Getting Some Play: Evolving Horror


Welcome to Getting Some Play — the spiritual successor to Sarah Warn’s excellent Good Game column — where we’ll take a look at the latest releases, news and developments in the world of video games.

Horror Evolution

After the recent deluge of Silent Hill and Resident Evil games, I (and many others who think write about/design/care about games, of course), have had horror titles on the brain. Specifically – where has all the effective scary stuff gone?

Frictional Games (makers of the masterful Amnesia: the Dark Descent) posted an entry on their site listing ways to evolve the format in the current, rather stagnant landscape.

One of the more surprising and intriguing entries is “no enemies”:

By this I do not mean that there should be no threats to the player lurking about. What I mean is that we need to stop thinking of any creatures that we put into the game as “enemies”. The word enemy makes us think about war and physical conflict, which is really not the focus in a horror game. It also makes us think less about why these creatures are in our virtual world. The word enemy is such an easy label to put on other beings, and then not worry about anything except that we need to destroy or avoid them. This is how wars work after all.

If we instead think of these creatures as merely inhabitants of our virtual worlds we need to ask ourselves why they are there, what their motivations are and so forth. This brings a new depth to the game which is bound to color the player’s imagination. If we can establish our hostile beings as calculating, intelligent beings with an agenda, we vastly increase the intensity of any encounter and can make the terror so much stronger.



Tomorrow (May 15) is a really, really big day for releases. Behemoth Diablo 3 is finally out on PC, which would be enough to declare a legal gaming holiday (new Blizzard releases generally are).


But that’s not all. Rockstar’s gritty Max Payne 3 is out on PS3 and 360, so both consoles and PC are getting massive AAA’s on the same day. Oh, and a game based on this little franchise A Game of Thrones is out as well. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

That’s not even it. Q Games latest, PixelJunk 4AM is also slated for a PSN launch on the May 15, and the latest from Sega’s mascot is due on XBLA on May 16.


There are more May highlights for those who aren’t already buried in Diablo’s treasures: Dragon’s Dogma offers massive-scale medieval battling on the PS3 and 360 on the May 22; as well as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.

Save your pennies, folks.

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