Survival Horror games, where the aim of the game is to survive some sort of scary situation, and probably solve a mystery on the way, are one of the most prevalent types of video games today - almost every games system having multiple titles that come under this banner. Examples include Silent Hill, Project Zero, Fear and Resident Evil. This Entry offers some tips for heightening the enjoyment of a session of survival horror gaming.
Setting the Scene
As is the case in the unravelling of any horror 'tale' - be it a film, book or story - the atmosphere is important. It's easy enough for anyone to scoff and laugh at zombies shambling toward you at noon, but it's another thing entirely when you're playing at two in the morning with only the moans of the undead and the sound of your rapidly beating heart to keep you company. So play at night with the lights off or at the very least, draw the curtains.
Lighting - As bad as it is for your eyes, playing in the dark is highly recommended by most fans. In the flickering light of the screen, looming shadows suddenly gain a wonderful malevolence that helps immeasurably in creating atmosphere.
Company - Many players report finding that the tension created by the game is often improved if shared with another. From a strategic standpoint it can be good too. The other party can keep an eye on the screen, perhaps pointing out items, enemies or puzzles that you, the player, might miss in the course of playing. More than one spectator is ill-advised, however. The conversation between non-players can prove distracting, and even detract from the overall experience. Worse still, there are those that will laugh at you if you jump and/or scream when a killer creature jumps or lurches out from somewhere.
Sound - The general opinion of survival horror gamers seems to be that games should be turned up loud, with external noise kept to a minimum. You should also switch off your phone unless you really want a premature heart attack when it rings in the middle of a particularly tense moment! Sound can also provide you with important pointers on what to expect. For example, many monsters can be heard shuffling along or groaning long before they are seen, and yes, that sudden piece of dramatic music probably does mean a boss1 and your impending gory death! For the brave, headphones can be used to up the scare factor further.
Temperature - to make the atmosphere even more realistic, open a nearby window and let a cold breeze slowly chill your spine. This works best if it is cold and quiet outside, and doubly so if your neughbourhood is home to all sorts of nocturnal wildlife.
So you've got the feel right, but how do you survive the horrors ahead?
Items - Collect 'everything'. You never know when that seemingly useless chicken egg2 may come in handy! Some items can also act as important clues, while others may be treasure to sell for money to buy more weapons and ammunition.
Healing Items - You will have a health bar either on the screen or in one of your menus. Keep a close eye on it. Never ignore a health item as even if you don't need it now, you will soon enough. Many games have scarcer health items as you progress further into the game, but may allow you to combine items to provide a greater health boost.
Weapons - You will usually start the game equipped with a few basic weapons and will have to find or buy more. Always remember to check dead bodies for extra ammunition as well as clues and key items. If you come across a big shiny weapon that can kill anything that moves with just a single shot, try not to waste it on the first lumbering zombie you come across.
Enemies - Look out for their weaknesses, as they will all have one. Once you have studied your enemy and know all of their strong and weak points you will be able to survive longer.
Hopefully you will now survive longer and get more enjoyment from your survival horror experience.