In a lot of today’s horror games, players often come across patterns that end up making the game predictable and lacking in terms of good spooks and scares. In this article, we’re going to explore some of the most commonly used horror game tropes that are being overused and are frequently underwhelming in execution.
#1 – The Hunt Without a Payoff
Too often, a horror game will require you to seek out keys and pass codes that do not add to the story, nor the fear that the game would like to invoke during the hunt. While exploration can serve as a great factor to the experience, the hunt for objects can leave the player feeling as though the search provided no real payoff when the key was simply sitting on top of a dresser. Even more frustrating is unlocking a box with an object that will unlock another area in the game. This scheme quickly turns into a cycle that leaves us unsatisfied when used in repetition.
#2 – Mental Illness
Some horror games attempt to rely on the use of mental illness as a theme for atrocities that may take place around, or within, the player. Humans are already wired in with stress and fear, and it can be more effective to play on subconscious or practical fears. This would offer a more immersive experience to players, as it doesn’t cause any attribution of events to be blamed on something that is projected by the protagonist. Instead, this would allow the horror taking place in game to feel more genuine in the player’s perspective.
#3 – Find the Notes
While seeking out notes can allow a story to unfold, it can be quite frustrating when the notes are how the whole story unfolds. This method of storytelling can take away from the experience of the game when a player starts asking themselves who put a note down every five seconds and why? However, when spread throughout the game, finding notes can be a fun way to gather additional information on the story.
#4 – Lifeless Protagonist
Have you ever noticed that the character you’re playing as has no reaction to any of the terrible events unfolding around them? You’re not the only one to notice this bizarre sense of lifelessness from a protagonist in a horror game. I think it’s safe to say that a majority of people being chased by some grotesque deity would at least gasp for air and have a fast heartbeat during the encounter.
#5 – Don’t Look at It
The antagonist in a horror game can be one of the biggest sources of fear for the player, but if you don’t know what the enemy looks like or are unable to look at it, a lot of that fear can diminish. In some games, if you attempt to look at the enemy your screen will begin to glitch, keeping you from getting a good look at exactly what it is you should be scared of. Of course, if the enemy is designed as a 2 dimensional non-intimidating figure, I’d prefer the game keeps me guessing.