It bothers me when people say that old horror games are bad because they have ‘fixed camera angles’ or ‘tank controls’. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, of course, and if these sorts of games don’t do it for you then that’s cool. But I kind of get the impression that some people misunderstand the point of these design choices.

Fixed camera angles limit your character’s point of view. When certain things are blocked from their view, they become vulnerable.

Tank controls make your character sluggish. When they can’t move fluidly, or quickly, they become vulnerable.

Vulnerability is the key. It’s why we worry about our characters; why we creep down unknown corridors with them, instead of running; why we have them avoid enemies, instead of having them hunt. Vulnerability makes us consciously think about what we’re getting our character into before we throw them into a situation.

(The same is true of the ammunition/health issue. Vulnerability, yo. If your character lacks ammo or sufficient ways to heal themselves, then you begin to treat them more carefully.

Or…not. Huh.)

Some gamers and game devs may look upon these concepts as dated tricks that slow down game play. But…maybe once in a while they ought to look upon these concepts as opportunities in which a game can become scary, instead of reasons for why a game might be boring.

In my experience, the best – hell, the scariest – horror games are those that restrict your character, whether by lack of understanding, lack of allies, lack of strength, lack of firepower, lack of agility, lack of a clear sight, etc.

Be honest with me: is Resident Evil 6 scary?

If you’re finding a game boring then don’t play it, sure; but if you’re playing this kind of game at all then I figure that you’re looking for horror, and if you’re looking for horror then you should know better than to pull away, or criticise, because an aspect within a game creates tension slows you down.

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