A mechanic that should be brought back for survival horror games

Eternal Darkness sanity meter should be put into current day horror games.

The survival horror genre has exploded in the YouTube community and has gained a lot of popularity as a result. But I feel that there is something missing from these games -- something that dates all the way back to 2002 with Eternal Darkness. For anyone unfamiliar with the title, Eternal Darkness was a psychological horror game released for the Nintendo Game Cube back in 2002.

One of the features that made the game stand out was its sanity meter.

As you performed certain actions, your sanity meter would drop, and as it dropped, the game would change. You would start to hear strange noises while you played, and sometimes the game would go so far as to break the fourth wall -- the blue screen of death would pop up, for example. 

This concept would be brilliant to have in horror games. But instead of a sanity meter, you would have a fear meter.

This fear mechanic could bring in a whole new dynamic for people to deal with that wouldmake horror games more intense. The longer players engage with enemies, the more of a handicap they will have to deal with.

"But how will this fear mechanic work?" I hear you ask.

Well, imagine this. The more scared your character gets, the more jittery their movements become. That makes it harder to aim a gun, and it will take longer to reload weapons. Or the camera would change direction whenever you hear a sound, even if you don't move the camera yourself -- so looking becomes an involuntary reaction. 

This might not seem like something major to add to horror games, but it can be an exceptional way to show fear in characters and create more fear for gamers in real life. The scenarios game devs make for horror games would be terrifying if they occured in real life. And games should reflect that. Even if the character you play as is a hardened soldier, it would still be a horrific experience for them to fight off an undead horde or go through a fog-covered city full of grotesque-looking creatures.

So what do you think? Would this fear mechanic be a good addition to the horror genre? Let us know in the comments below. 

Published Dec. 3rd 2015
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  • topher339
    A "fear meter" would certainly add more challenge to a game. However, I don't think it should be treated as a permanent, unchanging effect. What I mean by that is that, as you play through the game and gain experience or level up, the fear meter should rise more slowly or have a lower fear cap. Sure, your first experience being hunted by a zombie or demon would be absolutely terrifying but after days or weeks of being chased around you eventually acclimate to the constant dangers and terrors. You learn to control your fear and keep a level head in those dangerous situations.

    However, how much fear you have and how it affects you should also be dependent on the character's background. A battle-hardened veteran would be subject to a much lower level of fear than a taxi driver or lawyer. A soldier would take longer to reach that same state of fear. That should show in how the character reacts. A typical civilian would have no idea how to respond in such a situation aside from the usual flight, hide, fight instincts. A soldier, however, would likely revert to his training and experience, regardless of what's thrown at him. Would the soldier be scared? Yes. Would he panic and shake uncontrollably as a civilian might? Unlikely.

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