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Videogames Make Better Horror Than Movies? 225

Posted by Zonk
from the i-scream-you-scream-we-all-scream dept.
Wired author Clive Thompson has up an article stating that, with today's jaded audiences, videogames are more effective horror-conveyances than movies. Thompson argues that the removal of the fourth wall, placing the player directly into the story, overcomes the obstacles movie-makers face when telling a scary story. "I'll start down a corridor, hear something freaky up ahead, then freeze in panic. Maybe if I stay quiet the monster will go away? S^!t, maybe it's already headed this way, and I should move! But if I move the monster will hear me ... so maybe I should stay quiet ... gaaaaah! Games already seem like dream states. You're wandering around a strange new world, where you simultaneously are and aren't yourself. This is already an inherently uncanny experience. That's why a well-made horror game feels so claustrophobically like being locked inside a really bad -- by which I mean a really good -- nightmare." Do you agree? Is your favorite scary tale a movie ... or a game? (Silent Hill, I'm looking at you.)
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Videogames Make Better Horror Than Movies?

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  • no (Score:5, Funny)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:26PM (#20385641)
    The thought of playing a video game in no way fills me with the same sense of horror as the thought of watching a Uwe Boll movie based on the game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Skevin (16048) *
      Actually, video games lately have proved to provide much better horror than movies.

      I bought a game recently, with which, my first scare was that it required me to install Steam on my box. I broke out in a cold sweat as it quietly inserted its own root kit and changed several registry entries that an unprivileged user could not otherwise touch. I was kept at the edge of my seat every time it phoned home, and I could only guess who it may have been calling. By the time the lawyers were knocking down my doo
  • Absolutely. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oxidiser (1118877) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:27PM (#20385661)
    I've never been scared by a movie, ever. But I almost soiled myself the first time I played Resident Evil (the part where the dogs jump through the window in particular).
    • Re:Absolutely. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rhartness (993048) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:33PM (#20385761)
      I know this may be modded as redundant, but after reading the title of the article I immediately wanted to respond with the exact same comment. Resident Evil set the standard for the horror gaming industry and I doubt we would even have this discussion if the game was never even made.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dintech (998802)
        I had the same crapping my pants experiences with the original Alone in the Dark game. I'm pretty sure that predates Resident Evil. Also it does it without any incredible Hollywood special effects.
        • by cromar (1103585)
          Sweet Home is a Famicom game that is, as far as I can tell, credited as being the first survival-horror game released. And, let me tell you, it is quite a bit scary! Scarier than any move I've ever seen :)

          It's worth a play [50megs.com] if you have a retro-gaming fetish.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          You know a game is good when you get scared, even though they only had 17 polygons to draw a person, and midi sound. Sometimes game developers think too much about flashy graphics, and forget to go back to the old tried and tested methods of creating ambiance with lighting, background music, and building suspense. Metriod Prime is an example of a recent game was great at this. It had pretty good graphics, but I found that was unimportant in drawing you into the game.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Polygons? What about the 2d Doom enemies? Pitch black sections except for flickering lights, with Pinky snarls coming from them...
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by jollyreaper (513215)
              The scariest version of Doom was the one with the Aliens sound wad. Turn down the lights, hear those screams in the background, holy shit!

              Really, though, the scariest part of any of these games is how immersive they are, cuz you know a flatmate is going to come and knock on the door or sneak up behind you and say something and you're going to jump twenty feet in the air. "WHAT?!"
            • by bmwm3nut (556681)
              I *still* get freaked out every morning when I go downstairs to the kitchen and turn on the fluorescent light. It flickers a little before fully lighting and it reminds me of the flickering lights in doom.
          • You know a game is good when you get scared, even though they only had 17 polygons to draw a person

            You think that's basic? Ha ha ha ha ha ha.......

            I'd be lying if I said I was absolutely ******* terrified after playing 3D Monster Maze [slashdot.org] on the ZX81... but it certainly did a good job of getting you panicking when you saw Rex coming down the corridor at you. (Shame the guy in that video turns just before he gets eaten, so you don't see Rex close-up).

