Where have the scares gone?

October is coming to an end and Halloween is just a day away! It’s the time of the year when everyone finds themselves getting into the spooky mood and scaring themselves for giggles — one of the ways I recommend is picking up some horror video games.

There’s always bound to be a horror game that is released each Halloween and in this case it’s The Evil Within 2. Having picked this game up and with recent horror games having been released, I’ve been wondering: what ever happened to survival horror games and why aren’t they as scary as they use to be?

Playing The Evil Within 2, it seems that horror games now are always tied in with a little action, but having a gun in the character’s hand takes the thrill away as you can easily defend yourself from predators in the game. The game seems like a combination of The Last of Us and Resident Evil 4. As much as I enjoyed the game with all of its gore and a few good jump scares, it leaves out one aspect that I crave for the most in horror games. That aspect being psychological horror.

After having a taste of P.T., Hideo Kojima’s teaser for the cancelled Silent Hills (a moment of silence for this game), where the player explores through the same corridor leaving a sense of dread constantly throughout the whole playthrough and dead spoopy babies in sinks. The atmosphere in this game was amazing, it seriously rattled my bones.

This game left me hanging for a taste of it again for future games. The dread of opening a closed door and not knowing what’s on the other side of it, having nothing but a camera to fend off ghosts like Fatal Frame or even being completely defenseless just like in ‘Amnesia: The Dark Descent’. Having said that, I wish there were more games from the good ol’ days but maybe it just isn’t working out anymore.

Recently EA has announced how Visceral Games would be closing down and this news was pretty disappointing for fans of the Dead Space series, one of Visceral’s largest franchise which is about the protagonist of the survival horror trilogy, Isaac Clarke fight against xenomorphs in a futuristic sci-fi setting.

However, Dead Space 3 in particular was critiqued on how its action elements have outweighed the horror elements and left the game’s sales low. Former senior level designer, Zach Wilson chimed in on why survival horror games have a tough time in today’s market via an interview published by Games Industry.

“Survival horror is hard. Horror games in general are expensive to make and hard to sell. People would give us the feedback that they love Dead Space but don’t buy it cause it’s too scary. Kind of works against itself.”

The statement that was made by Wilson is unfortunately backed by numbers. Despite how Resident Evil 7 was well received and considered to be a successful return to the horror franchise, it took nearly a year to achieve its initial sales expectation.

It seems to me that nobody really cares for horror games anymore. There was a time when everyone would talk about Slenderman or Silent Hill, asking me if I’ve tried it out before. But now if I ask my friends about recent horror games, they wouldn’t even realise that the game had been released and they would brush it away having no interest in it at all.

Having said that, I don’t think horror games are about to die off any time soon. Some people have said to me that survival horror games are dead because none are made like they used to anymore but I beg to differ, I still enjoy this new age of horror games with action but it would definitely be nice to have another ‘Silent Hill 2’ once in awhile for friends to huddle under the blanket and scream.

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