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What happened to horror? (Forums : Cosmos : What happened to horror?) Locked
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Sep 3 2012, 5:11pm Anchor

So, there I am, at my PC, booting up Grey for the first time. I'm excited. A new horror FPS. I wonder what-
SKREEEEEEE!
I threw off my headphones, which weren't set above my normal playing volume, and was instantly put into a bad mood.

For those who have never played Grey, the start up video is also a screamer video. And what is flashing on the screen? What seems to be babies with no eyes crawling at high speed like someone pressed fast forward on a "my kids first step" video. Brilliant.

I click start, the loading tip says something about batteries for my torch. "Oh, is it some kind of light and dark theme going like Alone in the Dark or Alan Wake? This could be interesting" I think. Then the game starts, and it's so dark all I can clearly make out is a hand, and maybe a bed that I'm lying on. Great. The establishing shot of the game, and all it establishes is someone didn't pay their electric bill.

I turned off the game in a rage. I might go back to it and give it another chance when I'm less angry, but it holds the record for shortest time it took for a game to annoy me. Usually I have to at least start the game, but this one got it out the way before the menu appeared.

What the hell happened to horror games?

Let's compare and contrast. In Resident Evil, the first zombie appearence has a slow build up. A gunshot, could it be your missing friends? You investigate and see this scene.
Youtu.be
No loud bang or scream, unless you count the music.
Resident Evil 2, the reveal of the licker monster. You see something move by the window. Not a zombie, but what else could it be? Did you see anything at all? Next room, the camera has a view as if someone, or something, is watching from outside, but it goes away before you can get close. Then you hear a tapping, no, dripping. You walk around the corner. A pool of blood on the floor. As you investigate, you notice there is a monster on the ceiling. AAAAAAAAH! being the standard responce to this scene.
RE not your thing? Parasite Eve 2, a game more action RPG than horror, had a scene where you find a woman in a cafe, she doesn't respond, when you touch her shoulder to get attention, she falls out of here seat, then this happens.
Youtu.be
Not subtle or to well built up, but the scene is established, and then plays out. It's surprising, without loud noises or flashing images. It does sound like a horse though, which is kind of silly, but it can be forgiven.

Now, how is the monster in Amnesia introduced? Remember, this is supposedly the scariest game ever made. He appears behind you, goes "BOO!" and disappears in a poof of smoke like a rotting ninja.
Or cry of fear, where during the intro, you are running around taking photos of Xs (?) and then a face appears and goes "BLARG!". I guess he doesn't like me taking pictures of his 'ex'.
Youtu.be

Now I will admit that some of this comes down to my preference for the concrete instead of the supernatural. Even so, that doesn't explain why build up of tension and payoff has been abandoned in favour of loud noises and flashing images. The Thing is scary, but enjoyable, whereas a youtube screamer is just irritating. Was their some law passed that said "You will not allow breathing room in your horror games.". I would understand if it was the other way, if early horror games were screamers and they got more nuanced over time, but they've gone the other way, they've gone backwards.

Cryrid
Cryrid 3D Artist
Sep 3 2012, 5:29pm Anchor

I'm kind of reminded of what Simon Pegg wrote about zombies (the article is mostly about zombies in general, but touches on horror vs BOO!!)

Sep 3 2012, 6:06pm Anchor

We plan to bring horror back in our game, classic horror, less jumpy, still a bit jumps but you expect it rather than it being random.

Sep 3 2012, 6:25pm Anchor

Well, I am currently working on an experimental horror indie game called EVIL. It's inspired mainly in Silent Hill, with a bit of Grey, Afraid of Monsters or Cry of Fear. It will be a psychological horror game that mixes platforms and heart attacks :D

Oct 22 2012, 6:58pm Anchor

If what I heard about that game is true, be glad you turned it off were you did. Still, horror games are nowhere near what they used to be. Instead of focusing on HORROR, horror games are either just gun games with scary added, or just a bad BOO experience. Now a real good horror game would be one were you only ever hear your enemies coming, and never get to see them; that would be creepy.

