And now it’s an action series. – Grass Pants Muses on Horror Games

“This isn’t Elise,” cried the handful of people who care about my posting order. Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m late and on the wrong topic. I think this is a first for me. Anyway, Elise is being put on the backburner because I just can’t get a handle on her well enough to write about it. Anyway, this is still semi-relevant, right? Before we get started, watch this week’s episode of Extra Credits. Gonna be referring to it a lot once or twice throughout this.

I love horror. Nothing is as good (and also as bad) as a good scare. As such, I’ve always been a fan of horror games. Yume Nikki, Silent Hill, Amnesia, so on so on. Unfortunately, there aren’t a huge lot of new horror games coming out lately. Yeah, I know, Resident Evil 6 just came out… But Resident Evil isn’t really a horror series anymore, yeah? I mean, yeah it’s got zombies and jump scares (I think it has jump scares anyway), but it stopped being a horror series around RE4.

I mean… It’s all about how ridiculously huge the bosses and explosions are, rather than uncovering a mystery in an old mansion or trying to get out of a condemned, zombie-ridden city. Yeah, it was poorly written (insert ‘Jill sandwich’ joke here), but it tried to be scary instead of just throwing you into a warzone, turning the generic bad guys into undead generic bad guys and calling itself ‘survival horror.’

I don’t know where I’m going with this, really. I’d just like to see a Resident Evil or Dead Space or whatever that’s legitimately scary again, like the early ones were. And on that note, I’d also like to see more psychological horror in games, like Eternal Darkness. Seriously, developers, you could learn a bloody metric ton from that sanity system. Anyway, sorry for the lack of updates again. Class and just a lack of ‘stuff’ to really sink my writing teeth into. Hopefully it should pick up around here soon. So yeah, Happy Halloween, thanks for reading, and have a good’un!

This entry was posted in Video Games and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to And now it’s an action series. – Grass Pants Muses on Horror Games

  1. John Sato says:

    The thing about horror games, I feel, is that you as a player need to have some glimmer of hope of overcoming the odds. That’s where the motivation to play them comes from, at least for me. I don’t want to play a horror game just because it’s scary. If I wanted to scare myself, I’d just google image search “spiders.” No, the reason I play horror games is either because there’s something about the horror that makes a compelling story (as with Hotline Miami, though that’s not really a “horror” game, at least not in the traditional sense), or because I feel like I can overcome the horror and succeed. There are a number of reasons why I’d want to succeed, ranging from identifying with the player character(s) to hating the bad guys, but there has to be some hope of *winning*. I’m not going to play a game where I know my character is just going to lose (obviously there are exceptions, but you get the point). So there has to be some glimmer, okay. That’s where this issue is coming from. I think the difference between “scary action games” and “horror games,” at least in this context, is how much of a glimmer you give the player. Too much, and it no longer feels like horror. Too little, and you (or at least, I) won’t want to play it.

    Of course, I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre in general, so take my words with a grain of salt.

    On a side note, I just got Resident Evil 4 (the Wii edition) yesterday, and after about 7 hours of play time I can definitely say I love it. . .but I’m not really feeling the “horror.” Then again, I’m told I don’t scare easy. Resident Evil 5, though? Now THAT was horrific. . .game design. Hey, if it’s scary it’s scary, right?

    • Well said. I’m particularly fond of games that snatch any sense of hope away from you at the very last second (Yume Nikki, for instance). And yeah, it can’t be completely hopeless, because complete hopelessness borders on grimdark and hoo boy nobody wants to get me started on that topic. Or maybe someone does, I don’t know.

      I’ve gotta say, RE4 has the right balance of action/creepy. It’s got a very ‘somethin’s wrong here’ vibe to it, /then/ they break out the head parasites. Hell, they probably could’ve done good things by waiting a bit longer for that, really.

      Clever snark about RE5. I approve. See, /that/ is where Capcom went wrong (in many, many ways unrelated to this topic). It’s not creepy. It’s Michael Bay-tier action and explosions, peaking at Wesker becoming some crazy supermutant and being dropped into a volcano or something. It’s almost like the thing was trying to be a bad ripoff action film.

      • John Sato says:

        I mostly agree with you on grimdark, though most of the time it has just enough unintentional camp to be a non-issue. . .it is worth noting, however, that the one instance I’ve seen of actually *good* grimdark (Disciples 2) was amazing from that perspective. I also honestly think that true grimdark is more depressing than it is frightening, but whatever.

        On a more relevant note, I was playing RE 4 last night, and it did finally scare me; in a way I appreciate more and more every time I think about it. You know that part in Chapter 3 or whenever when you get put in control of Ashley for the first time, and you have to basically run past all these enemies? That was *scary*, but not just because you were helpless. No, it was because you had the power to fight off all those enemies – and pretty effectively, if I do say so myself – BEFORE. The game didn’t just throw you into a situation where you’d be helpless, it *made* you helpless. And THAT – having power, then being stripped of it, being cut down to a level of power even lower than what you had when you first started the game – that, was fear. It’s perhaps an even better example of horror than something like Silent Hill or whatever where your protagonist never had power. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that giving you a taste of ability and hope, and then snatching that away from you, is *real* horror. Sure, Resident Evil gives it back soon enough. . .but you’ve been permanently scarred by it, and will now always seriously question the strength of your so-called “action hero protagonist.” In that way, I think games that snatch hope away from you well *before* the last second, even before the halfway point, communicate the fear most poignantly.

        On a quick note with 5, you’re right in that the cinematic elements were it’s downfall. I actually thought it did a good job of trying to set a scary atmosphere – the problem is that it never let *you* feel the fear. Literally every. single. corridor had a cutscene at the end, and they were pretty useless cutscenes, too. Literally all one of them did was take a camera zoom down an empty corridor to a door, and then a sound plays. It expressed literally nothing that you as a player would be unable to feel from the gameplay, but by taking it out of your hands, by making your *characters* do it and not *you*, it isn’t scary. You just walk through the areas – it’s only the characters that feel the tension (through the cutscenes). End result: boring, and not scary.

  2. >Literally every. single. corridor had a cutscene at the end, and they were pretty useless cutscenes, too. Literally all one of them did was take a camera zoom down an empty corridor to a door, and then a sound plays.

    Oh man, I remember that! My buddy was over and playing it and we both wondered why the hell they thought doing stuff like that was a good idea. Also, the two-player thing /never/ works for horror, from what I’ve seen; didn’t help that both protagonists were equally capable of shooting shit and, honestly, had no real reason to be together outside of lolpuzzles.

    I honestly don’t remember the Ashley scene in RE4, but I really wish more games would pull that kinda thing. Let you be this big, badass guy for a while… then take it all away. I want to say I have some more examples of games that do this nicely, but it’s blanking on me (scripted, unbeatable fights don’t count for this).

    Also, didn’t you do a review on Disciples 2? Hey people reading these comments, go read his review on Disciples 2!

    also it just hit me that i respond to posts backwards

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s