WHAT DO YOU LIKE OR DISLIKE ABOUT RM HORROR GAMES?

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Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
Yeah mang, don't overreach here. The actual response is:

1) Oh, more true crime stuff. That's... not especially compelling for me in horror.

2) There's a vast difference in how one reacts to factual accounts versus fictional ones, which makes it very difficult to replicate the former in the latter.

Like I regularly expose myself to true crime stuff, because it's interesting, but I don't consider it effective horror specifically because it's (comparatively) normal, everyday stuff. I feel no real existential dread in response to it, other than empathy for the victims, and nearly every attempt to fictionalize the stuff just ends up really clunky.

So yeah, in the future maybe consider that there are reasons to be flippant about something beyond "OH NO I MUST CLUTCH MY PEARLS!!!"
I like horror games because they can give you a lot to think about. Yume Nikki had me thinking about what exactly made Madotsuki dream these weird and bleak things, and why the only way she would leave her room was off of her balcony. OFF presented the player & player character relationship and how players tend to assume the PC they play as is the hero unless told otherwise, and the morality of the world presented in it. The witch's house didn't have much plot content, but it did leave me wondering what happens to Viola & her father after the fact.

Horror is one of the few genres where you can give players a bad ending without them being disappointed. You can explore all sorts of odd concepts with the genre you can't do with others.

Horror games can also provide some really cool settings, like Ib's museum, Lisa the First's crazy weird area after the house, and Dreaming Mary's dream world. I love settings like that. I don't think you have to stick with surreal stuff for horror of course, Forest of Drizzling Rain's spooky town with a spooky history was a great location to set up a horror story in (and you can do it in RTP). An interesting setting is the base of good level design & atmosphere, two of the most important aspects in horror.

The game part of horror game can vary from game to game. I think Ib was a good game because of how much thought was given to it's puzzles and the multiple opportunities you got to go back and explore the rest of the museum. It wasn't too spooky, but it was enjoyable to play. Some games try to scare you via the gameplay, others, the story. Games that do both are fantastic, but it's hard to pull off.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
I think Ib also worked well because it had a decently realized setting and good enough character writing to get the player at least slightly invested in the characters' fates.

I'm on the fence whether I'd count OFF as a horror; it contains a lot of horrific things, but I'm not sure it really fits. Of course, I also tend to interpret its ending very differently from most people I've seen, so that may be part of it.
Dragnfly
Beta testers!? No, this game needs a goddamn exorcist!
1809
author=Sooz
I think Ib also worked well because it had a decently realized setting and good enough character writing to get the player at least slightly invested in the characters' fates.

I'm on the fence whether I'd count OFF as a horror; it contains a lot of horrific things, but I'm not sure it really fits. Of course, I also tend to interpret its ending very differently from most people I've seen, so that may be part of it.


I don't count Off as horror either. It has distinct horror elements but the feeling as a whole was more of an adventure to me. Kind of like Angels of Death. Lots of horror elements but the focus was clearly not on scaring you.

Schuld is was a pretty good example to me of "just horror enough"

Also, anyone who liked The Witches House absolutely MUST read The Diary of Ellen (trans by vgperson). That thing was excellent. Just make sure you beat the game first.
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
15558
from -deadloli-
Nowadays, it takes the likes of cosmic horror and splatterpunk to bring us to a level that actually makes us feel anything. When was the last time you were genuinely afraid of a vampire movie or a Jason film?

That's what horror game makers these days have wrong, and not just the indie ones.

Atmosphere, art direction, character investment, slow pacing, etc. aren't going to do you any good when you're essentially trying to emulate shitty PS1 haunted mansion/town games from the 90's. You need something that's either disgustngly visceral or psychologically disturbing enough to keep you paranoid long after you've turned off the computer and into the late hours of the night.

But that's just it. Like I said, different people are scared of different things. Rephrased, some people are more easily scared than others. Those tired old gimmicks aren't enough to frighten you anymore, but it's not like the entire human race got over horror alongside you. You may need the intensity turned up for something to deeply disturb you, but others (especially those less exposed to horror) may not even be able to handle something of that caliber. Maybe experiencing Dooms at such an early age turned you into a horror connoisseur?

Point is, there's a spectrum of horror from mild to non-euclidian and you can't say most of it's invalid just because it no longer scares you.
author=Archeia_Nessiah
The closest RM game that I experienced this was Sayako

Reading this depressed me a little. I've tried so goddamn hard to revive this project so many times and failed, for many reasons, personal ones and not. Maybe this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but to some extent I do feel like it's a cursed project. Perhaps it's about time I gave it another shot ...

My take on this topic is, horror games in general are kinda heading down the rabbit hole of "why reinvent anything when we can stick to the tradition that has worked for years"—which at best will only scratch an itch and give you a nostalgia trip, instead of the experience you once had playing horror games for the first time. This plagues JRPGs too and it's worrying.

There are certain other spaces you can explore with the horror genre, and none of them has anything to do with the intention to SCARE people. If you've ever read Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, you know that they're never called horror stories or whatever. They're just stories. Edgar's stories. And yet there's a persistent creepy feeling engulfing the atmosphere. It comes from Edgar completely abandoning the intention of giving people the heebee-jeebees, and just getting on with creating a thing that is as disturbing as his mind can come up with. It comes from the reader's understanding that Edgar does not intend to scare them, and it's just that his head is simply twisted.