Edited by: Thatmanoverthere

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Oct 22 2012, 9:59pm Anchor

imo, the only real way to make a game scary ?
permadeath.
even minecraft is a hell of a scary game in hardcore :P
savegames and checkpoints you load when dying send the message "well whatever you do, you are not really dead, you just start 5 minutes ago" and so the player doesn't really care about dying and can mess around without consequences. that cancels the "scary" in every game

Oct 23 2012, 6:49am Anchor

Horror can be scary with jumpscares, depressive with story and emotions, not that scary just a bit dark like Alan Wake, running/stealth based without weapons like amnesia. You can't like every horror game, it's impossible.

Edited by: Ashkandi

Oct 23 2012, 10:27am Anchor

Horror doesn't need to be scary or suspenseful. That's a suspense game. RE did a lot of suspense. Compare Alien to Halloween. Alien was suspense (classified as horror in movie genera though because of the subject matter), Halloween was horror. Halloween isn't scary at all. Alien still makes me jump even though I know what's happening.

Many games combine bother because, unlike a movie, you need a point to move forward. In a movie you watch horror to see the gore and get that sick feeling in your stomach from watching. Suspense will give you that feeling in your stomach not because of what you see, but because of what you DON'T see. That's what RE did. Plus RE had horrible controls compared to modern games, so part of it's suspense was you knowing (but not admitting) you would have a hard time handling any situation.

horror: painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay
suspense: mental uncertainty : anxiety

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TheUnabridgedGamer
TheUnabridgedGamer It's been a long time...
Oct 24 2012, 1:51pm Anchor

I actually have to say that I think the game in question that you're talking about might be (I obviously haven't played it myself) actually doing an interesting attempt at unnerving the player. The less control you feel in a way that, you can do all sorts of things but not the kinds you're used to, is usually a good way to unsettle people. That's why Dead Space 2 forced everyone to use TK over using a gun. It changed your idea of how to fight. In Penumbra, at first you couldn't fight, but eventually you could potentially smack one of the demon dogs to death -- but it took patience and persistence.

Oct 24 2012, 2:10pm Anchor

Totally agreeable, the horror genre has had a steep drop in the recent. They traded a good scary build up (with surprisingly good story..res evil etc.) and some heart wrenching suspense (the key to horror), for instant thrills and low suspense action. A game with a depressing dark story with permadeath (Ash+Guiboune input), and a good build up of suspense would be tops :D Also there was that horror game (name escaped me) where you only use a camera to fend off ghosts and it gives you this uncomfortable feeling of dismay because your severe lack of power as a human. A game that excercises your brain to fend off unbeatable odds is hectic with uncertainty but so rewarding in the end :)

Oct 26 2012, 9:30pm Anchor
TheHappyFriar wrote:Horror doesn't need to be scary or suspenseful. That's a suspense game. RE did a lot of suspense. Compare Alien to Halloween. Alien was suspense (classified as horror in movie genera though because of the subject matter), Halloween was horror. Halloween isn't scary at all. Alien still makes me jump even though I know what's happening.

Many games combine bother because, unlike a movie, you need a point to move forward. In a movie you watch horror to see the gore and get that sick feeling in your stomach from watching. Suspense will give you that feeling in your stomach not because of what you see, but because of what you DON'T see. That's what RE did. Plus RE had horrible controls compared to modern games, so part of it's suspense was you knowing (but not admitting) you would have a hard time handling any situation.

horror: painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay
suspense: mental uncertainty : anxiety


Erm, Halloween was all about suspence
Youtu.be
Skip to 1 minute in if you dont want to watch the whole thing.
Also, Alien is kind of the same film, only with men in space instead of kids in a house.

Ronnie42
Ronnie42 Forerunner
Oct 31 2012, 2:53pm Anchor

What happened? crap like this happened:

Then the annoying git's who supported it wanted more, we had to suffer more with this:

So basically blame the 12 years that constantly whined about fear, why we have that stupid flashlight attachment on doom 3 bfg instead of the classic way it was originally played.

