247: Fear Beyond Words

Fear Beyond Words

Too often horror games rely on grotesque monsters and buckets of gore for their scares. But the latest project from Max Payne developer Remedy Entertainment takes an altogether more psychological approach. Nick Cowen spends some time with the upcoming Xbox 360 title Alan Wake.

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I agree. I miss that kind of horror game. All we get now is pieces of shit like Dead Space.

Nothing has scared me as deeply as the original Silent Hill did. I did get a few good scares from a few games, yes, but nothing quite as heavily atmospheric as SH...

Alan Wake does seem like an interesting project...

Interesting article!

EDIT : And unless I'm mistaken, welcome to the Escapist!

So. . . it's just like Silent Hill, minus the monsters (which were few anyway) and adding in more surreal moments? Awesome :-D. Very interesting article though, and i agree there's too many "horror" games where all it is is a much of dudes and a machine gun to clear them away. Not horrifying at all, maybe a bit jumpy but yeah

I am looking forward to Alan Wake. The first time I read about it I did not think it was going to go in the direction that it has. Will be interesting to see how they pull it off.

Very excited by the game. One problem: "Psychological thriller"? Pshh, it's horror. Call a spade a spade. Thriller is the genre Hollywood invented because people started associating "horror" with dumb slasher flicks and body-count porn. But horror's got a much wider and richer history than that, and I for one feel that intelligent and interesting horror should be proud of it's roots.

Update: I had to post that comment before I even finished the article, and I am glad the writer of this article seems to echo my stance. It's not even just Lovecraft (who I think was a pretty bad writer, albeit a bad writer with a great imagination). Anyone interested in the true span of horror should pick up The Dark Descent, a fantastic fantastic look at the creme of the crop in 19th and 20th century short horror stories.

Sounds like a very interesting premise for a game - I do like a nice bit of psychological horror. Count me curious! :P

I can see why they wanted to avoid the Horror tag since horror as a descriptor has become divorced from its roots, so that the average person considers it to be nothing but gorefests and/or torture-porn. If Allen Wake has to call itself a "psychological action thriller" to shrug off this baggage then it's no skin off my nose. Real horror preys on the psyche as well as the senses, which is why games like Silent Hill 2 are such stellar examples of horror done properly and done well. If Alan Wake comes anywhere close to that, I may have to scrape together the pennies to buy a 360.

Yeah, I think it was either in Penny Arcade or Something Awful that it was said, 'Horror game means, will come through windows.' Maybe horror has lost its real meaning to me, I associate horror with startling and thriller with unsettling.

I found a trailer of Alan Wake a few months back and was quite interested. At worst, the game will be a bad mix of Silent Hill and Alone in the Dark. (The voice acting is pretty abismal.) But I always prefer something that tries something new and does it badly than something that excels in something worn. The game certainly seems to have some atmosphere.

Although even though I've only seen five minutes of old gameplay I'm pretty sure the monsters that Wake thinks are chasing him are actually under his command somehow. Unless it'll turn out the game has been misleading you into believing that to drop some horrible plot twist I'm already disappointed and just haven't found out yet.

Also, an article that is effectively a gushing preview being interesting and alluring. Only on The Escapist™!

Among the influences listed in the final paragraph, Silent Hill is curiously absent. Many of the described features of Alan Wake seem to be borrowing pretty heavily from that game. This is not a bad thing.

I enjoy action games with "shocking" moments (eg Dead Space) for what they are, but I do yearn for a good psych-horror (err, thriller) game that can really get under the skin. I'm looking forward to Alan Wake.

Oh HELL YEAH!!! I was very curious about Alan Wake when I was announed WAY back when. The fact that it has taken so long got me thinking that it might be a let down, with the mechanics and style getting becooming old by the time it was released.

This preview has me reeling. This is EXACTLY the type of game I have been seeking for years. Please PLEASE let the ideas be as good as the product!

Oh, these guys made the Max Payne series? I have no further doubt they know what they are doing. In Max Payne, players will remember encountering several different enemies with that crazy drug in them. most of them are zombie like, almost, standing up and shooting and forget about the damage they take. But some of them ramble, and one of them was a boss making sacrifices. He ranted continually.
Later, Max is injected with the drug himself, and goes through this weird dream sequence. At one point, you pick up a ringing phone, and though Max narrates he doesn't understand what is being said, you can clearly hear Max himself rambling on continuously.
That sequence was extremely freaky. The idea that, while you're in here, running around while blood flakes drift from the sky, you're actually out there, running around and doing things; the idea that you are not in control, is unsettling.
I think this is kinda what makes the horror genre best in video games. You do not have control, you do not get a say in the matter. Dead Space and Left 4 Dead are not really horror; you can control the situation to a large extent. But picture playing Left 4 Dead with about half the zombies, a character with a broken leg, blurry vision if you are "hit" (because you lose your glasses or something). You are not in control; you can't just run, and you can't really kill completely accurately. That would be much more unsettling.

This game sounds amazing. I always have liked head games in whatever it is I'm participating in be it games, books or movies.

It looks fun. I'm paranoid (seeing Hot Fuzz left me watching the shadows), and I have yet to play a game that is actually scary. Most horror games now are just action games with monsters and lots of blood. Granted, some of them are fun as hell, but I want to play a horror game that is fun because it's actually frightening.

Already interested in the game.

I agree wholeheartedly, it's very strange that neither the creator or the interviewer mentioned Silent hill at all. H.P. Lovecraft, certainly. Stephen King, DEFINITELY. But it has more in common with Silent Hill than any of the other influences listed.

I don't think it's unfair to say that, if you are making a game that proposes to advance the genre of intelligent horror, you need to relate your game to that game. The closest the creator comes to doing that is by saying that most horror games try to create fear with blood and bodies. Which obviously is only scratching the surface of what Silent Hill is really all about. But the concept of trying to introduce uncertainty about what is real, or whether your character is insane, or creating fear by NOT showing monsters rather than showing them, or having the protagonist have intentionally poor fighting skills...this has all been done in videogames by Silent Hill already, and Silent Hill did it VERY, VERY WELL (and hey, others did it too. Alone In the Dark, anyone?). I'm not accusing them of anything, just a little disappointed because that's the question I would like to see intelligently answered. I can see it's pretty, it looks beautifully put together. But what's genuinely new about this?

Hm...an interesting article. Difficult to walk the line between 'pimping this game' and 'examination of this as it relates to the theme' when the game hasn't come out yet, but a commendable job done.

It seems that someone else has taken Silent Hill 2's ideas to heart and that is just generally good for gaming.


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