My last blog was possibly a little "hostile". A little like I was I angry, even. So we're gonna chill right quick with a blog on horror games and me. Where things are angry at me rather than the other way around!
It's been a very quirky relationship all these years. I love them, horror games. I REALLY love them. However, it's sad that they usually never tend to horrify or scare me.
Creep me out? Sure. Get a quick jump outta me? Yes. Make me a little paranoid? You bet. But hardly ever truly "scare".
You might wonder if I've tried some recent horror classics like Amnesia or Lone Survivor. And I have. But I still can't say they've succeeded in scaring me. Especially Lone Survivor. The story's incredibly interesting (at least in presentation) and the gameplay is charmingly reminiscent of Silent Hill (but more survival-focused)... and it is creepy as heck.. but not scary.
Personally, I think "scary" is a word thrown around way too often. A lot like "epic", it's a word that doesn't seem to hold a lot of weight anymore. I mean, if you think these games are actually scary, by all means the games are "scary". But, honest-to-goodness scary games are hard to come by for me anyway. Which is funny considering how much of a pansy I really am.
You know I'm still afraid of the dark? That I run up my staircase because I'm afraid something's walking up behind me? That I'm terrified of any sort of insect (including butterflies, ladybugs and caterpillars)? That I check behind my shower curtain for murderers on occasion? Oh and I'm a huge mama's boy.
Yet this shit:
Who knows why, but when it comes to horror games, I have nerves of steel. If there was an MLG division for horror games, I'd be top duck. Sign me up whenever they realize it's totally a legit skill!
Honestly, games like Amnesia thrill me more than they scare me. I actually more than welcome the monster encounters (although, that's not to say I intentionally get myself killed or anything like that). When I have to hide or run away, it's not unlike, say... playing a game of tag or hide and seek with friends in the park at night.
Thrilling, but not scary.
So what games, exactly, have scared me? I've been counting: merely 3. At least I don't have to type up a whole lot!
(although, looking down, that is quite a lot)
Released just this year back in June and based on the internet-famous Slender Man stories (which, for the love of all that is holy, I hope aren't even remotely true), Slender is a simple game that's received a surprising (and welcomed) amount of attention. Just collect the 8 pages within this dark forest and... that's it!
Seems simple? Like taking candy from a baby? You ready to jump right in, no strap?
Well.... I've completely left out the game's main hook (and a couple other interesting features). This handsome guy:
Just fucking looking at that makes my skin crawl and my heart race. Just.... NOPE!
Although, those lucky enough to not already experience it or those that find it underwhelming, allow me to explain myself.
For one thing, the game is completely dark. That makes the game unnerving enough. Things are hard to see, on top of the game being unpredictable. Not only are the pages randomly-placed and generated, but also the area of the structures the pages could possibly be on.
AND THEN you have this Slender character. Who is constantly following you. You may not see it, but he's there. Waiting to *slowly looks behind desk chair*.... *turns back* take you away. Oh but you probably shouldn't look behind you. That only makes him madder, and he'll only get closer and closer with each look. I mean, this "Slender" is honestly the perfect horror entity. The unsettling bodily proportions, how he works, his anonymous face.... *shivers*.
Even when you least expect it, he can be there. Think twice before entering the bathroom/shower stalls. Best advice you'll ever be given.
Literally, your only friend in this game is your flashlight (which, btw, loses light as the game goes on), which without you probably could not complete the game.
Oh oh and the music gets more intense (but never mood-breaking or obnoxiously loud) the more pages you collect!
You aren't swept into this crazy world with varying monsters and demons and such, Slender is far more "down to Earth" and personal. This one guy... is personally out to get you while you're lost in this totally dark and lifeless forest. It's both genius and horrifying in it's simplicity.
The game is free, and has received a number of updates since release. Including (I believe) the latest one, that added in a fog effect for the forest (among other things). Sure! Let's just make things worse for me and better for the Slender guy! GREAT!!!
I say this as a person you now know to not be easily "scared" by a video game: This is scariest fucking game I have ever played and I think I need a teddy bear to caress from just thinking about it so much while typing this. Thank God that's over.
It seems many FEAR fans feel FEAR 2 was a ginormous step back.
Was it really? I've always felt FEAR 2 was better in just about every single way that counted for me. People like to bring up that the AI was dumbed down, and to that I say "So what?". I'd take FEAR 2's actual sense of variety, improved gunplay, storytelling and horror over FEAR 1's better AI. I believe we've all seen way worse AI than FEAR 2's.
