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Daily Poll 238 Discussion: What makes a horror game scary?

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  • Daily Poll 238 Discussion: What makes a horror game scary?

    Last Daily Poll was if you'd be playing horror games today. Check it out here:

    Since it's Halloween I figured I do something related to horror again. Horror is a genre with a lot of duds. So many movies and games try to freak you out with jump scares. It's pretty rare to see a horror game or movie that does something actually scary and executes it well. I'm not that into horror so I want ask you guys what makes a horror game scary to you.

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  • #2
    For me a good horror game is one that does not rely on jump scares to get you scared.

    One good example it's Darkwood (Pc & Consoles), it never uses jump scares and it feels naturally spooky as you explore or find more information about the dark twisted world.

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    • #3
      Making what you DON'T see creepy, atmospheric and scary.


      • #4
        Basically making your imagination work, a good intriguing mystery, making the player doubt himself aka "science vs supermatural" and making your own brain make "the scary" for you. Shadows, creepy things in reflections, etc. NOT monsters chasing you, not cheap jumpscares, not limiting ammunition.
        Last edited by Latham; 10-31-2019, 11:08 PM.


        • #5
          A horror game needs to make things unpredictable. The player's safety needs to be unreliable. The player shouldn't be allowed to trust what they have, what they see and what they hear. You need to make it difficult for the player to "crack the code" of the game to make it all consistent, because when one can see into the future they're unstoppable. So the key is vulnerability. Unstoppability is the opposite of vulnerability. Unstoppability stems from consistency. Only unpredictability can salvage a horror game, and it can't just be random, because true randomness can in theory produce an infinite sequence of unfairness. Managing the limited amount of safety and advantage that the player is given is challenging but when it works then that separates great horror from just horror.


          • #6
            Movies and games are good for jump starts but don't scare me.

            Now some dude in a suit saying "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.", that scares me.
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            • Necromancerx69
              Necromancerx69 commented
              Editing a comment
              Worse if they work for the SCP foundation.

          • #7
            For me, aside from atmosphere and immersion, it's fear of death creating tension that heightens feelings of uncertainty and unease. Whether that's sudden events, panic inducing sustained aggression, ominous sound design or triptophobic forms.

            Evil Within 1 really did it for me. Before that Silent Hill 1, and stuff like the chainsaw guy in RE4 or Mr X in RE2 remake would get me sitting up straight, feeling on edge. I also found the ambient music in the PS1 version of Doom, by Aubrey Hodges, really unsettled me with demonic energy and good sound design, when I was young. So I think gameplay oriented games actually engage my senses more.

            I find the darker aspects of From Software Soulsborne titles can be counted as horror for me. At least the first time through, before you become a savant and know it like the back of your hand. Specifically the original Demon's Souls, when it really was all new.

            Like movies, I don't think of the horror genre as just scary stuff though. It's a great theme, from Castlevania and Ghouls & Ghosts on up to Until Dawn and Alien Isolation.


            • #8
              Definitely not scripted jump scares. That makes them annoying.

              The atmosphere, the sound design, unpredictability, genuine fear for one's life (the character's at least)

              To me System Shock 2 was more scary which is not a horror game per-se, than lots of self-proclaimed horror flicks.

              And of course Clive Barker's: Unbearded Quartering
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              • #9
                What makes a horror game spooky are the thoughts in your head. It depends on the player how deep he immerses and thinks of all the bad things that could happen, so he has fear of pain, fear of dying, fear of losing someone and the more the player thinks / the more trouble he sees, the more he panics and is scared of things.

                If you would know beforehand, that in this particular horror game you are going to play, there will be no enemies attacking you, the bluff of scary things sounds and hints who maybe could attack you isn't scary anymore to you, because you already know they're not going to attack. But it would have been scary if you were unsure about that. Also, if you would not know that noone will attack you, but you were just like "ah it's just a game, push some buttons, this is not real" by which I mean not immersing into the situation it would also not be scary to you. Scariness of a horror game depends on the thoughts of the player.