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💀 Necro Horror games and the "first death" problem

Indivisible

Member
Validated User
The Cat Lady does a good job with this, both in having a point beyond scaring the viewer and using non-scary interludes to emphasize later horror.

It's a game about living with depression.

The protagonist is someone who killed herself, and is returned returned back to life by a creepy woman she met in the afterlife. In exchange for being brought back to life, she has to kill a number of monsters in the living world. When she is revived, she has a vision of another person suddenly dying. This will happen every time that she dies in game, so it's clear that there's a cost to dying even if it's not the one the player pays.

The monsters are serial killers with a hint of the supernatural about them, and when the protagonist comes back to life after they kill her, and her killer spots her again, they react to that. They remember killing her.

In between tense action chapters are interludes at the protagonist's apartment, which feature her trying to live her life with everything that's happened. A great one is when she just got out of the hospital after the suicide attempt, and she tries to do some tasks. You have to balance a few resource bars in order to do some self care, with the bars being depleted by effort or unexpected problems events. It's impossible to do everything unless you already know what to do in what order and what to avoid, and if you fail the story continues with her having failed and being frustrated with her failure.

It's a good game that I could only watch a let's play of, but that I immediately bought so that I could support the developer.
 

Owesome

Social Justice Warmonger
Validated User
Nick Nocturne, of the excellent horror/weird fiction review channel Nigh Mind, has a video that breaks down the ways Resident Evil 7 uses the expectations we have of horror gaming, as well as subtle ways the game trains the player's expectations, to create fear in the player.


Notably to my mind, RE7 at several early points de-powers the protagonist, removing the power fantasy aspect of the game playing experience.
 

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
The Evil Within 2 also does the horror-not horror balance pretty well. The first game pulled it off by making it a surreal treat for the eyes whenever you progressed, so you kept involved to see whatever weird-ass stunt the game would pull next, and making it so that even the safe zone felt gloomy and oppressive. The problem was that it was obviously artificial; after going through the game, you realized that the safe zone is exactly that, and thus you end up being very quickly bored whenever it gets a little corrupted, because you have to be guided through a forced scare. The next game realized that, and made it so that the office in the dreamscape has "THIS IS A SAFE PLACE" written over it in big flashy neon letters with hearts and smiley faces, so that the world outside comes off as even more threatening, and knowing when to drop the scares for psychological exploration or being goddamn epic; it's just as much a story about Sebastian confronting his depression, and the game rewards you both mechanically and emotionally for pursuing the Anima sidequest and exploring Sebastian's past and character development. You both want to see the rewards for the quest and to see the main character overcome his problems, so you charge full-on into situations you know and dread is going to result in a nightmare sequence because goddammit your avatar deserves to be happy!

Spoiler: Show
It also cheerfully forcefeeds a common cliche of horror a combination of cyanide and hot lead in its ending; namely, it's an unambiguously happy one that doesn't pull the rug out from under the rest of the plot because "SHOCKING!". That actually ratchets up the tension the next time through, because you know there's a point to all this, and if you have ironman on you know you spoiled the good feelings because you, personally, failed.
 

Killer300

Registered User
Validated User
Yeah, I watched a video recently on the Catlady, and earlier on both Evil Within games, that shows how both use emotional variety, and also, well, having a freaking point, to improve themselves. Catlady I'd say firmly solve the first death problem(Your protagonist is freaking immortal! Well, in parts at least), and I think admirably carries out afflicting the comfortable, and comforting the afflicted.
 
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