Have Horror Games Gone Too Far?
WARNING: Adult language and theme
I am running from a mad man right now, who is in a sexual frenzy trying to kill me. The things coming out of his rotted mouth are things I wouldn’t commit to print, and I feel like this “thing” genuinely wants to do awful things to me. I run and hide under a table, panting, praying he didn’t see me or can’t hear my heavy breathing. I’m wrong. He does and he can. Just then, a hand reaches under the table and pulls me out, laughing. He keeps telling me I will be “perfect” for what he has planned next.
I come to sometime later on a table, and it all comes together, pun intended. This fucked up dude wants to chop off my pecker and make me into a living recreation of his dead wife. I am literally strapped naked to a table in an FPS, with me staring down at my virtual d*ck about to be lobbed off. As much as this may sound like a cut scene from the newest Mario game (<sarcasm font) the aforementioned scene is from the Whistleblower DLC for the game Outlast.
For me, it became plain to see that Outlast did horror and shocking like no other game had. From dudes fucking dead bodies to forced gender reassignment, the topics it delves into are both deep and deeply disturbing. So this begs the question, are horror games still horror games (think Eternal Darkness, Silent Hill 2 and Resident Evil 1 as great blueprints) or are these games trying their damnedest just to be shocking for shocking’s sake?
This is the very issue we will explore as we delve down this list of scary games to play, some which are simple scary games and some which are utter mindfucks you may never fully shake from your subconscious.
We will also explore the subject of cruelty for fun and the examination of the moment when horror games became more shocking than scary.
Yup, now that is some family-friendly shit right there.
Agony is not yet released but I would be lying to say anything but the truth here:
I am really excited to play this game.
But let it be known, I am also a grown-ass-man who supports himself and is old and mature enough to handle some blood sex in Hell with a succubi. This does not mean your average gamer is, though. And Agony is a perfect example of where horror games are going. Once we were checking out abandoned old houses filled with oversized spiders, and now we are in Hell trying not to be raped and eaten.
I am not kidding.
While Agony looks astounding to me, that is not in question here. The question is, have scary games gone too far? At what point between the rape and forced gender reassignments do we step up and say:
Hey, what happened to collecting coins? What happened to highest scores and power-ups?
Now don’t get me wrong, there are still PLENTY of old school horror coming out in game form still get it:
Daymare 1998 is based on the look and gameplay of Resident Evil 2. How cool is that?
But that doesn’t counteract the fact that cocks are being cut off and rape is being addressed in games. While some could say this is the video game medium maturing, at what point does it stop? How mature does it need to be before it becomes intrusive or mentally damaging? As an art medium, it has as much a right to explore these ideas as anyone else, but the end result could be a catastrophic fallout for video games, which I will get to more in-depth about in a paragraph or two.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not tying violent games to violent acts in real life, but I am telling you, depending on age and who has access to it, this stuff can do damage. As a kid, I definitely would have still been able to buy Outlast, and I cannot tell you the effect that d*ck chopping would’ve had on me, but if I can’t shake it from my mind as an adult, how would I be able to process that as a child or even a teenager?
Keep in mind, growing up the horror games I was playing were:
Silent Hill 2
Creepy AF without being extra grimy.
Still one of the greatest games ever made. Yes, there are psychosexual issues at hand, but they are dealt with so maturely and subtly that it makes “forced gender reassignment” just seem like it is shocking just to be shocking. Good horror games with substance and genuine scares don’t need rape or mutilated genitals to scare us or to make us keep playing until the end, and Silent Hill 2 is the realest testimony to this (by being one of the greatest horror games ever made, still, to this day) but again, the only things that even KIND OF get molested in that game are unhinged (literal) mannequin legs, so even the sexual violence there is not aimed at humans.
Silent Hill used subtlety to scare its gamers, and it worked.
A building sense of tension and dread that becomes almost overbearing the more you play. Tie that up to the game’s shocking ending and you can easily see, horror can be subtle and still work in game form perfectly.
But on the other extreme, we now have…
This game will make you remember things that may have never happened to you or that you repressed for a reason.
Make no mistakes, I am NOT talking shit about Outlast 2. It was easily the most traumatizing video game experience ever sat through, (and I kinda loved that) and there were parts of the game that were so discomforting, they sat with me long after you shut I my PS4 down.
Dealing with cultists and more sexual perversions, as well as a healthy dose of sexual PTSD and flashbacks to some shit I don’t even wanna address and you finally have the game that I consider “A Serbian Film” of video games. Do you somehow NOT know what a Serbian Film is?
Well, here you go:
I played this for my girl one night and told her it was a comedy, true fucking story!
