Horror games seemed to have taken off. Long ago were the times when you and your faithful friend (who would never betray you), Wesker would wander around an abandoned mansion with pixelated zombies creeping after you. No, now we have Dead Space, Left for Dead and a Silent Hill game that is actually good (I know, right!) This article is going to kind of sway more towards your Indie horror game, like Slender: The Eight Pages, because I have noticed a massive boom in that area of the industry. These games are often simple, but some of them are simply terrifying. I have already reviewed ‘The Witch’s House’ and if you have a few hours you want to kill being scared out of your mind, it is the perfect game for you. Clean sheets are for dweebs anyway.

This article is kind of directed towards Indie game developers. Seeing as a lot of games I have played come from people at home, downloading software and crafting these experiences for fun rather than for a gaming company, I offer friendly advice as a consumer of these games. Just little things I would like to see smoothed out. This is just some constructive criticism I have collated in the hopes that someone out there will take heed and maybe get inspired to make the ultimate gaming experience. Who knows? Maybe one of you will come out with the next Slender.

Slender. Let’s start with Slender. I love the game, because it is simple. You play a character (it changes, depending on the version), going around a map, collecting pages. As you get further, the dreaded Slenderman comes after you and it’s a race against time to get them all, before he takes your soul. It’s simple, but it works. The pages are randomly spawned (maybe not random enough, but that’s nit-picking a great game), so every game is different. However, as a drawback, almost every horror game I have played feels like a reworked version of Slender. Take Death Unknown for example:

To give you a good idea on the style of these games, I am going to post clips of LD Shadowlady playing them. She is the go-to Youtuber when it comes to scary games. Please give her videos a like and even a subscribe. Her onesie fashion sense is worth it alone.

Death Unknown feels like a carbon copy of Slender, but with a different baddie. We have a dark map, which you wander around, until something grabs you. It does feel a little unimaginative. Sure, it makes you jump and is probably worth a play, but it isn’t really any more than that. Slender was good, because it was a totally different experience from anything. It gave us the kind of horror game we are waiting for. ‘Death Unknown’, while there is nothing drastically wrong with it, doesn’t commit to the memory and therefore cannot achieve the success I want it to. It also has another problem, but I think that there is a better game that highlights that particular problem. Over to you, LD Shadowlady.

This game is Pizza Delivery and there are many problems here, especially the fact it is based on pizza. (Jokes aside, I actually really liked the pizza delivery set-up. It was an original way to approach a tried haunted house story). No, the main flaw here is that the structure of the game is really rigid. The game is basically ‘do this, do that, ooh, a ghost’. I have no intention of ever playing this game, as LD Shadowlady has just covered everything we need to know about the game in that video. I get that horror games are meant to be rigid (there is no open world aspect to Dead Space), but there needs to be some sense of open world. Even if it is as simple as ‘Death Unknown’ where if you take time to look in the wardrobe, there is a little bonus scare for you.

Horror games are so much scarier that horror movies, because it is us that is in the middle of the danger. When a character in a horror movie does something stupid, we distance ourselves from that person. When the demon caterpillar (screenplay in production) gets the stupid character, we care less. In a game every character that results in a death is down to you. This is a horror game’s secret weapon and a game like ‘Pizza Delivery’ takes this away from a game. We are hiding in a cupboard from a Minotaur… why did the game think I would do this? There is nothing worse than playing a character you have nothing in common with.

This is why ‘The Witch’s House’ is my favourite Indie horror to date. It gives you a free reign of the map and there are little bonuses for you, if you do decide to come off the beaten path. Sure, there is only really one (or two – there’s a bonus ending I haven’t found yet) direction to go, but the game lets you take your time getting there, unlike ‘Pizza Delivery’ that wants you to rush to the ending, defying logic along the way. Also on a side-note, it has puzzles as well as being scary. There is nothing more terrifying that a jump scare getting you, when you are so busy working out how to solve a riddle that you momentarily forget that you are playing a horror game.

So yeah, these are my little thoughts that I hope someone takes into consideration. I love horror games, but I think the genre has kind of slowed down a little. This is my way of giving it a friendly shove and encouraging more great games to come out of Indie companies.

One thought on “Tips for Making a Great Horror Game

  1. Pingback: Liebster Award | Films and Things

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