Are horror games actually scary?

When you hear the words horror, video, and game together, what do you think of? Some dark and depressing game that is designed to scare the heck out of you? Or do you just see it as a game set in a sort of twisted setting? Well, I guess it really depends on your experience with the genre, but the thing is; everything has changed. Back in the early 90s survival horror games were quite popular, and they were some of the few games that could give you a good scare. Games like Resident Evil brought players to a zombie infested world where they had to survive, while others used nightmare fuel to their advantage. Even so, looking back on it all now, and looking at the games we get today; are horror games truly as "scary" as we make them out to be?

If you look back on old horror survival games, they were scary for a lot of reasons; however none of which are the reasons you'd expect. While games like Resident Evil had some freaky looking zombies for the time, now days zombies really aren't that big of a deal. In today's world the whole zombie thing is overdone, and just about every company out there has included zombies in some shape or form. Heck even the world of Pokemon has a realistic zombie in it, in the form of Parasect. When Paras evolves into a Parasect, the mushroom on its back kills the host, and completely takes over its body. This is why Parasect has white eyes, and appears as if it may be dead. Really though, this type of thing just isn't as shocking anymore, and a lot of people have come to expect it. So, just why was Resident Evil so freaky back then? Well, that actually comes more from the fear of the unknown, as well as the fact that you had to survive.

Back in the day in horror survival games, you really had no idea what to expect. Just about anything could pop out to scare you when you least expected it, but once you saw it happen once or twice you would most likely get over it; however the whole survival aspect was still there. The thing is, Resident Evil had limited resources, and that included save points. You had to save as many resources as possible if you wanted a chance of beating the game, and sometimes getting cornered and getting killed would result in hours of hard work being lost. Features such as this is what made horror games, well, horror games, and why players got so freaked out when a monster showed up. Now sure, some people may have truly been scared of the way something looked, but now days even freaky looking monsters is normal.

In today's horror games, things have changed a lot form the past. No longer are games survival games, but rather flat out action. Now days when you run into an enemy, instead of being scared of it or trying to run away, you simply blow it to bits and move onto the next. There is no real sense of fear, and you really have nothing to use. In order to make up for this lack of fear, games now days do try to use the atmosphere to its advantage instead. By using lighting effects to make the world seem dark and dreary, some games can create a "spooky" or Halloween like world, but even that goes so far by today's standards.

With today's realistic games and over the top violence, it seems a lot of gamers just sort of tune it out. Everyone just gets so used to seeing it, that it really doesn't impact them in anyway. It's a lot like when someone tells you a joke; the first time you hear it you may laugh, but what happens if someone tells it over and over again? It becomes less funny that's what. If you're playing a video game that has violence, and it is in fact the first time you saw anything like it; it may shock you the first time around. For example you might see someone blow up in a war game like Call of Duty: World at War, and it may flat out disturb you at first. Now, what happens when you've seen it happen hundreds of times as you play? Just like with the joke, it becomes less shocking, and you've come to expect it; it isn't anything new, and you have no reason to be surprised at seeing it.

Although it is true that every horror game is unique, and they all have their own moments to try and scare you, these moments will still be less effective depending on the players gaming experience. For example, early on in Fallout 3 you can enter a school building which has human legs hanging in the halls; this moment may flat out scare you at first, but how long will that fear really last? Now say you're playing a game like Dead Space and you see someone's arm laying there; after playing Fallout 3 will that really disturb you? It's basically the same thing you just saw in another game, and you have already gotten used to seeing it; so why should it scare you? Over time you're going to keep seeing more and more "freaky" moments in these sort of games, and each time you will slowly get used to it. After playing hundreds of games with disturbing moments, do you really expect a new horror game to scare you? Each of these games can only show so much, and a lot of the time they rely on tricks that have already been done over and over again. Once you are used to these tricks, they no longer scare you, and when they no longer scare you, the game is no longer a true "horror" game.

So, now we come to the real question. Is there anyway to fix this? Well, that's something I really can't answer. While any horror game will be scary for someone who has never played a horror game before, it will just be more of the same for long time fans. The only real way to bring that sense of fear back into things is by including the fear of loss like older Resident Evil games had, or by doing something the world has never seen before. Another way would be to use psychological aspects of a game rather than visual aspects. Games like Virtue's Last Reward aren't that freaky on the surface, but the game has some scares that will just flat out disturb you. If more games out there started doing the unexpected, and if they started using psychological scares, then maybe the horror genre would truly become horror once again; however that is easier said than done.

In the end, there's a lot of horror fans who are saddened by the lack of horror games in today's world, but is that really the game developer's fault? I mean, can we really blame them for not being able to scare us anymore? I think not.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post