With Halloween fast approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at a few games I believe could make a good horror game. The present and future of the horror genre is thriving at the moment, with titles like Outlast and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs some of the most recent titles. So here we are going to take a step away from the actual titles, and examine some potential titles.
Perhaps the most unsurprising out of this list is Bioshock, considering how many people it creeped out in the first title of the series. Everything is already there for a good horror – the atmosphere is eerie, the environment is creepy and the enemies are crazy. A lot of people would already classify it a horror due to the style and tone the game offered. But it is something I never believed to be a true horror game though, that is no disservice to the tone and incredible atmosphere it possessed, it just never came off as horror for me.
There are a few unsettling moments, again due to the tense atmosphere. But with a bit more tweaking and some bone-chilling ambient sounds you’ve got yourself a pretty damn good horror. It would all come down to the level designs. With a bit more focus on actual horror, through constistant and varied scares. Again, people would already call it a horror, but it doesn’t play nor feel like a horror. There is a whole underwater city to work with, plenty of which has never been discovered by players.
Bear with me here. This isn’t the kind of title you would expect for a horror remake, that is until you look closely at what style of horror it can convey. After churning dozens of hours into Arma 3 multiplayer I realised how creepy this game can be a night with a little bit of imagination. After all, imagination is one of the best tools a horror designer can take advantage of. If you aren’t lucky enough to find any night vision goggles, you would end up spending your time scampering around in the dark. Even with night-vision goggles it can still be scary with a change towards a horror style – Outlast showed how creepy night-vision can be.
With the opportunity to create your own blockades, and the open-world to take advantage of. The mod Day Z could be the closest we have seen to a survival-horror in Arma, but it was never actually a mod to scare people. Imagine in the middle of setting up a camp to protect yourself and you hear a demonic screech nearby, not just one screech, but five or six. Especially at the beginning, with limited or no weapons or equipment, the only thing you could do is just run. It could make for a great open-world survival horror, something we’ve never really seen before. Hell even Fallout could work!
Much like Arma, this isn’t a title you would expect until you look closer. With the history buff marauding inside of her, it could make a turn away from her usual escapades, or even stick with it. Being a tomb raider, it wouldn’t seem too farfetched to encounter some ancient blood-thirsty beings, or stumble upon a satanic village in the mountains. Her adventures take her to every corner of the globe, so there are plenty of environment choices to pick.
Imagine spotting a small rural village buried in the mountains with only Lara’s torch giving her vision in the darkness. As Lara approaches the village she hears a blood-curdling scream coming from the village. Her breaths quicken, her arms prepare to load an arrow into a bow just as she sees a silhouette sprint towards her. It can take advantage of her raw emotions that were showcased excellently earlier this year, because it wouldn’t be the sort of situation she has never seen before. Out of these four titles, this is the one which I wouldn’t actually mind playing.
Now this game I thought could make a good horror – it has the environment and style for it. However the main strength this game has to offer besides all of the fantastic visuals and gameplay, is the challenge that it offers. It is a game where you die by learning. That sort of feature would never work in a horror game, simply because it shatters every bit of tension and atmospheric build-up because you are constantly replaying the same challenge. If you did take away the challenge, it could then work. Ramp up the atmospheric build-up, tone down the challenge (Dark Souls fans, please don’t kill me) and it could potentially work!
One of the gameplay videos I have seen for Dark Souls 2 shows the character venturing into pitch-black, with nothing but his sword and a flaming torch. As the light slowly reveals more of the corridor, the character is charged at by a monstrous beast with an even bigger weapon. Moments like that are exactly the sort of scare Dark Souls could offer. Not often you see many fantasy medieval horrors!
Dead Space 3….oh wait.
Let me know in the comments below if you agree or disagree with these choices, and offer up some suggestions as to what game you think you would work as a horror!