Horror games are a unique genre of video games that are designed to elicit feelings of fear, terror, and suspense in players. These games often feature supernatural elements such as ghosts, demons, and other paranormal entities, and typically take place in dark, eerie environments. But what exactly makes a game a horror game? In this article, we will explore the key characteristics that define the horror genre in video games, and examine how these elements are used to create a sense of dread and unease in players. So, if you’re ready to delve into the world of supernatural horror games, let’s get started!
A supernatural horror game is a type of video game that focuses on elements of horror and the supernatural. These games often feature themes of the occult, such as ghosts, demons, and other supernatural entities, and typically involve a sense of fear and danger. Supernatural horror games may also include elements of mystery and suspense, as players must navigate through dark and eerie environments while trying to uncover the truth behind the supernatural events they encounter. The fear and tension in these games is often heightened by the use of atmospheric sound effects, eerie music, and unsettling visuals. Ultimately, what makes a game a supernatural horror game is its focus on creating a frightening and mysterious atmosphere, with a strong emphasis on the supernatural elements that permeate the game world.
Definition of Supernatural Horror Games
Elements of Supernatural Horror Games
- Ghosts, demons, and other supernatural entities:
- Ghosts are often depicted as the spirits of deceased individuals who have unfinished business or seek revenge. They may haunt specific locations or follow the player throughout the game.
- Demons are typically portrayed as malevolent entities from another realm, often seeking to possess or corrupt living beings. They may possess various abilities, such as superhuman strength or the power to manipulate reality.
- Other supernatural entities include vampires, werewolves, and other mythical creatures that evoke fear and terror in players.
- The paranormal and supernatural events:
- Supernatural horror games often involve events that defy rational explanation, such as ghostly apparitions, poltergeist activity, or objects moving on their own. These events serve to unsettle players and create a sense of unease.
- The paranormal elements may be tied to specific locations or objects, such as haunted houses or ancient artifacts, adding to the game’s atmosphere and mystery.
- The use of darkness and shadow to create an eerie atmosphere:
- Darkness and shadows are frequently employed in supernatural horror games to create a sense of dread and uncertainty. This may involve dimly lit environments, flickering candles, or areas of complete darkness that the player must navigate.
- The use of lighting can also be used to emphasize the presence of supernatural entities, with their eyes or other features appearing as glowing or ghostly images in the darkness.
- A focus on fear and terror rather than action or combat:
- Supernatural horror games are designed to elicit feelings of fear and terror in players, rather than relying on combat or action-oriented gameplay. This may involve psychological horror elements, such as a sense of isolation, vulnerability, or impending doom.
- The game’s atmosphere, setting, and story are all geared towards creating an unsettling experience for the player, who must navigate a world filled with supernatural threats and unsettling occurrences.
Differences between Supernatural Horror Games and Other Genres
- Supernatural Horror Games vs. Slasher Games
Slasher games, such as the “Friday the 13th” series, focus on a killer or monster hunting down and killing its victims in a sequential manner. These games typically have a high body count and rely on jump scares and gore to create fear. Supernatural horror games, on the other hand, often involve supernatural entities such as ghosts, demons, or vampires, and may feature multiple antagonists or a more complex plot.
- Supernatural Horror Games vs. Survival Horror Games
Survival horror games, like the “Resident Evil” series, emphasize the player’s survival and evasion of danger rather than confrontation. These games often involve resource management, puzzle-solving, and exploration of a dark and foreboding environment. Supernatural horror games, however, typically involve combat or other active gameplay mechanics, as well as the use of supernatural abilities or items to defeat the antagonist.
- Supernatural Horror Games vs. Psychological Horror Games
Psychological horror games, such as “Silent Hill” or “Layers of Fear,” focus on creating fear through psychological means, such as mind control, manipulation, and mental breakdown. These games often have a twisted, surrealistic storyline and use atmospheric sound effects and lighting to enhance the player’s experience. Supernatural horror games, in contrast, rely on supernatural entities and their abilities to create fear, often using traditional horror tropes such as ghosts, demons, and vampires.