But we're mainly here to talk about what's so scury about FEAR 2. And really, nothing actually. Except for one part. One scare. And I believe it's the only time, that for even a split second, I thought it was, legit, for real. This, my friends, was horror.
To set the scene: It was my second playthrough. I was feeling pretty good, pretty cocky. Everytime I was supposed to be surprised at something, I laughed. Oh I laughed. I was now just simply enjoying the gameplay. Oh fuck yeah, the gameplay. I was convinced this would be an easy ride. Maybe go for some achievements? I sipped my orange juice, slammed it down onto a nearby coaster and told the game to give me all it possibly could.. and I didn't expect much.
I never ever would've thought my confidence would so quickly get the best of me. As just around 15-20 minutes of playing with my chest high and guns-a-blazing was about as much as the game was going to allow me to have.
It was now completely self-aware, pissed and ready to deal out a fat, solid, demented reminder as to what kind of game I was playing.
I'm casually walking down this corridor that I happened to not notice during my initial playthrough. It must be just some random corridor that's hardly important at all, I thought. Then I notice some ammo down beside the dead end of it. I reach for it, but nothing. I jam and hold the control stick forward like it's going to do anything, but nothing. So... all I could do was shrug it off, turn back around and continue.
And then I see Alma. Just... staring up at me from about 7-8 feet away with her black eyes and blank stare. And I just fucking scream. I was about as unprepared as you could've possibly been for something like that. Second playthrough? Nothing new could possibly ever come up! There wasn't even a sound queue (that I could hear over my very masculine scream), just Alma. Looking at me. Then about a second later she dissolves into black mist.
Emphasis on second playthrough. I literally did not see it coming at all and that's what got me.
Never do that to me again, games. Never again.
Nevermind Resident Evil, the true OG of horror games is this. Silent Hill.
It's one of those games you'll really appreciate playing through for the first time in 2012, as I did. It's a real great piece of gaming history. It's a classic and has, thankfully, aged well enough. And whatever problems that Father Time has made all the more apparent are easily ignorable. There's a certain innocence and charm to the awful acting, for example.
And the horror's certainly still there. If anything, like really fine wine, it's gotten better with age. Nowadays, with "horror" games falling more and more into action (or just cheap shots) and migrating to the indie market, it's nice to play another big title on my nice big console and have it exactly the way I want a horror game to be: scary, with plenty of twisted monsters and those wonderful tank controls.
Yes. I love them tank controls. And I also love The Duke. And I eat my pizza upside down.
You see that warning? It's not hogwash. It ain't for show. It's because this game is violent... but mostly disturbing. Definitely disturbing. I'd be questioning the developers' sanity if the entire game was as freakish as the school section.
If you haven't already read my blog on the first Silent Hill, then read it. It's short and I didn't put a lot of work into it, so go ahead and get that blabber over with.
Ok fine, you don't have to. Allow me to just reiterate: THE SCHOOL IN SILENT HILL IS FUCKING SCARY! Like, it made me uncomfortable. I said to myself "I don't wanna play this anymore.". I went into the game expecting to be creeped out, sure... but this was way beyond that. Quite possibly, beyond scary even. The atmosphere started to seep into and takeover my brain. I wanted out! It was like a crude, but still brutal imagining of Hell within this creepy, abandoned school.
And if the moment the school pulled a Dr.Jekyll/Mr. Hyde had been any less sudden, it wouldn't of had the same impact which then carried over into the rest of that part.
I'm gonna have to say it was the "WTF?" moment, out of all video games ever, that's left the biggest impact on me. It comes out of nowhere and was expertly crafted into the game.
Anybody here ever watch The Walking Dead TV series? Well.... episode 1 spoiler, so watch out!
Remember after the officer got shot, was sent to the hospital and then out of nowhere the mood completely changes and you ask yourself "What the heck's going on? Is this when we're gonna see some freaking zombies?". And you were right!
(If only the rest of the series had stayed as good as the first episode. But, anyway....)
It was just like that. It throws you off in such a good way, and in Silent Hill it's done even better. For the first good 5-10 minutes of it all, my eye would latch on to everything and I'd just say with mouth agape "What.. the.. fuck? SERIOUSLY WTF?!"
The sounds, the monsters, the puzzles, the environment, it was all so well and scary. And I'll never forget it.
I will now leave you with my thoughts above. As I just bought me a new (although used) PS2 controller and am anxious to pop in Silent Hill 2 for the first time and I can only hope that it's just as good if not better than Silent Hill 1.
Oh and what are some games that have scared you in the past? Tell me! I always follow recommendations... eventually.