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What Do You Look for in the Games You Play?

Chances are, if you have any interest in Dying Light, you probably have your copy by now. I found it to be a mostly great horror game that’s held back by many of the same issues that plagued Dead Island, such as an uninspired story and a world that’s populated by eerily animatronic NPCs who sometimes manage to be more unnerving than the actual monsters.

Video games are complex things, and the same goes for the people who play them. No one will ever be able to satisfy everyone, so there’s nothing wrong with a developer that chooses to focus on making a game that’s fun to play over constructing something with a compelling narrative, or realistic characters.

The Last of Us took the opposite approach by constructing a gritty world with a memorable story and cast of characters, the Silent Hill series built its following by being exceedingly creative with its monsters and music, among other things — the list goes on.

So what attracts you to the games you play, and perhaps more importantly, what keeps you invested in them long after their release?

Is it an engrossing story, an endlessly replayable multiplayer, the promise of must-have DLC, a world that’s rich with stunning visuals, what? Your answer doesn’t even need to be exclusive to the horror genre, though I would love to hear what you look for specifically when you’re searching for that spooky scary fix.


  • Fantasma George

    Well for all the hate DI gets I’ve read even some of its critics admit that the melee action is incredibly fluid! Then, I had also read the comparison to Condemned and tried Bloodshot, it didn’t feel the same for me and it was frustrating, and I really wanted to like that game. Haven’t gotten rid of it yet but after that experience I’ve shied off.

    Not necessarily saying it’s melee combat, just very responsive gameplay (because when Riptide came along and gave you some options to make Purma into a beat with shotguns, it got fucking better!) and a scenario I’d want to get into is what keeps my interest vested in a game.

  • Chandler Of-Adelaide

    Can’t really say. I play a heap of different genres and the best ones (imo) in each genre are all radically different from one another in what they offer. For instance, Bioshock and Borderlands, both FPS but vastly different once you get passed that. There’s no real universal “thing/s” I’m looking for in games.

    Well there’s one exception, I prefer my games to have as a few bugs as possible. That’s about it.

  • For me it’s definitely the story. I can forgive flaws in the visuals and game play but a bad story with its poor delivery really makes me cringe. As a player I find you become more emotionally invested if there is a good story and when you care the game experience becomes that much more rewarding. Take the “Longest Journey 1 & 2” as an example, the gameplay is not revolutionary nor are the visuals but I just couldn’t put it down. Another great example is the “Last of Us”. I’m not bashing those that love to play games like the Call of Duty but I never will and frankly find them pointless.

    • Also Mass Effect is a good example of that ^
      1 and 2 don’t have amazing graphics (they aren’t “that” bad but you see that it’s an older game and the movements are robotic) but the story made me forget all that. It really draws you in and make you feel compassionate towards the characters. especially the ending where the characters say goodbye. You may be a tough guy but it will give you a bit of a sour throath thing. It really is a true adventure and emotional rollercoaster due to the choices you can or have to make (and you will only say that after you finish both games).
      Dragon Age: Origins is also like that (same creators btw) but is pure RPG combat.

  • Yakushiji Tenzen

    an amazing camera like Resident Evil 1-3.

  • Bloody-Rig

    Games with mature engaging stories that are creative and steer clear of tropes. It also helps when they have good damage physics, especially in horror/action games since they both have a heavy reliance on taking out enemies and therefore it should look and feel satisfying.
    E.g. Alan Wake and The Last Of Us.

  • Farid Fajer Paniagua

    I absolutely love survival horror. I have plenty more games from other genres but I think horror is the genre that can be really good or a total shame. I think the story is the most important thing because you’ll enjoy it no matter how many times you replay it. For horror games, the enemy design is delicate. You have to balance horror and danger in one character and in my opinion, gallons of blood are not needed when you have enemies that actually stress you out. With all that being said, easter eggs and secret paths, puzzles etc. are great in any game. Music is implicit. I’m gonna take a leap of faith here hoping for someone to agree with me but Silent Hill: Downpour was in fact a great game with the wrong engine on it.
    1. Poor designed but dangerous and insidious enemies
    2. Puzzles EVERYWHERE
    3. Intricate story
    4. Amazing music and ambience by Daniel Licht
    5. Way better than Homecoming
    Those are the main elements that make a great game for me

    • Hmm, I agree with most except the last part. Ofcourse each has his own opinion and i totally respect that.
      IMO those Downpour chase parts putted me off so yeah, i found Homecoming way better. so there you have it. counterstrike πŸ˜€
      But a question though. What didn’t you like about Homecoming?

