Dial H for Horror, when senses fail in gaming.

Horror genre is and always will be an uncharted terrority. Probably the most exploited one lately and the one who lures gamers to explore even more their own weakness.
20 years ago, horror games were simple polygons and the plot was not so easy to understand without that game manual.

But what about now?, having such graphical displays of violence/murder/rape. Those answers still remain dormant somewhere deep into ourselves.

Fear, the oldest and strongest emotion:

The other day i was watching some Hitchcock movies that i own, like “Rear window” and “Dial M for Murder”.
Just to realize how easy was to scare the shi$!@ out of people without saying much nor showing that much, not like movies and games from today.
All that you need is to play with people minds and trick them to think something that will contradict their morals and principles.
Is a shocking and crucial factor, specially when you trow many details for and to the viewer who will try by any means to rationalize at all costs.

But something is missing..today.

Horror games today: Next-gen nightmares?

I saw many trailers, which are visually attractive. Like “The Evil Within” and “Dying light” and the last one “Silent hill(s)”.
In all of them, noticed the same pattern scrambled all over the place:

  •  An evil entity.
  •  A ghoul.
  •  A ghost city.
  •  Haunted places.
  •  Guts everywhere.
  •  Sense of not getting out alive from many situations.
  •  Plot twist.
  • Good sound effects to keep up with the ambiance.

I feel that Game devs are currently abusing from what they can show and measuring a game quality on how much they can show to the gamer with a proper M for mature tag.
Losing sight and energy while trying way too hard to trigger a shock event into the viewers senses.
Thus several times they achieve to do that, while graphics are getting even more and more *realistic*.

There’s no real horror behind that, at least for me. Is just a crude and repetitive display on how gamers who love horror genre, got used to it and absorbed and understood that formula or concept.
Only left for them to do: is to keep pushing those boundaries, until there’s nothing left to show.

A crude display, but no magic behind it:

This is not limited only to horror genre, others games genre have a strong mix which sometimes work and bring something new to the table.
For example, Kojima made such a huge impact only *hinting* in so many of those MGSV red band trailers.
Indeed, he managed to show the spectator something that could cause a reaction. Adding torture and a moral behind it.
Specially with Paz, when they manage to extract a bomb from her entrails that had a peace sign; to later realize that she had another bomb in her body inserted into a *sensitive* place.

I though in that moment, shocked by that scene. That was not the gore in it that caused a reaction in me. But more thinking that this could happen in real life scenario.
Thus i respect Kojima’s work, specially what he is doing with Guillermo del toro and “Silent hill(s)” (love that franchise).
He is just pushing those boundaries i mentioned above to try to communicate with the spectator, by making YOU part of it.

Still, i didn’t saw that magic nor someone playing with people minds by giving them enough resources to get tricked.
Just someone who wants really bad to show his view of this twisted and sick little world.
That doesn’t mean that is bad or way too good to play, but still something doesn’t feel quite right.
Still, no magic behind it.

Lazy or non-existent plot and more guts:

That’s the plan all along, make you step into that world and make you feel part of it.
Just place entrails and guts everywhere and some butcher hooks and done.
But wait…what about the plot?.

When i saw Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” movie, I didn’t saw that. Hell, i didn’t saw someone committing a murder.
Just a person sitting and observing through a camera, how his neighbors behave. Their arguments, their habits and so on.
But almost at the end of the movie, saw the *killer* face but no so much proof whatsoever about that murder. Still struggling if the main character was the one to blame for all what happened.

While today, i’m struggling just to understand what the hell they did with the plot in many horror games and what those developers wanted to achieve.
Indeed they can trigger many emotions, but not sheer horror.
If you don’t have a plot or well-developed one, you have nothing. So at the end of the day you have a mediocre title which has nice graphics, ambiance and very good voice acting, but wait..what about the rest?.

When senses fail in gaming:

Sony and MS are focused to *stupify* their consumers senses. Morpheus project and many others are proof that they need to literally *blind* you get you into the game.
While several indie games achieve and execute those magic tricks without so much effort and more imagination involved.
Like the latest i played called = “Five Nights at Freddy’s”.

Is funny and scary, because you can’t do nothing to protect yourself. In horror games that sense of having no tools or arms to avoid a fatal event is the key to success.
You know that something will happen, thing is you don’t know when or why.
Five Nights at Freddy’s, performs a *Hitchock-esche* trick with a basic premise. You work late at night in store full of animatronics bears.
Yeah, you read that well. You have to watch them via cameras installed in the place and as you make progress in the game.
You have to avoid at all costs those scary animatronics or robots to reach to you.

So there’s no music, only random robotic noises and things falling to the ground. You have to endure 6 game hours and you can jump into the next level.
There’s a pseudo-voyeurism sense in it, while you have to watch inanimate objects moving towards you. Without any specific reason given.
It’s a normal situation where anybody who happens to work at night in some place, alone. Will start to hear things, specially if that guy is sensitive towards certain things.
And guess what?, no gore and no vulgar display of graphics power. Just a game coded probably with Unity engine in less than a year.

You can call me *old-fashioned*, but i think that many devs and game studios. Seriously they need to watch more old movies, just to try to grasp the idea on how to further exploit what still remain dormant somewhere deep into ourselves.

Maybe it’s time for them to *Dial H for Horror* and get some fresh ideas on how to scare shi@$ those consumers lurking in those dark corners of this digital realm.
Waiting eagerly for a change.

Good night (or day).



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