            The ZX81 didn't have "polygons".... it didn't even have colour or high-resolution graphics (and those were the days when 256 x 200 was considered "high reso

        • Re:Absolutely. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cHALiTO (101461) <elchalo@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:24PM (#20388517) Homepage
          Agree. I also found Alien vs. Predator (the games, I and II) very scary, especially when you played as the marine, and kept seeing blips in your movement detector getting closer and closer and you couldn't see where the heck they were coming from until you had them on you.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by PriceIke (751512)

            Oh holy crap. I totally understand and agree. I remember the first game that scared me was played on my Commodore 64, and it was Alien [wikipedia.org]. It wasn't even a very well-implemented game, but it was fairly consistent with the movie .. you were on the Nostromo, you had to get as many things accomplished as you could with the remaining crew, before the Alien got to them and killed them.

            The graphics were pisspoor, but I remember the sound effects and I remember the increase in heartrate when I knew the alien was cl

        • by TopShelf (92521) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @03:40PM (#20388769) Homepage Journal
          There's just no CG replacement for the human imagination.

          A few minutes ago, my low-level @ just rounded a corner and say a host of red a's headed right for him. Backpedaling and missile weapons bought some time, but soon the biting started, the ! began exploding and the ?'s were burning, until the dreaded ASCII tombstone appeared. The horror... the horror...
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by FlopEJoe (784551)
            You could have at least put a M rating or warning on this post! Now who's gonna rock me to sleep tonight??!?
      • by Serapth (643581)
        Thats a very console specific mindset. Horror video games have been around on the PC for a very long time. Games like Sanitarium, Phantasmagoria, Clive Barkers Undying, System Shock 1 and 2. Having recently played through the medical level of Bioshock, its very obvious to me which is scarier if done right. A few horror movies freaked me out and I have seen a ton. That said, the best horror video games ( like Bioshock ) had me absolutely wired.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by lukas84 (912874)
          I've finished my first play through Bioshock this weekend, and i wouldn't classify it as a "horror" game - it's a solidly done shooter with several good RPG elements, but it doesn't come close to my System Shock experiences.

          In System Shock, i started out as a hacker that could barely handle a pistol in it's hand. I was weak, ammo was low, scary sounds, scary environment, scary lightning, always low on resources, and then you just wasted a few bullets because you panicked and didn't aim. Very good. Even thou
      • by Gulthek (12570)
        You sir, have obviously never gone into a room in Castle Wolfenstein (the *original* Castle Wolfenstein) to woefully discover an SS Trooper waiting for you. They would scream some Atari rendered gibberish german and then begin to methodically chase you from room to room until you are dead, or they are dead, you are alive, but your heartrate is still pegging at 200 bpm.
    • Re:Absolutely. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by iapetus (24050) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:36PM (#20385813) Homepage
      You think you had it bad - after seeing the start of Resident Evil for the first time I had to walk home past a graveyard. :)

      That said, the Resident Evil formula (in the early games at least) soured pretty quickly. There's only so many zombies that can come through so many windows before it loses its impact. Silent Hill was a big step up in that, with a far better sense of creeping dread - and one that didn't always lead to a big explosive ZOMBIE THRU TEH WINDOW finale - some of the creepiest sections were those where nothing actually happened at all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fugu (99277)
        To paraphrase Hitchcock, surprise is when you walk by a window and a zombie jumps through. Suspense is when you know there are zombies lurking, you walk past window after window, but nothing happens
      • Thief 3. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Moryath (553296)
        While it didn't have the whole game, there's a level in it - The Cradle - that's absolutely, completely spooky. Running around a burned-out building that used to be both an insane asylum AND an orphanage...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nomadic (141991)
          While it didn't have the whole game, there's a level in it - The Cradle - that's absolutely, completely spooky. Running around a burned-out building that used to be both an insane asylum AND an orphanage...

          The Cradle level makes every other "scary" game I've played look like a walk through a daisy-filled park at noon.
          • by Methuseus (468642)
            How about when a zombie jumps out from under the daisies to latch onto your heels? ever thought about that scenario? Bet daisy-filled parks are not so harmless now, huh? ;)
      • by Psmylie (169236) *
        No doubt... Silent Hill has the honor of being the first game I've ever played to actually creep me out. Running through the damned mist, those creepy little kid things, etc. One of the scariest parts was when I was walking down a hallway in the school, and there was a lound noise, like a door slamming or something falling. I go to investigate... nothing. They did that just to scare the hell out of me, and it worked :)

        For full impact, play it while alone, at night, with the lights out.

      • ...some of the creepiest sections were those where nothing actually happened at all.

