There are so many different ways to affect someone trying to brave a horror video game, be it the reliable jump-scare to something more psychological that preys on your innate fear.
However, some of the best work in horror comes from the most unlikely of places, where someone spots an otherwise menial task that can be used to effectively provide a scare. Hitchcock saw the raw defenceless state we are in when taking a shower, for example, and turned it into one of the scariest murder scenes in cinema.
In video games, we are actively performing much busywork even when unaware of it, and there are plenty of examples where game developers have spotted opportunities to elicit terror during those moments you’re off-guard.
Be it a simple action we do every day that seems tedious and unimportant, or a section of gaming we have to force ourselves through in order to get to the better aspects of something, these games managed to take those tedious tasks and create something terrifying.
Going through a door isn’t the most riveting experience out there. Most games use elevators or tunnels to mask the fact the world ahead is yet to load in, but Resident Evil put forth a genius and highly memorable way of moving from place to place.
Players need only go up to a door that isn’t locked to see the magic.
All audio drops away and you’re left with the perfectly rendered visage of a door you’re venturing through, enveloped in darkness. The handle shimmies and the entrance swings open, allowing you to journey into the unknown to more horror.
It only adds to the spot-on atmosphere and pacing early Resident Evil titles perfected. It’s a point to catch your breath, fear what might be lurking in the abyss in the next room, and prepare mentally if you know in advance what is coming.
The real nightmare fuel came in the second entry when this bastion of safety suddenly had zombies burst out from behind, meaning you weren’t even safe during the loading screens.
Never has simply walking from one room to another been so tense.