lot of horror games that do try and bring it back nowadays miss the mark so much.

So if you’re ever thinking about including fixed camera angles in your own game, I’d say go for it! Just make sure you think about how to actually use it in unique ways and how it can benefit your game as a whole rather than just including it for nostalgia reasons.

But those are just my thoughts! What are some of yours? Do you enjoy fixed camera angles? Do you find them clunky and out dated? Know any other games that use them well? Feel free to let me know as I’m always happy to hear what you guys think!

And thanks again for reading! If you liked the post feel free to comment or even share it around. Any interaction is appreciated so please don’t be shy!

One response to “In Defense of Fixed Camera Angles”

  1. […] angles! If you’re curious as to why I feel this is a good thing over a bad thing, I have another blog post explaining it. However right as you actually start to move your character you run into something […]

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