What do you fear?
I started to play Dead Space
for the first time this weekend. And that the game isn't 'scary'. I haven't jumped of my seat because of the traditional scary tactics like monsters jumping from windows/vents or attacking you from behind. All is very expected from it. I have plenty of ammo, healing items and other things that make not fear to be outnumbered, wasting ammo or getting killed because of a camera angle or because the controls are too slow.
But I fear the setting and atmosphere in there.
Walking around the derelict ship is an exercise in awareness. While fighting the monsters haunting around is not really difficulty, you don't want to be get by surprise. A surprise attack will be costly, maybe deadly. I started to be always tense, always looking around and shooting anything that could turn into a monster later on. It is not that I would have an adrenalin rush of a monster jumping out of the vents. The monsters aren't what I fear in the game.
It is the insanity and the atmosphere.
As I walk by the ship, I found survivors. I already gave up in attempting to save anyone. They are all dead already, just waiting the inevitable, and that is an horrifying thought. That I cannot, even if I wanted, save anyone. While I have no special connection with any character yet, I would hate to develop one and than failing to save them. If there was a Clementine here and I see her dying in front of me, I would be destroyed.
And there all the others small touches. Finding the messages left from the dead describing their horrible last moments. Seeing the few survivors are now insane and either doing horrible stuff against each other or against themselves. How many of them become monsters even before the monsters arrived. This is a really fearsome idea.
The ship is not really dark, except in the moments where the lights fail or some corridors. And you don't need it to be taken by fear. The sounds you hear as you walk is way more terrifying than the dark. Listening to the panicked screams far away, the sound of sobbing, the people screaming for help or wondering why this nightmare is happening and if someone will come to save you.
A good horror story is not the ones who make you jump of the couch every now and them. A good horror story is one who make you fearful even after the end of it. It is the ones that make you question 'what if it was me?'
is a great game. And it is a good horror story. It is not 'scary', if you believe that 'scary' means being frightened here and there. Its horror doesn't come from monsters jumping from the dark. Its horror comes from the setting, what is happening with the people and the fear of any of that happening to you.
It is said that what people fear in monster stories is not the monsters themselves, but what of human those monsters represents. In the case of Dead Space
, what I fear is the insanity. The distorted monsters are made of human remains, they still have the resemblance of its origins, but now they are something so different, so terrifying. And you still have tom deal with the people who, while not changed physically, have their minds destroyed and are as, if not more, terrifying as the monsters.
What I fear in Dead Space
is the madness.
What do you fear?