I’m a grown-ass man who’s finally coming to the realization that horror games scare the living bejeesus out of me. It took a little while to come to grips with the fact that many scary games just aren’t fun to play. Think about it. During the last generation, Silent Hill 2 was the king of survival horror (Resident Evil 4 barely counts). During my playthrough with Silent Hill 2, I remember just feeling bad about things. The game got in my head. The feeling wasn’t a “I’m really scared to turn a corner” feeling. It was an all-encompassing fear of dread, the unknown and any other macabre horror creeping down my spine. The end reveal of “Oh, I smothered my girlfriend” made me feel bad in the way that I remember all my past embarrassments and flaws in my soul. It was an experience for sure. These days, I can’t really deal with that.
I don’t quantify the more recent Resident Evil games because having Spaniards run at me in a castle while it’s overcast and I clip away their brains with overpowered guns does not count as horror. It was around this time, survival horror and psychological horror got confused in their directions with less clunky controls and refined gamer taste. Silent Hill went down the tubes and Resident Evil got action-y. Fatal Frame retained the dread of peeking around corners, while Eternal Darkness had only one life to shine. Dead Space was the first game in ages that – to me – solidly mixed action, horror, jump scares, the unknown and more. Coupled with a sci-fi setting and I was hooked, even though this exact premise may be the reason I play it. Unlike Silent Hill 2 revealing the worst of the player, Dead Space was a vacation in another life – an honest disconnect to me.”I’ve never been to space, so I’m okay!”
Now the indie game revolution is attempting to get me to shit my pantaloons with its unrestricted gameplay and unabashed pursuit of psychological terror. These games are made by people fed up with current horror (again, the refined and processed action-horror that I can digest). Games like Amnesia, Slender and Anna take us back to our fear of the dark, our love of adventure and our realization that we might not be alive that much longer.
I can’t do it! I own the first two of these games and after watching some playthroughs by other players, know that these games are ready to assault my psyche far worse than any run-of-the-mill theme park attraction. These games are challenging me to play, the gold medal being survival and an acknowledgement that yes, they scared me.
Or I could watch these hilarious videos that keep me away from the driver’s seat, but let me know exactly the fear that I’m missing out on. Enjoy.