I’ve been thinking a bit lately about what horror games might learn from horror literature. How might we make a game that conveys uneasiness as well as Stephen King’s 1408? The Silent Hill series seems to have a bit in common with The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami, but Murakami’s works are much more complicated and disturbing.
It seems to me that the main challenge in creating a literate horror game would be to get past the cheesiness of killing zombies. Games must require the player to do something, but it seems like reverting to tried-and-true “destroy and progress” mechanics breaks the suspension of disbelief. Eternal Darkness used the idea of insanity to help unsettle the player, but at times it came off as gimmicky. The Clocktower Series might be a step in the right direction: by removing all forms of combat (and selecting an obviously vulnerable main character), the developers have increased tension significantly. Is such a drastic move necessary to avoid cheesiness? Good horror literature makes the reader question their own confidence in the nature of reality… how might a horror game do the same?