A horror game's success depends on its capacity to terrify players. Developers that dabble in the horror genre should guarantee that all of the aspects that comprise a horror game, such as a creepy story, terrifying creature design, and eerie music, serve the same purpose: to make us wet our pants. As video games are an interactive medium, the mechanics itself might prove to be the most challenging.
Horror games of the past and present have experimented with a variety of gameplay mechanisms to make the whole experience scary and even stressful. Horror video games are among the most mechanically complex, and because the player is in charge, they have a significant influence on the terror factor. These are eleven mechanisms meant to heighten the intensity of a horror game.
1. HidingThe always terrifying hide mechanism is an outgrowth of the silence mechanic. Popular in the horror genre, games in which the player's sole defence is to cower in a closet or hide beneath a table immediately contribute to the development of suspense.
That is particularly uncomfortable when you can almost see your pursuer searching for you. At Dead of Night executed this dynamic well, since not only could you see your pursuer via a variety of FMV animations, but you also had no idea when they would reveal your hiding place.
2. Being PursuedHorror game heroes despise being pursued, particularly if they have no tools to protect themselves. When given a simple directive like "run," you know you're in for a challenging time.
There are several dramatic pursuit situations in Poppy Playtime. Not only are the creatures after you horrifying, but you will often be sprinting through areas resembling mazes. When "hold shift to run" comes in a horror game, the tension increases proportionally.
3. Staying SilentAs a result of the immersive nature of video games, you may find yourself imitating particular gaming techniques, such as driving the joystick in a racing game or holding your breath in a horror game. When the game instructs you to stay silent, a another kind of tension emerges.
Scenarios that require you to remain silent or hold your breath to avoid discovery lead the players to do the same, as though making a sound might enhance the likelihood of the monster detecting them. We've all done it in Alien: Isolation when hiding from that pesky Xenomorph.
4. Your Source of Light Running OutThere are horror game mechanisms that border on being more annoying than intense. Having a light source that must be re-lit is certainly one of them, but if done well, it can make you quake in your boots.
The more primitive the light source, the greater the influence overall. The rigorous micromanagement required to strike another match or locate additional candles will cause you to plan your route more carefully. Or else be left in the dark…
5. Anything Peeking Around the CornerThis technique is a subtle version of a jump scare that may be much more powerful. In real life, having someone stare at you from around a corner while standing still and gazing may be unnerving. So when it occurs in video games, it is terrifying at its finest.
This mechanism is extremely effective when it appears out of nowhere, with no accompanying musical signal. Visage is an example of a horror game with one of the greatest implementations of this technique. You never know when anything may occur, but when you turn around, someone may be ready to greet you.
6. Keeping Away From DarknessIn horror games, being in the dark often results in physical injury in addition to the apparent terror of the unknown. When a horror game informs you that darkness will effect your gameplay, you may expect a frantic game of finding the light.
Typically, darkness impairs the sanity and capacity to continue living of your characters. Tormented Souls killed you instantly if you remained in the dark for too long, while games like the Amnesia series would have more gradual psychological repercussions. As though the darkness need more frightening qualities.
7. Using Camera FlashSometimes, the enjoyment of horror games is in anticipating a frightening moment and allowing dread to set in. When a game places you in a dark hallway and offers you an outdated camera with a large flash, you know you'll have to utilise the camera to illuminate your surroundings.
Madison bases a full section on this principle. Inviting the possibility of seeing a ghost directly in front of you by illuminating a hallway with a flash of light to assist you see where you are going. You will constantly be asking for the lights to be turned on due to this mechanism.
8. No PausingA seemingly minor element, but the inability to interrupt gameplay in a horror game may create some stressful situations. Horror video games sometimes include readable collectibles to enhance the plot. When a game does not halt when they are picked up, the dilemma remains as to whether you are ready to incur danger to read them.
For example, Dead Space does not even stop when you wish to improve your armament or purchase items from the in-game shop. Due in part to what EA refers to as the Intensity Director, it becomes risk-reward, compelling players to contemplate purchasing a few items and exit the menu in case a Necromorph is coming up on them.