In summary, while supernatural horror games share some similarities with other horror genres, they differentiate themselves through their focus on supernatural entities and their abilities, as well as their emphasis on combat or active gameplay mechanics.
Types of Supernatural Horror Games
Cosmic Horror Games
Cosmic horror games are a subgenre of supernatural horror games that focus on cosmic entities and otherworldly beings. These games often evoke a sense of awe and terror, as players are confronted with the vast and unknowable nature of the universe.
Two well-known examples of cosmic horror games are “Eldritch Horror” and “Call of Cthulhu.” In “Eldritch Horror,” players take on the role of investigators who are attempting to stop the Old Ones, cosmic entities from beyond space and time, from unleashing their madness on the world. “Call of Cthulhu,” based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, is a game in which players investigate the mysteries of the Cthulhu Mythos, a collection of interconnected stories featuring cosmic entities and otherworldly beings.
Focus on cosmic entities and otherworldly beings
Cosmic horror games are characterized by their focus on cosmic entities and otherworldly beings. These entities are often depicted as being beyond human comprehension, and their power and capabilities are typically vast and incomprehensible. In these games, players must confront the terrifying reality that there are forces at work in the universe that are far beyond their understanding or control.
Emphasis on madness and insanity
Another key element of cosmic horror games is the emphasis on madness and insanity. The cosmic entities and otherworldly beings that players encounter in these games often have the power to drive people insane, either through their mere existence or through their interactions with humans. As players delve deeper into the mysteries of the cosmic horror genre, they may find themselves questioning their own sanity and the nature of reality itself.
Overall, cosmic horror games are a unique and terrifying subgenre of supernatural horror games that explore the mysteries and terrors of the universe. Whether players are investigating the Old Ones in “Eldritch Horror” or uncovering the secrets of the Cthulhu Mythos in “Call of Cthulhu,” they will be confronted with the vast and unknowable nature of the cosmos, and the terrible power of the entities that dwell within it.
Ghost games are a subgenre of supernatural horror games that focus on ghosts and spirits as the primary antagonists. These games often involve investigations and solving mysteries, which adds an element of detective work to the gameplay. Here are some key characteristics of ghost games:
- Focus on ghosts and spirits: As the name suggests, ghost games are centered around the theme of ghosts and spirits. These supernatural entities are often depicted as malevolent, haunting the protagonist or the player-controlled character.
- Investigations and solving mysteries: Ghost games usually involve a mystery to be solved, such as uncovering the origins of a haunting or finding out why a particular location is cursed. Players are required to gather clues, analyze evidence, and piece together the story, which adds an extra layer of challenge to the game.
- Atmospheric settings: To enhance the feeling of dread and unease, ghost games often take place in eerie, dimly lit environments. These settings are designed to make players feel on edge, with creaking floorboards, flickering candles, and shadows that seem to move on their own.
- Paranormal phenomena: In addition to ghosts, these games may also feature other paranormal phenomena, such as poltergeists, possessions, and haunted objects. These elements contribute to the overall supernatural atmosphere and can make for some truly terrifying gameplay moments.
- Psychological horror: While ghost games can be straight-up terrifying, they often rely on psychological horror as well. This can include jump scares, tension-building ambient sounds, and unsettling storytelling techniques to create a sense of dread and unease in the player.
- Variety of gameplay mechanics: Ghost games can incorporate a range of gameplay mechanics, from exploration and puzzle-solving to combat and stealth. This variety keeps the gameplay engaging and adds to the replay value of the game.
Examples of ghost games include “Ghost of Tsushima,” which takes place in feudal Japan and follows a samurai confronting supernatural threats, and “Resident Evil,” a popular survival horror series that has featured ghosts and other supernatural elements throughout its various installments.
Vampire games are a subgenre of supernatural horror games that focus on vampires and vampire mythology. These games often involve combat and survival against vampires, making them a thrilling and terrifying experience for players. Some examples of vampire games include “Bloodborne” and “Castlevania”.
- “Bloodborne” is a popular action role-playing game that takes place in a Gothic, Lovecraftian world filled with horrifying creatures, including vampires. Players take on the role of a hunter, exploring the dark and eerie streets of Yharnam and battling bloodthirsty beasts in order to uncover the truth behind the mysterious illness that has befallen the city.
