Frictional Games’ Dev On Alien: Isolation: “Game Suffers From Two Major Horror Design Issues”

SEGA and IGN have recently released a video showing the reactions of IGN’s journalists while playing the game. Naturally, this video went viral and Frictional Games’ Thomas Grip felt the need to mention a couple of things about this upcoming horror title. After all, Frictional Games was behind the amazing Amnesia game – and is currently working on SOMA – so who better than Thomas to comment on that recent footage?

According to Thomas, Alien: Isolation seems to be plagued by two major horror design issues. One is the fact that players should feel relief while dying in a horror game. “Watching a gory cutscene ain’t scary, it makes you relax” and horror games should avoid something like that. Thomas went ahead and explained it further more, claiming that players can relax a bit more on future encounters the after their first death in a horror game. As a result of that, the way to build tension afterwards relies ‘more on “will I have to replay the mission?” which is a lot less potent from a horror perspective.’

So, should horror games not feature deaths? Obviously that’s not what Thomas claims.

“I think you need to have proper death at some point, but if the player reach that it should be seen as sort of a failure. Also, this makes one think of the fun question: “What is worse than death?” of which there are way too many answers.”

The other major flaw according to Thomas is the fact that monsters can become really lame when players are under a desk, 1 meter away, looking straight at it. Thomas believes that this destroys player’s imagination.

Moreover, Thomas believes that developers of horror games should not reveal their monsters via cutscenes as the reveal of the monster is a core moment of a horror story.

Frictional Games is currently working on its upcoming horror title SOMA that is planned for a 2015 release, so it will be interesting to see whether the company will be able to scare the hell out of us with its new title!

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