Great examination of the genre, Sam! It’s a shame how poorly it’s been handled in recent years. You clearly understand horror games quite well; I know Halloween’s just passed and all, but I hope you’ll be doing more on this topic regardless.
Sweet, love your stuff man.
I think it’s common knowledge now that indie titles like Amnesia and Slenderman are the best examples of how to do horror in videogames in recent times. If only bigger devs could follow their example and approach the genre in the exact opposite way they have with Resi Evil 6 and Dead Space 3, but maybe that’s just a pipedream,
I think it’s fair to say that Resident Evil 6 and Dead Space 3 aren’t really horror games, but more action games with some horror themes.
Fans of the RE series just assume the game is going to emphasize horror because of the previous installments. Silent Hill has tried to do this and failed. It becomes stale.
I think what Sam said about familiarity and toying with a player’s expectations really applies here. No piece of art exists in a vacuum and the context of a work is almost as important the piece itself. The various western developers who approached Silent Hill all seemed to think that the original formula simply needed to be tweaked for the game to be good again. The problem is that the Silent Hill series said everything it needed to in the first three games. If you’re going to continue a long running series, you have to look at how it changed over time and not preserve an impossible ideal of having a player step into a survival horror game for the first time. The player’s expectations derive from other games they’ve played and the very reason the newer Silent Hill games have failed is because they’ve fed into the player’s expectations of what a Silent Hill title should be instead of growing and changing with the genre.
Sadly, my rural ISP often has bandwidth brownouts, and I’m in the middle of one of them, so I can’t watch the video. I’ll add some thoughts on recent horror games and hopefully I won’t be making a fool of myself.
I think the evolution of what I call “action horror” (F.E.A.R., Dead Space, Resident Evil 4 and after, etc) is at least partially in reaction to a polarizing feature of the first few Resident Evil games: The difficult controls. Certainly, those games delivered a lot of fear, but a certain fraction of that fear (at least in the experience of myself and my friends) was coming not from the setting or the monsters but from the fact that you often couldn’t make the character do what you wanted to in the time you had to do it in. Certainly, being unable to escape from threat is frightening, but many gamers don’t like playing games with awkward controls. So, is it possible to deliver horror in a game with good controls? Certainly, but perhaps we’ve come too far in the other direction now. If your character is fairly mobile and very responsive to command input, then most of the sense of helplessness goes away unless the creators are very good at creating oppressive atmosphere. If your character is well able to escape from danger, then the most obvious way to maintain fear is to ramp up the danger, possibly so far that suspension of disbelief may be threatened. I think Dead Space and FEAR succeeded at this and the Resident Evils after 4 failed, but that’s just me.
protip, don’t stick lineart on a busy background.
it was hard to read and see a lot of your text and art.
To comment on the above, I just don’t believe in awkard controls. there are loads of ways to make enemies difficult to kill without making the player a cripple.
Many people have commented on that for both horror and stealth games as a way to discourage combat. but i just don’t believe in it. if you really want to discourage combat, make enmemies tough, or just don’t give the player a way to fight back.!
That’s not how you say “requiem”.
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