Outlasted

Jan 12, 2012
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If I was designing a horror game, I'd let the player try and hit the monster with something, only to fail and get messily devoured because it turns out that beating someone to death with a rotted 2x4 is actually really hard.

Outlast throws a reporter(?) into an insane asylum with a bunch of super-freaks that often have knives and definitely thirst for blood. I just don't see our intrepid hero coming out on top.
 

Zhukov

The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
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Actually, I prefer not being able to kill shit.

Once I'm given a weapon, no matter how weak, I'm going to find a way to kill everything in my path. Then the game goes from horror to a hunt. And hunting, while potentially challenging, isn't scary.

Penumbra, the predecessor to Amnesia, was a prime example. They give you a hammer, and later a pickaxe, but made the controls awkward as fuck. Didn't stop me from knocking over every enemy I met with a thrown object before awkwardly beating their heads in.

Similar scenario with the original Condemned. "Oh no! A crazed homeless guy with an axe has ambushed you and is about to... oh, you blew him away with a shotgun. Uh, good shot, I guess."

Dead Space was the extreme example. (Yes, all of the Dead Space games.) Turned "horror" into a dismemberment production line. A monster jumps out! Zap, off goes his right leg and he falls flat on his face. Zap, off goes his right arm, and he's dead. Another monster jumped out! Zap, off goes his right leg, and he falls... etc etc.

A thing that you can kill and perform an improvised Punch and Judy puppet routine with its corpse cannot be scary.
 

Renegade-pizza

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Jul 26, 2010
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Firstly, this seems appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olEbwhWDYwM

Secondly, while I am not a fan of games that ruin my underwear, pants and seat, I think it's to help create atmosphere. Extra-credits had an episode on horror games and mentioned that being unable to fight the monster makes you more frigthened, ala Ripley vs. Xenomorph(I like to call him Charles)
 

Thaluikhain

Elite Member
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Apr 4, 2020
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Eh, that sort of thing does happen in horror movies a lot.

Only, after she'd hit the monster, she throws away the advantage, runs off, falls over and hurts herself, and lies there until the monster recovers and catches up to her again.

Once you've started hitting the monster, don't stop until it's smeared all over the floor.
 

tmande2nd

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Oct 20, 2010
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You...you dare suggest going against the status quo of horror games! FILTHY CASUAL!

But nah that is basically the reason I stopped playing any horror game.
"Egads a monster...better hide under a bed...again"

It went from scary to downright ANNOYING to have to deal with this over and over.
To bad I could not mod in the BFG from doom or something, because that would be funny.
 

Olas

Hello!
Dec 24, 2011
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Not being able to fight back in horror games does raise the tension pretty high, but that doesn't mean it needs to be taken to the extreme. I think you can still make encounters with bad guys pretty nerve racking if you make the player still feel underpowered by comparison.
 

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
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Apr 4, 2020
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Zhukov said:
Actually, I prefer not being able to kill shit.
In Outlast you literally can't do anything though, except run and hide.

You can't fend off enemies, you can't throw shit to distract them while in stealth. You have arms, but apparently they barely have any function. Give me crappy weapon controls if you wish for me to feel helpless, but don't make me literally helpless. Especially if you have the worst fucking stealth mechanic.

Yeah, I don't much like this game.
 

Eternal_Lament

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Sep 23, 2010
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I'm not a big fan of the trend myself, because in many ways it just makes the game less scary for me. After a while, I stop thinking "Oh my gawds, a monster! Bu-bu-bu-but I can't kill it!" and more "Oh fuck, more of you? Ugh, let's get this over with. Yeah, yeah, BOO and all that, I'll run this way and you'll follow." I get that giving too many items takes away from the horror, but having no items doesn't actually make the game scarier. In many ways, a game with no items isn't actually as scary as a game with FEW items.

Picture the following scenarios if you will: there are three enemies in the room, and you have 300 bullets because the game just throws ammo at you. Not very scary, since you have more than enough to deal with each enemy. Now imagine the same scenario, but you have no bullets because the game doesn't have a weapons system. Sure, it may initially frighten you, but now it's no longer about overcoming tough situations so much as it's now overcoming puzzles, in this case the puzzle always being "How do I run away from these three dudes." You stop viewing it in your mind as something that must be feared and rather as something that must simply be dealt with like anything else. Now imagine the same scenario, but now you only have two bullets because the game does have weapons, but weapons are scarce and you need to properly use them. To me, this is the ideal scenario, because now each encounter forces you to consider which battles are worth it and which ones aren't. There's also that element of knowing that even if two enemies die, there's still the one, and then the feeling of failure springs to mind because you realize that as much as you dying is a result of the game's obstacles, your use or misuse of resources is also a cause for death. In other words, you are as much a monster to yourself as the actual monsters in the game (which tends to be the "point" as it were i a good number of games)