        I heartily second this sentiment. When I was playing F.E.A.R. (which I never finished and should go back to), the sections in which I was creeping along an empty corridor with flickering lights would sometimes actually give me that strange lightheaded fight-or-flight sensation. It probably helps that I play very tactically, rather than blasting through levels at a full sprint. A slow, methodical movement through a level in a crouching position allows plenty of time for tension to build!

      • Re:Absolutely. (Score:5, Informative)

        by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:25PM (#20386663)
        "here's only so many zombies that can come through so many windows before it loses its impact. "

        That's the same reason why Doom 3 stopped being scary, Doom 3 nailed darkness and atmosphere but they over-used monster closets, they never made a lot of *rational* use of using monsters intelligently sneaking up on you. It's better when you're scared shitless looking around for sneaky bastards, then knowing the sneaky bastards are just hidden in "closets" behind walls until you hit a trigger. I have to admit though it did work for a while it's too bad they over-used it.
        • Re:Absolutely. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Fallingcow (213461) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @05:12PM (#20390203) Homepage
          I think the worst part was that they put a monster in every. single. place. where one could be hidden.

          "Oh, look, a new room with a pillar in it. 10-1 odds there's a monster behind it. In fact, I'll just strafe and fire blind... *BLAM* *GLARG* Yep, sure enough."

          I was never creeped out, because EVERY room had a monster in EVERY possible place that it could. Which is cool if you're going for the, "OMFG monsters everywhere!" chaotic sort of scariness, which Doom1-2 did, but they didn't really do that The hell levels are the only part that consistently succeeded in anything like that, and consequently, are just about the only part of the game that I liked. The rest of the time they seemed to be going for "atmospheric, reading-about-scary-stuff, survival-horror creepy", and failing miserably.

          All the way from the first 10 minutes or so of fighting (I kind of like the opening scenes and initial chaos after the portal is opened, actually) up to the beginning of the hell levels, I was bored out of my mind. To make things worse, the level design wasn't any good from a run-and-gun perspective, either. Lame. I'd have liked it much better if they'd dedicated the first 1/3 or so of the game to watching the place fall apart under the demonic influence, with more NPCs running around for a while. It would have made the isolation later on more frightening, and they wouldn't have had to rely on their (terrible) attempts at "boo" fright for as long, which may have made it tolerable. By the time that was getting old, you'd be in the hell levels, which they could leave more-or-less as-is.
      • Y'know which game really did it for me? The Suffering. That one just seemed to get more and more suspenseful as you walked through it. Generally in games I'd run through it just blasting everything in sight, that one I tiptoed around corners and ran backwards while firing and being chased.

        I never got around to playing FEAR until recently either, that seems to be pretty damned creepy too.

        But yeah, the old RE games were great up until 4, I wasn't impressed by 4.
      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        I agree. While RE1 was scary,it wasn't nearly as nightmare inducing as walking through the hospital in Silent Hill and have that static radio go off and KNOW there was something out there,only not be able to see it. More games need to let the players imaginations fill in the gaps instead of just piling on the polygons. Your imagination will always be worse than what they think up anyway.
    • by Don_dumb (927108)
      That made me jump (like everyone else) but the bit that really scared me was the cutscene that suddenly appears for the entrance of the superzombies (can't remember the name), the fact that you could see it find its way to the door and start to walk towards your character was horrible, you were smashing the pad in terror hoping that you could regain control in time.

      I was reminded of that moment in HL2, when you get given the shotgun and hear those drainpipes rattle. In fact that level of HL2 is a great exa
    • As in anything that depends on taste, I'd actually expect quite a bit of variation. There is no "better" or "worse" as such, there's only "better" or "worse" for a given taste or personality type. At best, you can say more people like X than Y.

      E.g., if I'm allowed to give a counter-anecdote to your anecdote, I'm the exact opposite.

      Resident Evil never did much for me. The only "horror" in it for me were the awkward rotational controls and artificial view limitations because of the fixed camera. There was an
      • by Methuseus (468642)
        I can completely jive with your point about controls in RE. My friends got RE0 on opening day and wanted me to play with them, as I had never played an RE game before. We handed off the controller, each of us taking a turn. It scared me shitless, but I played very little cause I couldn't get used to the control scheme. We got through the game in only like two days though. Same story with RE1. The controls are atrocious. I thought about playing RE4, with the better control scheme, but haven't gotten around t
  • No. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xtense (1075847) <xtenseNO@SPAMo2.pl> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:30PM (#20385707) Homepage
    I don't agree. While you're playing the game, you have some sort of an adrenaline rush, that effectively makes you immune to any kind of scare the developers might devise. That, and the inherent stupidity of the monsters you'll encounter surely makes them less of a threat.

