Reviews - Games

Horrific Sounds


Previously I wrote to you to discuss sound.

I talked about how I feel that sound is a tool, used by game designers and film directors, that audiences can easily overlook. Mostly because when sound is well utilised you hardly even notice its there. It becomes an emotion, not something you see or smell but something you feel.

Bad sound work can pull an audience right out of an experience whereas a good one can suck them in and tie them to the chair, forcing them to experience what you want them to.

It makes me a little sad that I write, as it makes using sound difficult, though again, good sound work on an audiobook can be amazing.

Sounds stay with us, a lot like smells, I think I said that last time. Sounds link to memories and resonate with us powerfully. I still cannot hear the beeping of a heart monitor without my own heart rate picking up, as I’m transported back many years to when my mum was in the ICU. Even watching a show on television if I hear that particular sound the memory comes back
unbidden and punches me in the gut.

What got revisiting this topic was a YouTube channel I follow, not a horror related one, but a fun game one. I linked to their video on sounds in games when I last wrote to you about this and lo and behold they recently released another one and I found myself wanting to talk with you and share this. 

Do you have any sounds in games or films that always set you on edge?

Cliches, Horror Writing

Cliche: The senses

Monster Cliches

Today I am writing to talk to you about monster cliches.

These three cliches can apply to almost any kind of monster, or a protagonist having to circumvent the monster in question. They are sensory cliches, and they pop up in a lot of horror stories.

Now, like with all cliches I can understand why they are used. Like, character cliches which are used to establish character traits quickly these are used as short cuts. But like character cliches which can work well for background or side characters that you don’t want to spend tons of time developing because you’re basically using them to make a point or be cannon fodder, sensory cliches can work well in small doses.

The sensory cliches are a bit different to character cliches though, while they are used as a short cut the same way character cliches are their shortcut is a shortcut to stakes not personality.

Sensory cliches attached to the protagonist will be used as a way to raise stakes and sensory cliches attached to the monster will be used to lower stakes. As they will always be used to establish a weakness for either the protagonist or the monster to exploit.

Continue reading “Cliche: The senses”
Horror Writing

Horror Writing: Writing a Great Setting

What makes a great horror story?

Today I want to talk about a difficult question.

There is no one perfect element that makes a great story. It’s almost impossible to break this question down into just a few elements. There are lots of different elements that make a story a good horror story. Things like characters, are they believable? The setting, is it well thought out? Does the story tap into common fears? It is suspenseful? Is it predictable? Does it strike the right atmosphere?

There’s so much to consider that to do so in one go would be madness. So with that in mind, I’m breaking it down, today I want to talk about setting.

A well-crafted setting is crucial to a great story no matter the genre. In horror, in particular, you are likely to want your setting to be oppressive in and of itself. A strong setting will add a great deal of tension, atmosphere and challenge the protagonists in such a way that the characters develop and evolve compellingly and engagingly.

But how can we craft an engaging setting, a setting that oppresses the characters and adds to the tension of the story?