With the recent release of the smash hit horror game Slender, a fuse erupted inside of me that sent an alert to my brain, telling me to crave more of these kinds of games. Unfortunately, Slender marks what may be one of the last true survival horror games that the industry will ever be able to conceive.
In my eyes, Slender is the most perfectly simplified version of a horror game. You have a simple task; collect 8 pieces of paper scattered around a large forest, all while being stalked by a slender man who wears a suit and has no face. The beautifully done sense of terror is found in the little things. The easiest way to fail is to look at your chaser, yet curiosity nags at you to constantly check your surroundings for him. Additionally, if you see him, the only way to ensure safety is to turn off your flashlight and allow darkness to creep in. In other words, the easiest way to succeed is to further scare yourself. Brilliant.
Slender, like many other survival horror games, oozes atmosphere.
Yet Slender is just a diamond in the rough. These days, good horror games are few and far between.
The last new IP within the genre, created specifically for consoles, and heralded as a major success was 2008's Dead Space. Yet even now, EA and Visceral have admitted to broadening the Dead Space experience to more casual audiences, ditching singleplayer scares and tension for a co-op action-packed game. Yet Dead Space isn't the only one. Hardcore Resident Evil fans also had a distaste for the action-heavy Resident Evil 5. So where does this lead us?
Well, the answer is simple; we live in a day and age where hybrid game types like Action/RPGs and Action/Horror games rule the market. It's a beautiful thing to play Amnesia: The Dark Decent - arguably the best horror game of this generation - and not be able to do anything but run away and hide from enemies, but that isn't what sells. Why would producers and developers not want to make more money? Even though it saddens fans of the series, the creators of our beloved games want their cash. When games like Mass Effect or Dead Space sell so well, why not shape the way you make your games into something that appeals to a broader audience?
The Dead Space franchise has effectively committed to action-heavy gameplay.
It seems the biggest scares come from independent developers, and smaller games. Amnesia, Slender, Limbo, and others are the true innovators that just might push the genre forward. But how long is it until corporate greed forces them into incorporating action into their games? Only time will tell.
That said, we do have a great suite of games at our disposal. Old or new, if you're a fan of tension and scares, there's plenty of games to go out and try or revisit. Just because horror games may be lacking in this generation doesn't mean you can't find and enjoy some old classics.
Nevertheless, whilst people are off drooling over surgically impairing Necromorphs with a Plasma Cutter in Dead Space 3, I'll be enjoying shitting my pants after playing my copy of Amnesia.