    But, on the bright side, it's easier to make a specific mood in a game, and make the player be afraid of that, for example - I was absolutely scared of playing Ultima Underworld alone when I was about ten or eleven. There was something in those dark corridors, bones lying around, and the music that provided the tension needed to scare the hell out of me. And it works today, too. Not in the way Doom3 would like us to have, but, for example, BioShock manages to capture the freaky atmosphere perfectly, making you look around your shoulder far more often.
    • I had dreams about Bioshock the night after playing, not scary precisely, but full of a sense of dread and loss. Dreams aren't entirely unusual (I dreamed about yellow dragons after playing lots of Adventure as a kid). Still, it's rare enough that it means I was brought into the world of Bioshock more fully than others in recent memory.

      The unique aspect of Bioshock is that the fear of death has been removed. Respawning is fairly painless and I'm armed with a variety of tricks against even the toughest
    • I don't agree. While you're playing the game, you have some sort of an adrenaline rush, that effectively makes you immune to any kind of scare the developers might devise. That, and the inherent stupidity of the monsters you'll encounter surely makes them less of a threat.

      Mind you, if your adrenaline is kicking in, it's because you're scared and your body is entering a fight-or-flight response. So, yeah, video games can be scary.

      That said, really good video games horror requires good pacing and design.

  • I love horror movies, almost 3/4 of my DVD collection of the horror genre. But they don't really make me scared, it's hard for you to relate to the situation. Games on the other hand put you in the world. I remember when I was playing Condemned and my wife was like how could a video game be scary?. She also didn't understand "how I knew where I was going". Which showed me she didn't understand how emersed one can be in a game.
  • by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:34PM (#20385777)
    You know a demon's going to teleport into the closet when you do! Video games just provide a better environment for horror. Yes, the whole forth wall thing, but also the environment you play in. You often play them alone, in a dark room. You choose how long the suspense lasts before you pickup that gun. In the end, however, you do pickup the gun... and when nothing happens; it gets worse because the environment didn't react the way you expected. Until you turn around of course.
  • Games are scarier (Score:2, Interesting)

    by grub (11606)

    The screeches of the monkeys in System Shock 2 always freak me out, no matter how many times I play it. (playing BioShock right now and it's nowhere near as scary as SS2 IMHO)

    Or the sounds Haunts make in the Thief series.. eek.

    • System Shock 2 is definitely the scariest game I've ever played. I bought it when I was a young teenager when it first came out. I stopped playing it because it freaked me out so badly. I didn't end up beating that game until I was in college. Even then, it was still scary! I had friends on my hall that were captivated by it and would sit in my room and watch me play it. I'm not sure who jumped more, me or them.
  • I never get scared by a movie but when playing F.E.A.R, Doom 3 or even better a mod for doom 3 that makes it play like a Rouge game (Dungeon Doom [d3files.com]) I can only play for about 1-2 hours before I just need to pause or stop playing and go do something else, I think its due to the fact you fell so engrossed into what you are going to do you start to over think your decisions and it begins to slowly creep into your mind about whats around the next corner, and how it can be your last move. In movies your just sitti
  • by pthor1231 (885423) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:39PM (#20385897)
    Video games can be much more effective, if the player actually gets immersed in the game. Maybe it could also be that horror video games are a relatively new thing compared to horror films. Once you have seen the one millionth horror movie preview, you are like, sure, whatever, it will be boring because the same shit happens. Maybe video horror games will reach that point eventually. Also, obligatory PA reference:

    http://penny-arcade.com/comic/1999/09/29 [penny-arcade.com]

    • by GeckoX (259575)
      But that's where video games fail...because they ARE video games...you aren't forced to sit and watch scary crap occur, you can DO something about it. I don't know about you, but when I'm playing 'scary' games, I'm LOOKING for those 'creepy' moments as a signal so I can turn the tide. When you're in control, why would you cower in fear as opposed to putting the pain to those that would try to scare you and cause you harm? In video games, there IS nothing scarier than you. (Unless it's a rigged, completely u
      • Movies often fail in that regard too. Very often, you're frustrated by the shear stupidity of the characters, that you become distanced from them and don't care any more. And you also know that whatever you do, the movie's still going to end the same way, so you might as well sit back and wait for the ending.

