Halloween is pumpkin carving; it’s trick or treating; it’s dressing up in horrendous costumes and drinking questionable cocktails. Above all though; Halloween is horror game season.
I’ve been toying with the idea of picking up Alien Isolation for about a year now, but I’ve never quite plucked up the courage. My mind is conflicted – it got such incredible reviews, but those reviews praised how damned scary it is!
But what makes these games so scary? And why do we keep coming back for more?
I’ve played a few horror games over the years, but I never considered them as scary as movies. In Resident Evil, Fear, Dead Space, The Evil Within; there is one recurring pattern which renders them bearable. It’s the ability to fight back! Jump scares can be met with the butt of a shotgun, or the Dead Space engineer equivalent. Eventually one finds them-self nonplussed by the grotesque enemies, despite the stacked odds.
In the opening sequence of Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within however, I got a glimpse of what a true horror can feel like. You are simply a wounded and disorientated man trying to hide from a crazed butcher, nothing massively flashy, but the vulnerability, the claustrophobia, and the sense of atmosphere in the setting and the music made me genuinely terrified. The deliberate, heavy and sometimes unpredictable movement of the butcher introduced the game as a horror masterpiece.
The Evil Within took a very trigger happy route soon after, however my eyes were opened to what I was missing in titles such as Outlast and Slender, both originally PC exclusives.
The rise of indie games has seen a boom, especially in terms of survival horror games. With it the return of the genre to it’s psychological, slow paced, terrifying roots is nigh. AAA companies like Sega and Capcom seem to have finally joined the trend, and with genuinely terrifying games being released I find myself scared again, in the best possible way…
With the teased “Holiday 2017” release of Project Scorpio, it can be speculated that Xbox are set to release their own VR technology to combat Sony’s. With this kind of capability the horror genre will be innovated in ways I’m not sure my heart can deal with.
Resident Evil: Biohazard will be the first of a new line of horror games, and finally the fear factor of games will surpass that of the big screen. To be able to immerse yourself fully and actually feel like you’re there, in the haunted house; or hanging from the meat hook; or falling into the depths of hell…
All I can say is that horror nuts are going to have it good in 2017!