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The Essence of Fear

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?'

Dead Space 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?

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About ManWithNoNameone of us since 10:30 AM on 03.24.2011

Ok, let's see... Well, I am Brazilian, speak both portuguese and english(none of them properly ;) ), have 32 (Yes I am old, shut up) and work at a cable manufacturer. My first videogame system was an Atari 2600 when I was 8yo, then the Sega Master System at 11, a PC, then all the Playstation Family(PS1, 2 and 3 and the PSP).

Nowadays my primary gaming platform is the PS3 and my favorite game is Battlefield Bad Company 2, so if will wanna play or get some help with a trophie, my PSN ID is Man_w_no_name. Feel free to ask me to add you as a friend. My favorite game of all time is Final Fantasy VII and the worst I have ever saw is Danger Girl for PS1.

Aside gaming I love movies, books, anime and manga, Doctor Who and weirdness. So that is it. Hope to find good friends here at Destructoid.

Thanks to falsenipple for the header image! It is awesome as the creator.

PSN ID:Man_w_no_name


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