        Also, in many horror games going on rampage against an enemy won't help much, and you're forced to run.
        One of the scariest game scenarios I played was Resident Evil 3, being chased by the Nemesis monste
  • by SkunkPussy (85271) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:41PM (#20385935) Journal
    I heard good things about Alien Doom so when I finally downloaded it I turned off the lights to get the most from the experience.

    For the first 20 minutes or so you are creeping through corridors, always wondering what might appear around the next corner. Nothing much actually happens except that the corridors gradually become more and more covered in alien slime. You go through several levels without actually seeing any enemies, even though you know you must be getting closer to their lair.

    All of a sudden an alien jumps at you out of nowhere.

    I have never before and never since been more scared by a computer game.
    • (ok who was the idiot who modded it funny?)

      I've also played the Alien Doom mod, and i loved it. Altho i also felt the same fear by playing the Aliens game in the C64, stage 2. You know you had to go through an alien area, that aliens come out of everywhere and you can't run away. And still, you have to go there.
      • by GeckoX (259575)
        "And still, you have to go there."

        What, you mean you'd choose to NOT go there if you could? Why? You're there to kick some alien butt, why on earth would you be scared? Silliness.

      • The start of the Half-Life mod They Hunger [wikipedia.org] is like that. Your car goes off the road and you spend quite a while walking through a large deserted graveyard. You think to yourself, "Man, I'd hate to have to fight my way out through all this." And then corpses start animating, and you realize... you actually do.
    • The first "Aliens versus Predator" [wikipedia.org] wasn't a perfect game (the AI, for example, was... iffy), but when you play as a Marine you can really get creeped out. The aliens aren't particularly subtle but they are fast - you can't outrun them and you can't take many hits from them when they reach you. The environments are dark and you have to pick between night-vision or the motion detector - and either way the facehuggers are really tough to spot. More like the movie than the movie was, if you follow.

      Playing as

      • The first "Aliens versus Predator" wasn't a perfect game (the AI, for example, was... iffy), but when you play as a Marine you can really get creeped out. The aliens aren't particularly subtle but they are fast - you can't outrun them and you can't take many hits from them when they reach you. The environments are dark and you have to pick between night-vision or the motion detector - and either way the facehuggers are really tough to spot. More like the movie than the movie was, if you follow.

        Playing as an alien is fun in an entirely different way. You can climb on any surface, hide on the ceiling and pounce, etc. More like Spider-Man than any of the Spider-Man games.

        Some of the best mood lighting I've ever seen. That first level where you encounter the aliens moving down the corridor, shit! After enough play I got so I could semi-reliably pop their heads off with a short burst as they ran but God help me if my timing was off. Never ceased to be scary. The only thing missing is that the human level needed to have more Marine friendlies doing their bit.

  • Yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alex777 (1113887)
    The interactivity of a game makes for a scarier and more intense experience than any film can provide, now that graphics are becoming more and more realistic. In a game, the player feels like he's actually a part of the story, rather than merely a spectator.
  • Halflife, duh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:50PM (#20386091) Homepage
    The original Half Life was a really classic example of this. You could make a decent monster movie along the same plot, but you wouldn't have quite the tension.

    EG, the tension where you are creeping through the silo with the giant tentacles, the first time you meet the big shark-thingy, the elation and then horror as the marines come, etc....

    A movie wouldn't be nearly as immersive.
    • by Fyz (581804)
      I would hold to Alien vs Predator instead. Playing that game i had to take breaks every 20 minutes to slow my heart rate...
  • I disagree. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:00PM (#20386263)
    Why exactly would a game be inherently better than a movie for the horror genre? Hell, a novel could be just as effective as either one of those mediums.

    It comes down to good writing. The reason most horror movies aren't particularly effective is because the writing is such garbage. If these writes were to produce scripts for games those games would be equally ineffective at being scary.

    If anything, I'd argue that it's easier to make a good horror movie than it is to produce a scary game. It's very easy to manage pacing in a movie. The entire thing is nicely packaged and the director has complete control over the movie. With a game, in addition to the underlying plot a creator has to be concerned with how the gamer interacts with the game. How to convey the proper atmosphere and provide appropriate challenges without making the game tedious.

