How to Make Horror Games Scary

With many horror franchises having either lost their way (Resident Evil, Silent Hill) or having never been that scary to begin with (Dead Space) we're sort of short on chills in the AAA market. Part of it might be that what makes a horror game scary can be a bit hard to pin down. How do you create something truly pants-shittingly terrifying? Something that really gets under your skin?

No, really, I'm asking. What do you think it takes to make a good horror game?

Personally, I think it's important to emphasize avoidance of the game's threats rather than confrontation. One thing I noticed about Dead Space is that it's pretty much impossible to run away from the necromorphs. They can move faster than Isaac does and are generally in the way of your progress, so fighting is your only option.

That might sound kind of scary at first, but the thing is that once you've been forced to face your fears and subsequently overcome them about a dozen times, they cease to be scary. Even giving the player limited ammo and supplies is just going to force them to become a more efficient killer who thus has even less reason to be afraid.

So instead, encourage the player to avoid the monsters. Fighting them should be a last resort, rather than our first and only approach. We're going to be a lot more scared of a creature we're desperately trying to sneak past/run away from than one we're gunning down.

To me the quickest way to make a game scary is to provide a real threat. Not a perceived one, I mean the game needs to threaten to take away something that will be hard to get back. XCOM is scary because you can lose a soldier forever. The early RE's were scary because you didn't know what was around the corner and had limited ammunition and even SAVES.

That's actually why Amnesia becomes less scary the more you play it, and the more exposed you are to the danger. But early on, when you see an enemy, the lack of weapons gives you this immediate adrenaline twitch response. It's like when a spider lands on you and after a few seconds you don't even have a plan for getting rid of it, you're just spazzing until it's gone. So that's the other element - providing an enemy you might not be able to fight. You hit it perfectly with Dead Space, and that's why I see Dead Space as much more of an action game than about horror.

Think about stealth games. If you've just made your way through the perimeter of a building unseen, and are only 20 feet from your goal, those last few seconds are really tense. Doesn't matter what the enemies are, or what they look like, just the notion of sneaking carefully around is suspenseful. That same element comes into play when you're running or hiding from enemies.

That's some pretty good points. I see a parallel between horror movies that have the main characters over come whatever is attacking them and killing all the different monsters in a game. Extra Credits did a pretty good episode on horror protagonists a while back.

It's a shame more stealth games are action oriented than horror. In fact the only stealth/horror I can think of is a few levels in Thief.

Lazy:
n.

That might sound kind of scary at first, but the thing is that once you've been forced to face your fears and subsequently overcome them about a dozen times, they cease to be scary. Even giving the player limited ammo and supplies is just going to force them to become a more efficient killer who thus has even less reason to be afraid.

I think that's more an issue of the entire notion of becoming acclimatised to a certain condition or a certain environment; only way I can think of avoiding that would be to completely switch up the game mechanics mid-game, or have quite a few mechanics that are either very gradually introduced or become obsolete. A game that hinges it's atmosphere on disorientation could certainly be interesting, but would probably end up being more frustrating than fun; after all you're always going to be choosing to subject yourself to a 'horror' game, so there's got to be something compelling there.

Well, the short answer would be 'making the player feel uneasy'.

How to accomplish this is the long answer.

Resident Evil 4 was very much an action game, but it still had moments that played with your nerves. Like when you first enter the sewer/dungeon in the castle, and were told just before that you're about to face a new enemy type. You jump into the sewer and after the first few steps you hear a metal grate fall to the ground followed by the pitter patter of monstrous feet coming straight toward you. But then nothing's there. This immediately puts you on edge for what's to come.

Also the ambiance music did wonders to unsettle you.

PieBrotherTB:

That might sound kind of scary at first, but the thing is that once you've been forced to face your fears and subsequently overcome them about a dozen times, they cease to be scary. Even giving the player limited ammo and supplies is just going to force them to become a more efficient killer who thus has even less reason to be afraid.

I think that's more an issue of the entire notion of becoming acclimatised to a certain condition or a certain environment; only way I can think of avoiding that would be to completely switch up the game mechanics mid-game, or have quite a few mechanics that are either very gradually introduced or become obsolete. A game that hinges it's atmosphere on disorientation could certainly be interesting, but would probably end up being more frustrating than fun; after all you're always going to be choosing to subject yourself to a 'horror' game, so there's got to be something compelling there.

