What does it take to scare a gamer?
Its a simple question, but a rather revealing one. For the most part gamers have been staring at screens filled with blood and gore since Doom first hit the scene, yet for some reason first person shooters (despite the constant threat of death) don’t really make people afraid. When playing a FPS you generally rely on your own skills, having enough faith in them that you never doubt that you could take on an entire room filled with enemies toting automatic weapons. Ever notice how your heart rate increases when you’re out of ammo and someone is just around the corner, its at that point when you realize that short of a miracle only quick thinking and even quicker reflexes will be the only thing that saves you.
When I was going over this in my head I kept coming back to Dead Space, which let me just say… is the scariest game ever made. I’ve played my fair share of Resident Evil and Silent Hill games, I’ve beaten Doom 3 and FEAR, I’ve been scared before, but I’ve never felt absolute dread the way I did while playing Dead Space.
In a recent interview with Game Informer, executive producer Steve Papoutsis stated “What we discovered is people were – believe it or not – too scared playing Dead Space.” and I believe he is absolutely correct.
Gamers are conditioned to be collectors. Think back to the days of Mario, do you really have any idea why you were collecting those coins? Because they were there, that’s why. And now you’re all grown up, but you still search every room, find every chest, collecting everything you can find. With this in mind there comes a point in most survival horror games where the enemies are more of a bother than an actual threat, you have a BFG and enough ammunition to handle a horde of flesh eating zombies, and enough healing items to survive dying twenty times over, so where is the fear?
With a revolutionary title like Dead Space released last year and a number of potentially scary games coming out this year (Alien vs Predator, Alan Wake, Silent Hill: Shattered, Bioshock 2) will we see a change in developer’s attitudes and general approach to survival horror, or will we see more of the same?
Frankly it was about time the survival horror genre got a spark of life and I look forward to what’s to come.
– Dr Strange Lulz