I was so so so very excited to see two masterminds, Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro, come together to create a new game in one of my all-time favorite series: Silent Hill. Announcing their collaborative work during Gamescom of last year, Konami released a demo under the title “P.T.” In fact, I wrote a bit about the playable teaser and all of its mysterious, eerie and memorable glory HERE, so feel free to click on the link to read my reaction to one of the scariest experiences I have had with a horror game to date. (AND I DIDN’T EVEN PLAY IT!)
|The Evil Within
Release Date: Oct 21st, 2014
This is being said without having played Bethesda’s new title, The Evil Within, which is supposedly going to restore all faith in survival horror fans out there. Taking a look back at some of my favorite horror games, I found that there were certain elements necessary to give it that right amount of thrill.
The backdrop in anything in horror media is very important. Skimp on the detail and it becomes somewhat hard to understand. Granted there are some of the staples in horror titles.
1000% Sound. In my experience (and some experiences with my Survival-Horror companion, IC Santi), the sound is a huge advocate of fear. Try watching a scary movie with the sound muted, feel as your heart remains at a steady, healthy beat. Again, Silent Hill was lucky enough to have producer and musician Akira Yamaoka on the team. When they started adding the sultry sounds of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn to add lyrics to the already haunting melodies, it made it even better. Slender‘s title character Slenderman has some pretty fearsome cues, too. The music picks up and the characters breathing becomes panicked, and the sound effects are even more jarring when you see him. Minor things like the squeaking of a door or random wheelchair coming into the hall, or major things like a roaring beast in your midst or SH’s Pyramid Head and his sword are all sounds that will make you, your character (or both) turn around. Make sure you wear headphones for this very reason!
|Harry Mason, Silent Hill|
Silent Hill was one of my favorite series. I say was, only because I haven’t had the chance to play Silent Hill: Downpour or Book of Memories for the PSVita. What I do know, however, is that the franchise started strong. Back on PS1, Harry Mason was just an average Joe who couldn’t shoot a gun–he was just a dad in search of his daughter. Down the line, I realize that he being an average Joe was the reason behind him not being able to wield a gun as well as Chris Redfield or any of the guys from Call of Duty. Harry Mason was sucked into a hell-hole of a town, bombarded by monsters, overwhelmed by the battle of heaven and hell, but he still fought against those forces to find his little girl and save her soul. In the game, you will die. If you put the game on the hardest difficulty, you will die a lot. Some places remain silent, where shrieking violins may have been appropriate, but some of the cutscenes or places where Harry treads are void of any sound except for his heavy footsteps. Puzzles litter the way through the town, much like in Resident Evil where it requires you to find keys of a certain type to open up doors to the next areas. Not too many jumpscares, not too many gruesome baddies either. Mostly just shadows or figments of your imagination crawl by, images sweep over the walls that would haunt you forever.
|Bella, from Siren: Blood Curse|
Another unforgettable moment I have in a survival horror game was with Siren: Blood Curse on Playstation 3. The episodic venture takes you through the various perspectives of several characters in the game, ranging from a dog, a teenage boy, a career driven father and even the innocence of a little girl who happened to tag along. All of the characters have the ability to “sight jack” or link in with the vision of the monsters, that way you can learn their patrol and move safely. Now, why anyone would actually take their child to a nasty place like haunted Japan is beyond me, but the vulnerability and heart-pounding episode I had to take on as the little girl found me constantly finding places to hide (including an oven) and was spent in long periods of time with me IRL biting my nails and waiting for the bad people to pass while the poor little girl waited in pure darkness.
|Resident Evil 2|
No, I didn’t forget… Resident Evil is a major player in this ring. I rented this game on a whim, and ended up loving it. It started with some major scare cred, and in its recent installments become an action thriller more than survival horror. There is hope for Capcom to continue with the Resident Evil series, as there is so much you can do with the T-Virus/G-Virus/Plagas Parasite angles to continue, but until that day comes…I’m still quite saddened to see the lackluster efforts placed into this once thriving genre. Since the popularity and fascination of zombies has taken over the mainstream media, lots of games like Dead Rising, Dead Island, Deadlight, have become quite popular. (See a pattern here?) … Psst: Zombies aren’t he only supernatural, dark, evil creatures out there!!! Alan Wake was a great way to incorporate psychological horror over physical gore. Writer Sam Lake emphasizes the horror aspects found in [Alan’s] mind to be scarier than some of the gore out there.
|Fatal Frame 3: The Tormented|
Pictures Source: Google Images, Wikipedia