Highbrow High Score

The Art of Gaming Intellectually

Post-Halloween Horror Reflections

with 3 comments

Halloween always takes me back to my childhood. Although I loved dressing up and trick-r-treating, what I remember the most about the holiday is having sleepovers with my best friend, watching horror movies and playing scary video games. I recall actually feeling terrified as I played the first two Silent Hill games and took turns with the controller when my friend and I got stuck at certain parts.

Atmospheric games like the Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and to some extent, the Resident Evil series seem to have aspired to different standards than today’s horror games. Although each game has their own brand of fright and varying levels of violence, overt gore did not seem as necessary as it maybe today. Fatal Frame, most notably, relied on a camera as your main weapon and expanded on Japanese folk-tales to convey each games story. New horror series like Dead Space tend to accentuate the macabre and focuses mainly on “jump” scares, but did not stay with me the way scenes in Fatal Frame 2 did. While I enjoyed Dead Space and Dead Space 2, it was a much different experience than the puzzle and action mix of earlier horror games.

Can I at least get a bigger camera?

This makes me wonder if system limitations prevented extremely gory games from being produced during the last-gen console era, if ultra-violence is just “in” now, or if I’m just getting overly nostalgic in my old age. The lack of immersive, atmospheric gameplay with the current console generation severely limits the amount of truly frightening psychological games – trading in that experience for cheap scares by horrendous monsters with little in the way of story line. In many newer games, I haven’t been connected enough with any of the characters to feel anything for them.

A tribute to a classic

Are there any newer or even forgotten games that have really scared you recently? I’ve been told I should play Amnesia: The Dark Descent by several people. If you have any suggestions, I would love to try them out.


Written by highbrowhighscore

November 2, 2011 at 5:46 am

3 Responses

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  1. Dark Decent is also on my to play list. I grabbed it and FEAR on the Steam Halloween Sale. Can’t say if it delivers yet, but it was highly reccommended. I have played an hour or two of FEAR. Not sure if it’s scary, but it’s got some elements of creepy. It has some glaring issues with lack of logic though. I’m a cross between Ghostbusters and SWAT and my special skill is my super fast reflexs? And I bust ghosts with real bullets?
    As for the overall idea of horror I think the genre has lost a step or two. Not just in games, but in movies too. I haven’t seen a movie in years that was actually keep me up at night scary; just that same music and things jumping out at you. That’s a major reason I don’t have a big interest in the genre. Maybe what we need are some phsycological thriller games. SH2 could probably be called one. Alan Wake was supposed to epitomize that idea, but apparently missed it’s mark.
    Maybe before the extensive special effects scary had to be created through atmosphere. Now it can be GCI’d in to the point of the game being a fancy haunted house.

    By the way I remember playing RE2 on my N64 with the lights out and door closed, absolutely terrified. Not by the zombies, but by the door openning sequence. It’d kick you to first person and just the door and it’d have the creaking noise and you never knew what was on the other side. That, not the actual monsters, scared me half to death


    November 2, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    • I’ve been meaning to try Alan Wake for a while now… it’s super cheap so may be worth it. I feel the same way about horror films now, for a while there was a spike in “torture porn” movies that were all gore and little to no plot that really killed it for me. Add to that the endless supply of remakes and sequels and the mainstream horror movie industry in America is serious crap. I did see an excellent Spanish movie called “The Orphanage” that the director of “Pan’s Labyrinth” also directed, I believe. Really touching and genuinely scary.

      Did RE2 have the “heartbeat” when you opened doors or was that a later game? For some reason, that really got to me!


      November 3, 2011 at 3:49 am

  2. Now that you mention it, I think RE2 did have the heartbeat, but then again I haven’t played it in a long time.
    Played a bit of Dark Decent. You could probably run it even if your rig is older. It’s not too graphically demanding. It is also definitely scary if you play how it reccommends; lights out and with headphones. It had me a little jumpy and I haven’t even seen a bad guy yet. Worth checking out if it’s still <$5 on Steam.


    November 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm

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