I said something similar in a previous thread "Wasn't the controls, angles designed to make you scared, want to run away in fear?" but people complained and now have that garbage known as resident evil 6, why those garbage live action films get away with no horror to feed the 12 years old's who supported an 18 rated game, ruined another franchise. If anyone hasn't guessed I love my horror games, I'm major pissed off at the comany's that let this happen.

Ok I have to admit one thing dead space has it's odd shocks but 3rd person camera's aren't really scary while deadspace has it's moments while other games don't even try anymore. I even got a few scares when I first played left 4 dead. Why? Because I didn't expect them to run at me. That's the thing about designers they daren't do anything original, they want to try play it safe as much as possible even if it's piss's a lot of people off.

Edited by: Ronnie42

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Oct 31 2012, 3:48pm Anchor

The 5 minute mark onewards was painful to watch. Minutes or a teen going "Eew! Controls!". Although, I enjoyed RE 4 and 5. Not played 6 due to Capcom doing the DLC crap.

On an unrelated note, I was watching the trailer for the new Amnesia game. Being sarcastic I said "I bet there's a twist like 'the pigs are humans!' or 'we are the pigs'" and then, at the end of the trailer, I heard-
"There isn't enough pigs in London to feed that machine!"
"That all depends on what you consider a pig..."
*ominous sound*
I don't know if I will play the game, but I wonder if the plot will be predictable by sarcasm.

Nov 3 2012, 1:35am Anchor

The best type of horror is that where you do not see the monster, this leaves the player to create a realm of imagination where what COULD the monster be and what COULD it do. Now doing this is really hard in creating an atomosphere that both immerses the player, and frightens them. Games like Amnesia arn't that scary because about 30 minutes in you see this monster going "OGGITY BOOGITY BOO here's my naked red bum are you scared yet?!?!?" I also believe that a lot of this horror has to do with what the player naturally thinks from past experience. Example, in a game where you are provided with no weapons, the monster cannot possibly be hard to escape or hide from, or A dark hallway with all the lights going out around you means jumpscare.

The worst thing that caused the switch in horror, and this is gonna sound crazy, was the graphics! With the old N64 "horror" games like RE 2 were mainly scary because you can't really see the monster in real life, you are suddenly immersed in a new world where everything is weird and doesn't look right. This gives the game Devs more wiggle room to show scary, like for example a bad camera angle can make accidental horror moments, where the lack of jump scares are mended by the lack of proper controls.

Horror games tend to become less scary as the game progresses, like Bioshock, this came out when I was about 16 or 17 and I was still scared to piss from it. The main part where you leave the sphere of safety to an almost certain death is freaky. Of corse after you get a shotgun everything around you is instantly blended into a fine berry pulp so there goes the horror aspect of it. Another thing people need to be sure to do is evolve the monsters, not just add new ones, or make them slightly faster/Stronger but actually add something freaky they couldn't do before. Like let's say you're playing Allen Wake and suddenly a monster isn't effected by ANY light, what would you do then? Probably shit your pants and die, What if there were no differences between monsters that were weak to light and those that arn't?

Sorry for the wall of text.

Nov 3 2012, 8:04am Anchor

The problem with the "not seeing the monster" angle is that it has a limited shelf life. It works in a half hour episode of the Twilight Zone, or the opening 30 minutes of a game, but after a while it just becomes stupid, and makes it seem like your guy has his iPod stuck on a horror sound effects loop.

I mentioned the graphics thing briefly in a horror games series I did for halloween. I agree to a point. The limited graphics of Silent Hill 1 work in it's favour because you can never quite make out what the monsters are supposed to be. That said, the idea that you need bad graphics to make a good horror game is a silly one. It's like saying you need cheap sets and bad actors to make a good sci-fi series. That's not the case, it just happens some of the classics had cheap sets and bad actors.

