Well it’s that time of the year again! The time to really sit down and enjoy getting scared. That’s right, it’s spooky month! And in honor of that, I decided that every post this month is going to be about horror games in some way. Granted it’s not like I’ve ever needed an excuse to talk about horror games, as you can probably tell be looking at a lot of my past posts, but now I’m really in the holiday spirit! And what better way to kick things off than by talking about why it’s even fun to be scared in the first place and hopefully convince some people to give horror games a go.
Ironically, I actually hated being scared and just scary things in general when I was much younger. I often times would avoid going to movie theaters because if a trailer for a scary movie began to play it was much harder to look away from it in a movie theater than it was at home watching TV. My love for horror games was a very slow process that didn’t start until I gave Resident Evil 5 a try. Now while Resident Evil is one of the most well known and beloved horror game series of all time, it’s the series that gave us the term survival horror after all, RE5 is not really a horror game at all. After Resident Evil 4, the series took more of an action focus. A trend that RE5 would follow and then Resident Evil 6 as well. RE4 has some spooky moments but RE5 is where things really shifted, which is probably why I was able to get into it so much. And while the game itself wasn’t really all that scary, it did inspire me to go and seek out more actual scary games as a result. RE5 gave me a little taste of what kind of fun could come from a horror game, and after that I wanted even more! My real dive into horror games came when I gave Dead Space a try. Another game that takes a lot of cues from RE4 but still keeps more of a focus on the horror with it’s crazy monster designs and brutal death animations. This would be my first real horror game experience and where I realized just how much fun you can have from being scared!
Like I was saying before, growing up I really hated to be scared. Even now I’d still say I need to be in the right mood in order to really enjoy it. But when it comes to horror games I understand the appeal now. On paper, no one should enjoy being scared. Being scared is a reaction we all have that’s suppose to tell us to run away or just get out of the situation. When it comes to games, however, you’re given a ‘safe’ outlet to experience all this horror. After all, no matter how scared you get you can always turn off the console. Same can be said for horror movies really. But I’ve always felt that getting scared in games was more fun than through movies. There’s something much more personal about being scared with a horror game. Rather than watching someone deal with a scary situation, it’s up to you to actually get through it yourself. And this is what I think really makes horror games fun! They provide a completely safe outlet to experience such terrifying things. The rush and thrill of being in the situation feels real without there being any real danger. I mean, in reality I would hate to be in a bookstore trying to figure out a puzzle about Shakespeare and his work while unspeakable horrors were just outside waiting to kill me. But in a video game? That sounds like a total blast! And while I completely understand why a lot of people don’t get enjoyment out of that, I still think more people should give horror games a try. After all, I always assumed I would hate that sort of thing growing up but after giving it a try myself and going at my own pace, finding the kind of horror I enjoy most, it’s become one of my favorite genre of games! And I especially think people who don’t like horror movies should still give horror games a try as they really are completely different.
If I’m being honest, I really don’t like horror movies all that much even now. I think it comes down to the lack of control you have with watching a movie over playing a game. The fear and scares hit differently when you have even the smallest amount of control. Not only can things feel that much scarier, because you have to be the one to confront them, but having some control of the situation makes things feel a bit more manageable too. In that way, having more control of the situation can make things both more scary and less scary. Since you do have to be the one to walk down that dark hallway with a flickering flash light but you are also the one in control of how quickly you move down the hallway too. That is why I feel that horror games have an edge over horror movies, at least for me. They might seem very similar on paper but they are completely different when you actually give them a try. And as I said earlier, I do think more people should give horror games a try! And more than just one too.
Horror games come in many different flavors, like most games. You have classic survival horror like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, where the fear and dread come from more than just the monsters around you but also the fact that you may run out of supplies at any moment and need to figure out all these crazy puzzles at the same time. There’s also hide and seek horror like Alien: Isolation and Amnesia, which is mostly about running and hiding from a particular threat you can’t defend yourself against while going from place to place. And lastly there’s haunted house horror like Outlast and The Medium, something that’s very similar to hide and seek where you don’t have anyway to defend yourself but it’s more focused on jump scares and scaring you at particular moments while you travel down a linear path.
There are way more kinds of horror games beyond just those, especially when it comes to more unique niche kinds of horror games, something I discussed before in a past post. We’re not even getting into psychological versus shock horror and how those two offer a completely different kind of experience despite both being able to fit in the same genre of horror game. But survival horror, hide and seek, and haunted house horror are the kinds you will see most often! Each type has their fans and their detractors. Personally, I’m way more into classic survival horror and really do not like haunted house style games. However even then, I wouldn’t exactly call haunted house horror ‘bad’ either, rather it’s just a different kind of horror that I don’t get much out of as I feel it can be very predicable and the scares get very cheap as the game goes on. But that’s just me! Some people enjoy haunted house horror games for the fact that they are very straight forward. They are focused exclusively on horror and scares without you having to worry about puzzles or managing your inventory or anything like that. And I get that! Sometimes adding those things on top of an already stressful and scary situation can be a little much for some people. For me, that stuff just adds more depth to the scares already present. The point I’m trying to make though is that there are lots of kinds of scary games out there. It’s hard to write off all scary games after playing just one. So if you have any interest in trying horror games don’t just quit after not enjoying one. Try more and more to see which style resonates most with you!
On that note though, I totally understand that sometimes it can be a lot of pressure to try and jump into a horror game if you’re on the fence about it. After all, games aren’t cheap so spending money on an experience you aren’t sure if you’ll enjoy is asking a lot. Luckily, there is a way to dip your toes into horror games without jumping into the deep end if you want to see if you’d enjoy that sort of thing. What I’m talking about is next week’s topic. Pseudo horror games! So stay tune to hear more about them very soon and how they can really help ease people into horror games without needing to fully commit to one. Maybe it’ll help convince you to try out some horror games yourself!
But those are just my thoughts! What are some of yours? Are you a fan of horror games? If you are, what are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear your thoughts so don’t be shy!
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