Screen Critics Madison explores the three factors that make horror games so successful – and why so many fail to hit the mark.
Horror games all have their own special touch, but there are some core principles that make up a successful horror title. From the storyline to the scares, there are some requirements to fill in order to sell a genuinely scary game. Although there are many different genres of horror, each game can have similar qualities to make them memorable and a stand-out from the rest. From Resident Evil to Five Nights at Freddies, each game can be its own beast. Here, I will list the top three factors that make up a worthwhile horror game that is memorable, terrifying, and even tear-jerking.
Lore and an in-depth plot is what can really take a simple horror game to the next level. What makes it even better: when the plot is not fully revealed and there is mystery for the players to solve. Take Sally Face or Five Nights at Freddy’s as examples.
While they are two very different types of horror, they both have one big factor in common: both games have a complicated storyline with lots of cliffhangers and mystery. This really adds to the entire scary and tense experience is the hook that draws a player into the game allows them fully immerse themselves in it.
Adding another emotion besides fear can draw a player in even more. Whether it is sadness, humor, or confusion, having another main emotion besides fear adds more layers to a horror game. A new game that was released called Narcosis could be an example of this. It combines fear with panic, exploration, and curiosity.
Having the entire ocean depths to explore while having the feeling of fear really took it to the next level. Sister Location is another example of this. This horror game combined humor with anticipation and fear. It was a great move and a nice way to change up the series a bit. Having multiple feelings and layers to a horror game is important to draw a player in and make them more interested.
Another factor that greatly helps a horror game be more successful is keeping the surprising scares to a minimum. Unless the game is solely based around jump scares and the fear factor, it is best to use the atmosphere to instil fear into the player. I would use the horror game Tattletail as an example.
While jump scares were incorporated into the game, the atmosphere really set the tone for the game and made the player feel fear on the next level. Slenderman is another example of this type of game. While the jump scares are there, the feeling of the unknown is present throughout the experience and creates an ominous tone that sends waves of fear through the player.
There are many factors that can go into a thrilling horror game, but these are just some of the most important ones. Many games have followed this formula, which is what led them to be as successful as they are today. All of these parts can come together to a create a game that is unforgettable and loved by fans. Taking these into consideration when trying out a new horror game is essential to see if the game is worthwhile.