The Terrifying Allure of Horror Games

Image Credit: Unsplash License: Pelly Benassi

Sandie Ellis explores the rush of joy that can only be found by terrifying yourself

Horror games have been terrifying gamers since the 1970s. Series such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and The Evil Within have been staples in the sinister genre. So why do we turn off all the lights, close the curtains to get immersed into a bone-chilling scary game? Because it’s addictive. It’s an adrenaline rush, that once tried you have to keep going! From the atmosphere to the thrilling fight for survival, there are countless reasons the genre is so loved.

Until Dawn (2015) is one of the more well-known games of the genre. It ties in all the aspects of a 90’s slasher and combines it with anxiety-inducing decision making. Its use of the Butterfly Effect is a hit with players as it puts a strain on the player to make the ‘right’ choice in a split second. With several different endings awaiting the player, it proves that we love the excitement of these scares and will often go back for another round.

The atmosphere is everything in horror, and Alien: Isolation (2014) showcases it best. It is survival horror at its finest. With the Xenomorph hunting you as prey, it quickly becomes apparent that stealth is everything. In space, no one can hear you scream and this game certainly solidifies that fact while presenting a fearsome challenge for any brave gamer.

It’s the blood rush of being chased by Tyrants that always have our hearts racing and make us come back for more

It is usually the thrill that attracts most gamers. Games like the Resident Evil series include all elements such as loved characters, puzzles, zombies, and stalker enemies. The franchise is exciting and unpredictable. We never know what is behind the next door or lurking in the dark. It’s the blood rush of being chased by Tyrants that always have our hearts racing and make us come back for more.

Gamers love a good psychological horror. So the short-lived P.T. by Hideo Kojima was a fever dream enigma. The demo for the Silent Hill franchise is a shining example of the impact of the genre. All the audience needed was the promise of something deeply unsettling and it still has gamers grieving for the loss to date. It’s influence is seen in many of the horror games released since. Gamers often hope Kojima will even revisit this project or something similar, meaning there is a promising future for the genre.

So, why do we love to be scared silly? The chase, the challenge, the atmosphere, and the promise of danger at a distance. These twisted stories and frightful journeys are so loved as they have the same effect of riding a roller-coaster. We’re never in any true danger, so it’s fun and pushes us to our limits. Unlike films, we cannot look away as there are in-game consequences. It’s like the horrors Joel faces while protecting Ellie, we get so engrossed with the stories, characters and the thrill that we have to keep going no matter what the cost. The genre is exciting and new and its grasp on society is evidently haunting (in the best way!).