- “Castlevania” is a classic platformer game that follows the adventures of vampire hunters Simon Belmont and his descendants as they battle their way through Dracula’s castle. The series has been praised for its atmospheric music, challenging gameplay, and unique take on vampire mythology.
In both of these games, players must confront the dark and dangerous world of vampires, facing off against powerful foes and navigating treacherous environments in order to survive. Whether players are exploring the twisted streets of Yharnam or battling their way through Dracula’s castle, vampire games offer a thrilling and terrifying experience for horror fans.
Werewolf games are a subgenre of supernatural horror games that focus on the mythology of werewolves and lycanthropy. These games often involve combat and survival against werewolves, and may include elements of role-playing and survival horror. Some examples of werewolf games include “The Wolf Among Us” and “Minecraft”.
Examples of Werewolf Games
- “The Wolf Among Us” is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Telltale Games. The game is based on the Fables comic book series, and follows the story of a detective who must investigate a series of murders in a community of fairy tale characters living in secret in New York City. The game features werewolves as the primary antagonists, and the player must use a combination of combat and investigation skills to survive and solve the mystery.
- “Minecraft” is a sandbox survival game developed by Mojang. The game features a variety of supernatural creatures, including werewolves, that the player must fight or avoid in order to survive. The game has a blocky, pixelated art style and allows the player to build structures and explore the environment. While werewolves are not the primary focus of the game, they are a common enemy that the player must contend with in order to survive.
Combat and Survival
Werewolf games often involve combat and survival against werewolves. This may involve using weapons or other items to fight off the creatures, or using stealth and avoidance tactics to evade them. In some games, the player may also have access to special abilities or items that can help them fight or escape from werewolves.
Role-Playing and Survival Horror
Werewolf games may also include elements of role-playing and survival horror. This may involve exploring a dark and eerie environment, facing challenging enemies, and making difficult choices that can affect the outcome of the game. In some cases, the player may also have to manage resources and make strategic decisions in order to survive.
Overall, werewolf games are a subgenre of supernatural horror games that focus on the mythology of werewolves and lycanthropy. These games often involve combat and survival against werewolves, and may include elements of role-playing and survival horror. Examples of werewolf games include “The Wolf Among Us” and “Minecraft”.
- Examples: “The Walking Dead” and “Dead Rising”
- Focus on zombies and zombie apocalypse
- Often involve combat and survival against zombies
Zombie games are a subgenre of supernatural horror games that revolve around the undead, specifically zombies. These games typically depict a world overrun by zombies, where the player must fight to survive against hordes of the undead. The zombies in these games are often depicted as mindless, ravenous creatures that are driven by an insatiable hunger for human flesh.
One of the most popular examples of a zombie game is “The Walking Dead,” which is based on the comic book series of the same name. In this game, players take on the role of Lee Everett, a convicted criminal who is given a second chance at life after the world is overrun by zombies. The player must navigate a post-apocalyptic world, trying to survive against the undead and make difficult decisions that will affect the fate of their group.
Another example of a zombie game is “Dead Rising,” which is known for its over-the-top violence and unique gameplay mechanics. In this game, players take on the role of Frank West, a photojournalist who finds himself trapped in a shopping mall overrun by zombies. The player must fight their way through hordes of the undead, using a variety of weapons and items to stay alive.
Overall, zombie games are a popular subgenre of supernatural horror games that focus on the undead and the apocalypse they bring. These games often involve combat and survival mechanics, making them a thrilling and intense experience for players.
Common Elements in Supernatural Horror Games
Use of darkness and shadow
In supernatural horror games, the use of darkness and shadow plays a crucial role in creating an unsettling atmosphere. By limiting the amount of light available, developers can create areas that are difficult to navigate and hide frightening creatures or events. The absence of light also highlights the player’s vulnerability, as they must rely on their other senses to navigate the environment. This use of darkness and shadow creates a sense of uncertainty and unease, which is essential to the horror genre.
