Horror games offer a level of terror no other medium can match — here’s how they do it

The best horror games thrust the player into a constant state of dread, elevating the tension by introducing new monsters and setpieces. But how, exactly, do they accomplish this? And what elements make a horror game genuinely scary in ways that other mediums are not?

Horror games have a lot in common, with one of the more obvious ideas revolving around the utilization of darkness to instill uncertainty and fear of the unknown in the player. Memorable creature designs are equally expected, whether they be spooky ghost children, the iconic Xenomorph, or a big white dude patrolling a farmhouse. Eerie music and panicked sound design can be more than enough to spook a player, especially if they’re carefully patrolling every hallway in anticipation of a jumpscare.

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