According to Shinji Mikami, head of Gameworks Studio, the makers of the upcoming survival horror game The Evil Within, it’s become more difficult to scare people. The tools and techniques are still there, but the problem lies with us, the players, who are more familiar with them. In a recent interview, Mikami told UK gaming mag Edge, “Not much has changed when it comes to instilling terror in the player, but people have got used to the tropes of horror and they know what’s coming next, so in that sense it is harder to make them afraid.”
He brings up a good point. It’s an issue that continues to plague the genre across all mediums. How do you scare a player that’s seen many of your tricks used to varying degrees of success in other titles, or as games become larger and more cinematic, in films and television as well?
Just look at Slender: The Eight Pages. It was terrifying and inspired a new subgenre, but every indie developer that’s followed in its footsteps — including Blue Isles’ reimagining, The Arrival — wasn’t nearly as frightening, because now, it was familiar. We knew its tricks.
The answer may lie in the world that’s built around those scares. Dead Space may have relied a bit too much on jump scares, but the tense and unpredictable battles with the Necromorphs made it extremely scary. Outlast, which takes place in an asylum, is brimming with stereotypical ideas of insanity. Even still, it may very well be the scariest game I’ve played this year, because of its presentation. The atmosphere, the expertly crafted scares, chase sequences and even the stealth bits. It’s up to the developers, which I think are becoming more adept at creating truly horrifying experiences.
I’m sure Mikami will find interesting ways to scare the pants off all of us with The Evil Within. From what we’ve seen of it already, it looks pretty damn scary.
In related news, I just came across this screenshot, which might be relatively new. I know I haven’t seen it yet, so I figured there’s a chance you haven’t either. Enjoy it in its high-resolution glory below!
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