Ominous sound effects and music
Sound effects and music are essential in creating an eerie and unsettling atmosphere in supernatural horror games. Developers use a variety of sounds, such as creaking doors, howling wind, and screeching owls, to create an atmosphere of tension and fear. Additionally, the use of ominous music, such as eerie piano melodies or haunting choir music, helps to reinforce the fear-inducing atmosphere. This combination of sound effects and music can be used to create jump scares, build tension, and enhance the overall atmosphere of the game.
Eerie and unsettling environments
Supernatural horror games often feature eerie and unsettling environments that contribute to the overall atmosphere of fear and tension. These environments can include abandoned buildings, creepy forests, and haunted houses. The design of these environments often includes dilapidated buildings, twisted and gnarled trees, and distorted architecture that creates a sense of unease. Additionally, the inclusion of supernatural elements, such as ghosts, demons, and other creatures, adds to the unsettling atmosphere. These environments are designed to make the player feel uncomfortable and on edge, which is essential to creating a successful supernatural horror game.
Supernatural horror games often excel in their storytelling, creating immersive and chilling worlds for players to explore. A rich and detailed lore provides the foundation for these stories, allowing players to delve into the history and mythology of the game’s setting. Complex characters and motivations bring these worlds to life, providing depth and nuance to the narrative.
In addition to a strong overall story, supernatural horror games often feature unexpected plot twists and surprises. These elements keep players on their toes, constantly questioning what they thought they knew about the game’s world and its characters. This sense of uncertainty and unease adds to the overall horror experience, as players never quite know what to expect.
Moreover, supernatural horror games often employ a technique known as “cosmic horror,” which emphasizes the incomprehensible nature of the game’s antagonists or the supernatural forces at play. This can be achieved through subtle hints and suggestions, rather than explicit explanations, leaving players to draw their own conclusions and adding to the sense of unease and dread.
Overall, the storytelling in supernatural horror games plays a crucial role in creating a sense of atmosphere and immersion, drawing players into a world of terror and mystery.
- Stealth and survival mechanics
- Supernatural horror games often require players to remain hidden or avoid detection by malevolent entities. Stealth mechanics may involve hiding behind objects, using the environment to conceal oneself, or sneaking past monsters undetected.
- Survival mechanics, on the other hand, may involve managing resources such as health, ammunition, or other supplies in order to outlast the horrors that lurk within the game world. Players may need to scavenge for food, medicine, or other necessities to stay alive.
- Puzzle-solving and exploration
- Supernatural horror games often feature puzzles that require players to uncover clues, decipher cryptic messages, or manipulate the environment in order to progress. These puzzles may be tied to the story or serve as obstacles that must be overcome in order to escape the horrors that pursue the player.
- Exploration is also a key element of many supernatural horror games, as players must navigate dark and ominous environments in search of clues, items, or information. This may involve exploring abandoned buildings, creepy forests, or other haunted locales.
- Combat and resource management
- Supernatural horror games often involve combat with various supernatural entities, such as ghosts, demons, or other monsters. Combat mechanics may involve using weapons, special abilities, or other tactics to defeat these foes.
- Resource management is also crucial in many supernatural horror games, as players must balance their use of resources such as health, ammunition, or other supplies in order to survive. This may involve strategic planning, careful conservation, or quick thinking in the face of danger.
Popular Supernatural Horror Games
Silent Hill Series
- Examples: “Silent Hill 2” and “Silent Hill 3”
- Iconic horror franchise
- Focus on psychological horror and symbolism
The Silent Hill series, which includes titles such as “Silent Hill 2” and “Silent Hill 3,” is widely regarded as an iconic horror franchise in the world of video games. This series, developed by Konami, has garnered a devoted fan base due to its unique approach to supernatural horror. The Silent Hill series stands out among other horror games because of its focus on psychological horror and symbolism, rather than relying solely on jump scares and gore.
One of the key elements that sets the Silent Hill series apart is its use of symbolism. The games’ storylines often incorporate themes such as guilt, repression, and the human psyche, which are represented through symbolic imagery and metaphors. For example, the series’ namesake town of Silent Hill is itself a symbol of the characters’ inner turmoil and fears. The twisted and nightmarish versions of everyday objects and locations serve to illustrate the characters’ psychological states and the dark aspects of their pasts.
