Now despite me loving the bones off old horror movies, the original The Crazies is an incredible piece of cinema, most horror games have always eluded me as a source of entertainment.
I decided to brush the dust off my copy of The Evil Within and within the first hour I was already bored to tears. There’s no comprehensive story. It’s do this for reasons, every scene that I played through felt like it had just been copied straight from the big book of cliche horror tropes, in the end I just switched it off.
However it got me thinking and that’s always a dangerous thing.
Horror, if done well, is an incredible sensation. It’s checking every shadow, it’s hearing a noise that sends your brain into overdrive, in short good horror can turn your own senses against you making the familiar seem strange and wrong. Now when I sit and watch some of my favorite youtubers play horror games (I’m hardly going to waste money) I’m often taken aback by how lazy they are, often relying on the jump scare to achieve a result, the most successful of resent years being the Five Nights at Freddys series. A good jump scare in the right place can of course be very effective, if it comes after a good build up with unnerving lighting and sound, it’s overwhelms the brains rationalization, flooding the body with Adrenalin and triggering the “fight or flight” and as it fades away it’s like the post-orgasm of fear. Naturally good stuff.
However throwing them over and over at the audience completely desensitizing them to the concept of actual horror is really fucking stupid. In the end overuse of any mechanic will make it become stagnant as well as somewhat annoying, it is due to this genre being so associate with this viscous cycle of repetition that we almost missed a different breed of horror in another game. It’s horror in his comically large mustache.
The thing that makes Undertale so scary, in my opinion, is that it holds you accountable for every little decision that you make. Gamers have gotten so comfortable with the god like power of the reload if a mistake is made or you’re just curious of what the other dialogue option would do. I mean no decision really carries weight if it can just be overwritten. But Undertale always knows…..
If you reload..
If you just start a new game..
even if you delete the game file..
It freaks me out so much to know that everything I do will have a permanent result. It’s like life and life is terrifying. The thought that you don’t have to kill anyone at all also lends to this notion of accountability “Oh look here’s a monster that just wants to make people laugh, maybe I can take 5 minutes to smile at a few of his jokes, make him my friend and make him feel less insecure about himself, or maybe i could just cut him into pieces?” It’s one of the few times that I’ve actually felt bad for killing in a game; for a comparison, take the airport level from COD:MW2, where you’re committing the mass murdering of hundreds of innocent bystanders and I felt nothing. A insecure monster tells me a joke and I feel like I’ve just committed an actual crime.
I don’t think Undertale has the fourth wall used for Horror, more for general emotional response. I’m pretty confident in saying that there aren’t any jumpscares This quote from reddit sums up my feelings on this, no there are not any jump scares but horror is being unsettled and Undertale is the most unsettling game I have experienced in a long time.
P.S there are a couple of J.S in one of the endings.
It’s a heartbreaking, terrifying, hilarious game that holds your character up under a microscope looking to see how you hold up, not even as a good person, but as a person that can 100% accept their own actions.