That's an interesting idea, I like it. You could amp up the difficulty by pulling away firearms and making the game entirely melee dependant during the last half of the game. I personally don't like the idea of offering an enemy the player CANT defeat. I much prefer offering one a player can, but holy hell, good luck. Think of facing mutons/berzerkers early on in Xcom. Think back to Silent Hill 1 if a mob of 5-6 those little people with knives came at you and all you had was a crowbar. These are both certainly obstacles that can be overcame, but they are crappy situations where you consider "abort/run away" as a valid tactic and maybe the best choice. This makes it scarier because it isn't the ONLY option, but merely only one of them. When faced with the choices of "kill it" or "run away" and you as the player feel running away is the best option or choose to run for whatever reason, you were just scared by a game. You can use the word "intimidated" or even "logical" or whatever. But you ran away, thus you felt threatened and caution IS fear.

The enemies should be largely unseen, unpredictable, and powerful. To this end I don't think you should ever be capable of killing one until maybe the game climax. You kill one you can go up and examine the corpse and see that it is kill able, it is knowable, it's now just a foe rather than a force. The player should just catch glimpses of it, and it should be vastly overpowered compared to the player, the player should never feel in control.

Weapons should just be time buying measures. Weather they are tripwires/alarms/radars to alert you of their presence or single shot weapons to cause them to flinch..and give the player time to run/hide, which should be the primary strategy.

I actually think a first person perspective with advanced ai friendlies for companions (1-3) would be best. Imagine the terror seeing your only companion being dragged off, or be fleeing together only to hear them scream out in pain and have to continue alone or one of them becomes posseseed, and now they chant your name when they hunt you...

Honestly some flickering lights and seeing something disappear around the corner whenever I enter a room is all it takes to scare me.

Just the horror feel is enough for me, it doesn't have to be scary. Short of Amnesia, there aren't really any scary games. They've all become pretty predictable. Oh, look! A long, poorly lit hallway with a door at the other end which I need to get to! I wonder if the monster is going to come from behind me or if some weird paranormal thing is going to happen half way down?

How to make games scary again? Simple, make the monsters naked G W Bush and Greg Tito, I'd run screaming.

Definitely don't show too much of the monster. The more you see of it, the less scary it becomes.
Music and ambient also does a great deal in a horror game, imagine playing Amnesia with the sound turned off. Much less intimidating.
Also, I've met people that disagree with this, but I think the scariest games are when you cannot kill the enemy. It leaves you feeling helpless, and makes you want to just flee like a child when you hear it.

I know it's been said multiple times, but atmospheric pacing. Striving for moments of calm give the actual thrills more impact. Excessive gore, or just throwing in more monsters doesn't make it work.

Variety can be another factor. If you only have one thing to be scary, i.e. Slenderman popping up or necromorphs jumping out of vents, then you'll probably become used to it. You need to shake things up.

Luca72:
To me the quickest way to make a game scary is to provide a real threat. Not a perceived one, I mean the game needs to threaten to take away something that will be hard to get back. XCOM is scary because you can lose a soldier forever. The early RE's were scary because you didn't know what was around the corner and had limited ammunition and even SAVES.

This is pretty much what I came into this thread to say and Resident Evil was exactly the example I was going to use as well. The moment of pure relief when you heard the save room music when hunting through the mansion in the first game was a seriously incredible feeling.

There is a problem with this model though. It's very hard to avoid this kind of approach becoming frustrating, especially if you have to go through loads of easy enemies and unskipable cutscenes just to get back to where you died. After a few attempts a lot of players will just give up whereas if you can load up and have another go straight away it's not as annoying. Think back to the NES and SNES days. Most of the games I had I never beat simply because it took ages to get to the bit I couldn't do and those early levels became really tedious. It's tough to get the balance right.

Hmm. Reading this thread, it seems like people want a scary movie, not a scary game. If they'd made Dead Space in the fashion some of you guys want, you wouldn't shoot a single thing until the end! It'd be 12 hours of walking around in super atmospheric, ambient musiced, "just catch a glimpse of the monster" on edge terror!

Or not. Cause, you know, that would get super boring and tiresome, and would never warrant more then a single playthrough. Scary games are definitely a mixture of all these things, but these features exclusively do not a good game make. And certainly not game after game after game. Sequels needs to evolve, or they very quickly become stale, ESPECIALLY the survival horror style.

