The Changing Nature of Horror Games

On this the night of Halloween, Tom takes a look at the different horror games available in today's age

It’s that time of year again, the spiders are spinning webs everywhere and just generally annoying you, and children are getting ready to beg for sweets and just generally annoy you. So, what you want to do is hole up in a dark room and play some horror games. But what is there at your disposal? Tom takes a look at the changing nature of the Horror game genre – do horror games still have something to offer?

Jumpscares are getting old and you feel you want something new, something that makes you unsettled, not just momentarily surprised. This is what is happening in the current horror game landscape, a genre which seems to have some of the largest chance for experimentation, and new approaches to defining itself.

Traditionally, horror games consist of throwing you into a dark and spooky environment, forced to navigate out of a labyrinthine facility, while a tall gangly creature thing chases you and jumps out of doors every now and then. This is a gross generalisation, but lots of horror games have become minor variations of this stereotype.

“Games are striving to become more than just cheap jumpscares”

That’s why many new games try to buck this trend, examples such as Perception, became fascinated by the idea of the main character being blind, and the only thing you could see were noises. Or some have more interesting ideas such as Dead-End Road in which the entire game takes place as you are driving on a road, and you can’t stop driving.

Games are striving to become more than just cheap jumpscares, one of the best still in this department of unsettling experiences has to be given to P.T. (Playable Teaser), which was supposed to be renowned game director Hideo Kojima’s first full venture into horror with a Silent Hill reboot. But then Konami pulled the plug.

P.T. used a gradual distortion of the familiar and scares that could easily be missed if you weren’t looking properly to create both the sense of fear and insanity. Alas, this experience is locked away now, and most people have already experienced this.

So what fun can you still have with horror games?

Firstly there are dozens of goofy and fun horror-esque titles currently available. Escape from Bug Island for instance, takes a more typical survival horror mechanisms, but just uses them bafflingly. You may not be spooked but you’ll certainly enjoy yourself.

“This article isn’t to say that you aren’t allowed to enjoy jumpscares anymore”

And this article isn’t to say that you aren’t allowed to enjoy jumpscares anymore, Spooky’s House of Jumpscares is designed to allow you to fully enjoy and criticise the art of the jumpscare by having adorable pictures of ghosts scare you witless.

Or if you’re using this chance to escape from reality, plug on a VR headset and play Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, although it came out early last year, it quickly became one of CAPCOM’s defining titles. And if you’re more into the Halloween aesthetic and not actually being scared Devil May Cry 5 comes out early next year and you can be sure to have a smoking sick time cutting up monsters to your heart’s content.

Basically, if you want a spooky game to play, in this day of consoles, the world is your oyster. Enjoy Halloween.

Tom Sampson

Featured image courtesy of Gabriel Hess via Flickr.

Image use licence here.

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