Nov 3 2012, 8:42am Anchor

yeah I agree with sabre, not seeing the thing is not good in a long term. and besides, it's mostly just working in movies. if the pattern goes for too long the player will say to himself "did they even bother to make a freaking model for the bad guy?!" or worse "well whatever, he's not even real, that's cheap. I'll go run around making stupid stuff" which pretty much ruins everything.
the thing that scares the most is the feeling of weakness the player or viewer might get. a monster or whatever may be creepy as hell, if you happen to have a rocket launcher, he's suddenly not so scary anymore.
Amnesia WAS scary because you couldn't hurt the fucking monsters, your only choice was to run or hide. same thing with slender. in RE it was a hell of a hard job to kill a monster, so they had the advantage over you.
imo, the graphics neither add nor remove horror in a game. the power of the player does

TheUnabridgedGamer
TheUnabridgedGamer It's been a long time...
Nov 3 2012, 12:21pm Anchor

Lets face it, a good horror game is one of the hardest challenges in the market and it's being designed for a niche audience. A large niche, but still a niche. That's why Resident Evil and Dead Space and Silent Hill are all trying to be action oriented.

Nov 3 2012, 12:44pm Anchor

Resident Evil also has jump scares. Dogs bursting through the windows, hands bursting through the wall, Tyrant 103 bursting through the wall, licker jumping through the mirror, Nemesis bursting through practically everything etc etc

Nov 4 2012, 1:53am Anchor

Sabre, the thing I think with not seeing the monster can be done well, like Condemned 2, in the first half. You're stuck in tight spaces and are constantly titillated with the thought of a creepy druggy attacking you, eventually yeah you see him and blow a cap in his ass, but still the thought that he COULD be there is the most frightening. Although yeah if by level 3 you don't see whatever it is that is trying to kill you, you start to not care.

But the shitty graphics do not a horror game make, I meant to say they aided gameplay sometimes. Honestly though, there is something wrong, either the horror directors in every company ever were all suddenly fired, or that maybe horror has evolved? We need to think of a way to make a scary game without causing horrible life altering effects in small children lol.

Dec 4 2012, 5:47am Anchor

This thread has been a lot of fun to read through. One of my absolute favorite horror games (and I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet) is Eternal Darkness. I think Silicon Knights really pulled off the mix between suspense, psychological fear, and physical (as in gore, seeing the monster, etc) fear.

As far as the suspense went, it was top notch. I remember always walking around corners, thinking something was going to be there, but then it wasn't. And then it wasn't again. The game made me stressed out of my mind, and when the monsters did show up I was terrified! They moved so creepily, and were so much more powerful than me! What good is a sabre against a horror? Not much. To kill these monsters efficiently, you had to use these rune spells, and whenever you activated one a growling, guttural voice would speak in tongues, completely unsettling me.

Throw in the chilling story line and fantastic throwbacks to H.P. Lovecraft and I couldn't sleep at night. Such a beautiful example of what horror should be.

Dec 4 2012, 6:16am Anchor
TabKey wrote:What good is a sabre against a horror? Not much.

Does that mean I'm off the zombie team? :(

While I'm replying, I might as well answer this, since I didn't bother previously

Minuit wrote:Resident Evil also has jump scares. Dogs bursting through the windows, hands bursting through the wall, Tyrant 103 bursting through the wall, licker jumping through the mirror, Nemesis bursting through practically everything etc etc

That is true, but as I mentioned previously, it did so either with build up, or complacency. When you did jump, it wasn't because a loud noise blew your speakers out. When Tyrant burst through that wall in 2, that was because you had "killed" him, or managed to escape just seconds prior. You have time to make some progress without- Oh crap!

The Nemisis was the same. Yes, he would blow through a wall. Others he would walk through a door, or would just be standing in the street.

Osc
Osc
Dec 13 2012, 2:46am Anchor

new games loose tha "soul" to enchance graphics and music. I'm a retrogame lover and i'm not to informated about new horror games, but resident evil will remain an icon for the genre, a lot of new games are just clones.

TheUnabridgedGamer
TheUnabridgedGamer It's been a long time...
Dec 13 2012, 5:54pm Anchor
Osc wrote:new games loose tha "soul" to enchance graphics and music. I'm a retrogame lover and i'm not to informated about new horror games, but resident evil will remain an icon for the genre, a lot of new games are just clones.