TLDR: Too much power isn't scary because it's almost impossible to lose, no power isn't scary because there is nothing to lose, and some power is scary because while you can survive, you always have something to lose with each encounter
 

The Wooster

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Jul 15, 2008
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Thunderous Cacophony said:
If I was designing a horror game, I'd let the player try and hit the monster with something, only to fail and get messily devoured because it turns out that beating someone to death with a rotted 2x4 is actually really hard.

Outlast throws a reporter(?) into an insane asylum with a bunch of super-freaks that often have knives and definitely thirst for blood. I just don't see our intrepid hero coming out on top.
That's the difference between you and me. I'd actually give the player a weapon so that they could stand a chance against the creature. Not a machine gun, no, I mean like a pipe or crowbar. Because guess what? Some of us would rather go down fighting or at the very least struggling, before the beast kills and/or eats us. We're humans, remember? we're GOOD at finding new and innovative ways to kill things, especially each other.
 

Gary Thompson

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Aug 29, 2011
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Yeah, Outlast had the silliest contrivance not allowing you to even try to kill those guys.

The game got really repetitive when all you could do is run and hide.

It got to the point where it wasn't scary as just annoying.
 

The Wooster

King Snap
Jul 15, 2008
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I hate horror games where you can't fight back in anyway. Yes, the creature MAY be scary, but I'd rather have a way to fight back (I'm not saying it should be a LMG, but a weapon like a pipe, or a baseball bat.), because otherwise, I'll look at this, see the trailer, think it looks interesting, then go back to playing The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile or Charlie Murder. Or Mark Of The Ninja.
 

otakon17

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Jun 21, 2010
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Now, I would still prefer the ability to fight back. Not kill the aggressor and it's a risky tactic but a viable tactic you can use if you're good enough and lucky enough.
 

Gorrath

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Feb 22, 2013
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I'm more a fan of the Silent Hill approach. The horror is as much in the environment as in the monsters and though you are armed, you still feel helpless against the twisted reality you're stuck inhabiting. The single most dreadful thing I've ever experienced in a game is hearing those sires going off and feeling totally helpless to stop the coming horror. My guns meant nothing.
 
Jan 12, 2012
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GamerMage said:
Thunderous Cacophony said:
If I was designing a horror game, I'd let the player try and hit the monster with something, only to fail and get messily devoured because it turns out that beating someone to death with a rotted 2x4 is actually really hard.

Outlast throws a reporter(?) into an insane asylum with a bunch of super-freaks that often have knives and definitely thirst for blood. I just don't see our intrepid hero coming out on top.
That's the difference between you and me. I'd actually give the player a weapon so that they could stand a chance against the creature. Not a machine gun, no, I mean like a pipe or crowbar. Because guess what? Some of us would rather go down fighting or at the very least struggling, before the beast kills and/or eats us. We're humans, remember? we're GOOD at finding new and innovative ways to kill things, especially each other.
We may be good, but they're better.

The old Silent Hills did what I mean very well. Sure, you had a gun, but trying to shoot Pyramid Head was a damnfool thing to do, and you knew it. I'm not saying that you can't go down fighting, just that you will go down because you're not good at fighting, and what you're fighting against is a lot better than you.
 

shrekfan246

Not actually a Japanese pop star
May 26, 2011
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I think the problem is less an issue with being completely defenseless and more an issue with games making the player defenseless and then proceeding to use their monsters too often. I mean, I get that they want to keep things tense and that they follow the same typical game design strategy of difficulty ramping up as you approach the end of the game, but in a horror game I think expectations need to be broken and those shackles of "normal" game design need to be cast aside.

Atmosphere is king in horror games, in my opinion, so it doesn't really matter if there's a monster chasing me or not, as long as I know that there's the possibility of the monster chasing me at any given time. In fact, the lulls and quiet sections often serve as fantastic ways to punctuate just how strange and off the situation you're in may be, and build up more tension than the adrenaline pumping chase-or-hide sequences. At least, in my mind. Feeling unnerved and anxious is much "scarier" in my mind than a string quartet suddenly leaping out in my face and running after me. Sure, I'll jump at it, but it's a cheap thrill.

