Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of horror games or movies. Give me a wild roller coaster any day! Make me watch a horror movie though? I’ll pass on that.
Nonetheless, there’s been some games where the sense of horror really provided a great gameplay experience. Some of the games I found filled with horror weren’t really horror games by definition, but they just encapsulated a terrible experience or gave the feeling of horror or dread.
A great example of this is Fallout 3. There was something spooky about being trapped in a vault, escaping, and then ending up in this post-apocalypse world. Insert people worshiping bombs as gods, ghouls, and synths and it’s the stuff of nightmares! It’s the kind of vibe you get when thinking about what comes after the Terminator movies. Radioactive monsters. People who will do anything to survive. It’s terrifying from a perspective of the atmosphere.
Another game that really spooks me? FEAR. The original, specifically. While the game was designed with some horror elements, it definitely wasn’t what I’d think of as a traditional horror game (like Outlast). Yet, it’s environment and characters are so freaking creepy. It contains some really surprising jump scare moments. And, really, there’s nothing creepier than an evil looking little kid.
What other settings lead to a sense of creepiness or horror?
How about Far Cry 5? There’s nothing creepier than being involved with a cult. Especially a cult predicated on violence. I think one of the underrated elements of horror in games is just the sense of dread. The anticipation of knowing bad things are looming, even if they don’t happen all the time.
Another great example is the Dead Space games. The feeling of being trapped with all these little buggers is often more terrifying then the little suckers you fight.
Scarcity is another factor in creating a general feeling of fear within a confined setting. Take the Resident Evil games. While being stuck in a house with zombies isn’t exactly fun-filled, I think it’s the scarcity of the game which makes it even worse.
The idea that you need to eliminate these monsters, but you can’t because you lack the resources to do so is terrifying.
Sound is a HUGE component of this sense of horror in these games too. Sometimes it’s the sound of pure silence in a game that brings a feeling of fear. Other times it’s a creepy voice like from the little girls in Bioshock.
Whatever it is, even as a non-horror gamer or movie person I love those feelings when they’re used for atmosphere or game developers include interesting game mechanics to cause the fear, such as in Resident Evil.
That’s it for me. For those that celebrate it: enjoy your Halloween this evening, folks! Join me for less creepy times on my Twitch channel. Or, if you’d like, tell me what games creep you out on Twitter. Enjoy the candy and have yourself a great sugar filled Halloween! See you next time, friends!