Another hallmark of the Silent Hill series is its emphasis on atmospheric horror. The games’ eerie soundtracks, creepy ambient noises, and unsettling environments work together to create a sense of unease and tension. The series’ use of lighting and shadow also plays a significant role in creating a foreboding atmosphere, as darkness and shadows are often used to conceal monsters or other frightening elements.
In addition to its use of psychological horror and symbolism, the Silent Hill series also incorporates elements of traditional supernatural horror. The games feature a variety of monsters and supernatural creatures, including grotesque humanoids, demonic beings, and otherworldly entities. These creatures often represent the characters’ deepest fears and insecurities, and their encounters with them serve as a means of exploring the characters’ psyches.
Overall, the Silent Hill series is a prime example of a supernatural horror game. Its focus on psychological horror, symbolism, and atmospheric tension, as well as its incorporation of traditional supernatural elements, make it a standout in the genre. The series’ unique approach to horror has influenced many other games and has earned it a place as one of the most iconic horror franchises in gaming history.
Resident Evil Series
The Resident Evil series is a long-running horror franchise that has been popular among gamers since its inception in 1996. The series is known for its focus on survival horror and action, which sets it apart from other horror games that may rely more heavily on jump scares or gore.
One of the defining features of the Resident Evil series is its use of a third-person perspective, which creates a sense of immersion and immediacy for the player. This perspective allows players to see the environment around them and anticipate threats, adding to the tension and suspense of the game.
The series has evolved over the years, with each new installment introducing new gameplay mechanics and story elements. For example, Resident Evil 2 introduced a new protagonist, Leon S. Kennedy, and featured a more expansive and interconnected environment than its predecessor. Resident Evil 7, on the other hand, took a departure from the series’ traditional setting of the Spencer Mansion and introduced a first-person perspective, as well as a new protagonist, Ethan Winters.
Overall, the Resident Evil series is known for its immersive gameplay, suspenseful atmosphere, and memorable characters. Its blend of survival horror and action gameplay has made it a staple of the horror genre, and its influence can be seen in many other games that have followed in its footsteps.
Bloodborne is an action-oriented horror game developed by FromSoftware, known for their critically acclaimed game, Dark Souls. Released in 2015, Bloodborne has become a popular game in the supernatural horror genre, with its Lovecraftian horror and cosmic entities.
The story of Bloodborne takes place in the fictional city of Yharnam, where players assume the role of a hunter. The city is plagued by a mysterious illness that transforms the inhabitants into monstrous creatures. The player must navigate through the city, uncovering its dark secrets and battling horrifying creatures to find a cure for the illness.
Bloodborne is a third-person action game with RPG elements. Players can choose from a variety of weapons, each with their unique strengths and weaknesses, to combat the supernatural horrors of Yharnam. The game features a complex combat system, requiring players to strategically use their weapons and abilities to defeat their enemies.
The setting of Bloodborne is what sets it apart from other horror games. The city of Yharnam is filled with Lovecraftian horrors, such as grotesque monsters and eldritch abominations. The game’s atmosphere is tense and unsettling, with an oppressive and foreboding environment that creates a sense of dread.
Bloodborne also features cosmic entities, which are powerful beings that exist beyond the boundaries of reality. These entities are some of the most challenging enemies in the game, requiring players to use all of their skills and abilities to defeat them.
In conclusion, Bloodborne is a popular supernatural horror game that combines a tense and unsettling atmosphere with challenging gameplay. Its unique blend of Lovecraftian horror and cosmic entities has made it a fan favorite in the genre.
Examples: “Until Dawn” and “Until Dawn: Rush of Blood”
- “Until Dawn” is a supernatural horror game developed by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released in 2015 for the PlayStation 4 console.
- “Until Dawn: Rush of Blood” is a spin-off game developed by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released in 2016 for the PlayStation 4 console.
Interactive horror game
- “Until Dawn” is an interactive horror game that allows players to take control of the characters and make choices that affect the story and outcome of the game.
