He loves both old masterpieces and domestic rookies.
Many players jokingly refer to playing horror games as “spending money and being abused.” In a sense, it is true. When we open an unfamiliar horror game, we must have some expectations for it: a dark background, a repressive atmosphere, interlocking puzzles, a protagonist with limited survivability… No matter whether the story takes place at home or abroad, The real background is still a fantasy world, and the four characters “creepy” stand out. After all, in most people’s minds, since it is a horror game, it is always scary. If you fail to do well in the scary part, even if the story is strong, the gameplay is good, and all aspects are good, you will feel that something is missing.
What kind of horror game is fun, different people have different judgment standards, such as plot, gameplay, art, music, Jump Scare and other hard indicators, the proportions in the minds of each player can be said to be far apart. However, in general, under the influence of a large number of horror games, people have established a general impression of this type. Of course, on the other hand, a large number of horror games also give people “resistance”, and unremarkable and innovative works can easily become the center of player criticism.
With this premise, there is room for discussion on the topic “what kind of horror game do we want to play”.
Horror and Fusion
To define a horror game is both simple and complex. The simplicity is that because the content is clear, we all know that it is a “game with horror and horror as the theme”; the complexity is that horror and horror are derived from narrative performance, visual performance and player experience, and have little to do with gameplay. Therefore, to introduce a horror game in detail, it is often necessary to add another word to explain the gameplay-survival horror, action horror, horror puzzle solving…These have become the most familiar horror game types today.
This leads to another question: Since the horror theme can be combined with almost any gameplay, what gameplay is it compatible with?
Early horror games left little room for developers to think about, such as “Haunted House” in 1982. “Haunted House” was released on the Atari 2600 platform. It is conceivable that it is a game that “faces the pixels on the screen and fills in the cover illustration”. However, despite the limited technical level, the game still does its best to create a horrible atmosphere for players, such as using two eyes in the dark to represent the protagonist, using sound effects to make a frightening effect, using screen color changes and rapid flashing to enhance visual stimulation, etc. Wait.
There are also some interactive games with text as the core. Developers add horror and suspense elements to the text description, which is equivalent to moving thriller fragments into the game. Many players of this type of game are also thriller novels and horror game lovers, and they naturally accept this way of expression well.
A few years later, Capcom’s “Sweet Home” (Sweet Home) became a representative horror RPG at the time. “Sweet House” is adapted from the movie, which already has many classic elements of the “Resident Evil” series-mansion, notes, traps, limited resources and weapons, etc. At the same time, the game’s graphics are also very expressive. It is good to say when walking on the map. During the battle, the first-person view of the zombies pounced on the player’s face.
Entering the 1990s, “Alone In The Dark” (1992) brought 3D into the “survival horror game”-of course, strictly speaking, the so-called 3D in “Haunted Mansion” was just With the addition of 3D characters in the 2D background, the word “survival horror” was not invented until Capcom was promoting “Resident Evil” in 1996, but it is undeniable that it can still be called a veteran of survival horror games. Together with the latecomers, let “Survival Horror” become one of the most familiar horror game types for players.
From the perspective of gameplay, survival horror is a derivative of action games and shooting games. In terms of operation, the design of action and shooting games is basically used, but the focus is on creating an atmosphere, and the player feels shock and pressure by controlling perspective, resources, physical strength, actions, etc.
According to this logic, the weaker the player’s ability, the weaker the resistance when facing danger, the more obvious the terror effect. But in fact, for many games, reducing the player’s ability and having fun cannot have both. So here is a question of degree: if the protagonist is weak, he has to be excellent in other aspects; to improve the protagonist’s ability to enhance the gameplay, there is a danger of falling into “the player is happy to fight monsters and the horror game is disqualified”-4th Later, “Resident Evil” was criticized by players like this, and it was not until “Resident Evil 7” returned to orthodoxy.
