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Genres that are surprisingly hard to find


Doctor Shark
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Recently I've been thinking that, with the resurgence of top down or isometric, story-driven RPGs, what I'd really like to see is something horror based. I find it odd that this genre seems to be solely stuck on fantasy or post-apocalyptic. To be honest, there's really a complete lack of good, story-driven horror in general. Recently we've had games like Call of Cthulhu and Sunken City which, for all their jank, had decent enough stories, Vampyr is kind of a horror game but not, really, and Alien Isolation, good as it was, was more a tech demo of terrifying AI than a 'good' story. Where are all our solid, in-depth horror stories?!? Things with mystery, with intrigue, with suspense? We need more of them!

 

If I had to guess I would assume the typically lower sales of horror games plus the typically lower sales of RPGs is a recipe for profit disaster, but that's just a guess.

 

Are there any other genres/styles you think are curious by their absence?

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Yes those are both good shouts. Considering that a significant portion of games are made in or heavily influenced by Japan, it's surprising that Samurai games aren't more prevalent. 

 

Western games, too. Perhaps it's that the Western genre isn't so popular in Hollywood anymore so public desire for it is also more limited and not considered a winner for games developers, outside of Rockstar who could probably release a game about anything at any point in history and still sell millions.

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As a narrative genre, horror is actually pretty well-served - it's just that it's primarily delivered via adventure games and visual novels, i.e. low-budget, usually indie releases. So, much like horror movies! And just like horror in narrative media, there's a wide range of approaches used: psychological, paranormal, metaphysical, surreal, fantastical, undead, anthology horror all have their representatives. As someone with a limited taste for horror I actually find it a slightly over-prevalent narrative genre within what are amongst my favourite game genres!

 

(see e.g. Yume Nikki; Stories Untold; Paratopic; Observer; Doki Doki Literature Club; and series like The Coma and Little Nightmares)

 

Straight up comedy is the thing that I feel the lack of. Control (or lack thereof) of timing is given as the primary difficulty of bringing effective comedy to games; but even with that, I'm sad that what was a primary expression of adventure games in the 90s is now barely existent, even in narrative-led game genres. And I can't think of a single romantic comedy (no, Leisure Suit Larry doesn't count), which is astonishing.

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I watched the GDC Post mortem of alone in the dark the other day, I'd love another one of those or similar. That is to say, not resident evil but more a puzzle/ horror thing where you beat the horrors using set up things rather than guns. 

 

Not that shooting zombies in the face is a bad thing, just that there's room for other styles. 

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4 hours ago, Doctor Shark said:

Recently I've been thinking that, with the resurgence of top down or isometric, story-driven RPGs, what I'd really like to see is something horror based. I find it odd that this genre seems to be solely stuck on fantasy or post-apocalyptic. To be honest, there's really a complete lack of good, story-driven horror in general. Recently we've had games like Call of Cthulhu and Sunken City which, for all their jank, had decent enough stories, Vampyr is kind of a horror game but not, really, and Alien Isolation, good as it was, was more a tech demo of terrifying AI than a 'good' story. Where are all our solid, in-depth horror stories?!? Things with mystery, with intrigue, with suspense? We need more of them!

 

If I had to guess I would assume the typically lower sales of horror games plus the typically lower sales of RPGs is a recipe for profit disaster, but that's just a guess.

 

Are there any other genres/styles you think are curious by their absence?

 

Soma is a great narrative-led horror game, although, admittedly, it's five years old now. Have you tried the latest Amnesia game?

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6 hours ago, Wiper said:

Straight up comedy is the thing that I feel the lack of. Control (or lack thereof) of timing is given as the primary difficulty of bringing effective comedy to games; but even with that, I'm sad that what was a primary expression of adventure games in the 90s is now barely existent, even in narrative-led game genres. And I can't think of a single romantic comedy (no, Leisure Suit Larry doesn't count), which is astonishing.

I'm currently replaying the Telltale Sam and Max games, and they're just lovely slices of comedy. Really wish they'd have ploughed that furrow more, rather than spunking all their creative juices on copying their walking dead formula onto every IP available.

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10 minutes ago, therearerules said:

I'm currently replaying the Telltale Sam and Max games, and they're just lovely slices of comedy. Really wish they'd have ploughed that furrow more, rather than spunking all their creative juices on copying their walking dead formula onto every IP available.

I just played the remaster of Sam n max save the world and they're good but somehow there's still something missing in comparison to the original. 

 

I couldn't quite place my finger on it but one thing was a lot of the puzzles weren't quite right. One thing that Ron Gilbert said was that monkey Island (and thimbleweed Park) had to have multiple things you could do at once so if you got stuck on one thing you could do something else. These didn't really have that, it was very a to b to c.

 

But tangent aside, they did capture the comedy of the characters well and I liked the recurring side characters across the chapters. 

 

Incidentally, I still want MOAR point n click style adventures, even though there are more around than about 10 years ago, very few devs know how to do them "properly" for want of a better word. 

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I suppose the problem with a horror RPG is the conflict between the feeling of powerlessness which is at the core of horror and the progress and power which often define the growth of your character in an RPG. Even something like Bloodborne which is a horror RPG has to strike a fine balance between the horror of cosmic forces and letting you prevail and overcome those things, whereas most horror games end with you desperately escaping something you could never defeat.

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On 21/09/2021 at 23:38, b00dles said:

I just played the remaster of Sam n max save the world and they're good but somehow there's still something missing in comparison to the original. 

 

I couldn't quite place my finger on it but one thing was a lot of the puzzles weren't quite right. One thing that Ron Gilbert said was that monkey Island (and thimbleweed Park) had to have multiple things you could do at once so if you got stuck on one thing you could do something else. These didn't really have that, it was very a to b to c.

 

But tangent aside, they did capture the comedy of the characters well and I liked the recurring side characters across the chapters. 

 

Incidentally, I still want MOAR point n click style adventures, even though there are more around than about 10 years ago, very few devs know how to do them "properly" for want of a better word. 

 

Having played the dogshit VR Sam and Max, I think it's time to give the Telltale ones a second go. I dropped off the first episode and I think I missed out.

 

The Monkey Island Tales games weren't perfect, but I'm very glad I played them.

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