How do you feel about the use of horror in video games, especially non-horror titles?
The Diablo franchise has always left big cloven hoofprints for other computer games to fill when it comes to creating just the right horrifically entertaining atmosphere. But it’s far from the only Blizzard property to traffic in creepiness. World of Warcraft itself is more than a little centered in existential horror — from the tentacled monstrosities of the Old Gods to a mechanistic afterlife where souls can be burned for fuel. [Editor’s note: Also Drustvar <3]
I am, admittedly, a soft target when it comes to the use of horror and suspense in games. Upon finally embracing Skyrim in the waning months of 2022, I took very reluctantly to first-person dungeon exploration as creeping about in dim, ill-lit structures, waiting for a Draugr to pop out at any moment, made my anxiety spike. Derelict freighters in No Man’s Sky exude a low-key creepiness that still raises my hackles.
I do appreciate that the effective use of horror in games doesn’t have to be about crazed-slasher-in-your-face jump scares or lushly grotesque cinematic cutscenes. Game mechanics can be brilliantly horrifying in their simplicity. The original Silent Hill features a radio which can augur the approach of monsters with squeals of static. In Dungeons of Daggorath, a venerable 8-bit game from the early days of home computing, the sound design maxed out the creep factor of plodding along wireframe corridors, accompanied only by the sound of your thudding heart as dimly heard monsters approached. Despite the primitive graphics, the faster your in-game heart beat, the quicker your own did in response.
So, how about you? Do you like being scared? Do you enjoy games spiced with horror and suspense? Do you prefer a cozy farming simulator or are you all in for a viscera-spewing hack-and-slash fest? Let us know in the comments.
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