      • Farid Fajer Paniagua

        I found Homecoming more like an action game than a survival horror one. I don’t know how to explain it but I felt it very “linear”. The puzzles are easy to solve, you can’t fully explore the maps and the story becomes boring sometimes. What I liked about Downpour was that it was actually an open world and it has an increased difficulty level; also the atmosphere is incredible. Which elements of Homecoming you liked the most? πŸ™‚

        • Actually, the action part fits the characters story line of being an army veteran. I still found it very subtle to actually call it action. The combat/melee was nicely done and not really overpowered and still felt somewhat clunky (which i liked). Ofcourse each enemy had it’s weak points so ones you got the trick it was more easy. But yeah, i just like games if not too hard. I’m an average gamer so i still had problems finishing it. I didn’t like those big guys with those big chunky fists O_o ((spoiler; ———- They throw two at you in that church and i was like “F” no man and quitted for a while xD))
          I liked Scarlet (the porcelain doll) bossfight the most. After many tries and fails i had to ‘google’ it and ones i knew the trick it felt good defeating her. Those melee strikes felt so awesome on that one πŸ˜€
          I liked the overall atmosphere. Wasn’t that always the case in SH games being “linear”? I mean, in the first games you had that map but there was always roads blocked and only could go to a particular place at a particular time. There were only small parts available untill you found a certain object. So it’s something that doesn’t really bother me : )
          damn, i typed alot xD

          • Farid Fajer Paniagua

            Scarlet is a bitch! LOL Melee action in the game for me was overall good but I think it was just a little too much. Some of the SH games are in fact linear but you had a darker, scarier atmosphere that I just couldn’t feel on Homecoming. Just my opinion. However, my theory is that on the upcoming Silent Hills they will combine the atmosphere of Downpour and the action sequences of Homecoming (you can also throw some elements from Alien: Isolation. How rad would it be to have a hiding sequence with a SH monster?!) Let’s hope that this saga continues to deliver quality games and of course, sleepless nights!

          • I couldn’t agree more on this one.
            And yeah, i’m very curious at how they will approach the next game. Especially with the new engine.
            cheers man ; )

  • Harley Mitchel Dirk

    My focus in horror games is definitely the monsters and atmosphere. I look for strange and creatively designed monsters and a strong atmosphere. I love a good story and would like to add that to what I’m looking for, but sadly the story in most horror games is weak or nonexistent.

  • Brodequin

    Twisted story, dark and claustrophobic locations, disturbing atmosphere. And of course no happy endings…

  • Fred

    Monsters for me! πŸ™‚
    What’s the picture of in the article?

    • Brodequin

      Silent Hill Homecoming: Lurker

  • I’m just really looking for a great and engaging story, nice pretty visuals & non sluggish or glitchy gameplay that doesn’t take 3/4 of the game to finally get down. I can’t really stand FPS games mostly because I suck terribly at them and I find 99% of them pretty pointless from a story perspective. I loved Alien: Isolation (which was 1st person, but not a shooter) and Wolfenstein: The New Order was pretty damn good

    • Brodequin

      Yeah, Wolfenstein: The New Order is great game. Finished already three times and i will play it again πŸ™‚

  • Ima Badlady

    Mostly atmosphere, narrative, and ambiguity. There are certain games I have
    played where the atmosphere is so strong that it is very difficult to continue playing. It doesn’t feel like you are playing a game, but rather that you are actually there. I would have to say that Amnesia has some of the best atmosphere I’ve ever seen. Not to mention, that certain sound effects really made this game more terrifying. The crackling sound you hear as you dwell too long in the dark and that bell reverberation that sounds whenever you encounter another tool of torture found within the bowels of the castle.

    As atmospheric and wonderful that the Dark Descent was, A Machine for Pigs had a far superior narrative to it. While not quite as terrifying to play as the Dark Descent, I found myself much more entwined with the plight of Mandus and the way he began to see the world around him prior to the game’s events. The hair-raising score by Jessica Curry also helped bolster the story line and immersed me in the time period and overall tone of the game. Certain pieces of the game’s music still give me chills when I hear it.