In addition to “survival”, “puzzle solving” is also highly compatible with horror games. In many classic horror games, survival and puzzle solving exist at the same time and are inseparable. Of course, many games only focus on puzzle solving.
The benefits of puzzle solving to horror games are obvious: it can significantly increase the player’s subtle operations, improve immersion and game time. If you don’t want players to pick up weapons and kill them all, it’s a good choice to sneak them around on the map with puzzles. In many games, the puzzle-solving process is also an important thrust of the plot. There are quite good performances in the “Silent Hill” series and “Zero” series. For example, in “Silent Hill 2”, the player’s puzzle solving process is exactly the process of plot unfolding, and the puzzle setting also deliberately guides the player to explore the truth, which is quite clever.
It is worth mentioning that, whether it is survival, puzzle solving or other types, horror games have always been favored by small teams and independent developers. The reason is that the size of horror games is flexible, and the demand for manpower and material resources is not high. On the one hand, the low production threshold is the other. At this time, “can be combined with any gameplay type” has become a major advantage of horror games. For many small studios and individual developers, as long as they have ideas, entry-level software and entry-level technology can also make good works. After the 1990s, a large number of personally made horror games emerged in Japan, most of which were made with RPG Maker.
With the development of software upgrades and technical improvements, Unity and “Unreal” are not considered high barriers in the eyes of many developers. Coupled with the increase in game platforms in recent years, a large number of independent horror games have appeared in people’s field of vision, and they will soon be like Other indie games show a mixed state of good and bad. However, those games with excellent creativity and even a little dark humor can easily stand out.
Feel the fear
Why do people play horror games? This question has attracted the attention of many researchers.
Horror games are aimed at people’s fears, and fears come from human instincts. It is generally believed that fear is the instinctive reaction of people in order to survive when facing danger. Because of fear, people will experience a series of physiological changes, such as increased heartbeat, increased blood pressure, accelerated breathing, widened eyes, increased blood supply to the limbs, high concentration of energy, etc. The purpose is also very clear-after discovering the danger, either resist , Or run away.
There are many sources of fear, such as darkness, fire, water, high places, poisonous or potentially harmful animals, things or images related to death. Regarding these, people quoted more frequently from the horror novel master H.P. Lovecraft’s summary in the article “Supernatural Horror in Literature”: “The oldest and strongest human emotion is fear, and the oldest The strongest fear comes from the unknown.”
The “unknown” in horror games abounds. Many players should have had similar experiences: Jump Scare is terrible, but what really keeps people in a creepy state is “I don’t know when” Jump Scare-I hear a strange sound, but I don’t know where the enemy is; the protagonist is walking In the dark, I don’t know when I will be in danger; I don’t know if it is a useful clue or a trap by the designer when encountering interactive objects…Of course, as a commercial product, horror games cannot be free of routines, and experienced players can sometimes guess Out of the designer’s mind, but this is already another topic.
Complementing ignorance is the helplessness of the protagonist. In order to prevent players from “suddenly” all the way, even if it is a survival horror game that focuses on action and shooting, it only gives players limited space, limited viewing angle, limited materials, and limited operations, highlighting the difficulty of survival. Not to mention a game that doesn’t take action as a selling point. Even if the protagonist is a healthy adult man, he can only be unarmed, running hurriedly in an environment where there are mobs in front and bosses in the back-thinking about it may not be reasonable, but the atmosphere and oppression The feeling is indeed sufficient.
Another important reason why people love horror games and enjoy the stimulation of adrenaline and dopamine is that they are sure that they are safe. As a player, no matter how dangerous you encounter in the game, you can shut down and exit at any time. This sense of distance can be said to be the guarantee of people’s pursuit of exaggerated experience in all fictional works, including games, and it is particularly important in horror games that are closely related to negative emotions.
The sense of distance can also derive another kind of onlooker mentality, which is the saying “I don’t dare to play, but I like to watch others play”. In the same horror game, I was so frightened and some netizens reminded “Energy ahead” and watched the anchor were frightened. The happiness of the former may have to be discounted, while the latter is pure happiness.