Developers can't win nowadays. If they don't change things enough, people say they're not innovating (Uncharted 3, Assassins Creed everything, every single CoD game since 4). But if they do change things, people say they've "ruined what the game was about". I loved Dead Space 1, it's one of my all time favourite horror games. It's not scary. None of them are. But it's tense, and creepy, and enjoyable. Which is fine by me. However, I wouldn't want to be stuck in another dead ship, clumping along slowly in Dead Space 2. It just wouldn't have been as interesting. "We've done all this before". The developers recognise this, and so they evolved it, and in a way that was fitting for the character and story. Isaac is experienced, stronger, and better able to handle the Necromorphs. Naturally he's going to be better at fighting them. Also you're in a bigger location, with far, far more meat for the Necros to generate from. There's going to be more things to fight. It's all logical, and even if we kinda wish it didn't have to be that way, it was the only way it really could be.

Dead Space 3 has taken a new direction again, upping the action, having amazing set pieces to the point where it should be called "Uncharted Space" now, and even allowing us some free roam aspect. Is it scary? Nope. Is it even the same game? Not really. Does that make it bad? Nope! It's still tense at times, there's still plenty of clumping around on your lonesome, and massive amounts of awesome enemies and bosses to fight. It's the same universe and same concept, but the gameplay and settings are shaken up enough to make it feel like an evolution yet again, and not a full step back.

Really I think the next opportunity for them to have a proper crack at a true scary horror game again would be a next-gen Dead Space series, not starring Isaac but with a whole new story arc. Better lighting, bigger graphics... man the things that could be done! But until that happens I'll continue enjoying DS3 for what it is, and that is a damn enjoyable game to play.

Having a sense of security is the least scary thing in games. Take that away from the player, and their comfort levels begin to drop. Limiting or removing weapons takes a lot of this away, Bioshock was superior to Bioshock 2 in this regard as a lot of the time you only had a wrench with just a few bullets.

Place the character in an isolated environment, they begin to feel angst.

Don't throw a zombie at them every 10 seconds, and possibly take out zombies from sections of a game where the player would expect, and they begin to be fearful.

Then on top of it all, the game needs to include some kind of common phobia as a theme. Death, spiders, drowning, gore etc.

Project_Xii:
Hmm. Reading this thread, it seems like people want a scary movie, not a scary game. If they'd made Dead Space in the fashion some of you guys want, you wouldn't shoot a single thing until the end! It'd be 12 hours of walking around in super atmospheric, ambient musiced, "just catch a glimpse of the monster" on edge terror!

Well that's the tricky thing.
The vast majority of games are about empowering the power.
Horror generally is about stripping the power away and exposing the all too weak and vulnerable centre.
That's why it's such a hard thing to do.

I know I am in the minority here, but a good jump scare can do wonders.

Now you're walking through a poorly lit hallway and you know at the end of it there's going to be a monster jumping out at you. However there isn't one. You were sure that there would be one, but it wasn't there, it's got to be somewhere, you know it has to be somewhere, you've got a gun for a reason. You hear a loud sound behind you, but there's nothing there? You walk for a while, thinking the monster will jump out at you, but you don't know where it will strike.

This creates tension and makes it more likely that when the monster actually jumps out you will we on edge. It has to be done right, but it works on me.

I guess the conflict comes from being to powerful or having to much action orientated, if the character you are playing as is a precision marksman wielding a machine gun the tension goes away alot.

Personally i would like to see a horror game where you really pressed into making snap decisions is it better to try and defend myself with this piece of wood i found lying around or run the fuck away from this creature that has spawned.

A good example of a more recent horror game is Lone Survivor the graphics are 2-D and pixelated not scary at all right?

Well play through the demo, the music and noise is enough to put you on edge you are also defenseless for a fair bit of the game your options are limited to hiding or distracting enemys with rotting meat.

Funnily enough the pixaleated graphics work in the games favour, why is this? well the way i figure it because the creatures you fear so much are hard to imagine in a real life context this becomes unsettling coupled with the fact the creatures themselves move in a human but not quite way creates very unsettling mental imagery.

The other REALLY tricky balance is not getting killed to often, the fear of your character dying has to be there! but when the difficulty is to high and you have to repeat the same thing over and over the fear goes away. Repetition is atmosphere and fears greatest weakness.

Also perhaps base the game in a country where fire arms are not easily accessible so when you finally do find a hand gun or rifle you treasure that bitch and feel so much safer for having it. Then remove it some how so you feel paniced and scared even worse now you are un-armed once more.