    Ultimately, this is the problem I've found with nearly all horror games, including the Resident Evil series. The game hits a point where they're wandering back and forth trying to find something, or are given these odd tasks for the sake of providing some level of gameplay ultimately reminding me that I'm just playing a game. With a movie or a novel, I know it's fake, but I don't have to worry about some gameplay mechanic disrupting the experience and thus it's easier for me to become engrossed in the story.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:00PM (#20386265) Homepage Journal
    For me the experience of watching a movie is usually so far removed from that of playing a game that I can't directly compare them. While a movie can use a particular character or characters as surrogates for the audience, youre essentially watching things happen to other people. You can be sympathetically scared for them, but you don't really feel scared for yourself.

    When you're playing a game, that avatar on the screen is, for all intents and purposes, you. You're not just watching some movie star go down the stairs to their doom, you have to choose to go down those stairs yourself. The experience of that sort of scare is very different, and to me much more personal, than the one-sided character/spectator relationship in films and such.

    The only experience that for me sort of blurs that line between those two types of scares is listening to an audio play, such as radio drama or Big Finish Productions' audio CDs. When I'm listening to one of those I usually have my eyes closed and my imagination turned up high, and thus tend to see things from more of a first-person perspective in my mind's eye. A good horror story on audio can therefore approach the levels of immersion that a good video game provides, without being interactive.
  • First time you run into one of those... they got me good. I jumped and sprayed bullets everywhere.

    I love horror movies, very few have actually scared me. FEAR creeped me out.. Call Of Cthulu Dark Side of the Earth, that creeps me out havent finished it yet. System Shock 2 gave me some good jumps (back in the day) Clive Barkers undying had me going good. The original Alone in the Dark... yea that was creepy.

    Video games are full of titles that I got scared from, horror movies not so much. But damn, I love wel
  • One of the things that make survival horror games so attracting is that you can die in many horrendous ways. I still remember Harry Mason of SH1 getting caught and eaten by that tentacle thing in the kitchen. Or how Heather's body was dragged by Vatiel after being killed.

    Another thing is the first-person perspective, and the fear you experience from having "lived" similar situations in the past. You hear some dogs howling, you can't see barely anything, while your radio keeps playing that static louder and
  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:18PM (#20386571)
    ...was playing Fatal Frame in the pitch black of night. No movie has ever terrified me more than the tension that builds up with the ambient soundtrack and the tiny light that tells you something is near, to activate the camera and go into 1st person mode, creeping along to find the ghostly image before it jumps out at you.

    Anyone who's played it will no doubt remember the chilling moment while you tiptoe down the Rope Hallway and the red light comes on, looking up and coming face to face with Vengeance.
  • Silent hill (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:22PM (#20386621) Journal
    Silent hill sums it up perfectly, the movie wasn't too far removed from the games, but the movie isn't scary compared to the games and it's for 1 simple reason. Movies will continue no matter what, you can walk away and shrug and they will still play. Where as in a game you take control and must continue the fear to continue the plot.

    Silent Hill games make you feel like at any moment you could be jumped by some insanely powerful monster and then it toys with you with the radio, a little noise here, a little growl there, is it just random noise or is a complete freak out monster about to maim you? who knows? These things get to us, we have no idea -how- to rationally deal with these things because they are beyond all logic, movies we can go "CGI" "Make up" "hero must survive" and then we play silent hill and suddenly it's "oh fuck, what the hell is going on?"

    One thing I would note is the cultural differences, Japanese horror tends to work on tension and supernatural things. Ghosts, bumps in the night, general feeling of unease. Where as Western horror tends to be more gore and shock, the gore and shock has long ago lost it's shock value to us adults, where as the feeling of tension is very hard to break no matter what.

    Compare Resident evil (Western horror style) with Silent Hill (Japanese horror style) and you'll see one is scary for a while, where as the other continues to be scary even if you're in a safe room with nothing creepy ever.

    And just because it needs mentioning. The mannequin beheading event in Silent hill 3 is the scariest moment I've ever had in a game, just insanely creepy even though it presented no danger to me, it felt like I HAD to leave that room or something would behead me next.
    • Where as in a game you take control and must continue the fear to continue the plot.

