No worries. I’ve got a boom stick!
Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to Horror Hoedown Showdown Part 2! It’s Friday and you know what’s missing? That’s right, MoarPowah! Join us today as we take another look at the horror genre and decide for ourselves what’s really going on in those creeky hallways filled with brilliant gore, flickering lights, and (let’s not forget) zombies! Today’s match up involves two horror titles that have crept their way into my gaming library and both have done a competent job in supplying my evening’s with the classic thrills and chills. Dead Space and Amneisa: The Dark Descent. Let’s begin…
If there’s anything to be said about EA, it’s that they surely know how to make a spectacle. In terms of production, Dead Space is littered with “ooo” and “ahh.” The environments are detailed, the lighting is well-done, and the mood (thanks to the heavily-laid on orchestra) is set masterfully. Sounds nice huh? But wait. Nice? This is supposed to be a horror game! Since when do visuals take priority over the genre? Unfortunately for Dead Space, the actual “horror” of the game takes a back seat to many of the mechanics and events that occur throughout the campaign. What starts off promising and (initially) satisfying in the opening minutes of the game, turns out to be the running theme for the experience: gotcha moments, violins, and trigger fingers. Just to clarify, being startled is NOT the same thing as being scared. Good horror understands that to truly frighten an audience you must first establish a setting, set a steady pace, bring in mood and atmosphere, and then go about extracting emotions from your viewers.
In Dead Space, everything seems rushed and out of breath. For all the gorgeous setting and attention to detail, the opportunities for a good scare are squandered in clunky gameplay, enemy ambushes, and repetitive actions. Instead of keeping things subtle and paced (Amnesia does this to near-perfection) Dead Space’s cast and crew of lifeless hordes choose to flood the screen in packs while attacking you head on and essentially transcend the encounters into mindless gunfights. Dead Space (for all its attempts at creating atmosphere) is a case of a developer prioritizing “ahh” over “AHH!” If anything, this is what would happen if Left 4 Dead took itself too seriously . . . and into space. To be fair though, this is a very well done game. Visually anyway. The gameplay is varied and manageable, but the horror elements are atrociously unbalanced and it just goes to show that sometimes letting your mind do the work for you is better than having it shoved and clobbered into your face for half an hour. Up next, Amnesia… Continue reading »