All posts by Matt Boyle

Pool Nation VR Review

How much fun could a simple game of pool be? The correct answer is way too much! Continue reading Pool Nation VR Review

The Joy in Fear

CAN YOU SURVIVE?

Halloween, a season full of spooky stories, scary movies and my personal favorite, horror video games! I’ll never forget the scene that created my love hate relationship with the horror game genre. I was right around the age of 9 and was playing my PS1 like crazy after school and my friend let me borrow this cool sounding game, Resident Evil. I remember being terrified watching the opening live action cut scene, although watching it now provokes more laughter than anything. Here it is for those who are interested. But I’m warning you, it might be too scary.

I was shaking, but curiosity pulled at my 9 year old mind and I kept playing. I remember walking down a long hallway with huge windows on both sides, the game was absolutely silent except for the main character’s footsteps. Then out of no where, the sound of broken glass exploding pierced my ears as two zombie dogs jumped through those hallway windows. I screamed, dropped the controller, and ran upstairs to my parents. But something funny happened after I calmed down, I went back downstairs and started to play again, my heart beating out of my chest as I walked down that hallway and I’m proud to say that I beat that part of the game. From there I was hooked, always pushing forward and waiting for the next scare.

Absolutely terrifying, just look at those giant spiders!

But why do we actually enjoy horror games and scaring ourselves? Think about it for a second, what sounds fun about putting yourself in a stressful situation that not only brings about anxiety, but also feelings of dread and helplessness? At first the answer may seem obvious and I’m sure many of you are thinking that well nothing sounds fun about that. But let’s take a step back for a second. While playing a game that instills fear into a player, a few physiological things will begin to take place. Your heart rate will begin to increase, maybe even skyrocket in certain situations, you may notice that your palms will get sweaty and sooner or later you will get a surge of adrenaline.

This is all a natural reaction to a stressful situation, known as the Fight or Flight response. The mind is sending the body a chemical signal to prepare it to either run away from the source of stress or take it head on. This is exactly what happens when we decide to play a scary game and by continuing to play it we select the “Fight” response, which ends up causing that surge of adrenaline previously mentioned. Many people have referred to the feeling of adrenaline as a sort of natural type of high unlike any other feeling. This explains why many people do extreme sports such as skydiving, white water rafting and cliff diving. Of course with extreme sports their is a possibility for physical injury, which obviously sets them apart from the safety of playing a horror game. There is no REAL danger to playing a horror game and although our bodies are still going through the flight or fight response from perceived threats, we still receive that jolt of adrenaline throughout various parts of the game, just at lower levels.

Fight or Flight

Now we can come back and answer our original question, why do we enjoy playing horror games and scary ourselves? This is because we can put ourselves into a perceived dangerous situation, have the fight or flight response activate and receive that surge of adrenaline to reward ourselves for facing that stressful and scary scenario head on. Throughout a normal play through a player may go through this fight or flight response multiple times while never putting themselves into any real danger, which may be what makes the horror genre so appealing to so many video game players. Now I recommend going into your basement, turning the lights off, playing the scariest game you can find, and get into the Halloween spirit. And lucky for you, a few of us over at Geekiverse have shared some of our favorite horror games to help you get your spook on!

Jeff and Chris’s favorite, Resident Evil 4

“Resident Evil 4 proved that survival horror isn’t limited to tank controls and a lack of items. Even with the greater emphasis on action, it was filled with unsettling environments and nerve-wracking gameplay sequences. Resident Evil 4 was a game that distressed you through numerous moments of unbearable tension; the iconic moment when you first step into the village and are beset by dozens of crazed villagers, when you navigated the hedge maze while infected dog-like creatures waited to bound out of the bushes ahead of you, your escape through the sewers as the seemingly-invulnerable Verdugo pursued you, your encounters with ghoulish Regenerators who relentlessly lurched after you, among many others. No matter how much ammo you were carrying in your supply case, it was never enough to make you feel safe in Resident Evil 4”.  Jeff

“I was never a big horror game fan but I really quite enjoyed playing Resident Evil 4. The mix of a parasite plague and the occult made for an incredibly gripping game. Enemies ranging from guys with a paper bag charging at you with a flaming dual chainsaw to a priest in a red robe and deer skull masks to of course… “El Gigante” gave Leon plenty of opposition to deal with especially with how scarce ammunition was at points in the game. Adding extra frustration is the main Damsel in Distress, Ashley Graham who, for the most part did nothing put weight you down as you ward off hordes of angry villagers. Nonetheless, protecting and rescuing the president’s daughter gave that extra layer of strategy that made the game quite challenging. Sure, it did not have the same shock value as a Fatal Frame may but overall, with the subject material it definitely held its own in the space.” – Chris

Andrew’s favorite, Silent Hill

“In 8th grade, I thought I was pretty much the man. No movie or video game could frighten me. I was the master of my video game domain. Then I played Silent Hill. This game turned me into a shivering pile of horrified goo…but I loved it! I would turn the game on, turn off the lights, and get totally immersed in the experience. From the shambling nurses in the hospital to the creepily laughing child demons in the school, this game constantly had either had me at the edge of my seat or sinking into the back of couch in the fetal position. Any time I heard a distant air raid siren, I went into instant panic mode. I honestly remember one time being so freaked out that I had to turn on the radio while playing the game just to keep me less immersed and less scared (I still remember the one of the songs that was playing: Got My Mind Set on You by George Harrison). Silent Hill 2 and 3 were also great games, but the first one really left its mark on me–to this day I love getting the crap scared out of me at night with all the lights off and a controller in my hand.” -Andrew

Josiah and Sam’s Favorite, Dead Space


“Dead Space is my favorite horror game. The atmosphere was totally perfect for a game that intends to scare you. Not to mention the fantastic gameplay and challenge, Dead Space kept me interested and on edge for the duration of the story. Dead Space 2 was equally superb, while Dead Space 3 left some to be desired. I would love to see a future Dead Space get back to the atmosphere from the original.” -Josiah

“We were asked to pick our favorite horror game of all time. The first game that came to mind was Dead Space. Now a little bit of background before I explain why I chose that particular game. I am a huuugee baby when it comes to the horror genre be it television, movies, books and of course games. I prefer not to play it because I will not be able to sleep at night. I was first introduced to Dead Space through web comics that they had for the game and my love for it blossomed. Mind you I can’t play that game at night or by myself. ( I know it’s really sad.) But I remember the feeling of listening to recording of the girl singing “twinkle twinkle little star,”on trailer and I remember putting in the game with my friends and not knowing what we were in for. The feeling of complete confusion upon getting aboard a colony ship that should have a ton of people on it and just finding blood and their suitcases. Watching helplessly as the rest of your team gets killed while you can’t do anything. The amazing use of shadows and sound making you think something is behind you and it’s not. The fact that you have to strategically kill the enemy or it WILL come after you. The fantastic use of gravity and and stillness in space. I could go on and on gushing about how brilliant Dead Space is but you’ll just have to find out for yourself. It truly sets itself apart in horror gaming.” -Sam

That’s it for now geeks! I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween! Now go get your scare on, eat some candy, and thanks for reading!

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Shovel Knight Review

SHARPEN THY SHOVEL

If you could choose one weapon to fight off countless enemies what would it be? The classic sword? A mighty hammer? Ever given any thought to a shovel? Well you should, because Shovel Knight is a shining example of how an unorthodox weapon can make for an extremely entertaining and challenging game! Continue reading Shovel Knight Review