Friday, 16 August 2013

Well Ain't That Some Scary Sh*t

I am a really big fan of the horror genre. The tense scenes, the adrenaline rush from scares, all of it. But more than anything, one thing I love, is horror games. However, despite my love for these things, I'm pretty hardy when it actually comes to getting scared. For example, I've yet to find a horror movie that actually scares me. I thought The Purge would finally do that, but they went off on a tangent with that one. I've got a whole post on it if you haven't yet saw it. I'm actually beginning to lose faith in horror movies ability to, well, be a horror movie. I have heard promising things from The Conjuring though - infact, my friend told me that the entire cinema screamed at quite a few parts when he saw it. So I'm hoping it'll be good. Anyway, enough about my never ending quest to find an actual scary horror film.

Back to games. There are alot of really interesting Indie horror games out there, aswell as alot of really bad ones. I'm not talking about games such as Slender, or badly done Slender clones. That concept is old and very overused. One example of a bad one comes to mind, a small game named, The Escape. Which, if you've ever played it, you'll know that it was definitely made on the Unreal engine. Made pretty obvious by the lack of custom loading screens, aswell as the default HUD from Unreal. I won't go into detail about that game, but it is truly, truly awful. You should go play it for yourself and just see how awful it is. Just for fun.

Anyway, a couple of really, really good ones come to mind. First off is 1916 - Der Unbekannte Krieg (The War You Never Knew) which is made on the Unity engine, as most indie games are. The idea of this game is that you're a German soldier trying to escape a series of trenches. However, you're not alone. Also in the trenches is a pack of Raptors. This concept could easily be really badly done, and even be laughed at, yet somehow, they've managed to pull it off. There's a constant sense of unease and terror while playing this game, the atmosphere is just brilliant. And the Dinosaurs are not a force to reckoned with. This game does not rely on cheap jumpscares, at all. Well, I wandered around a corner and flipped a brick because there was a Dinosaur only feet away from me. The whole thing is very tense and very fast paced. It all sums up to a really great game. The creator(s) did a really great job on this one. Play it for yourself.

Secondly, is a small game called, Toward The Light - which is again, made on the Unity engine. This one was made for 7DFPS last year. The concept is really simple: you're in a cave, you have to get out of the cave. You also have a flare gun loaded with 7 flares, which you're told to use wisely.
As you're walking through the cave, you become aware that you're not alone. There's a slight pitter-patter of footsteps behind you. You stop. Silence. You look around. Nothing. You continue through the cave. More footsteps. Then you start hearing other noises, small rocks falling around. Just building and building up this feeling of dread.
The lack of music, constant reminder that you're not alone and dead silence when you're still combined with the claustrophobia of the surrounding darkness creates this amazing atmosphere of dread and a desire to escape. Not a desire to beat the game, a desire to escape, as if you're actually part of the game. The immersion is fantastic.
Eventually, you come across a small tunnel in some rocks, as you climb through, a light is visible quite a distance away. Instinct automatically tells you to sprint towards the light, but as soon as you do, a loud roar is heard right behind you and fear takes over, all your sense of reasoning is gone and all your mind lets you do is run.

If you want to play this for yourself, stop reading this now. Go play it, then finish this

On further inspection of this game, I've discovered that there is no monster or any real danger at all. The game is literally just a cave, your character, a flare gun and some sound effects.
What I find really interesting, is that I was more scared playing this game, than I have been playing any other horror game or watching any horror movie.
This game's atmosphere contributed to the whole experience. Which just goes to show, that horror games (and movies) do not need to rely on cheap jumpscares to make it scary. Infact, jumpscares aren't scary, they're startling.
But in this game, once I heard that roar, adrenaline took over, and I was generally terrified. The more work that goes into the atmosphere, the easier it is to immerse the player/viewer, and the easier it is to startle them, constantly have them on their toes, or make them scream like a bitch.

However, there is a problem with the game. As brilliant, immersive, and just terrifying as the atmosphere is, once you realise there is not monster and you are alone, the sense of danger is gone completely. If an actual monster were to be introduced - aslong as it was well done - Toward the Light could become absolutely terrifying.

I spoke with the creator a while ago on Twitter, this is the conversation:
@Jake_Jopling: @TheFuntastic Just played Toward The Light, I freaked out at the ending, haha. Will it be made into a full game? It has ALOT of potential! (:
@TheFuntastic: @Jake_Jopling glad you enjoyed! Have ambitions to do more, but real difficult to get enough time off work to make games ;) 
So hopefully there will be some developments to this game! If you want to play it, link's here. Also, I do believe there is a Toward The Light 2 in the making, it was part of 7DFPS this year. However, it is unfinished. The creator has decided to hold the game back, instead of trying hurry and make it in time for the challenge. Which I am very happy with, the game that has scared me more than anything is getting a sequel with extra care put into it!

So I'm pretty excited to play the second one! I mean, personally, I lost it while playing the original.

And here is, probably the funniest playthrough of the first game so far. Just watch from about 5:30 onwards.

Anyway, that's pretty much all I wanted to say.

Oh! For the record, I am yet to play Amnesia: The Dark Descent, solely because it doesn't get on with Intel's integrated GPUs at all, and I can't afford a one that's more suited for gaming. But I'm getting a new laptop at the end of the month which should be able to play it. But Amnesia: Machine For Pigs is coming out in September, so if my new laptop can run it, I'll probably try that too.

Thanks for reading!

- Jake

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