Sitting in the pitch black, headphones in and up to max volume, the screen the only light in the room. A strong feeling of trepidation slowly building in my gut along with a peculiar urge to pee despite just visiting the white bowl. This is genuine excitement and the reason why I love horror games.
The reason people play games, from my observation is either to relax, enjoy incredible stories, or to feel some level of excitement. Whilst all games can offer those things in moderation, the only games that really get my blood racing, where my heart pumps faster and I leave with the impression that the playthrough made me feel something primal, are horror games.
I play all kinds of games, my favourites tend to be the kind with stories that engross me for hours, games like Uncharted for instance. However nothing can match the sheer adrenaline rush of a well made horror game. Unlike a movie where you simply watch the action, a game demands you to be part of it and this only adds to the fear factor. People ask me, why do you like locking yourself in a dark room and scaring yourself shitless? My answer is simple, there is no other media format that offers the same level of adrenaline rush.
The true appeal of horror games is that you are always the weak one, the underdog. The one who has to run and hide from a series of increasingly distressing foes. I haven’t felt the rush of killing a 20 foot robot dinosaur in the real world, and although Horizon was one of the best new exclusive IP’s I have played in years, those feelings are somewhat fantastical. The fear of being caught, killed or trapped in a nightmarish situation is more relatable on a personal level.
But that isn’t just it, we can’t avoid the scientific reasoning behind the fact that having your adrenaline pump as your heart races is an exhilarating experience, almost addictive. So when a game has the potential to fully get you in the grips of hopeless despair, and have your heart rate reach 120 bpm I find it the greatest exertion of excitement without having to ever actually leave my room (could it be more perfect?)
Now games such as Evil Within 2, which I am currently battling my way through, aren’t the ones I am talking about. Whilst I did get some jump scares from it, the main premise of having to fight your way through an area isn’t where it gets interesting. It is games like Outlast, Resident Evil and Alien Isolation that really do it for me. Games where you aren’t necessarily the biggest baddest boss out there, where sometimes running is literally the only tool at your disposal. Outlast does this incredibly and manages to engage you with a gripping story whilst maintaining simplicity by requiring you to master only a few controls. Sometimes it isn’t even the fights that get you, it is the trepidation of walking down that dark corridor, not knowing what is round that corner or why the intense music is playing when you can’t seem to see or hear the bad guy.
To conclude as concisely as possible, the main reason why I love horror games is because nothing is able to immerse me in quite the same way, or keep me guessing indefinitely. Practically and tactfully escaping enemies that I have absolutely no way of killing is a unique experience. Nothing makes the sphincter do the old 5p -10p like a horror game. Besides, what do we play games for anyway? Excitement right? And with money being poured generously into VR, especially on Sony’s side of things, my little butt-hole tingles with all the amazing things I can do to scare myself silly!