Both games, in their own way, ask players to suspend their disbelief enough to believe that they’re guiding the outcome of cinema-inspired horror scenes, whether that’s by pressing a single button in The Quarryor engaging in direct, timing-based fighting as one of Evil Dead’s survivors or demons. Both use their unique understandings of game design in order to recreate the horror movie experience.
In different ways, games from decades ago attempted to achieve this goal. These survival horror movies are the most famous. Resident Evil Silent Hill in the ’90s used a deliberately awkward control scheme (the so-called tank controls) and a scarcity of ammunition and healing items to model the fear of being outnumbered and overwhelmed by monsters. Combining this with the drugged sensation of maneuvering characters into positions to fight or flee from an enemy, it was possible to recreate the horror movie’s nightmarish helplessness. Amnesia: The Dark DescentA different approach was used to model powerlessness. This forced the player to travel to dangerous places and hide from danger while he or she had no weapons.
In short, designers have always been interested in finding ways to make the vicarious thrills of watching a horror movie more intimate—to make players feel as if they’re not just watching but actually taking part in the experience.
Both of the design ethos mentioned above maintain popularity, but they’re joined by The QuarryAnd the passive genre it is part of as well as games like Evil Dead, the latest in the “asymmetrical multiplayer” horror subgenre that also includes Dead by DaylightAnd the Friday the 13th adaptation. This horror film’s common thread is the use of role-playing, which allows audiences to become immersed in various aspects of the horror movie experience.
Playing is a fun and exciting experience. The Quarry, for instance: The player doesn’t make decisions as if they’re the character involved, but acts instead from the perspective of a director—or maybe more accurately, from the viewpoint of a plot-affecting superviewer whose screams at the TV not to go off alone to investigate a strange noise can actually change the course of events. This is made possible by an understanding the genre tropes. When a cast member has been attacked by a bizarre monster and develops a strange infection from a leg wound, another character’s suggestion to amputate the limb moments after spotting black fluid along the edges of the wound seems more reasonable than it ought to. They know that bad things are inevitable due to the story being told. But because they are familiar with horror movie logic which dictates how a mysterious wound inflicted on a monster’s victim causes it to become a monster, they might attempt to save the player injured by applying genre logic to the situation. The QuarryEncourages viewers to play the role of a horror film viewer rather than a horror film character.
In Evil Dead: The GamePlayers are able to play more direct roles onscreen. As the demon they’re forced to think like a supernatural predator, doing everything possible to kill the other players. As the survivors they’re made to prioritize saving their life and their companions. To promote the fight-or flight behavior that slasher films try to capture, the abstraction of genre is removed. One layer of signifier is removed, leaving something closer to the real emotions that a slasher wants its viewer—or in this case, player—to feel.
The Evil DeadHorror movies and movies in general are more than just the visuals of violence, fear, suspense and suspense. The Quarry Evil Dead: The GameEach one understands this differently, modeling the guilty pleasure and vicarious sorrow that come from watching horror movies unfold. While their design approaches may differ, both work towards the same goal: Taking movie monsters (and those they terrorize) a few steps outside of the screen to allow us to place their fates in our hands, however much or little.