- The game uses a combination of quick time events and branching story paths to create a unique experience for each player.
Focus on teen horror and survival
- The game follows a group of teenagers who are trying to survive a night of terror on a mountain.
- The players must make decisions for the characters to help them survive and uncover the truth behind the supernatural events that are happening.
- The game also explores themes of friendship, trust, and betrayal as the characters try to survive the night.
- A supernatural horror game that has gained immense popularity among gamers worldwide
- It is based on the “Alien” franchise, which is renowned for its thrilling and terrifying storyline
- The game’s primary focus is on survival horror and stealth, making it a nerve-wracking experience for players
- The game’s atmosphere is dark, eerie, and full of suspense, which adds to the overall supernatural horror theme
- Players take on the role of a protagonist who is stranded on a spaceship infested with a deadly alien creature
- The game’s mechanics require players to use their wits and instincts to survive, adding to the intensity of the gameplay
- The game’s designers have done an excellent job of creating a believable and terrifying world, where players must navigate through a series of challenging levels to survive
- The game’s sound effects and music are also designed to create a sense of dread and fear, which adds to the overall supernatural horror experience
- Overall, Alien: Isolation is a must-play game for anyone who loves supernatural horror games and wants to experience a thrilling and terrifying adventure.
The Outlast series is a first-person horror game that focuses on survival horror and stealth mechanics. The series has gained a reputation for its intense atmosphere, jump scares, and terrifying supernatural elements. The series was developed and published by Red Barrels, an independent game development studio based in Canada.
- Released in 2013
- Set in an abandoned asylum
- Players take on the role of a journalist who is investigating the asylum and uncovers its dark secrets
- Gameplay involves hiding from and avoiding enemies, solving puzzles, and gathering clues to progress through the story
- Includes supernatural elements such as ghosts, demonic possession, and occult symbols
- Released in 2017
- Set in a remote Romanian village
- Players once again take on the role of a journalist, this time investigating a mysterious cult
- Gameplay mechanics similar to the first game, with additional features such as crafting and evasion techniques
- Features more explicit supernatural elements, including the use of magic and the presence of demonic entities
Throughout the series, the Outlast games often explore themes of isolation, paranoia, and the unknown. The supernatural elements of the games serve to heighten these feelings, as players are constantly uncertain of what lies ahead and what dangers may be lurking in the shadows. The series also tends to feature intense gore and violence, which further contributes to the horror atmosphere.
Overall, the Outlast series is a prime example of a supernatural horror game, as it effectively utilizes elements such as supernatural entities, creepy settings, and tense gameplay to create a terrifying and immersive experience for players.
1. What is a horror game?
A horror game is a type of video game that is designed to scare and unsettle the player. These games often feature dark and eerie environments, terrifying creatures, and intense atmospheres that are meant to elicit feelings of fear and anxiety in the player.
2. What makes a game a supernatural horror game?
A supernatural horror game is a subgenre of horror games that features elements of the supernatural, such as ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, and other paranormal entities. These games often take place in dark and foreboding environments, and the player must navigate through them while avoiding or confronting these supernatural creatures.
3. What are some examples of supernatural horror games?
There are many examples of supernatural horror games, including classic games like “Castlevania” and “Resident Evil,” as well as more recent titles like “Layers of Fear” and “The Medium.” These games all feature elements of the supernatural and are designed to scare and unsettle players.
4. What is the difference between a supernatural horror game and a psychological horror game?
While both supernatural and psychological horror games are designed to scare players, the difference lies in the types of threats they present. Supernatural horror games typically feature supernatural creatures and events, while psychological horror games focus on the player’s own mind and the fears and anxieties that it can evoke. Examples of psychological horror games include “Silent Hill” and “Outlast.”
5. Are supernatural horror games suitable for children?
Most supernatural horror games are not suitable for children due to their intense and frightening themes. These games are typically rated “M” for mature audiences and may contain violence, gore, and other disturbing content. Parents should exercise caution when allowing children to play these games and should carefully consider their age and maturity level before allowing them to do so.