Saturday, November 16, 2013

Silent Hill 2, or, Shoofle Gets Too Scared To Play

I wrote about Silent Hill 2 today, which my roommate and I finally finished playing last night. I gave up on it previously, much to his annoyance, because it was just too stressful and scary for me to play. That hasn't happened before. He eventually took up the controller in my stead, but after trading it off to me for boss fights a few times, I picked it back up for the final few bits. After I got my thoughts down, I thought I'd collect some lasting thoughts or impressions; in retrospect, I think they're more interesting than the rest of the review. It's hiding behind the link - here's the TL;DR:

Okay, so, I want to try to get some kind of lasting something out of games more often, so I'm going to try to think about what I learned from each game I play. Silent Hill 2?

  1. The absence of enemies defines a horror game. This game got a hell of a lot of mileage out of giving you enemies to fight, and then not giving enemies for you to fight, so you're left with that floaty confused feeling - which intensifies the terror of actually seeing an enemy tenfold. 
  2. Leave the player weak and unable to affect their environment. I didn't often die in this game, but I got hit - it was scary, and I used my healing items a lot in contrast to my hoarder tendencies. I didn't down them reflexively, but it was a fairly regular thing. The disruption of getting hit once in every three battles aided my terror, and when I eventually figured out the combat, it became a lot less stressful.
  3. If the player character responds ambiguously or in a low-key way, the player responds directly instead. This supercharges things like fear and terror, but can easily bite you in the ass for confusing story and plot. If the player sees the character being scared, then the player just watches it all happen. If the character doesn't show terror, then the player will feel it themselves.
  4. Fourth, creepy shit is creepy as shit, but you've gotta play it quiet. Being startled is almost diametrically opposed from being unsettled. The threat of startling overpowers the actual effect of being startled by a million to one.

thanks, silent hill wiki