Monday, 14 February 2011

In Dead Space no one can hear me scream

I’m a massive girl when it comes to horror games. I don’t mean to be sexist at all when I say that, but I’m convinced that as I’m walking down the darkest virtual corridor to creepy music and small children giggling, the slightest jolt or surprise might cause me to ovulate.

This is the reason why I was very unsure as to get Dead Space 2 or not, but after the rave reviews and the demo I enjoyed, I thought I would jump head first into it, kicking and screaming like a mad man with a fetish for being on fire. If I just keep telling myself that it is Resident Evil 4 in space then I’ll be fine.

I have played it to chapter seven so far, and the amount of sudden steam vents blasting me without warning and rotten looking corpses that re-animate upon closer inspection have made me clench a lot of things that I didn’t realise could be that tight. Having said this, the more it happens, the less effect it is starting to have on my fragile, wimp like mind.

The scariest moment in a game that I have hoisted up my dress to wade through was in Silent Hill 2. It was in a dark corridor somewhere in that most un-christmassy town where the only source of light was my unnervingly dim torch. All I could hear in the background was a screeching noise, but I couldn’t for the life of me find out what it was. Upon discovering it was an overturned wheel chair I felt most uncomfortable and stopped playing for the night.

It’s that kind of atmospheric build up and anti-climax that makes a game truly scary. I was imagining some kind of hideous monster that deliberately hadn’t lubricated its mechanical joints, just stalking me and about to pounce - not that the creepy noise was an upside down medical aid for the waltzing impaired. The player’s interpretation of a situation made that game scary (and possibly the demented nightmare demon with the giant pyramid for a face).

Dead Space 2 seems a bit full on and cheap in comparison. It can certainly pull off spooky atmosphere, but then it throws up something equivalent to an internet screamer, just for that instant unnerving sensation which is over before it can manifest into anything that lasts. After a while you begin to expect it and the shocks become limper than wet toast.

Fortunately for me however it means that I should be able to play it without having to put newspapers down on the sofa first. Mastering the ability to rip off scary appendages with some kind of techno-kinesis before blasting the dismembered lump back like a meat javelin also appears to help with overcoming the fear of imaginary shadows. What a nice game.

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