Know what Survival Horror needs?
A well done catastrophe scenario, with a really bleak outlook, sufficiently developed characters that pack a punch when you later find out they suffered really grisly, mysterious deaths as you progress through the game, and constant hints at a larger, paranormal background surrounding the entire events of the story, with some sort of hideous revelation at the end or whatever that just breaks your character and ends on uncertainty.
It might not work too well in a modern setting, but something like late 1920s Europe seems appropriate. It'll have to be reaaaallly atmosphere-focused, in a very hostile environment. So like, I dunno . . . I guess devestating epidemics are kinda overdone, huh? Maybe a sinking ship, and you end up on an island or something, and have to go through caves and fight off creatures in the dark, with no given maps and scarce items. I guess that's kinda cliche too . . Maybe war has led people to seek refuge in cities near the mountains, and the sudden population increase leads people to become desperate, and it's quickly turning WROL, and lately strange things happen at night, and you're left to fend for yourself alone. Not sure what to do about BGM . . . Cause silence can be pretty unnerving, but maybe some grating, Silent Hill style atmospheric pieces in certain scenarios might work.
I also feel like this should be in a more open, mildly changing environment. Lately it feels like too many S-H games are more linear, but I want there to be constant backtracking and exploring, perhaps encouraged by puzzles and human curiosity to see what lies ahead. I want there to be a sensation of dread and avoidance of having to go back to a certain area with uncertainty of what's lying in wait, instead of having players traverse through and clear an area. Plus, puzzles offer just enough mental stimulation and frustration to add to the whole ordeal. It'd be cool if the more Lovecraftian aspect of the game were revealed this way too. While the atmosphere and environment should be creepy enough to provide enough horror by itself, I kinda want to have *just* enough hidden occult stuff thrown out there in subtle, suggestive ways so that players may feel encouraged to run into that daunting, greater realization, instead of having it shoehorned in.
I guess people could be common enemies, but in that case, we have to humanize them just enough so that violence is creepy. So maybe make 'em scream in agony or pain or something so even fights with people becomes intense. I mean, I feel like we've become fairly desensitized to that stuff with zombies, and it's a fairly similar setting. And maybe throw in some large insects. We don't have nearly enough large, creepy-looking insectoid abominations in games anymore. And well, ever stopped to loom at a mosquito? Like, really stop and intently look at its structure and everything. It can get creepy if it's the size of small dog. Oh, and have graphic, scripted death animations for certain things, a la RE4 ot Tomb Raider. I'd say Dead Space too, but after s few deaths, it got old. With enough exceptions that players start to dread running into them. Point is, I want every life or death situation to be strong, and stressful . . Something like that. Just gotta make sure the game is punishing, grim, and disturbing enough.
A final little something I wouldn't mind having thrown in there, is suicide. I guess I should be somewhat concerned if I started thinking about that just as I was trying to go to sleep, but it suddenly hit me; If this is a game that's going to be atmospherically imposing, and stressful, and mentally exhausting to an extent . . . Why not include the option of suicide as a reminder of our withering humanity in the face of horror? I mean, suicide in games is downplayed for obvious reasons, and if the formal option for taking your own life is there, it's usually not much of a big deal. At least in my experience. You can shoot yourself in the head at the cost of $100 in GTA:O afterall. So, why not make it an option, but keep it hidden or just inaccesible if you're not actively looking for it. Say . . . Since it's pretty much impossible to avoid firearms in these games, why not have a certain button you wouldn't intuitively refer to when handling shooting in a game be mapped to that? I mean, picture it. You're wandering alone in the dark, with only three rounds left in the cylinder, with God only knows what stalking you . . And then a player accidentally stumbles upon it. I don't know about you, but that seems fairly creepy. "Accidentally" taking your life in a very unfavorable situation. It's dark, yet realistic enough to add to the whole experience, right? I mean, what's there to horror if you can't question and have your own mortality in your hands?
I know there was a Lovecraftian horror game way back, but I never got to play it, and I can't really think of anything like what I dreamt up right now . . .
Sucks that so far, it's only a dream :I
I wrote all this via my phone, onto my personal blog first, without any real content organization or aesthetic refinement because I only wanted to have my ideas written down lest I sleep them away. I . . . May have let myself get a little carried away with the concept, and started thinking about it more and more, and edited just enough stuff that I figured some others may find interesting. Seeing how it's 2 am, and my phone's at 14% battery, I won't make it nice and pretty. So I apologize for the massive wall of dull text.