It is a movie that is SO fucked up, SO disturbing, you kind of feel a little broken after. It exhausts you in every way and takes all the strength you have to endure it. In a way, it itself is torture. Yet, I endure it. So while that may clearly point to the fact that I don’t hate it, we have yet to see what these games (and in that case, film) can do, long term.
Is Outlast 2 scary? Yes, it is scary as fuck, but at moments I found myself wondering if it was scary for the right reasons. I am hiding from some freak lady who also wants to either cut off my d*ck or rape me, and in between all this I am getting flashbacks to my own (character’s) grade school days and some really nasty shit that went down back then. I won’t spoil it for people who want to play and want to feel that discomfort but know, it is a different type of discomfort than what you get from a Resident Evil game or a Silent Hill game. You will be heading somewhere in the pitch black in Outlast 2, genuinely freaked out that you are about to be killed and molested (sometimes in that order), and for me, as fun as it was, it made me need Xanax to unwind after playing it for hours.
I can’t be the only one. This brings us to the great debate that is….
The Difference Between Shocking and Scary
See, not all scary means “ruin them for life”.
Some people truly do not understand. Though they may seem to occupy the same space, shocking and terrifying are too completely different things. Shocking is often appalling, distressing, unsettling. Scary is more a fear of the proverbial dark. That nasty feeling when the hair on your arms or on the back of your neck stands up. Being scared is being hunched down, covering your eyes partially but loving every minute of what you are seeing in the spaces between your fingers. Shocking is that moment on the news when they don’t pull away from a school shooting. Are you starting to understand the difference, and why it seems games are treading that fine line more and more every passing year?
Shocking is seeing something and immediately wishing you could wash that image or memory out of your head. Shocking is seeing a biker get through someone’s windshield in front of you. Scary is that biker getting off that bike and coming at you with a machete. In other words, when repulsive becomes the stand-in for scary, we all lose.
But There Is Hope…
Yeah, this looks pretty fantastic, I won’t lie.
The Evil Within was like Capcom waking up and remembering what good survival horror games were like for a minute (after fully losing touch with RE6), but the ps4 (and Xbox One) game The Evil Within did all the things we used to love about horror games and did it correctly, without having to chop off our d*ck or change our gender.
And now we have news (and the above trailer) for The Evil Within 2, coming this October, and that trailer is full of genuine frights but frights that a horror game should have. unnerving (yet unrealistic) enemies, ammo conservation, and the overall feeling that you are always outnumbered and out-monstered around every corner. It felt like a throwback to the horror games and scary games we all kind of grew up on. And the trailer for the sequel looks to really up the ante. There seem to be more monsters, more storytelling, and even a graphical upgrade that will all just add to the overall tension. But it does that without having to make anyone physically ill in the process.
And let us not forget…
Resident Evil 7 Brought Horror Games Back to Their Roots
Just a damn good horror game.
Resident Evil 7 is one of the best current gen game experiences you can have, and they created it by mashing all aspects of horror games into one game. You did some “hide and seek” horror but it also gave us guns and knives and good, old-fashioned boss fights.
But it felt no need to chop body parts, and it still got a high rating. It doesn’t need to have you murder your family or pull a key out of someone’s shit-filled intestines with your mouth. They just made a survival horror game at its very core, and that is why it worked.
If it’s not finally broken (horror games lost their way and became action games recently), why rebuild it (again)?
Yes, Games Need To Keep Maturing (But At What Cost)?
Yes, that is monster semen he is swimming in, shit’s gotten dark in our modern world.
Yes, games need to mature with their audience, and many of us are in our 30s and 40s now, so getting creepy, adult oriented games is not a problem, but when do we draw the line? Now games have sex scenes, death scenes that are far more gruesome than most horror films, and genital mutilations. Now the first few, okay, we can deal, but once stuff starts going full psycho-sexual, you need to understand the theory of it expanding, so where does it go next? If this is what is being passed off as shocking and scary now, who’s to say in ten years time there won’t be quick time events to rape someone successfully? Seems extreme, I know that is the whole point of this piece. If the bar always has to be raised and the envelope pushed, how long before that blows up in all our faces and the politicians turn their hatred and blame for all bad things on video games again, like they do every ten years?
All it is gonna take for that to happen is ONE PARENT to walk into the room when little Jimmy is playing Outlast 2 and this war starts again, that is all I’m saying and it is a FACT. Maybe chill out on the edginess for a little bit, huh? Just a thought.
And yes, good games can still be deceivingly cute, too….though it is Rare (see what I did there?)
Boom! Point made.