Welcome to the third day in Marche's Absurd Blogging Week (yesterday was the first day I named it MABW, but technically Sunday night was one, too), where I feel the need to blog like a mad-man to get my creative juices out and just talk about some stuff that comes to mind.
This entry gets a bit personal, as it goes into pretty well one of the most traumatic events I've ever experienced, but I'm OK with sharing it. It fits.
So, on the forums, Glowbear brought up a topic that asked the question of what games you find too scary to play. I thought about it, and the only game I could think of was Slender, although I'm certain that where I'm at, now, I could play it no problem. Time to explore this topic of discussion.
Oh shit. Time to get the plunger out.
When I was younger, I frightened very easily. I could list off a variety of nightmares I had, which might actually make a good blog sometime. Some of them are actually pretty funny to think of. I once walked into a birthday party at a friend's house only to have them jump out of a dark room at me once I walked down the stairs to the basement (where the party was held). I screamed the most high-pitched scream, apparently, because they were laughing at how I "screamed like a girl".
But the most frightening nightmare I must have had as a kid was one where I walked into my dark bathroom and suddenly The Creeper from Scooby Doo burst out from inside the toilet to grab me, or something like that. It scared me so much, that for years I couldn't sit at the computer in my house without having the bathroom light turned on and the basement light on. I thought I'd have to live with this for life.
Of course, I grew out of it, but you must understand that I was very easy to scare.
I wish I could handle a shotgun without even touching it with my left hand.
My first run in with horror games was back with Resident Evil 2. I didn't play much of it, though. I was a little kid, and I had no idea of what was going on. I ran into the gun-shop. Zombies happened. I had no idea of what I was doing. I didn't understand that it was supposed to be a horror game. So, as awesome as Resident Evil 2 is, along with the fact that it was my first real exposure, it's not as important as, say...Dead Space.
But even before Dead Space, I had played a little game called F.E.A.R. Not exactly my favorite game. I didn't think it had a very interesting story, when I was younger, and I mostly bought it just so I could say that I stood up to a horror game. That didn't last long.
Dead Space was the first horror game I really got into. It was the catalyst of my love for horror games. Now that I think about it, the circumstances in which I played it were odd, though. Right around when I first really dug into Dead Space, I had learned that I had epilepsy. Strange form of epilepsy, it only affects me when I hit REM sleep and I'm not on meds. Still, that was a hugely frightening experience, waking up with amnesia harsh enough that I couldn't remember what I had done just the night before* and being whisked off to a hospital as if I had just had a heart attack.
Sometimes I still get chills of TRUE fear if I think back hard enough to a time where I had a seizure. It's indescribable. I don't even know if pain would be the right word for it. More like the feeling of death, I guess you could say.
In Dead Space, no one can hear you scream. Unless you're playing from Earth.
Anyways, disregarding all that, I played Dead Space during a sort of half-depression that sprouted out of that. It was a way of coping. And yet, it was scary. There's no doubt that Dead Space is one of the scariest games out there. It's a wild ride of suspense, high tension, and some very creepy monsters (those freaking twitchers). On top of that, one thing that sticks out to me to this day is how there could be a monster right behind you and the game wouldn't give any indication other than the monster's soft grunting sounds until you actually turned and saw it. Then, the music would pick up.
Yet, I pressed onward. I finished the game. Then, I started dabbling in some other horror games...
You can see where I'm going with this, right? Yeah, that's right. I'm going to knock this douchebag with the cleaver-hand out and steal his wallet.
So, I might have dabbled in some horror games here and there, but a big one to me is Amnesia. And, really, to whom isn't it? It's fantastic. It diverged from the most common form of horror game (survival horror), refusing to give you anything to fight back with, putting your back up against a wall. Beyond that, it focused on having a compelling story with fantastic atmosphere. Heck, even the most poorly designed area (the massive, open Choir, pictured above) is creepy simply because you never know when you're going to run into Thing One or Thing Two.
Yet again, I pressed through it. I might have felt scared at parts, but I never let my fear control me. I controlled my fear. I kept it in check. Disregarding my gut feeling of turning the game off and never coming back to it, I charged headfirst into the fog, lantern outstretched, daring the game to come at me with everything it had. It worked, and I made it through the game, none worse for the wear.
The funny thing, too, is that the more I went through horror games like this, the easier it was to face them. Resident Evil 3? Beat it in a day. The only fear I got from it was that Nemesis would kill me and I'd have to start over at a typewriter. Silent Hill? I think I laughed at the predicaments I got into more than I ever felt like giving out a yelp. Alan Wake? I feel more excited while I play that than scared (BULLDOZER BOSS, THIS IS AWESOME! YEAAAAHHH!!!)
It's like a callus. The more you play, or the more you just stand up to the fear, the easier it gets to face it.
Obviously, my flashlight will be more than enough to take down a 50 ton bulldozer.
I'm at the point, now, where I think I can take any horror game on without a problem. I'm highly anticipating the new Amnesia. Outlast looks fun, and I don't doubt that there will be even greater horror games to come. I don't honestly think that there's any horror game too scary for me, now.
But more importantly, I think the same can be true for anyone. Don't think about how you're going to be facing some really scary monsters, just do it. Recklessly charge in. The worst thing that can happen is that you'll have to start over from a checkpoint, the start point, or a save point (depending on the game you're playing). You'll be fine.
Of course, one could argue that my discovery of my epilepsy sort of dulled my sense of fear while playing Dead Space (the game that started all this for me), since I was already living a nightmare, but I don't think that matters. I was still facing the same horror game as anyone else playing Dead Space, and if the little kid who used to think that The Creeper was going to burst out of the toilet to whisk him away could do it, then I believe that you can, too.
No horror game is too scary. You're just too scared. But you can do something about that. You just need to swallow your fear, pick up your lantern, and continue on into the dark unknown.
How could I not remember this guy?
*: Turns out that I had first placed Metroid Other M the night before I had my first seizure. I adamantly believe that when that guy Anthony Higgs said "remember me", my mind was so repulsed by the idea of obeying anything that this awful game told me to do that it decided to give me a seizure so that I would have amnesia and wouldn't be able to "remember him".
I'm kidding, of course. I actually like Metroid: Other M. But I do find it funny, now, that my mind decided to implode on itself the night I first played it.