The horrors of the night are usually terrifying, this puts a person into a reaction known as the Fight or Flight response. We, as humans, respond by either attacking what scares us or running the opposite direction.
And as a human, I know I feel the fighting aspect of things empowers me more than running away. It certainly makes you look less like an itty bitty bitch baby. (God I will never get tired of that phrase). Yet, if I had to be honest, I have a weird response to scary stimuli. When presented with a stimulus like that, I kind of freeze up. I don’t run, I don’t ready myself in defense. I. Just. Freeze.
This gives me the chance to think, to analyze, and wonder if I should do either action while at the same time not sure if I can move. Those I’ve told this to raise an eyebrow and wonder what the hell is wrong with me, while my best friend has even told me that it gives me an advantage. I don’t see it that way but sometimes I find it interesting. Most of the time I decide to move to control the situation, find a ‘weapon’ of choice and know my next move. So being able to pick Fight over Flight is a decent advantage to me, yet the idea of having to run and hide makes me anxious.
Safe to say, games that hold the mechanic of “You are weak, you can’t fight only run” as their core gameplay bother me. While the games that do this are great pieces of work, Outlast 1 and 2 from a distance look brilliant. This and games like Clocktower, the dated graphics aside, unnerve me deeply.
A weird man-child looking guy running around with a giant pair of scissors, popping out of random rooms or from the ceiling with no notable means of beating the bugger. Forcing you to bolt out of the room, throw yourself into a cupboard, or just hope you picked the right room that he wouldn’t slink into.
The more grotesque sights seen in Outlast, the weird decayed flesh of human suffering, or a weird amalgamation of hands and feet with a jaw gaping at you while you run down hallways causes me to shudder. It shakes something deep inside me on a primal level. While I can’t explain it in words, the words I do utter would probably make a sailor blush. The set pieces of the dark and empty schoolhouse, to the collapsing mines, that at any moment could fall down upon you make it somehow worse. Wildly beautiful as it may be, it still steals the ability I desire the most. Swinging a bat, a knife, something to, ya know, defend me.
Though that’s the point, that sense of lack of control is needed to immerse people. It is the power behind the scares. The spoop is real because we aren’t in control, we have to then run away from our problems and hope that the bad boys chasing you don’t run 4ks for fun.