Am I Going Blind? - AshaMan3000 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Am I Going Blind?

No, but it sure seems that way sometimes. 

I'm almost as much of a fan of survival horror games as I am of rpgs and... Well, action/rpgs I suppose.  One thing that's always bothered me about them is the fact that they're so damn dark!  While I appreciate the effort taken to set the mood or tone, it distracts me from the actual story and game-play.  I suppose that most game developers who work on titles in this genre have been taking cues from movies and television which have been successfully scaring people for longer than video games have even been around.  I'm here today to argue that it isn't working with games and that a new approach should be taken to achieve the scares they're looking for.

(I'm not sure what it is, but it moved so I guess I'll shoot it.)

Dead Space is an amazing series so far.  The plot and game-play are top-notch and the settings provided have been a nice change of pace from the usual graves, cathedrals, and spooky, isolated towns usually offered in survival horror games.  That said, I CAN'T SEE WHERE I'M GOING!  Yes, it's a cool series with some awesome twists and turns.  It's also a gloom-fest where anything moving becomes an 'enemy' and my eyes are constantly trying to adjust to what the see (or don't) in front of me.  I finished the first and played much of the second until it felt like the strain on my eyesight was just too much.

(Again, if it moves, shoot it.  You'd think we'd find a better way by now...)

Lately I've been playing the demo for Resident Evil 6, the newest coming installment of one of my favorite series.  It's always leaned on darkness to set the mood, but all it really does is cause me to overlook the work done to render the world.  I don't like looking for secrets in these games because it seems I'm just moving the aiming reticule over darkness until a prompt shows.  Great games, but I'd like to see more effort made to create a terrifying cerebral story rather than shadow after shadow with the occasional pool of light thrown in to make certain we notice the 'important' items/people/things in the game world.

And please don't tell me to turn up the brightness on my TV.  I almost always have to as my Bravia supports some awfully deep blacks.  Sometimes it helps, others it just seems to fuzz the image and make the few bright moments extraordinarily so.  I'd like to see some effort made to create real scares as opposed to shocking moments which aren't at all the same.  Pyramid Head comes to mind, although the Silent Hill games are just as reliant on darkness as most of the rest.  Yes, the dark can be frightening.  Especially in a strange place with strange noises.  I would argue however that video games aren't the best medium to be using darkness to provide scares.  In a movie or show, the absence of light can be effectively used to create tension and fear.  In games, at least for this gamer, all it does is frustrate and remind me that I am playing a game.  One that happens to not let me see what I'm doing.  If survival horror games are going to continue to lean on darkness as the near-sole provider of shocks or scares I'm just going to have to stop playing them.  It seems that during cut-scenes or highly scripted moments it can be effectively used, but during ordinary game-play it becomes a hindrance and annoyance.

In the above mentioned RE6 demo for instance, I spun around in circles until my reticule lit up red and then shot.  Not going to lie to you GIO, I didn't have much fun.  Games are meant to be VIEWED, not just wandered through, hoping we find the way to the next checkpoint.  A relatively minor gripe I know, but it's been getting under my skin lately and I've wondered if others feel the same.  With that I'll leave you all with the first ever public (for GIO anyway) image of my actual real-life face!

(See what I mean?  Or not I suppose?)

Anyone else feel the same?

Is darkness being used as effectively as it could be to create scares?

Why is it that nearly all games, survival horror in particular, seem designed to make me crank up the brightness on my TV?

It's annoying, and for a medium that is based entirely on the participation of those involved, seemingly counterproductive as well.

Thanks GIO!  I'll talk to you all soon...

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