As far as games go, I am DEFINITELY not the horror gamer. I am what many would consider a chicken and frankly Bioshock is about as scary as I can normally go. With that being said, Halloween is upon us and even wimpy gamers like myself can get into the spirit of horror and enjoy a horror game or two. Here are a few tips on surviving horror games and getting the most fun out of your Halloween gaming experience.
1. ) Play with the lights on: There is nothing scarier in my opinion than playing a horror game with the lights off. Your mind begins to play tricks on you and you see things moving in the shadows, and while you are ENTIRELY immersed in the story and the horror atmosphere there’s also nothing to pull you out of that immersion to calm you down. This makes an already stressful experience for ANY gamer that much more stressful; and can cause wimpy gamers (like myself) to stop playing out of fear and a need to calm down and escape the stress. This has caused me (and i’m sure other wimpy gamers like myself) to start a game and never finish it due to the fact that the game’s intensity was just too much.
2. ) Play with a friend: Sometimes just having someone there with you helps to give you courage and to know that you can face the challenges of a horror game because there is someone there beside you. Playing with friends not only lightens the mood and gives you someone to talk to while you are playing the game, but it also gives someone to share the burden of the horror with; someone who can warn you in case you miss something coming at you, or even just something as simple as missing ammo on the ground. One word of warning though regarding playing with friends, we all have that one a**hole friend who finds it hilarious to scare us just for their own amusement. With that in mind, always be sure that you are either playing with a wimpy gamer like yourself who understands your pain, or are playing with someone trustworthy enough to have your back and not freak you out.
3. ) Turn off the sounds and audio: This tip is one that not many people think of when it comes to horror games. Many gamers feel that the creepy music and sounds aid the immersion factor, and make the game much more intense, however for wimpy gamers this becomes just one extra thing to put us on edge and keep us freaked out. Try turning the music and sound off the next time, you’ll be amazed at how much less intense these horror titles become and how much more enjoyable they can be without the shrill tones of death from the soundtrack in your ears. For games like Bioshock or The Last of Us however, which have an emphasis on story, dialogue and character development, try leaving the dialogue volume on if that is an option; the music and sound effects are where the true horror lies, so the dialogue shouldn’t bother you much.
4. ) Play on a low difficulty: If you are playing a horror game with multiple difficulty levels and you are just wanting to experience the story and atmosphere, then why not play on easy or a casual mode? We all like to think that we are hard core gamers who love a challenge, but when it comes to horror let’s just leave that to the people who can play The Evil Within and not have nightmares for days or weeks afterward. Not only does the difficulty make it easier on you as a player, but it also makes you less likely to rage-quit out of frustration from being killed over and over and over.
5. ) Search everything: This may seem like it is out of place in an article about surviving horror games, but truthfully part of the horror comes from either being low on ammo, health, or whatever other resources you have. With this in mind, next time you try a horror title attempt to keep watch on everything around you; pick up ammo, food, grenades, or anything that the game offers you that might pertain to your survival. Health and ammo upgrades are a must, as are things of monetary value if you are playing a game that allows you to purchase things. In games like The Last of Us, crafting materials are also necessary and often crucial to your survival on higher difficulties.
6. ) Turn the game’s brightness setting up: This idea runs parallel with keeping the lights on in your room while you play. If you turn the brightness up on the game, then your mind is less likely to see things moving in the shadows in-game, as well as giving you more visibility to see enemies and creatures coming at you. The major things that scare me in terms of horror games are things that I don’t see coming. The fear of the unknown is one of the larger fears that affects me so if I manipulate the game settings most often I can minimize that fear.
7. ) Never play a horror game before bed: If you are like me and have a very active imagination and issues with very vivid dreams, then you’ll understand why horror movies or horror games are never things that are a good idea to experience before bed. If anything play a horror game for a few hours and then switch to something like Bejeweled or something less intense, that way your mind can be taken off the horror that you experienced previously and you won’t have to worry about having it affect your dreams and turn them into nightmares.
Lastly, start slow and test your threshold for horror. Play games like Bioshock, or The Last of Us (which aren’t really all that scary at all) and if you can handle them, then graduate up to something a bit more scary. Take it slow and stick to games you are comfortable with because everyone’s threshold for horror is different and everyone finds different things frightening to them. There isn’t really a binary system that explains what identifies a game as “scary” or not, so just listen to your instincts.