Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Let's Talk About... What I Like in Survival Horror Games

 I do like me some survival horror games.

 I like them more than I like horror movies, and I'm not sure why.

 Yes, they're more visceral as you feel like you're the one in danger, but I'm a massive wuss, so that can't be it.

 Hmm, maybe if I list my favourite things that appear in the genre, it will help me work out where my love for it comes from.



 I like me some gore in survival horror games. Hell, in games in general.

 It's not something that scares me, frankly I'm unphased by most kinds of gore. You can show me blood, most organs, dimembered limbs and unbroken guts and I'm fine. I do get a bit queasy at broken up guts, but that's mostly because of the excrement within. I'm also not great with saliva and other people's wet hair.

 I get a bit queasy just thinking about it.

 I'm not sure why I'm so chill with regular blood and organs stuff, but I am, and I appreciate seeing it strewn about the place in a scary setting.

 I think it's possibly the most efficient way of demonstrating that a. shit is going down, and b. you're in danger.

 In movies, since there's no sense of personal peril, the inclusion of lots of gore can often feel like it's there solely for the shock factor. Which just isn't a worthwhile endeavour, in my humble opinion.



 Especially symbolism in monsters.

 It generally shows that a lot of thought has been put into a game when the monsters are dripping with sybolism.

 The Ur Example in video games generally being given as Silent Hill. Usually Silent Hill 2.

 All of the sexual imagery in that game is clever and serves a purpose because it's symbolic.

 I love things like that, which is why Silent Hill: Downpour was something of a disappointment. There's some symbolism, but it's not particularly deep or clever.

 It's also why Silent Hill: Homecoming, is frankly laughable because it picks up all of the monsters from Silent Hill 2 and dumps them in a story that has nothing to do with their symbolism. So your only choice is to assume that the protagonist is sexually attracted to his brother. Except that the average boy doesn't have a vagina, so why are there vagina monsters?!

 The Silent Hill movie has a similar problem, only this time we're questioning why Pyramid Head is there because the protagonist is a woman, and that drastically reduces the probability that she has a penis!


 It's not necessary, but it is something I like to see. On the other hand, lacking clear symbolism can be a boon, because I also like...


 I like talking about video games.

 That's why I started up this blog again.

 Some ambiguity in the world, story or monsters is always appreciated because then you can spend hours talking about it.

 I think that horror does this best when it comes to video games because there's almost always multiple layers to the story and the protagonist is often either presented as unstable to start with, or their situation is severe enough to knock them off balance. So we're often not entirely sure how much of what we're seeing is real or not.

 Which neatly segues into...

Uncertain Reality

 Madness is a great thing to cover in a horror game, never being able to trust your own senses or your own thoughts is terrifying when well executed in a game.

 Going mad is a thing that a lot of people fear or have feared at some point in their lives, so living that fear in a video game just makes the story more engaging for the player.

 Far more engaging than just seeing it in a movie or on TV can ever be. (Books are a funny one in this regard, they can straddle the boundary of seeing the world through one character's eyes and being a passive experience.)

 I like it when you think you've entered one room, but it turns out you're now somewhere totally different.

 I also like...



 Like this in Deadly Premonition:

Yay! Gore!
 That's a smashed up wheelchair.

 It happens to look exactly like the wheelchair owned by this man:

Was the skull necessary? Really?
 What does it mean?

 I love stuff like this, it entertains me to no end.

 Well, we've gone through some of my favourite things in horror games (apart from the obvious good story and characters), but I don't feel like I'm any closer to answering my own question.

 Perhaps we can answer that question in another post.

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