11 Times Video Games Did Horror Better Than Movies
What about when you’re the one who has to open that creaky old door into the unknown?
Horror is something that comes in a whole bunch of different flavours; from volume-spiking jump-scares to grotesque imagery that will haunt you deep into the night, or just an over-reliance on gore to turn your stomach by default.
All of them transfer over to gaming perfectly, as although the medium of film challenges you to watch the events unfold on screen, gaming puts you directly in the shoes of that innocent person exploring a dilapidated old mansion, or the one who has to delve deeper into the depths of somewhere you’d otherwise stay away from just to retrieve an object to forward the story.
For many the first experience of having their horror-cherries popped would have been with either the first Silent Hill or Resident Evil games. Both operating in a manner that’s become known as ‘tank controls’ where your characters could only rotate before heading forward or back, this limited movement actually increased the horror element thanks to restricting how well you could get away from what surrounded you. However, recently we’ve seen a huge amount of first-person horror titles emerge, from the latest entry in the Amnesia series to the meme-based cult-hit Slender: The Eight Pages, featuring everyone’s favourite elongated stalker.
All the games above are very enjoyable for a number of cross-medium reasons, but the unique thing gaming has offered horror fans is that feeling of not wanting to press on, but knowing that only you are able to. In itself it’s a terrifying concept, and one that’s personified in some of the best titles in the genre.
11. Slender: The Eight Pages – Realising Someone Is Watching
Birthed by creator Eric Knudson for an online competition where photos had to be altered to look like they featured spooky activity, his images were accompanied by seemingly real-world accounts of people who had come into contact with the “Slender Man”. The creations and photos went viral, with Knudson supplementing the hype with an origin story and more faked documents to propagate the idea that Slender was actually a real demon who abducted children with his “persistent silence and outstretched arms” striking a chord with thousands.
The Eight Pages was the first incarnation of the mythos, kickstarting the entire first-person horror revolution we’re now in the middle of. Putting you in the shoes of somebody lost in the woods and tasking you with recovering the titular eight pages that were scattered around, the game is a masterclass in sound design, topped off by the slow burn that at any moment you could turn around and see Slender right behind you.
Even M. Night Shyamalan’s much-derided Signs features the highly-effective method of showing a static silhouette watching from afar, in a great scene where the figure of a man stands ominously on a rooftop, glaring at Mel Gibson’s character. A reliance on the unknown – or in this case, the unknown intentions of a character – is one of the best tools any horror-connoisseur has in their repertoire, and it’s a delicate balancing act revealing the creature in the shadows in a manner that keeps pulses sky-high, yet also delivers on the idea of a threat.
Luckily for us, Slender succeeded so well in digging his claws in that he’s now a cultural phenomenon, the very mentioning of which chills some people to the bone from being stuck out in the woods for too long.