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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Editorial: Four More Survival Horror Video Game Ideas.

Editorial: Four More Survival Horror
Video Game Ideas.

So, I really like survival horror games. Okay, that's a lie. That's a brazen lie. I'm sorry, I'm sorry I lied - I like watching other people play survival horror while I wail "It's so terrifying!" and they're like "This is the menu screen, Murphy," and I am like "I'm so afraid."

We've looked at some blue-sky spitballing survival horror ideas on this blog before, with both myself and Reecey talking about various ideas for unique and interesting horror games. As this is Halloween week, and thus Fission Mailure Horror Week, it's time to add a few more.


You know what I don't much like in video games? Darkness. You know what horror video games, especially in recent years, seem to love? Darkness!

It's difficult to be afraid when you can't see what you're meant to be afraid of, and even if it wasn't, dark and dilapidated hospitals, schools, and shopping centres are starting to get old. Yes, we get it, these places are scary if you take the people out of them. Hospitals, by far the most popular choice of the three, are especially scary, as they are in essence miniature, mazelike cities.

But you know what's also terrifying, even with people? Lavish regency balls.

Imagine it, you're exploring a locale not unlike the Palace of Versailles, but twenty times more decadent and opulent, at the height of its grandiosity, beautiful to almost absurd extremes, and the monsters pursuing you are dressed in extravagant formal clothing with intricate, shimmering masks. Everything is well-lit. Everything is gorgeous. And you are very nearly helpless and must do your damndest not to get caught, because they will graft a mask to your face and eat you and possibly titter about your poor table manners in the bargain.

Well-lit, colourful, beautiful survival horror. Give it to me. As a bonus, you could have the main villain be called the Sun King, because that is just an inherently sinister name.

Clockwork Moon.

My least favourite on this list, the 'steampunk survival horror' one.

As a genre, survival horror tends to cross over with a lot of different genres - science fiction and fantasy survival horrors are far from uncommon, after all - but I don't think I've ever seen a steampunk one, and that's a little odd, because steampunk is almost an inherently sinister genre.

(That's partly because the Victorians were just quite a creepy people, and largely because steampunk is largely about the juxtaposition of omnipresent, advanced, unstable technology and people who don't really fully understand it.)

Also, steam-powered and clockwork automatons make great unfeeling, relentless monsters to throw at a player who just wants to find their way out of this mad scientist's laboratory, right?


Aka 'I'm very happy with Until Dawn, but I'd like to see an actual slasher flick game.'

The premise is simple: You, and a band of other survivors, are trapped in a - in a somewhere. Given what survival horror games and slasher flicks, it's probably some kind of lodge or private island. But there's a serial killer among you. 

While the mechanics would be very survival horror, instead of avoiding monsters like you usually do, you'd be avoiding just one person - which means that a lot of the time, the game will be quite slow-paced, working on building atmosphere; and then intercut with shorter, fast-paced sections where you're fleeing the killer and hiding from them.

Add in an element of choice (think more Dead Rising or Mass Effect than Until Dawn's excellent level of choicery) and you can have a whole new dynamic: Making sure your fellow survivors survive, with your various choices at various points determining how many of them live or die.

It'd be fun. Everyone loves slasher flicks.

Bad Dream.

Aka 'Life is Strange did one of the best dream sequences I've ever seen in a game, even if it did go on for too long, and I'd like to see a whole game like that.'

'Properly dreamlike' is a difficult thing to pull off for dream sequences, not least because dreams don't resemble reality in any way: Their basic structure is fundamentally different, because they are constructs of the mind in which the divide between thought and perception doesn't really exist. But I can always respect a game which tries its best to represent something surreal and dreamlike, and there's a wealth of opportunity there.

There are ways you could make it very sinister, too. Have the nightmare be a recurring one, intercut with real life sections that get progressively less and less normal and more and more odd, bizarre, and dark as the dream starts to bleed over into reality. Do interesting things with the interplay between reality and dream, play with the fourth wall, go all-out on the surreal, strange imagery.

It'd be difficult to pull off, and you certainly wouldn't get a long game out of it - four or five hours at the absolute tops - but it'd be a wonderfully interesting experiment.

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