The PC has been a great platform for Horror games in the past with the likes of “Alone in the Dark,” Penumbra, Phantasmagoria and many others which are buried in every PC gamers’ hearts as all-time classics.
With the Horror video game genre recently rejuvenated by “Amnesia” without really re-inventing the wheel and by just getting the basics right. Let’s take a look at what are some of the key elements of a “Horror game” by today’s standards.
The camera plays a very important role in horror games and is deliberately meant to inspire a sense of claustrophobia in the player. You don’t know what’s lurking around the corner. I personally prefer the third person view which really makes for some interesting gameplay and atmosphere. The fact that you can see your character makes the whole situation more believable and tense at the same time. I remember playing Resident Evil: Veronica on my Dreamcast and getting the shit scared out of me on many occasions with the third person camera view. Although the first person mode is also very scary, if you look at the likes of Amnesia which is probably the most scariest games of this generation, developed by “Frictional Games” creators of the Penumbra series, another one of those classic PC Horror game franchises.
Atmosphere is another key aspect of horror games that plays an important role, which in horror games in many ways is oppressive enough to make you feel afraid. Empty castles and deserted mansions are a reoccurring feature in horror games as the sense of loneliness creeps in much more easily in close quarters and adds to the tension leaving players with less open space to run into and keep themselves from being seen. The music and sound score is just as important and game developers try to put a lot of effort in trying to set the players mood during different instances of the game.
The lack of ammunition is another thing that adds to the situation, putting pressure on the players to economize as they move forward in the game with little to none indication of the menace they might encounter in a few minutes. Unlike FPS/Action games which set-up as empowerment fantasies, the weapons in Horror games aren’t as powerful and make the players feel vulnerable at all times which is a good thing for Horror games.
With the player being alone for the most parts, many horror games resort to the use of manuscripts and notes as narration tools for the story or voices of characters without actually seeing them, which is another tested method, as used in Bioshock, a FPS game that can be considered a “Horror Pc games” if it wasn’t for the multitude of weapons available to the player to get rid of the enemy.