Happy belated first post of Simul-tober everyone! Apologies for the delay but not everything is avoidable unfortunately :) ! We’d like to extend our thanks to Cynenway of A Life With Cyn, (an excellent blog that deals all kinds of little slices of life, games included!) for being the first to trade posts with us for this short series! If you enjoy it, be sure to check out their blog and show your support! And now without further ado: Inspiration of Fear by Cynenway!
As with any genre, horror has both its successes, and its failures. There are many different key ingredients they use to inspire fear. You have the atmosphere, the enemies, and your character’s skills (which can be quite terrifying on their own). Not only do they need those aspects, they need the right kind of fear.
There are two different kinds of fear; the fear of the known, and the fear of the unknown. The fear of the known is fairly self-explanatory. If there’s a psychopath racing after you with a knife, then you know what you’re afraid of. Enemies take the place of this in most horror games. Whether you’re surrounded during an ambush, or have simply come across one on an empty street, you know exactly what to be afraid of (as a general rule, usually a sharp object resulting in your death).
There is also the fear of the unknown though, which could be argued as the more crucial of the two in a horror game. Yes, it’s scary when Pyramid Head is chasing you through the hospital labyrinth. Just take a moment to think of yourself standing in a dark empty room. Skittering noises coming from the floorboards. A repeated tapping noise from an indeterminable location. Your imagination instantly tries to fill in the pieces. It could be a tree, but is that as likely as an enemy? Is there someone waiting for you on the other side of the door in the awaiting blackness lurking outside your window? The game doesn’t have to do much to scare you, especially when it’s a horror game and you expect everything to go wrong.
My favorite character of any video game is Robbie the Rabbit (though I suppose it could be argued he’s not a character). Robbie is the mascot of the Lakeside Amusement Park in Silent Hill. You see him all over the park, and you can’t help but expect him to do something. I mean, it’s a horror game, and Robbie is a very, very creepy rabbit. But Robbie never does. He sits there and grins at you. Just this pink bunny with a bloodstained smile and a few stains on his overalls. He is an incredibly effective aspect of that area.
Silent Hill 2 is generally regarded as the best of its series. You have the atmosphere on the town, keeping you constantly on alert, even through an empty section of the street, and you have the enemies that keep you on edge and constantly thinking of your own mortality. From the nurses, to the fog, to the general vacancy of the town, it has a mix of the two kinds of fear that leave few un-rattled.
My family makes a big deal about making me watch horror movies, because all of the ones they have had me watch haven’t scared me (Alien, Poltergeist, etc.), and to this date they still don’t think they’ve found anything that has scared me. But my older brother did when he introduced me to Silent Hill. At first anyway, because I find it and the fear it manipulates much more fascinating than scary.