RE: Blog: "Why Horror Games Suck!"
I agree with this list, but I would add a few things in it. I don't have means to develop a horror game like my dreams demand, unless I make a simple basic Half-Life 2 mod which I pretty much can and am trying to, but even still I like to write stories and I like playing horror games. But through time I became fed up with horror games the way they were... I played Resident Evil 1 and 2 and loved them, but then I couldn't play the next ones simply for being more of the same... And also because zombies were already becoming what they so much are nowadays: a total cliché. And the primary "excuse" for a horror story and the primary result of that "excuse" was being copied through lots of games ever since Resident Evil came up with it (I think it was born there). The Scientific Experiments = Zombies "excuse". (sorry I couldn't remember a better word for "excuse" there)
Penumbra sinned for the same though, but it still managed to please me for not including the other aspects of most games, like weapons and such. Feeling vulnerable was the main aspect that made Penumbra so worthwhile for me. I just couldn't mind much the fact that the story was a bit cliché.
Clive Barker's Undying was amazing at some parts but epicaly failed in many others... The story wasn't the most brilliant one, but wasn't the worst either. Anyway, constantly shooting weird looking dogs wasn't my concept of horror by then already, but bashing skeletons and still being attacked by their remaining parts was. Having my view pushed all the way to the side with each punch from the skeletons was disorienting and cool enough for my liking. But there was so many non horror parts in this game that in overal I didn't feel any fear or reluctance to go forward.
To be honest, I'd like to see new stories come around. I'm sick of zombies and all the kinds of creatures that are always mortal and not so scary after a few encounters. I felt somewhat pleased when I found out FEAR had ghosts in it. But on the other hand, I felt disgusted to see that you could kill ghosts with bullets (this happens in FEAR 2, not sure if happens in the 1st one). That incoherance disgusted me more than anything and this game just never reached my shelves.
But I enjoyed playing Alone in The Dark 4 for the fact that light on it's own was a good shield.
Some games aren't dedicated to horror ambients but they have done a better job than many at creating creepy moments in their plot. All the Thief titles have scenes with ghosts in which it's scary. Thief 3 has a level called The Cradle, which is one of the most spectacularly scary sceneries I've seen.
Fahrenheit has the part in the asylum which turns out to be kind of creepy too. (not ghosts tho)
Thief games were probably the first ones to bring to my mind that invulnerability was the key to induce fear to a player. Not just pressure, but plain fear.
One thing I noticed in games, including Penumbra Overture, is the lack of solutions to when you need to run, or protect yourself. There's usualy one solution, but it's not always obvious and it often becomes the trial and error thing in which the player will most likely die a few times in the rush to understand what he must/can do. This happened to me in Penumbra Overture in the spiders part. I saw the flamable broken lamp, but I forgot I had a lighter, and I thrown a torch onto the liquid. Of course, I died. But this is a good example, that the torch should've worked aswel. Often times is hard to predict how the player will react though, and I think a side character like Red and the guy in "your" mind in BP, is a very good solution to guide the player, to force him to notice things he might otherwise miss. But... it can start becoming an overused and pretentious approach.
This is one of the main things I've tried to come with something for, for a long time already.
Like I said, I like to write stories, always inspired in Stephen King, and wish I could make horror games someday. I've been noticing through the years all the flaws in horror games, probably like many of you too. This is a subject I'm very interested in, but it all comes from my biggest interest: fear. How to induce fear into the reader/player/etc.
Sorry for this huge testament, but I realy like this subject.