Psychological techniques used in RE7 to create the atmosphere of horror

  • nicknick
  • 01/23/2018 08:38 AM
There are a lot of things we can be scared of. However, it is not enough to gather them in one game to make it bone-chilling. In case of RE7 it was a good combination of using right triggers in the right atmosphere and, of course, beautiful graphics.

I spent 20 hours on it (not counting some time needed to install Windows on my Mac, as it is only available for Windows). Had to delete some old large files but it was worth it – it was hard for me to make a break for dinner and sleep while I was playing.

So what exactly makes RE a top-notch horror game for me?

1. It gives you a feeling of disgust

While playing, you often see mud, cockroaches, maggots, centipedes, wasps, spiders, pools of blood, rotting remains of people and animals and so on. And apart from it, you have to directly get in contact with it: to put your hand into a headless corpse or a toilet bowl filled with goo, or rip off a dead child’s hand.

This fear we get when we see something dirty and potentially infectious is enhanced with a disgust. We aren’t just afraid of them the same way we would be afraid of, for example, predators tigers or lions. This kind of fear is complicated and more pressing.

2. It makes you experience a lightning intrusion of your personal space

In most cases you feel uncomfortable when other people intrude our personal space. Of course, it is far more scarier when you have to deal with monsters that do not attack from distance, but get as close as possible. They also appear out of nowhere.

You are also very vulnerable because of door opening mechanics. To open it up completely you have to use your body weight endangering yourself even more.

3. You do not just lose HP or die – you get realistic injuries

You will get cuts, wounds, burns, and your limbs cut off. And this will make feel disgust – towards yourself.

4. Your enemy is unkillable and unpredictable

You have to survive in an isolated place with unbeatable enemy. Despite your attempts to stop Jack Baker, he will come back to haunt you. And this feeling of powerlessness will keep you alarmed.

Your enemies are also unpredictable and can appear out of nowhere, so your panic will be reasonable. When Jack Baker haunts you, he smashes walls; black goo monsters appear from any dark place or suddenly fall down from ventilation duct.

People that want to help you will be savagely killed, so you will eventually be
left alone with your killer feeling extremely lonely and unprotected.

5. Your field of vision is limited

This approach frees your imagination and you do not benefit from it. You have to always be suspicious and react to every sound. You will be anxious because of doors creaking, water dripping, or telephone ringing.

When you turn to the left or to the right, you cannot avoid turning your back to windows or doors giving monsters a possibility to attack you from behind.

6. You are often claustrophobic

You cannot but feel lack of space being in narrow corridors, flooded rooms with floaters and squeezing through passageways between walls. You understand that you cannot quickly run away from monsters and that worsens your situation.


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A lazy teenager's spirit in a mid 20 adult's body
There's also the on-screen menu minimization in order to offer a more realistic gameplay, felt like a movie sometimes. Dead space 2 was great on that; HP waa in your suit, ammo on your gun, so you don't have any markers or bars in-screen.
Future Ruler of Gam Mak
I agree with all of these points and I didn't even realize the "disgust" factor you mentioned it! Anyone who wants to make horror games, either with RPG maker or with any ther engine can learn a thing or two from Resident Evil 7.

Probably why I played the game so much and still got the chills in many areas. Thanks for this article, it helped me learn one more tactic that RE7 uses to scare the player.
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