      BTW, Have you guys thought that making a Silent Hill series (a-la "24" or "Lost") would be a hit?
      • Depends, will its plot gradually decline over seasons like 24 and Lost?
      • No, because it would drag on too long and the tension would be lost. If it was a mini series of 3-4 episodes it would work, but as a full series not really.
    • I have to hand it to Silent Hill 4: The Room. They took the one spot that you were 'safe', your apartment, and slowly whittled away at even that small sanctuary. To the point where you can't even be there without hearing the static, or being harmed.

      I'm also casting my vote for Eternal Darkness. Excellent game. It did an amazing job with wearing down your nerves in time to punch you in the gut with something that makes you wish you had put plastic on your couch. Of particular note is when you 'see' your

      • I have PE2, it's a good game :)

        SH4 gave you candles which would let you be safe though, it wasn't great but it would sop you being hurt even if that room was uber creepy still.
  • I played Doom 3 with a good surround-sound setup and a group of people watching. People's reactions were stupendous, and it just fed my adrenaline. The key is to play it on a hard setting - the idea is to be afraid, and be cautious - not to be Rambo. There is tension when you have to count your ammo and walk slowly to avoid being surprised.

    It also helps to be very comfortable with the controls. I've played FPS's long enough that the controls are extension to my brain. I think forward and my character m
  • Movies rule (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Charlie Kane (1098491)
    I'd have to vote for the moment when the green alien dude (whom you've mistaken for a fellow astronaut in need of rescue from a forbidding otherworldly fractal-scape) pops up in front of your damn windshield and starts banging his way into your spaceship in Rescue on Fractalus, one of the first games ever to come out of Lucasarts. I used to play that on an Atari 800XT and it used to scare the hell out of me.

    But there's a difference between that (relatively) easy videogame shock and the sense of deep disq
    • I'd have to vote for the moment when the green alien dude (whom you've mistaken for a fellow astronaut in need of rescue from a forbidding otherworldly fractal-scape) pops up in front of your damn windshield and starts banging his way into your spaceship

      That reminds me of this other survival horror game in the 80's. Project Firestart. Has anyone here played it?
  • You have to compare the best of each in order to make a somewhat balanced comparison. Comparing the best horror video game isn't very fair if you use your average horror film. That said the scariest (IMO) films have been the psychological. The ones where the scare factor isn't just a creepy thing jump at the right moment with a loud noise to emphasize it. The ones where you're thinking about how scary that was the rest of the night (or longer).

    The examples I can think of are The Ring, Blair Witch Project, (
  • Just last night... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JFMulder (59706) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:33PM (#20386809)
    ... I was playing Bioshock. I had just killed my first big daddy. I was badly injured, I had almost no ammo left. I looked for a vending machine to buy some ammo and health when a SECOND big daddy comes around. I hid under the stairs in the game and hoped he wouldn't see me because I was so low on everything. I saved and went to bed.

    Let me breathe a bit after that first encounter. That was brutal.
    • by Rycross (836649)
      Just so you know, Big Daddies won't actually attack you unless a) they have a Little Sister around or b) you attack them. I did the same thing as you, until I made a save game, screwed around, and found out that they wouldn't attack me.
  • A movie will not scare me at all. Most horror movies that get pawned off as horror use simple parlor tricks like flashing lights, loud sounds, loud music and fast movement to give the audience a thrill. There is no real horror in a movie anymore. There is no sense of impending doom that keeps you on your toes and the hair on the back of your neck standing up. Even with surround sound and a complete multi-channel soundtrack, the movies just don't do it anymore. The mystique is gone.

    Now a video game, think ab
  • ...but a great original 1985-era scary game was Rescue on Fractalus [wikipedia.org] (it used actual fractals to generate an alien landscape, hence the title). You'd rescue downed pilots, who would see you land, run under your ship disappearing from view and (pause) there'd be a taptaptap to let them in. The trick was sometimes, after the pilot had disappeared from view, the "pilot" was really an alien and it'd SUDDELNY JUMP UP ON YOUR WINDSHIELD COMPLETE WITH SCARY MUSIC AND IT'S BANGING TO GET IT KILLITKILLITKILLIT!!! Gre
  • by UncleTogie (1004853) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:24PM (#20387671) Homepage Journal
    one little section in Max Payne... That dreamish sequence where he walks into the dark on that vine-ish looking tightrope... Mayhaps it's jus' 'cause I'm a parent, but hearing that dead baby cry and call out while surrounded by darkness gave my goosebumps goosebumps.
  • Well.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by mikkelm (1000451) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:33PM (#20387811)
    Look at you, Hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors. How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?
  • Even with my crapp-assed Radeon X300SE, as long as the lights were off and the speakers cranked, that game nearly scared the shit out of me at times.
  • One of the scariest games I've played is a mod for the original Half Life called "They Hunger".The graphics are of course dated today,but the author really knew how to make a scary game, and not just in that "something just jumped out at me" sense. The sounds,the creepy locales,all came together to make for a VERY scary game.If you haven't given it a try,you're in for a treat-