I dunno i like horror games and havn't found a decent AAA one in a long time :)

do what Silent hill 2 did. let the tension build and have your character wander around for half an hour before you see a monster and like Zombiu try doing that thing where player characters permanently die and are replaced.

Vulnerability is key, in my book. Loud screams and jump scares only go so far. Silent Hill, Clock Tower, Amnesia, and Pandorum all leave the player almost completely helpless aside from their own quick wits.
Isolation helps, but even with multiplayer you can get the players nervous by keeping them aware that they could go down any second, around any corner. Left 4 Dead is a great example. Even though you have a pipe bomb, a shotgun, and a fire axe you're still peeking around every corner and turning off your flashlight because you never know when the next wave will arrive, or where. Or even if your friends will be around when you need them most.

Most videogames take the approach where you start as a random nobody, and as the game progresses you level up/acquire new loot or what have you, and eventually become an ungodly killing machine that takes down a rampaging elephant without breaking a sweat. I would like to see a game where the reverse happens. You are the ungodly killing machine who was called in to take out the swarming alien horde. You start with max armour/health/weapons/skills, and by max I mean a stupidly large amount, and as the game progresses there are very, very few ammo/health drops, and so you can do whatever the hell you like, but once your out your out. By the end of the game you lose all your armor and weapons, and your stuck knife fighting monstrous, nightmarish creatures in your underpants (assuming your not an unusually fantastic player). Certain enemies wouldn't damage health, so much as they would steal your weapons or destroy your armour permanently. That would be mindless fun in the beginning, and absolutly terrifying at the end, which is the opposite of how things play out now. I would very much like to see this

I had this idea a while back about how to make an online multilayer horror game scary. and it has more chance of getting published than anything with the words single player in the pitch now days so here goes.

You get in a lobby with 5 or 6 people or what ever then the game loads you all into one room of a mansion.
All the players are ball gagged and strait jacketed so they can't communicate.
The thing that makes this mansion so special is that it's both haunted and infested with monsters.
The closer you are to other players the less likely monsters are to eat you but the more likely the demon is to possess you.
The more you move the less likely the demon is to posses you but the more likely the monsters are to eat you.
If you're possessed the monsters won't come after you but you loose health constantly and the only way to get unpossessed is to get close enough to another player for the demon to jump to them.
Last player standing wins.

With the appropriate visual and audio design to make standing and moving equally frightening, and enough warning to be able to tell when the monsters are coming, or the demon is coming, or another player is coming. It could be the scariest thing ever.

I think that making the character powerful, but forcing the player to change tactics is what would be most effective. Give the character a minigun, and a resupply depot at the entrance to the game. Let them come back as often as they want to rearm. But the monster's flesh absorbs whatever penetrates it. So the more you hurl lead at it, the thicker it's armor gets. So you shoot it, and eventually it ends up with a thick metal carapace. Shooting is now ineffective, but it's now super slow and heavy. If you run, it's muscles adjust to the added weight, and it learns to move faster, so you can't run forever... but it doesn't float. So lure it to the deep end of the pool and drown it. Essentially, you have to adapt tactics, because there's no guarantee that what you will do to save yourself will work. The denial of hope becomes the fear of the player moreso than the fear of the character.

Honestly I think for a game to be truly scary you need to play on players own internal fears and or guilt. I remember Cracked did a video that touched on the subject sometime in the summer of 2012 (I think it was their After Hours series) where Dan O'Brien said that the perfect settings for horror is where our collective culture lost its innocence. In America this could be considered the countryside where we traded in human dignity and compassion for expansion of territory, slaughtering the inhabitants for our own personal gain. That's why so many American horror movies use the isolation of the country as their prime setting, and while this still works today, I think the Condemned series really hit a homerun by using urban decay and the bottom class as their setting and primary antagonist (the movie C.H.U.D. also used this to great effect).

Urban decay is a great setting because it's a relatively recent phenomenon, I mean while there have always been poor quarters and ghettos throughout history, they at least house people in a lower class tier. Urban decay on the other hand houses the absolute bottom rung of society, the drifters, the homeless, and the squatters, all of whom (probably) create an internal sense of guilt when we see them. Sure we can shrug it off and use the excuses of "get a job" or "well get off the (insert drugs/alcohol)", and while many of the people that occupy that caste have certainly put them there, there are others who are just there by the unfortunate reality of our world, like the mentally ill or deformed. While we may not always acknowledge them, they do create an inherent sense of guilt with the reality that we go home to a roof, heat, and a meal. All of our most basic necessities are met, and while we may not live all the luxuries we may want, we are fully aware that there are many far worse off then we are, so forcing us into a situation where we have to confront just how grim the realities that many people live with day-to-day can really awaken a whole new sense of fear that doesn't get utilized anywhere near enough in the horror genre.