New* lose* that* enhanced* I'm* retrogamer* (just drop the "lover") informed* Resident Evil* (it's a proper noun since its a title, you capitalize it) A lot* (you have a run-on sentence otherwise)

With the correcting done -- most games have some other game they take from. That's generally how the industry works. Not everyone can always come up with a brand new genre or system of doing things. Most game designers just have ways to change the initial concept in order to make their idea unique, rather than designing an entirely new system. Hell, I accidentally designed a DotA style game at one point, back before I had played them, then I realized that someone had had the same idea anyway. So you really can't blame most games to feel a bit similar. Also, there's the "it's popular, emulate it!" behavior that most publishers take without a second thought.

A good example of a similar but also significantly different game is Dead Space. It has a similar movement and inventory system to RE4, but it also has dismemberment, zero-G movement, stasis powers, telekinesis, a revamping of that same inventory system, a better store/economic system, better upgrades, and far more creative weaponry.

Also, Horror -is- a genre, so there will be similarities between horror games. Although I don't think Silent Hill or Deadly Premonition ever took notes from Resident Evil. Plus Amnesia, Penumbra, and Slender have almost no similarities but are horror games all the same. Not necessarily survival horror but still, horror.

Dec 13 2012, 7:52pm Anchor
Reqieumthefallen wrote:Hell, I accidentally designed a DotA style game at one point, back before I had played them, then I realized that someone had had the same idea anyway. So you really can't blame most games to feel a bit similar. Also, there's the "it's popular, emulate it!" behavior that most publishers take without a second thought.

I did exactly the same. Mine was a single player FPS, and had strategic point that needed to be captured, but the same idea of a never ending stream of upgradable creeps with players being the difference maker. There were other games too.

Often, people discover the same scientific thing, or cure for a disease at the same time. Hence why some nobel prizes have multiple winners, and why the history of the telephone and TV have so such espionage and back stabbing.

Anyway, someone said recently, 2D platforming is a genre. Having a fat man who hits ? blocks, breaks bricks, eats mushrooms to grow big, and has to rescue a princess from a dragon by dropping him in lava is a clone, even if you say the character is a French baker.

Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, Dead Space and Silent Hill could be considered clones, as they are both about people, alone, trying to escape from a hostile location. As Frederik Reynal pointed out, the poster for Amityville Horror says "For gods sake, get out!". Trapping people in a hostile enviroment, turning up the pressure and asking them to survive is a staple of horror.

TheUnabridgedGamer
TheUnabridgedGamer It's been a long time...
Dec 14 2012, 12:39pm Anchor
SabreXT wrote: Often, people discover the same scientific thing, or cure for a disease at the same time. Hence why some nobel prizes have multiple winners, and why the history of the telephone and TV have so such espionage and back stabbing.

Anyway, someone said recently, 2D platforming is a genre. Having a fat man who hits ? blocks, breaks bricks, eats mushrooms to grow big, and has to rescue a princess from a dragon by dropping him in lava is a clone, even if you say the character is a French baker.

Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, Dead Space and Silent Hill could be considered clones, as they are both about people, alone, trying to escape from a hostile location. As Frederik Reynal pointed out, the poster for Amityville Horror says "For gods sake, get out!". Trapping people in a hostile enviroment, turning up the pressure and asking them to survive is a staple of horror.


1. ...clearly that person hasn't seen Limbo, Aether, Spew, Scarygirl, or anything besides Mario/Braid.

2. That doesn't make them clones. Almost any genre, not just horror, can have that kind of environment. Call of Duty, Starcraft, World of Warcraft, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Limbo, Scarygirl, the Jedi Knight series, The Force Unleashed, in theory - even Mario has been in purely hostile environments. If I had never played a horror game and read that, then I'd expect no originality in horror games. But there is originality and variety. Resident Evil/Dead Space are survival horror. Silent Hill 2 and Shattered Memories are psychological horror. Alone in the Dark is a horrific adventure game, while Lone Survivor is a survival horror adventure game. Slender is a thriller/horror game. All of these games, yes, aim to scare you. But that's why we have this thing called a "genre". Plus there are games like Amnesia and Penumbra, which don't necessarily fit easily into any of the original conventions so they are just horror games.

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