Translating this to video games, one thing you can try is to set out to make a horror game without ANY jumpscares at all. With that limitation, you can find certain nuances in some other unexplored spaces. And you'll be surprised by human's ability to form patterns amongst chaos.

Another thing to remember is that once the player has seen the worst that could happen in a horror game, eventually they'll get used to it and it'll lose its effects. This is the reason why a lot of horror games like Outlast and the newest Resident Evil do not work, especially for people bad at video games. Because they keep dying and death gets old. Fast. So make sure that death does not come cheap, or that people never find out that it is so.

Also, the new Resident Evil is GROTESQUE. Not horror.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
author=EvilEagles
My take on this topic is, horror games in general are kinda heading down the rabbit hole of "why reinvent anything when we can stick to the tradition that has worked for years"—which at best will only scratch an itch and give you a nostalgia trip, instead of the experience you once had playing horror games for the first time. This plagues JRPGs too and it's worrying.


I don't think it's particularly worrying, really; it's just the state of any creative field, especially ones with a lot of amateur content and/or a low bar of entry. Most people are not interested in pushing the envelope because most people really like where the envelope is. This doesn't mean that there aren't people trying to push, just that the majority either don't see the need or has trouble visualizing a way to be different.

I expect you'd find exactly the same thing if you delved into any popular genre. Even unpopular ones, really.

Another thing to remember is that once the player has seen the worst that could happen in a horror game, eventually they'll get used to it and it'll lose its effects. This is the reason why a lot of horror games like Outlast and the newest Resident Evil do not work, especially for people bad at video games. Because they keep dying and death gets old. Fast. So make sure that death does not come cheap, or that people never find out that it is so.


Honestly, this is weird coming off of your paragraph about atmosphere; I felt that Outlast's horror was not "danger danger!" but the exploration of man's inhumanity to man. (Also a does of fear of the Other, which I'm less keen on.) The chase segments are somewhat clunky, to be sure, but the real horror in my eyes is the entire setting, and I felt Outlast delivered that quite well.
author=Sooz
Honestly, this is weird coming off of your paragraph about atmosphere; I felt that Outlast's horror was not "danger danger!" but the exploration of man's inhumanity to man. (Also a does of fear of the Other, which I'm less keen on.) The chase segments are somewhat clunky, to be sure, but the real horror in my eyes is the entire setting, and I felt Outlast delivered that quite well.

I said make sure death does not come cheap, which is to preserve the intensity of what's usually supposed to be the worst outcome, not make sure death never happens.

Outlast "delivered it quite well" until you realized the worst thing that could happen is you lose 5 minutes of progress and in return you gain the knowledge of what exactly is going to happen behind that door.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
Really I never felt like anything that would happen to the protag was the real horror, tho. It's more about the situation.
Yes the real horror lies within the situation in which you have to sit through such a bad game.
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4773
author=EvilEagles
author=Sooz
Honestly, this is weird coming off of your paragraph about atmosphere; I felt that Outlast's horror was not "danger danger!" but the exploration of man's inhumanity to man. (Also a does of fear of the Other, which I'm less keen on.) The chase segments are somewhat clunky, to be sure, but the real horror in my eyes is the entire setting, and I felt Outlast delivered that quite well.
I said make sure death does not come cheap, which is to preserve the intensity of what's usually supposed to be the worst outcome, not make sure death never happens.

Outlast "delivered it quite well" until you realized the worst thing that could happen is you lose 5 minutes of progress and in return you gain the knowledge of what exactly is going to happen behind that door.
Isn't that the point though? Or at least part of it. (not just Outlast but most horror games if not 99%) I don't think that's a bad thing or the worst thing to happen.

edit: And yeah, this actually covers most games/genres. It's certainly not a bad thing. That's all games at their core unless after as game over the entire game changes.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
With the exception of games that don't have a Game Over.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
OK so I was thinking over the idea of death being cheap in games like Outlast, and it seems kind of a conundrum: you want players to die in order to have a sense of threat, but if you have them die too much, it lessens the impact.

How can one balance this and retain an effective horror game?
Vandriette
"The purpose of life is to end." -Agent Smith
1778
author=Sooz
OK so I was thinking over the idea of death being cheap in games like Outlast, and it seems kind of a conundrum: you want players to die in order to have a sense of threat, but if you have them die too much, it lessens the impact.

How can one balance this and retain an effective horror game?


Has it been balanced before? I would try to make it so that the players can die, but not so much, while at the same time, keeping the threat at large. Does that make sense?

Fear/Enjoyment is all about perspective, and some people will just not like dying.
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4773
Giving the player juuust enough healing items to feel safe after taking heavy damage or coming into a situation where death is possible.
Dragnfly
Beta testers!? No, this game needs a goddamn exorcist!
1809
Adventure games solved that ages ago, but the problem is very genre-specific.

Basically, dying all the time gets annoying. Dying all the time at the same spot gets annoying. In an adventure game or even some RPGs you're not likely to die at the same spot repeatedly. You try what you think is the solution, it doesn't work, so you try another way and that's usually the answer.

Things that make death annoying are generally (but not limited to)
-not understanding what killed you
-long unskippable death animations or annoying death sounds
-long lead-up to that scene with no save
-repeated, rapid death
-dying due to bugs
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4773
^RE 6 is pretty bad about what DF said. While RE2 has a good grasp of death in horror games, and what you can do differently very easily.
Dragnfly
Beta testers!? No, this game needs a goddamn exorcist!
1809
Games with realtime action like RE both magnify the problem and make it easier to solve at the same time.

(thanks)
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