Of course, social, video, and live broadcast platforms may not have imagined that a large number of game anchors would become popular at the beginning of their establishment, but today, few people have questioned their role in promoting games. Correspondingly, the platform has also cultivated an audience of game anchors. In game videos and live broadcasts, the proportion of horror games is not high due to the quantity, quality, and power of publicity. However, once popular works are paid attention to, the benefits are often unexpected.
In recent years, domestic development teams have also put a lot of effort into horror games, not only the number is increasing rapidly, but there are also many word-of-mouth works. It was also during this time that developers and players mentioned the term “Chinese Terror” more and more frequently.
As the name suggests, Chinese horror refers to “horror experience centered on Chinese culture.” Like other horror games, Chinese horror games have neither gameplay restrictions nor platform restrictions. The key is whether developers can grasp the connection between Chinese culture and self-expression.
In fact, Chinese horror has a unique advantage in arousing the immersion and emotional resonance of domestic players. In the words of the writer Milan Kundera, “We will face a phenomenon we call imitation or inheritance, that is, a concept of life. It believes that everyone’s mission is to make certain existing forms , Certain mythological models established by the predecessors were resurrected and allowed them to regenerate.” In layman’s terms, those horror symbols that are closely related to people’s daily life habits and inner cultural identity do not even need to be rendered too much, and the eyes may be cold.
For example, the elements of the late Qing Dynasty in “Paper Man”, the urban legends of Hong Kong in “A Story of Hong Kong”, the life and customs of all classes in the late Qing Dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China in “Soul Bargaining Chip”, and even the superstition remnants in “Fireworks” Without explanation, players can easily empathize with the scene rendered by these symbols.
Under this premise, as long as developers do a good job of core gameplay and tell good stories, the overall level will not be too bad. Even in some hard indicators, such as picture quality, dubbing, music, etc., there are some shortcomings, at least it can achieve the effect of “not concealing the weakness”.
Combined with some popular domestic horror games, the main features of the current “Chinese horror” can be summarized. It is very obvious that the Chinese cultural symbols used in the game have been screened, so that they can play a role in the game process as much as possible, whether it is weapons, key props or clues to solve puzzles, to give players more opportunities to contact them. Conducive to deepening the impression.
But at the same time, the use of these cultural symbols has to be understated. Especially in ancient culture, there are often only a few words that really come in handy, such as Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, the Eight Diagrams of the Book of Changes, Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, and poetry. In puzzle-solving games, they are only used as patterns and simple cultural elements, directly integrated into the puzzles such as numbers, spelling, arrangement, and reasoning that players are familiar with, and they will not deliberately design puzzles based on their connotations. Even if there are, Also add a short and clear explanation.
The reason for this is also very simple: regardless of whether the cultural symbols are new or old, players are always more focused on gameplay and stories. Large-length descriptions and notes will not only make players feel that the amount of information is too large in a short time, and produce a sense of irritability, but also destroy their immersion and game rhythm.
In terms of plot, many games highlight the sense of the times, recreating the scenes in a certain period of time in an “original” way, and on this basis, try to tell a story with the characteristics of the times. This will not only better integrate cultural symbols, but also make those players who have experienced this period of time derive more emotion.
Although the themes of each game are different, and the quality is not all perfect, but as a whole, reasoning, emotion, and social directions are involved, and they have the advantage of being grounded. If there are similar or small innovative works in the future, you can explore There are many more things.
What kind of horror game do we want to play?
Generally speaking, whether it is a new work in the old series or the increasingly rich Chinese horror, the answer for adults is of course “I want it all.” But to be more careful, since the developers work hard to produce, coupled with the promotion of publishers, players, and game anchors, from the bottom of our hearts, we still look forward to as many high-quality domestic horror games as possible.
Author: Chen Jing
Source: Touch Music