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What truly makes a Horror Game scary?

What makes a horror game scary exactly? Is it the gameplay, story, atmosphere, music or a combination of all the above or a mixture of one or the other? Personally I believe it is a combination of all the above. The gameplay and atmosphere should play off each other. For example the first 3 Resident Evil games captured a level of horror that they have not been able to recapture until RE7. The static camera angles combined with the tank controls and the horrific things you encounter in the Spencer Mansion all play into each other. The sheer fact that you can easily mess up your movement and be killed if you panic and do not stay calm and navigate around the obstacles that are the enemies was a great formula for horror.

Combine that with the ink ribbon system and the limited ammo and healing items and you feel like you are unwelcome in the mansion. This isn’t a place you should be in, and whether or whether not you survive is all up to you. The music and story; while campy, all aid in the creation of a horror filled environment that create waves of unease and terror as you try to stay alive and solve the mystery of what exactly happened there and try to get out as quickly as possible.

  • I'd be interesting to compare the first person perspective in RE7 to the older games over the shoulder third person perspective and how they can create tension! – Sean Gadus 3 years ago
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  • Well, fear is subjective. I believe people have to be conditioned to become scared of certain moments. A personal example for me was in RE 4 when I ran into the regenerator. I became scared of it due to missing the thermal scope so I would keep dumping ammo into it with hopes that it would die. I eventually ran out and had to fight it with a knife. So after that everytime, I would hear its heavy breathing I would get anxious. This is why I believe most people get annoyed with jump scares as first of their surprising (not scary), but also you can predict them. Fear does not just happen it has to be built upon. You cannot just insert a background music that sounds spooky and expects people to suddenly become scared. there has to be a reason for the fear. Its why games like Silent Hill 2 and Alien isolation work. As you are playing as a character in a dark oppressive environment who is not suited for combat being chased some form of monster. It is why RE 5-6 do not work as horror games. You're loaded up to the teeth with big guns and ammo. Anything that comes your way in that situation is going to have a closed casket funeral. – Blackcat130 3 years ago
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