For lovers of horror, the Halloween season is the perfect time to indulge. Whether this takes the form of dressing up in costumes, decorating homes or trick-or-treating, Americans love to celebrate in the spookiest ways possible. Watching scary movies are also a time-honored tradition, but some feel that these films have started to lose their touch — few modern films are genuinely scary anymore. A better choice would be to put away the DVD and pick up a horror video game. There are few experiences more terrifying than those found in horror games such as Anatomy, Amnesia or Limbo.
A horror game like Amnesia immediately thrusts players into a situation enveloped by uncertainty. Besides a few slides of instructions on basic controls, players do not know what has happened or what dangers may befall them. Humans have an innate fear of the unknown, and these games — unlike recent horror flicks, which rely heavily on predictable jump scares — exploit these fears in order to be truly terrifying. Every aspect of the environment, every eerie sound, every pounding pulse builds a sense of existential dread by painting a contextual picture of the horrors to come. The most terrifying part of it all is that though players have their fingers on the controls, the games are designed in such a way that they are helplessly drawn to the horrors lurking the darkness. The video game experience isn’t at all like a horror movie, where removed viewers watch actors live through traumatic experiences and have the comfort of averting their eyes. Games make a player have to choose to open each eerie door to certain doom, and people do exactly that because they are scared of not knowing what lies behind it.
For those concerned with not being able to play these horror games with other people, many horror games, such as Alien Isolation, are more fun and frightening to play in groups. Unlike horror movies where the audience doesn’t really identify with the characters they observe, players are the right next to their friends while they experience the game. Now, people who scream, “don’t go into the basement!,” feel like they can actually help the person evade danger, and that false hope makes the experience of losing the game all the more stomach turning.
There are already a vast number of underappreciated horror games that are potentially more fun and scary to experience than horror films, so just give them a chance. Those who are tired of the formulaic approach of horror movies may want to experiment with horror games instead.
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