Take this a step further and have the inhabitants be hostile towards you and you can really start using this "white guilt" to your advantage in fucking with the player. "Why are these people so angry towards me? I was just born, I didn't ask for any of this, it's not my fault, what did I do to deserve this? etc. etc." as we try to rationalize the actions happening around us, culminating in the "fight or flight" instinct that awakens the darker recesses of the human condition as we're forced to do what we have to to survive.

Some might say this is creating a class war, but the thing is one already exists whether we want to admit it. I mean the basic principle of horror is forcing us to come to terms with what we would rather ignore, and I really can't think of a better contemporary problem to focus on than that.

Project_Xii:
Hmm. Reading this thread, it seems like people want a scary movie, not a scary game. If they'd made Dead Space in the fashion some of you guys want, you wouldn't shoot a single thing until the end! It'd be 12 hours of walking around in super atmospheric, ambient musiced, "just catch a glimpse of the monster" on edge terror!

Or not. Cause, you know, that would get super boring and tiresome, and would never warrant more then a single playthrough. Scary games are definitely a mixture of all these things, but these features exclusively do not a good game make. And certainly not game after game after game. Sequels needs to evolve, or they very quickly become stale, ESPECIALLY the survival horror style.

Exactly, stuff you can shoot isn't *that* scary. And you don't need to have shooting in order for it to be a game.

It'd be 12 hours of creeping around, catching glimpses sure. But you'd also have to run for your life with it chasing you, leave traps/tells (like wet paint) to see if it passed that way, hiding, and maybe delaying. If you have companions they can be lost/converted.

Point is, the things most people find scariest (in entertainment at least) are things you can't fight against physically.

Besides, I got tired of deadspace one..... It boiled down to: jumpscare, shoot legs.

The reason I found the old X-Com games scary, and not so much the new one, was because of vision, it's always one of the reasons for Resident Evil as well. In the first X-Com and Terror From The Deep your soldiers could only see so much, the times that scared me were directly related to this. I would have a soldier go into a building, steps through the door, everything looks quiet, looks empty, okay good, calm breath, turn to the right to explore the door at the far end, as soon as my soldier turns - enemy, standing right next to them the whole time, just right there, face to face, those were scary moments. The newer one seems to have a bit too much vision for those old scares to pop up, not a horrible thing, just, that's one of things I loved about the old ones. It was also easy to get in a situation where your soldier is in a fire fight with an alien, to spend nearly all his points killing it, to then again turn and an alien is right there, or even have another alien appear in vision just behind the alien that was just killed. You have an alien trapped in a warehouse, you have soldiers guarding all exits, send someone around to blow a hole in the wall, you have two soldiers with them, to storm into the new "door" , but as soon as that wall goes down, there's a saucer on the other side of the wall, it turns and fires. Those situations just seem absent to me, and that's where the scare came from.

Same thing with Resident Evil somewhat. Where it can be attributed to the camera angles of old, you had many blind spots, where you heard enemies but couldn't see them. You'd have to make that effort to step into the unknown, then walk right into a trio of zombies, rush back, fire blindly into the unseen, then wait, and listen, are they down? are they faking? When they changed the camera they also, sadly, got rid of the majority of this type of tension scare. It's not impossible, you can easily have enemies around the unseen corner, or the other side of the door, only problem was enemies just ran at you, they wouldn't stay just out of sight ready to pounce, they wouldn't stay on the other side of the door and not try to open it, or anti-object collide through the door - What's that? An arm sticking through the door? Oh, enemy. For enemies to jump from around a corner when not expected, since RE4, it's all luck and player style. I saw it happen once, it was scary, it was funny, and it was amazing, but it' not something the devs put in there, it was a perfect storm of random, and the older REs did it on purpose, I give appreciation for the old ones for that reason.