I'm not really sure that giving the player a stick would really help keep a horror game from devolving into Dead Space. Being able to fight back fundamentally reduces the "scary" factor of an enemy, because even with relatively clumsy controls, there's still always the fact that you can fight back and by the convenience of the necessity of video game design, you'll always be able to overcome the obstacle in your path. Therefore the only answer is to make the enemy or enemies unkillable but still stunnable or slow enough for the player to run away in time, but then you get a Nemesis situation and you're likely going to divide the opinions of the people who play your game and get a new group of people who are frustrated that they can fight your creature but it's essentially invincible.

Video game design doesn't really lend itself to other options, either. If you can kill an enemy, it eventually loses its fearsomeness. If you can't and you see it far too often, it becomes frustrating that it keeps impeding your progress. And the middle ground of being able to knock them out so you can run away again is... not an elegant solution. But maybe someone should try it to see what we get out of it?
 

Pebkio

The Purple Mage
Nov 9, 2009
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I support the pipe or piece of wood thing... but it'd probably be a bit vestigial. You can smack that big brute of a psycho but he'll just kill you anyway. Because he's crazy-go-nuts and you're not. Plus that might set up for a fantastic scene where you actually do kill the brute because you've been forced to go insane.
 

PunkRex

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Feb 19, 2010
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I think the problem isn't the ability to kill said monster but to put up even the most basic fight. I understand an indie title going down that route as it's easier but it seems most games these days seem to be jumping on the wagon, then when anyone speaks up they're told they simply don't get horror and should go back to Gears of War if they wanna kill shit.

*shrug*

Whatevs, peeps should make what they want, just don't call me a prick if I say I don't like it.
 

RJ Dalton

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Aug 13, 2009
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Zhukov said:
Penumbra, the predecessor to Amnesia, was a prime example. They give you a hammer, and later a pickaxe, but made the controls awkward as fuck. Didn't stop me from knocking over every enemy I met with a thrown object before awkwardly beating their heads in.
I didn't think you could actually kill something in Penumbra. I thought they got back up after a while.

Anyway, I prefer a balance. Like, you can get weapons and can kill monsters, but they make it really hard. Ammo for guns is really hard to find, so you have to preserve it for when you absolutely need it (like you need time to search a room without having your butt bitten off). 2x4s and pipes do very little damage and are mostly just for a quick stun, but are difficult to time, so you're probably going to get hurt if you use them anyway. Sort of gameplay that makes running away the best option, but doesn't leave you completely hanging if you get backed into a corner and have no other option.
 

The Wooster

King Snap
Jul 15, 2008
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Thunderous Cacophony said:
GamerMage said:
Thunderous Cacophony said:
If I was designing a horror game, I'd let the player try and hit the monster with something, only to fail and get messily devoured because it turns out that beating someone to death with a rotted 2x4 is actually really hard.

Outlast throws a reporter(?) into an insane asylum with a bunch of super-freaks that often have knives and definitely thirst for blood. I just don't see our intrepid hero coming out on top.
That's the difference between you and me. I'd actually give the player a weapon so that they could stand a chance against the creature. Not a machine gun, no, I mean like a pipe or crowbar. Because guess what? Some of us would rather go down fighting or at the very least struggling, before the beast kills and/or eats us. We're humans, remember? we're GOOD at finding new and innovative ways to kill things, especially each other.
We may be good, but they're better.

The old Silent Hills did what I mean very well. Sure, you had a gun, but trying to shoot Pyramid Head was a damnfool thing to do, and you knew it. I'm not saying that you can't go down fighting, just that you will go down because you're not good at fighting, and what you're fighting against is a lot better than you.
I KNOW that, alright? I'm saying those games are bad, I've heard of Silent Hill 2, it's story, and I find it interesting. But games in other genres can create a sense of horror as well. Take the Broodmother segment in Dragon Age:Origins. That's one of the parts of the game I remember the most; mostly because of how God dang terrifying and unsettling it was. Seeing the disturbing imagery combined with the Dwarven lady explaining what happened, the tone in which she tells it, all leading up to the abomination that was the Brood Mother. It was effed up with those dwarves DID to each other. And I remember just feeling so gratified after finishing it off. And maybe that's why I prefer my horror or macabre elements to be in a Sho-nen manga, or a different genre of gaming. Ever hear of The Dishwasher games? Those were beat-em-up games with RPG elements sure, but here me out. The art style is like a 90's Rock album cover. Here, take a look. >https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQWp5IXQCfg