    http://mods.moddb.com/155/they-hunger/downloads/ [moddb.com]

    • Yippee! So I'm not the only person who's played that!

      Of course, I, uh, only got around to playing it maybe a year ago... I'm behind the times, I know.

      On the topic of HL zombie mods, have you tried Heart of Evil [gamespy.com]?

      Also, for the original Unreal Tournament, Spatial Fear [gamespy.com] was a pretty good horror SP mod. Some of the enemies (especially the early ones) are kind of cheesy, but considering that it's just a mod for an old-ass multiplayer FPS, it occupies quite a few of the "most memorable gaming experiences" slots
  • Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:56PM (#20388171)
    Best horror "movie" out right now is Bioshock. :)

    I think there's three reasons:

    1. A game is more immersive.
    2. The game probably gets a lot more thought put into it than a horror movie.
    3. The horror movie genre has become the "virtual snuff film" genre and caters to sick fucks.

    Mod me flame bait for #3 if you must, but I completely stand by it.

    They're releasing a "Art Of Bioshock" book. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for an "Art Of Hostel" or "Art Of Saw" book.
  • I haven't played Silent Hill, but Silent Hill 2 creeps me right the f@(% out. The sounds you hear in certain parts of the game that sound like footsteps near you, or other weird unnatural sounds are incredibly creepy - even if you KNOW there is nothing there. Playing on "Beginner" mode, where you can't actually die, is still scary from the atmosphere and not the threat of Game Over. The music in Silent Hill 2 (and I imagine the other games in the series, as the music is all done by Akira Yamaoka) can rea
  • It's hard to say one is better, or more scary than the other. Each media has its own distinct differences that the other cannot really emulate.

    As has been stated already, video games can be more immersive. You're actually controlling a lot of the action. So in a sense, you have a more vested interest in preserving your life. So when that zombie jumps through the window, it's more tense reacting to and dealing with it.

    But what movies have going from them is the helpless lack of control. Take the Residen
  • by Avatar8 (748465) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @05:32PM (#20390445)
    *** warning - a few horror film spoilers here if you haven't seen them. ***


    I really enjoy horror films. It's a shame there are so few good ones. Blood and gore aren't scary, they're just gross. Pulling your audience in, making them believe one thing and then jerking the carpet out from under them leaves a much deeper impact. The gaming industry is learning this.

    I thoroughly enjoyed "Saw" for it's suspense. It wasn't really a gory film at all despite what the author of TFA says. I'd wager only a few gallons of fake blood were used in both Saw movies. "Saw II" and the pit of needles... that freaked me out enough that I was squirming in the theater seat and turning my head away from the screen. We each have our own deepest fears. "Dusk til Dawn" had blood by the 55 gallon drum, but it wasn't scary at all. "Hostel," rated as the scariest movie of 2006, was pathetically tame and generally stupid. (Push the eye back in, idiot, don't snip it off.) The wife discovering her husband had killed in "What Lies Beneath" or the little boy's reaction of "You weren't supposed to help her," in "The Ring" were classic, gut-wrenching twists.

    I played the BioShock demo. Once I got past the immature gore, it did develop into a layered, creepy environment with a fairly original story. I didn't like it well enough to buy it, but with the lack of quality horror films, I may start turning to horror games more often. I just hope they aren't all FPS since that's my least favorite genre.

    Any wagers on a Cthulu MMO?

  • I've played a couple of the Silent Hill games, and they were damn scary, more than any movie I've seen. But Bioshock even surpasses them. Stuff like fighting a Big Daddy, running through a door and waiting for it to come, then checking to find it right there ready to attack you, or running from one and getting boxed into a corner, frantically trying to get out and run to a safer distance can get pretty terrifying. And the most terrifying experience in any video game I've ever played was walking into a room

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers

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