I like to play all sorts of video games, but I've never found myself sticking to just one genre. While on my travels, it is not uncommon for me to stumble upon a game with horror aspects. I'll play and enjoy these games just like any other, but with one small hitch - there are almost always a few kids running around as I play.
Horror games become a whole different affair when a child is present. While a spooky atmosphere and a few jump-scares are just another part of the game for me, just seeing the title screen is enough of a horrifying adventure for a child. The horror genre isn't dead, and I have the proof. These are the testimonies of gaming's horror victims.
Silent Hill: Downpour
Yes, I own Silent Hill: Downpour. It has its problems, but overall it is a pretty alright game. When it comes to Silent Hill games, I have to sneak the disk into the system just to begin playing it. If I try to do it out in the open, I'll usually hear a chorus of shrieks and the pitter patter of children running out of the room.
But sometimes I luck out and they come into the room after I've started the game up. They hate it, but they can't help but watch as the horror unfolds. There's the usual questions like, "Is this the scary game?" and the classic, "Can i turn on a few lights?" But when it comes down to just asking them about the game, here is what they had to say (in English instead of baby speak).
I will never get over a Korn song getting into the game
First of all, the monsters are quite a bit worse than they were in previous games. Even to a child this was apparent. When they watched me play games like Silent Hill 2 and 3, they knew I was dealing with monsters. With Downpour, the monsters were constantly referred to as "zombies." Not what you want to hear from a Silent Hill game.
When it came to the scares however, the game didn't disappoint. One of the younger children simply curled up into a ball, wide eyed staring at the screen. I asked them what they though about the monster attack and they just kept asking me to turn the game off. When I told them I needed to get to a save point, they went to walk out of the room, stopped and then asked me to go with them. I could not get them to watch the entire cave sequence.
Overall, the kids agreed it was pretty scary on a scale of not scary to really scary.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
I'll be honest right from the get-go. I did lie to the children about this one. Ever since I got the "horse game," the children around me have wanted to ride around the old west and get killed by wolves over and over again. How they manage to constantly find the wolves is beyond me, but they enjoy riding the horses and tipping their hat to passerby.
So when I purchased Undead Nightmare it seemed only obvious that they would need to give it a try. I had gotten through the opening sequence with John Marston's family becoming zombies beforehand so they would have no idea what to expect going into the game. Despite this, one of the children asked me if it was a scary game.
I'M TIPPING MY HAT TO THEM AND THEY JUST KEEP COMING!
No idea how they figured that out before they even played it. But I assured them it was the same old game and that the sky was only green because Halloween was coming. They accepted this without a second thought and started riding towards town so they could tip their hat at random townsfolk.
Up to the point of them riding into town, they still hadn't seen a single zombie. They could hear people screaming and they could see houses were burning, but it hadn't registered yet that something was seriously wrong. An odd looking fellow turned the corner and started to shamble towards John. And then a few more "people" came around the corner. Everyone in the room froze.
Suddenly they pulled John off his horse. Within an instant of it registering in their heads, chaos erupted. The one playing the game whipped the controller at me and covered their face. Another one ran out of the room screaming "You lied! You lied! You said this wasn't a scary game!" (that time it was true) and another just covered up in a blanket saying "Turn it off."
To this day I still can't get them to trust me that I'm just turning on the horse game for them to ride around in. On the scary scale, Undead Nightmare ranks at "You're a liar, this is scary."
Dead Space 2
To my surprise, Dead Space 2 didn't rank that high on the scary scale for the kids who watched me play. It was described as "tense", but there weren't any big scares or blowouts. All the children just sat around biting their nails or clenching their fists waiting for the next monster to jump out and scare them. But other than that not much happened.
Sorry Isaac, your problems apparently just don't cut it
Of course, I kept them away from most of the violence (I played the game a bit before letting them see the areas to avoid any traumatizing scenes of gore) Some people might say this is the reason the children didn't freak out as badly compared to the previous two entries in the list, but my response to that is gore doesn't equal horror. It just equals gore. And I'm pretty sure even the kids wouldn't be afraid of that.
On the spooky meter, Dead Space 2 ranks a paltry nail biter. Not bad but not really scary either.
Dead Rising 2
I thought for sure they would have actually ended up liking Dead Rising 2 thanks to all the random stuff you can do and the more colorful graphical design choices, but after the surprise upset with Dead Space 2 I guess anything could happen. And let me tell you, they did not like Dead Rising 2 at all.
But the timing of everything worked out perfectly. I had just gotten myself acquainted with the game's controls and the layout of the map. I had tucked myself into the corner of a clothing shop looking for a weapon. This is when the children decided to walk in. To the best of their knowledge, this was simply a cartoony dress-up game.
Maybe things would have turned out different if he was on a Dune Buggy
One of the older children asked if they could try it out because hey, who doesn't love some fun time free roam in a mall/casino? I simply told them "I don't think you'll like this game." Despite this, they insisted on trying it out, so I handed them the controller and waited for the magic to happen.
Not even five seconds had passed when a zombie decided to burst through the store window and rush them. It let out a groan and the controller was on the ground as all the children began demanding that I turn the game off. To their horror, I informed them that I needed to get to a save point first.
Five minutes later, I had made it to the save point. The entire time the kids were covering their eyes and insisting the noises they heard were just dogs and were in fact, not zombies at all. Dead Rising 2 gets a ranking of "Looks fun, but the zombies make it unplayable."
If there is a moral to any of these stories, it would probably be that just because you find the horror genre lacking that doesn't mean its dead. There are still plenty of people out there who enjoy it, and others who are still terrified because of it. As always, thank you for reading.