My two most recent horror games were RE7 and RE2 Remake, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, while still falling victim to the issue that plagues most horror games: they get less scary as they progress. (I also understand that these are both action-horror titles and aren’t mean to be full-horror, but are good touchstones nonetheless).
This happens due to a multitude of reasons, none of which are particularly new, but there are two reasons that I think stand in direct contrast to film horror—the main character becomes more powerful, and the unknown becomes more clear.
Take RE7 for example. The beginning is incredibly scary: you’re unarmed, completely alone, and in a very unfamiliar environment. The first VHS does a great job of setting the horror tone and creating a very palpable sense of unease. But following your first encounter with Mia, you begin to gain more weapons, more allies, and the environment slowly becomes familiar. The fear, the tensions begins to wear off the longer the game goes (albeit with a great SAW-esque turn partway through).
Contrast this with something like the Blair Witch movie, and the horror moves in reverse. The movie begins in a familiar forest setting with a group of three people, but as the movie progresses, the familiarity of the forest gives way to the supernatural, or occult, and the group of three is slowly separated until isolation become a major fear component of the movie.
I would love to see more horror games move in this direction. Start the player at their most powerful, comfortable, and populated state, and slowly deplete their weaponry, reverse pre-conceived notions of a familiar environment, and isolate the player, so that horror elements are increased as the game progresses, rather than the other way around.
If there are examples of this already, please let me know. Otherwise, what are some more ways that we can make the horror in games last longer?
- Got hit with a predictable jump scare today and instead of scaring me, it just made me miss Silent Hill era horror games.
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