    I know this contradicts my love for a solid narrative, but sometimes a lack of a clear narrative is equally, if not more disturbing. What I mean by that is that some games will go out of their way to leave the player completely in the dark as to just what the hell is happening. There is a certain art to ambiguity. It’s not just throwing random events at you though. There is a certain rhythm to it that only a few games have done well. I’m going to continue to beat a dead horse and say that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a fantastic example of this. The fact that the game could never be described as horror works to it’s advantage. There are a ton of unsettling things in this game that are never adequately explained. This comment would be an essay (crap, it kind of already is) if I tried to list all of the disturbing elements of this game, but if I would have to pick one thing, it would be the final boss battle that really does it for me (srsly, if you haven’t played the game, go look up the three phases of the Majora’s Mask battle on You Tube and try to come up with an explanation as to what the hell is going on). This point ran way too long, but Knock-Knock is also a creepy game that with little coherence, but manages to be gripping.

    The one game that I have played that seems to employ all of these facets has to be The Path. A little known indie game, The Path is hard to classify since it is not outright horror nor does any other term seem to fit. There is very little action through the game play, the emphasis being focused primarily upon exploration. The atmosphere is extremely strong and makes the player feel as if they truly are within the deep dark woods. To this day, I can’t walk through a wooded area without thinking about this game. The central narrative mimicking the Little Red Riding Hood story also changes depending upon which of the five sisters you choose to play as. Each sister has a different outlook to life and her surroundings, making you piece together what kind of life they are living and where they are headed. The creepiest concepts conveyed in this game is the fact that ‘something’ happens to each sister while in the woods. It is entirely open to the player’s interpretation as to exactly what has happened based on the clues given, but the overall feeling is that something life altering has happened to each sister. I would be remiss to mention that the haunting score from Jarboe also helps cement this game’s creepy factor. This game is certainly not for everybody, but to me, it is the most disturbing game I have ever played to date.

    Above all else, I love a game that has real thought behind it. Something that works past mere jump scares and actually tries to get under the player’s skin. A great horror game for me ceases to be just a game, but rather an experience.

    • Tryst V. Umbra

      Well put!

    • myentourage

      Where can one find these games you speak of? Are they on the PS4 platform?

      • Ima Badlady

        Most are available on Steam to play on your PC. Majora’s Mask is an old N64 game that you can download and play on an emulator, but a remastered version is actually coming out tomorrow (Feb 13th) for the Nintendo DS.

    • I concur with Tryst. What you describe are examples of games at their best!

    • Brodequin

      The Path is unique. I love this game!

  • Tryst V. Umbra

    The thing I loved most about Silent Hill- 2-4 especially, was the narrative and emotional oomph of some of the scenes and story. I find a lot of horror games fail at capturing beautiful or interesting character development. The soundtrack is also pretty critical, but I’ve reached a point where well, games generally -don’t- scare me, despite my love for the horror genre and related subgenres- so I find myself looking more for a coherent and beautiful story.

  • Youri Gavrilov

    Gotta say, for me the first priority – is that the game should be a first-person (unless it’s a sidescroller). 3-rd presons just feel distant for me.

    The second thing – is the story and challenges, inspired by that story. Or just a really creative gameplay (like “Five Nights At Freddy’s” – the most creative horror game of the year).

    I was never va big fan of stunning visuals, because it requires me to update mu hardware every 5 years – and i’m not THAT rich.

    I never was a fan of multiplayer, since i prefer to play alone (it’s kinda more personal that way… espesially if it’s a horror game).

    As for DLCs… don’t care.

    So – it must be a story. I see games as a unique media of telling stories in a more personal level, than movies (if you play “Bioshock Infinite” – you know, what i mean).

    • I’m in the middle if it comes to 1st or 3rd person view. 3rd person view is that you have those things like… “what if i was in his place”? you know… compared to 1st person you don’t question that so easily. Maybe it’s because i’m compassionate and oversensitive by nature xD
      But yeah, as in Skyrim you can choose both and i like to switch (depending on what i’m doing but mostly 1st person). Those dungeons and grave tombs always get me on the tip of my seat! especially at lower levels!
      lol at the stunning visuals part. I do agree on that one.

  • Cheshire TrollCat

    Two words… VAGINA MONSTERS

  • I would say…. “it’s the complete picture” thing. It all has to go hand in hand.
    Wicked story(ofcourse!), wicked scenery (especially not too repetitive), wicked soundtrack (Resident Evil “2” and Silent Hill 1 OST’s are forever imprinted in my mind) and ambience (sound effects. and again mentioning Silent Hill with its crazy Industrial/ExperiMENTAL harshness that builds up slowly at times. That alone could freak me out while actually nothing was planned to be happening AAAND that sound fades out again)!
    The only flaws that i can forgive is less good graphics and movements. A good example would be (non-horror) Mass Effect 1. Epic good game despite the flaws i just mentioned.

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