Saturday, August 4, 2012

Interview with a Vampire (and Other Scary Things) Flee-er

The past week or two, I spent a fair amount of hours with an indie game by by Dreampainters called Anna. Being 'in the industry', I was privy to a review copy of it. I was really impressed with the graphics and mysterious story, and of course adventure games always catch my eye. But I passed on reviewing it cause I'm such a weenie when it comes to horror games (though I did offer to do the walkthrough). So if you hate scary games, why did you play through it (more than once, I heard)? What kept you going? Well, let's discuss that, shall we?

Random scary event. Fun.
Right off the bat, I got that freaky feeling, just because Anna's in first person (Really? Yes, really. That's why I don't play first person shooters). After about 30-40 minutes of play, I hadn't run into any sort of jump scare (where ghosts and goblins and the like jump out from behind the bushes just to catch you off guard). I find jump scares a poor tactic on a game developer's part as it relies much less on atmosphere and other aspects to just go for ye olde 'boo'. Their absence helped me push through the game.

So other than your odd idiosyncrasy with camera views, what did you find scary? Hmm, I think Dreampainters did a fabulous job with atmosphere. While interesting to look at, all the details in the virtual world couldn't help the fact that you're alone. So you never see anyone in the game? Well . . . not as such. An essential coupling in a scary game is not only the world you create, but also how completely you do so. Nevermind the stack of books you painstakingly created titles for or the fact that your attention to detail ensured that the kitchen had a full compliment of appliances and not just a sink. I'm talking about entertaining as many of the senses that a computer game can: not just visually, but aurally as well.

This game makes even plants look scary.
Umm, orally? I know you're not afraid of adult topics, but come on. No, no, no. Aurally. As in hearing, the ears, sounds. Oh, right. Don't mind me, I'm not thinking anything dirty. Going back to my example before, it's not enough to have made a realistic setting. Who cares that you bothered to put a dishwasher in your haunted kitchen? Now if it starts to run periodically when you're not looking . . . that's freaky. Wind howling outside through thin-paned windows? I'm shivering. Random tin cans flying through the air at you? Well, at that point I just turn the sound off. You get my point? Huh? What? Oh, yeah, yeah whatever. I was just sitting here googling "oral games". Interesting results . . . It appears I'm beginning to lose your interest, so I'll just tack on a quick conclusion paragraph below and let you get back to your internet 'fun' . . .

Ahem, as I was saying. Anna=pretty cool game. Read JohnB's full review of it here. Then purchase and download the game and use my walkthrough if needed. I got a lot of help from Cinnamon Toast Ken, whose youtube videos are entertaining, so watch them, like, subscribe or follow him on the Twit-thing. Oh, and me too. Last self-promotion: my stuff on Jay is Games and The Punk Effect (new stuff is coming soon, I promise). Check it!