I’ve always found horror games to be a genre that requires careful balancing. You can’t overexpose your audience to their enemies or predators, as that diminishes the shock value of these experiences until the player feels like he’s in a different genre; linger too long without having him confront his stalkers, however, and the game’s rhythm becomes tediously uneventful. The threat needs to be real and dangerous, but rather than always there the player needs to be forced into a situation of tension where his antagonist is a looming presence, one heartbeat from materializing into existence. Amnesia: The Dark Descent manages do this masterfully, and it’s now free on Steam, with the rest of the series 80% off until Wednesday.
And it’s not just merit of good balancing in the above sense that makes Amnesia such a great horror game: the setting, the story you discover as you progress, the scenes you see (even if they pose no immediate threat), a fantastic audiovisual front along with the sanity aspect of the game, where you have to compromise between staying in the dark and lowering your sanity and alerting enemies by lighting your lantern, all coalesce into a superb and riveting experience. It is not a game for the faint of heart.
¹If I were you I’d stop eating pork and start building a good rapport with our swine friends.