Friday, March 14, 2014

Horror Games Aren't Just About Shooting Monsters

Horror survival games seem to have all become action sequences and quick time events to avoid gory death animations.Guess games are having just a much trouble as movies are when it comes to sticking to the formula that made the genre so popular. Can you imagine a survival horror game where you don't see the monster for most of the time? Or one where you are not fully prepared to face the monster head on?

Stuff like Amnesia comes to mind, though most AAA title games claiming to be part of the horror genre have more things in common with action shooters than survival stealth games. Let's exercise some creative juices and brain storm up a suspenseful new horror game for players to try to survive through shall we? Well, I will anyways, guess you're just along for the ride now, huh?

Let's take start with some familiar horror genre settings, some small country village, with a lot of history, and a lot of dark secrets. Picture "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" or the village setting for Resident Evil 4 to get a feel for where I'm going with this. Some old town lost in time, with villagers who keep to themselves and don't go out at night anymore, as there have been brutal murders lately. People taken from their own homes, torn to pieces as if by wild animals, strange symbols are turning up, painted on walls, smeared in blood on doors sometimes, and so on. Just from the setting players know nothing good is happening in this place.

Now to make things dramatic and add some more tension. Let's set up the player as a character who is visiting a friend in the village. This friend is a father, we'll name him Alin, whose only son and living family, has gone missing. Tragedy took his wife and daughter away from him years ago, leaving him to scrape out a living raising his son alone. To beginning the search for Alin's son, players are directed to investigate the house and ask nearby locals. Most of them shrug by, ignoring questions or refusing to talk with Alin or the player, until eventually someone waves him into their house. Here we meet Alin's son, Marian, though I'll warn you not to get too attached.

Alin warns Marian that such behavior will only bring him harm and he needs to be more careful, slowly letting out some hints as to what is going on in the village. Finally Alin seems to relax a little and dive deeper into the mystery of what is taking place in the shadows. Abruptly the conversation is interrupted as a strange and grotesque creature comes smashing through a window, throwing Marian out of sight and hobbling after you. Frantically trying to get away, the player finds the doors are blocked from the outside and won't open. Through the windows Alin and the player can see the villagers gathered around, watching, waiting, as the blood thirsty creature inside closes in for the kill. Eventually, the creature is killed using whatever can be found at hand in the house. Before the player can fully recover, the monster's body disintegrates and the villagers depart, allowing free range of the village once more.

To be continued.