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  • 7 Essential Elements For Building Tension In Horror Games

    [06.11.19]
    - Daniel Jones

  • 4) Camera Angles

    Camera angles can be used in horror games to achieve different atmospheres. More modern games tend to feature a free rotating camera or even first person. These can be fantastically used in horror games to immerse the player in the game. They do however require a lot more work in making sure the tension is upheld by not revealing too much.

    A far simpler way of achieving this was through fixed camera angles. Older Playstation titles such as Resident Evil Code Veronica and Dino Crisis utilised this to great effect. Concealing enemies that should be in plain site for the protagonist but unseen for the player made you anxious to traverse every corridor.

    TVTropes.org can some great content showing the uses of various video game camera angles and even lists examples where you might see them in effect.

    5) Music

    Music is probably one of the most underrated weapons in a developers arsenal to build tension. A scene seen in isolation with no sound can sometimes be difficult to interpret and it is through music and of course audio we can what to expect in the coming scenes.

    Dark suspenseful music can set the player on edge. Even if no enemies or horrors around the corner, it is the sheer anticipation of whats to come that is enough to build tension. On the other hand they can also relax the player and allow their senses to recuperate.

    This is important too. Like anything too much can ruin the tension. A good albeit odd comparison to draw upon is Christmas. If every day was Christmas day. There would be nothing special about the 25th December. Tension is much the same. If atmospheric music is used in every scene. All scenes will become dull and unsurprising.

    WatchMojo.com lists some fantastic horror themes in this video.

    6) Compelling Narrative

    Often horror games are not known for their strong narrative but in my opinion a solid enticing narrative is an important ingredient to ensure the horrors do not stop the players desire to see what is around the next corner.

    One of the best games for this was Silent Hill 2. The threat of unspeakable horrors around every misty corner would have understandably been enough to make any player turn the game off. The anticipation of finding out how James' dead wife was able to contact him and what was happening in this strange town was enough to keep you motivated to confront the terrors to come.

    Some examples of great horror narrative include Alien Isolation, Fatal Frame 2 and S.O.M.A.

    7) The Unexpected

    This may seem obvious but part of what keep suspense and attention in attendance in any good horror game is delivering the unexpected. Corners where you expect confrontation there should be none on occasion. Corridors once safe should occasionally be unsafe. The primary target here is to ensure the player is permanently on edge.

    "Occasionally" is the key word here. Once again like any good thing, moderation and balance is the key. Part of what keeps things unexpected is that they do not happen all the time.

    As you can see from all of the above. Any of these tropes can be overused thus negating the effectiveness of the attribute. Balance as always is the key to make sure events remain surprising and important. If you enjoyed this article why not visit my website for more articles like this.

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