I don’t like horror movies. I like horror video games. You’d think these two statements would be at odds, and yet here we are. Something like The Silence of the Lambs does nothing for me, and the Saw movies actively make me ill. But Alan Wake, F.E.A.R., and Amnesia: The Dark Descent? Sign me up!
It’s not too hard to figure out why my tastes are torn. The key is control: in horror games, you have the ability to not go in there - or, at least, not go in unprepared. In horror movies, you can only watch as logic and common sense are abandoned in favour of naivety and gore. For me, the scripted obliviousness holds little appeal.
And that’s what makes horror games so much more engaging. I don’t have to groan as a bunch of unlikeable blockheads stumble into the woods at night, unarmed and ignorant to obvious signs of danger. Instead, I can play it cautious in Silent Hill and outwit the most vicious of predators in Alien: Isolation. I can be afraid without being impotent.
None of this is to disparage horror movies. They’re just not for me. But I find it fascinating that the same genre in different media can have such disparate appeal. Horror can’t be unique in this. Are there any other genres you enjoy strictly in one form but not another? Any themes which only work for you when conveyed in one medium alone?
Matt Sayer is 50% gamer, 50% writer, 50% programmer, and 100% terrible at maths. You can read more of his articles over at Unwinnable as well as right here, friend him on Steam here or tweet him cat photos at @sezonguitar