Wednesday, 1 May 2013

No one knows how to do horror anymore

I mentioned a long time ago that the Survival Horror genre was pretty much dead.  In that post I called the developers of Silent Hill: Homecoming a bunch of knobs who had no idea what they were doing.  Well right now I'm going to expand on that by pointing out exactly just how fucking useless today's developers are when it comes to delivering scares.

So, I'm going to take 4 scares (2 from Silent Hill, 1 from Resident Evil and 1 from Dead Space) put them side by side and explain why games from over 10 years ago were better at delivering fear than modern games despite all the fancy graphics and processing power.


So in Silent Hill two there is a point where you have to walk around a prison.  This prison is already a pretty terrible place with strange noises and some...thing...muttering the word "ritual" at you as you walk through cells, but it's one of the bathrooms that will really shit you up.

So you walk into this bathroom and there is nothing in it, at least nothing of importance that I remember.  While here you can make James check the doors of each stall by knocking on them.  Knocking on the doors yields no response and you can't get inside, but things start to get super weird when you start to leave.  Just before you make it to the exit, you hear a sound as if someone fell over accompanied by a woman's yelp.  Now I use the word yelp instead of scream because this isn't a jump scare.  The sound of the crash or the scream isn't loud enough to make you jump, but it sure as fuck creeps you the fuck out.  The strangest part of the whole thing is that if you go back, nothing has changed at all and it doesn't change anything in the level, it is there PURELY to fuck with you and it does a damn good job.


So Silent Hill games are pretty famous for having freaky bathrooms, but Homecoming shows just how the developer had no fucking clue.  The bathroom is the place you get to meet your first enemy in homecoming, but there is no tension built up here at all.  You pull a knife from a wall and a movie nurse walks out of the only "locked" stall to act as your tutorial fight.  As soon as you check the door and see the knife in the wall you can pretty much see how the whole situation is going to go.  Also bathrooms in homecoming from what I remember tend to have a dead body in them, or at least at the start they do. 

What makes the SH2 scare so much better than the Homecoming scare is that your mind is filling in the blanks.  You just ASSUME something terrible went on in that prison stall but the game doesn't actually show you anything at all.  The sound it makes isn't even that bad when you think about it, it's the kind of sound you might hear if someone slipped and banged against the door, but because of the way the game messes with your head you are just assuming that something terrible is going on.  Homecoming on the other hand does the opposite of this and just shows you death and blood everywhere so when you see a dead body for the millionth time you end up just ignoring it because it's nothing more than set dressing for the level.


The Hunter is Resident Evil is a stroke of fucking genius.  Not because it's a particularly good monster or anything like that, but because of the way it is introduced to the player.  First off, the entirety of Resident Evil up to the point with the Hunters you are fighting stuff like zombies, dogs, crows and shit like that.  Dead people or animals that have been infected by the T-Virus.  I think before the Hunters you have to fight Yawn, but even he isn't so bad because 1) It's still just an animal and 2) He isn't very hard to fight, and his venom can be counteracted with shit lying around the house.

The Hunter on the other hand is somethin' else.  You don't even see it when it first turns up, you just get a first person cutscene of it running into the main house and straight away you know something is fucked up.  Then it scares you even more by actually showing up and being stronger and faster than anything else.  You can just evade it like a zombie, and it's not easily killed like the dogs, these things will make you panic while you try to figure out what the fuck is happening and them BAM! off goes your head in one swipe, enjoy loading your game to try again shitlord.


None of the monsters in these games are scary, not a single one.  Enemies tend to just jump out at you and scream and are easily killed in a couple of shots from pretty much anything.  Bosses are even less scary because most come with giant "fuck me" lights, and the ones that lack "fuck me" lights have pretty blatant weaknesses.  The enemy design in this game is weak and they are not scary nor do they make you panic.  It doesn't matter if one sneaks up on you or they attack in groups because you always be able to deal with them no matter what guns you have.

In the case of Resident Evil, I might not be carrying the Shotgun or the Grenade Launcher.  So when the Hunter appears to take chunks out of my dopey arse, getting out of that situation with just a pistol is a real shit sucker.  Then again in Dead Space, if I had that piece of shit machine gun, it still didn't really matter because it would get the job done well enough.  Also I didn't feel the need to conserve ammo because it would drop so fucking frequently and I was playing that shit on hard mode.

To sum it all up and to sort of repeat myself from the survival horror post I made in the summer.  Stop making shit like Dead Space, Homecoming or whatever other arsehole "horror" games exist at the moment, go study the good ones and come back.  It's been far too long and I'm getting sick of it

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