How I Rekindled My Love For Horror Games [Dodging Death]

My family was raised on horror, literally. We were under five years old watching titles like Hellraiser and Nightmare on Elm Street, and yes, I’m dating myself. Was it the best parenting? Who knows. What I do know is that I loved it. 

That transferred into my teen years when six of us slept at my place playing Fatal Frame way too late at night. That specific instance ended in everyone screaming at the top of their lungs, terrifying my mother at 3 a.m. From there, I watched a lot of F.E.A.R. and dove into Silent Hill 4: The Room without appropriate supervision. Interactive horror was certainly a change from the horror movies I’d grown up on.

A Lost Love

But somewhere, as I grew up, I lost my love of everything spooky, especially in gaming. I tried my hand at Resident Evil, panicking as I was forced to barricade and protect myself as zombies poured into the room. Red Dead Redemption was taken away from me by my husband when I inadvertently threw my Xbox controller while playing Undead Nightmare. I mean, fair. I became…a wuss. 

But now, in 2024, horror gaming is at an all-time high, with games like Alan Wake 2 blowing up The Game Awards. Plus, Resident Evil Village has been taunting me since 2021. Fellow writers have been begging me to play Phasmophobia with them on a stream, no less. I know that the horror industry has been bleeding into the gaming industry for decades, but I never quite had the guts to dive into it fully…until now.

Reigniting the Passion

I’ve spent the last few weeks playing Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden. Jumping in, the thought of it being the least bit spooky never crossed my mind. Yes, obviously, we are talking about ghosts, but Casper is a ghost, so there is a spectrum there. Witches and magic don’t always fall into the horror genre, either, even if they do take over the Halloween season.

I would classify Banishers as horror for the uninitiated, but I bet those who take a deep dive into games like Silent Hill may not agree with me. Hear me out! For someone like me who has played plenty of RPGs like Starfield or Skyrim and more recently spent my time in farming simulators like Roots of Pacha and Fae Farm, some of the audio and imagery in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden are downright unsettling.

Unsuspected Fear

Before I even jump into the main story, I want to describe some of the standard gameplay that really made me think more about horror games in general. The world in Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden isn’t a straight line. You often climb through small holes in the wall, under ledges, and up cliffsides. 

This is pretty standard in an open world, but for me, one of my biggest fears in real life is climbing into something that I can’t fully turn around. I’m not claustrophobic, but ending up in a hole that I can only back out of is terrifying, and I was faced with this repeatedly during my time in Banishers. That, paired with walking across massive canyons, some coated in a thick, mysterious fog, left a lot to be afraid of in terms of standard everyday fears.

Folk Horror

If we jump into the story of Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden, just on the surface, it is full of the standard occult references like magic, possession, witches, ghosts, and hauntings. But of course, the team at DON’T NOD knows how to tell a good story, and these elements just existing don’t exactly scream horror.

So, how about I paint you a picture? Taking on the roles of Red and Antea, I’m deep within a mine with no end in sight. A plague took over the town, and the sick were locked up in the mine and left to die. The rooms are filled with dark corners and small corridors, and you can hear faint screams coming from deep within. Let’s not forget the ethereal chains encompassing every room, and the sound the chains make gets louder and louder as you get closer to the tortured entity. You are the only thing that can stop these tortured spirits from escaping the mine and taking over the fort above.

Ready for A Journey

See? Spooky! I play most games with subtitles on, and the sound pretty low. I managed to spook myself because the screams and chains were so faint I wasn’t even confident it was from the game. That doesn’t even dive into the actual baddies you’re taking on in the game. Most are tame but spooky. It may not compare to the creepy nurses in Silent Hill or the messed up zombie dogs in Resident Evil, but let me tell you, there is a boss fight that invoked sheer terror in me. Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden definitely sets the tone for terror, even if it isn’t throughout the entirety of the game.

Now, I’ve dipped my toes in the land of horror video games again after many, many years. The suspense, terror, and thrill of it all had me at the edge of my seat, but I know I’ve only scratched the surface. I want to take this series to the next level and slowly but surely experience all the horror goodness I’ve been missing while I’ve been gardening in Stardew Valley or picking up poop in Cult of the Lamb: Sins of the Flesh

Even now, looking back on the horror games I played in the early 2000s, it is almost comical to think that those poor graphics instilled fear in me, but here we are. I am hoping to check out a few of the major milestones I’ve missed in horror gaming in the last 20 years, but also jump into current-gen horror experiences across Xbox, PlayStation, PC, and…dare I say…maybe even VR.

Where my horror journey takes me, nobody knows. Well, except for my editors. Stay tuned to see me take on the terrors that lie ahead and find out if I have what it takes to get back into horror in video games.



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