What happened was, when I got RE4 I had a gamecube as did my cousin, so I played through the first disc, then he pulled another TV into the room, and his gamecube, then while I was on the 2nd disc, he was playing the 1st, that was pretty cool, same room, got to experience the game together (with only one copy of the game ^_^ ) anyways, he;s playing, first village area, first chainsaw guy pops up (I used to know it's name, Dr. ??? Salvador?), cousin runs, pops a few villagers, runs around a building, Dr. pops up swinging, cousin runs some more, loses the Dr. , gets into some trouble with some villagers, turns, runs from them. Heads down the side of a building, as soon as he reaches the corner a chainsaw sticks out from the side, and clotheslines his head off.

LoathsomePete:
snip

I don't think that kind of thing is usually even touched on in video game horror, but you're absolutely right. Contextual horror can be a powerful thing. No spoilers, but by the time the monsters in Amnesia weren't scaring me anymore I was getting frightened by the revelations about the main characters past, and his almost fanatic need to repress them and convince himself that he's a good person. When you can frame a horrifying event in a fictional setting, it almost forces you to come to terms with something that makes you uncomfortable.

A good example to me is Final Fantasy VII. Certainly not a scary game by any stretch, but it had a pretty powerful theme revolving around a corporation draining the earths' resources to the point where the planet is about to force a natural response. If the developers made the game with a political agenda or tried to tie it directly to real world events, people would write it off as being pretentious and overly simple. But by putting it in a fantasy setting, it made me question some things. As a kid, I thought "How is Shinra fundamentally doing anything different than big companies in the real world? Are we really hurting the earth beyond repair? And if it turns out we are - can we stop it in time?". These were very uncomfortable questions to me, and confronting them was an unsettling, but interesting, experience.

I just played through System Shock 2 for the first time in my life, and was amazed at their ability to create atmosphere through level design and gameplay, but also through the audio logs that tell the story. One that really stood out is a part where these alien parasites have started to take over the minds of a few scientists, who actually embrace what's happening to them and believe they're becoming enlightened. You've just reached a floor full of alien eggs, and these gross-ass blood-stained female robots that look like they're half-covered in human skin. They're called "Cyborg Midwives". Well, after a while, you find an audio log where one of the scientists has now started to drug the nurses on the ship and is operating on them to forcefully augment them into cyborg caretakers for the alien eggs. That revelation made the whole rest of that level truly unsettling, just by providing additional context.

See, the chainsaw man doesn't scare me. The intentions of the chainsaw man, and the knowledge that given a different set of circumstances I could become the chainsaw man, scares me.

1. Smash your head against a wall.
2. Repeat 1. until you have forgoten every single horror game, movie, book etc.
3. Congratulations, now you will be able to get scared again. You will shit your pants from Dead Space, and have a heart attack from Amnesia.

Savagezion:

PieBrotherTB:

That might sound kind of scary at first, but the thing is that once you've been forced to face your fears and subsequently overcome them about a dozen times, they cease to be scary. Even giving the player limited ammo and supplies is just going to force them to become a more efficient killer who thus has even less reason to be afraid.

I think that's more an issue of the entire notion of becoming acclimatised to a certain condition or a certain environment; only way I can think of avoiding that would be to completely switch up the game mechanics mid-game, or have quite a few mechanics that are either very gradually introduced or become obsolete. A game that hinges it's atmosphere on disorientation could certainly be interesting, but would probably end up being more frustrating than fun; after all you're always going to be choosing to subject yourself to a 'horror' game, so there's got to be something compelling there.

That's an interesting idea, I like it. You could amp up the difficulty by pulling away firearms and making the game entirely melee dependant during the last half of the game. I personally don't like the idea of offering an enemy the player CANT defeat. I much prefer offering one a player can, but holy hell, good luck. Think of facing mutons/berzerkers early on in Xcom. Think back to Silent Hill 1 if a mob of 5-6 those little people with knives came at you and all you had was a crowbar. These are both certainly obstacles that can be overcame, but they are crappy situations where you consider "abort/run away" as a valid tactic and maybe the best choice. This makes it scarier because it isn't the ONLY option, but merely only one of them. When faced with the choices of "kill it" or "run away" and you as the player feel running away is the best option or choose to run for whatever reason, you were just scared by a game. You can use the word "intimidated" or even "logical" or whatever. But you ran away, thus you felt threatened and caution IS fear.

The problem there is that if a player knows how to kill a monster (even if it's very difficult) they can learn and practice how to kill the monster and no longer be afraid of them.

I mean for crying out loud we have knife only run throughs of RE2 and that game had a super weak knife and the controls were clunky.

 

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