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SOMA dev sees a future for horror game design that goes beyond monsters

My hope is then that the horror [in games] will go away from hunted-by-monster scenarios," Grip told PC Gamer recently. "And try to recreate other types of horror in a playable fashion."

Alex Wawro

January 30, 2017

2 Min Read

"My hope is then that the horror [in games] will go away from hunted-by-monster scenarios and try to recreate other types of horror in a playable fashion. For instance, it would be interesting to figure out what the video game version of The Exorcist is."

- Frictional Games' Thomas Grip, sharing his thoughts on the future of horror game design with PC Gamer.

The latest entry in Capcom's long-running Resident Evil franchise launched this month as Resident Evil 7 Biohazard (or Biohazard 7 Resident Evil if you're in Japan) and as we discussed in our recent livestream of the game, at first blush it bears far more resemblance to recent horror games like SOMA and Alien: Isolation than it does Resident Evil 6.

Thus, devs may be curious to read Frictional Games cofounder and creative director Thomas Grip's thoughts on the new Resident Evil game and the future of horror game design, since Frictional is responsible for uniquely unsettling games like the aforementioned SOMA and Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

In a pair of recent conversations with PC Gamer, Grip describes how the Resident Evil games influenced his work as a game designer  and describes his expectations for a future where more games try to convey horror through their mechanics, instead of just using horrific themes in their environments and narrative.

"I think that what we will be seeing a lot more of is horror simulators—games that put more effort into making the core mechanics about horror," said Grip. "As much as I love the first Resident Evil, for the most part, the game has the horror as a sort of thematic layer. At its core, Resident Evil is not about horror—it is about collecting ammo, shooting enemies, and solving puzzles. The horror aspects are just a wrapping on that."

"Compare that to a game like Alien: Isolation, where the game is really all about avoiding being eaten by the Alien creature. It feels like [Resident Evil 7] is going more in that direction as well. It is the sort of horror design I find the most intriguing and also the one that I think has the biggest impact on an audience."

Grip's thoughts on the topic are well worth reading in full over on PC Gamer's website. If you're hungry for more specific talk about the nitty-gritty details of designing effective horror games, check out his ongoing Gamasutra blog or the four pieces of advice he shared with Gamasutra in 2014. 

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