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It seems a customary tradition to lament the release of a new Resident Evilgame by simultaneously roasting it’s flaws and referencing the greatness of previous games in the franchise. The criticisms of the Resident Evil franchise have been measured by fans complaints of how far the once mighty series has fallen. Aside from the outstanding HD Remake of the original game last January, the Resident Evilseries is in desperate need of some good news. Resident Evil Revelations 2, much like its predecessor, is a small step in the right direction. It’s the closest any Resident Evil game has come to matching the greatness of previous titles but that’s not exactly saying much.
I learned very quickly that there’s nowhere to hide in Alien: Isolation and there are so many ways to get yourself killed. If you run too fast, you’re dead. If the Alien sees you, you’re dead. Oh, you fired a gun at the enemy android? Guess what? The Alien heard that, you’re dead. You’re in the middle of saving? The Alien says “hello.” You stayed in the locker too long; silly human, you’re dead. Nothing inspires fear quicker than paranoia around the most mundane actions. Now, wrap this moment-to-moment gameplay around a strategic crafting system and an incredible atmosphere. The result is, in my mind, the best designed game of the year.
In the spirit of the holidays (with today being Halloween), it feels to appropriate to discuss the use of horror in video games. Specifically I want to answer the question: What makes a video game scary?
There are a lot of elements to fear in video games. The interactive nature of the medium makes fear such an effective form of entertainment. A game can scare players even after they’ve put down the controller. Unlike a movie or a book, a game can make a player experience fear directly and that’s what makes the genre so appealing in games. After some careful pondering, I’ve determined that there are three crucial elements to making any game scary.
Starting this week I’ll be counting down the top three games of 2012, leading up to choice for the best game released this year. Please keep in mind that I can’t talk about a game unless I’ve played it so if your favorite game is left out, then most likely I didn’t play it.
Slender is an independent horror game that was released in June for the PC. There isn’t a better antithesis of the big-budget triple-A video game than Slender: The Eight Pages. Slender was not released so much as it was discovered. There was no marketing campaign, and it’s free. It’s a first-person horror game and a damn good one at that.
The player controls a young child in the middle of a forest at night. Visibility is very poor as a dense fog shrouds the forest. You have no weapons or items except for a flashlight, with a draining battery, that can be turned on and off. You can briefly sprint but the distance you can run lessens with use. Upon starting the game, the player is told to collect eight pages.