13 January 2011

I've always been intrigued by horror in video games. Get the right balance and it can be more terrifying than the best work written by famous authors. What makes the genre so captivating in video games is the player's experiences. With a book, let's take for example “The Red Room” by H.G.Wells, the majority of the book is asking “What is in the room, and why is it so important?” it relies on tension and this engulfs the reader to want to learn more and to read on. You are no longer reading the work of fiction, you're truly there for each step the protagonist takes up the stairs and to the room, you're there for his stay in the room. This is what video games do, just in a slightly altered version. Instead of relying on your imagination to see what's in the room you can see it right there in front of you. This could have a major draw back in games, because if you are told for example that you enter a room and there's a monkey skull on the table. Your head might picture a skull with maggots and decaying flesh. Whereas in the game you might get a toy monkey head, which has a less effect. But then again in games you're no longer a part of a linear story, in books you have no choice in what you do since you're not really controlling the character and this is precisely why video games are able to capture horror so well...Freedom.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent on Steam

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a game by the developers of the Penumbra series. You play a character called Daniel and you're in a castle...This is actually all you know. There's voices and things moving but you can't really see them at first. You play the game completely without weapons, which normally puts gamers off playing but it works really well in the game since you're going to be in such a state that if you were to be given a weapon you'll probably hit the menu button and duck in fear instead. It's one of my favourite games of 2010 and if you haven't already bought a copy. I highly recommend doing so. What I love especially is how the game progresses, there's many games that have a character arcs, but so few do it as well as this one. The lack of weapons adds to the atmosphere, there will be several times when you're playing and you turn a corner to face a creature who can kill the protagonist in one strike, and since they're random encounters you can't really rely on walkthroughs.

Tomb Raider on PC, XBOX360 and PS3
Now this is exactly why I'm looking forward to the next Tomb Raider game. Not only is it survival horror but there's also an emphasis on freedom. You can explore, but doing so has it's dangers. The game also relies on an element that the F.E.A.R and Silent Hill relies on. Lara Croft will be the youngest she has ever been for the full game, at just the age of twenty one. At this age she will still hold an innocent view of the world, and placed into a situation where she is stranded on a mysterious island with creatures trying to kill you, might slightly effect her innocent view on the world near the end of the game. The game will also be open world, however the player will have to improve Lara's strength to get past certain areas. And although Lara will be armed, she can't really escape from a plane on fire heading for her face or escaping from a crazy killer who charges after you pretending to help you, so be prepared for adrenaline filled moments. And the music certainly contributes to the feel of isolation and tension...And if I'm too afraid to leave the house, we all know who to blame.

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