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Subject: Persona 3: FES
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Date: 3rd October 2014 Time: 16:00 EST
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Author Topic: Horror RPGs  (Read 7669 times)
Willy Elektrix
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« on: April 27, 2008, 09:55:53 AM »

My girlfriend bought Persona 3 and I've been watching her play through it off and on. I was pretty excited when I first started reading about it because, I think, horror is an extremely under-utilized theme in RPGs (true RPGs at least, adventure games are another story). Unfortunately, the horror elements of the game aren't nearly as played up as I thought they might be. It's got much less oppressive, gothic atmosphere than I had hoped and it seems draw more on fantasy than actual horror. I still might give it a chance sometime, but I'm a little bummed.

From my experience horror seems to be the subject of PC RPGs much more than console ones (but I may be wrong).

One of my personal favorites is 90s PC game called Waxworks. It's mostly about dungeon crawling and puzzling solving (inventory based puzzles for the most part) but it's got spooky locales and enemies (lots of zombies). Unfortunately, after every area of the game is completed you lose all your experience and start over from scratch.

Capcom's Sweet Home for the Famicom (available in an translated ROM if you care to look) is also pretty notable. It all takes places in one giant haunted manor and has a unique function where your party can be split up. Combat is straight-forward Dragon Warrior type stuff but the maze-like castle and puzzles that involve your party being in different places are really cool.

In any case, what are some other interesting horror RPGs that used the theme well?
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AJR
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2008, 11:04:11 AM »

Koudelka and the original Shadow Hearts (Iíd argue the series didnít really do much with the horror theme after that) are excellent in that regard.

I hear System Shock 2 is pretty awesome as far as FPS/RPG hybrids go.

I guess you could also make a case for Vagrant Story and Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. Vagrant Story had you fighting plenty of undead creatures in an unescapable dungeon.
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2008, 12:38:41 PM »

The Parasite Eve games were pretty good horror RPG's, they used more horror than most. They are for PS1 and in the $20 range on Ebay.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2008, 02:07:34 PM »

The horror in Persona 3 comes from seeing a yellow dot come up on the minimap when you're low on health, on a floor that's past your level, and the exit's nowhere in site.

I don't think it was ever trumped up as a horror RPG though.

Also System Shock 1 was creepier than 2.
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Hidoshi
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2008, 02:09:48 PM »

Persona 1 and 2 are fairly more 'horror' than P3. Also look into SMT: Nocturne and Baroque.
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ZE GRAND MASTER
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2008, 03:55:54 PM »

I'd say the DDS games qualify as Horror. They could have made the whole "people-turning-into-monsters-and-eating-each-other" thing more like monsters fighting monsters, but instead they made it more like people killing people. And they didn't tone down the violence much, and there are some gore-spattered moments that are still horrible even though you know it's all cel-shaded. And they used strings in the soundtrack to emphase the disturbing bits. And the bad guys aren't cross-dressing weirdos like in Final Fantasy, they're all fucking sinister psycopaths - like Bat or Angel, for example. And a game with "Rend! Slaughter! Devour your enemies!" in the title loop is going to have a bit of horror in it, no?

Edit: I really cannot believe that I'm the first to mention this:

Every Castlevania game ever.
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Bernhardt
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2008, 04:31:13 PM »

I second Baroque. It's not knees-huggingly, recoil-in-horror scary, but it's just kind of like, "Wow, what the hell happened here?"

Quote from: "ZE GRAND MASTER"
Every Castlevania game ever.

The Castlevania series has never really been that horrific; actually, when I want to relax at night, there's nothing better than playing any Castlevania, but there ARE some enemies that are grotesque.

Castlevania ~ Symphony of the Night: Granfaloon/Legion; a floating sphere made up of human corpses.

Castlevania ~ Lament of Innocence: That half-maggot-eaten giant in the basement of the castle (the secret boss); I think he's called "The Forgotten One."

...

If you really want horror, then you need to go with games like Silent Hill.
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Willy Elektrix
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2008, 07:28:26 PM »

Quote from: "Bernhardt"
If you really want horror, then you need to go with games like Silent Hill.


Yeah, in the adventure or survival-horror genres there are tons of horror games. Gabriel Knight, Uninvited, Clock Tower, etc. etc. etc.

I think they need more games that involve they resource hoarding aspects of survival-horror with more detailed RPG statistics. Lords of Doom (an older PC game) is a good example of this (you need food and water which is scarce) and a pretty decent game.

Quote from: "Bernhardt"
I second Baroque. It's not knees-huggingly, recoil-in-horror scary, but it's just kind of like, "Wow, what the hell happened here?"


Yeah, I've been interested in this since people started chatting about it around here a month or so ago.

Quote from: "MeshGearFox"
Also System Shock 1 was creepier than 2.


I'd beg to differ on that. Although both are fine games. System Shock felt like it was trying to be a William Gibson novel where as System Shock 2 aspired to be like Alien. Thematically they really differ, I don't even get the sense that System Shock wanted to be a "horror" game (in the traditional sense) at all.

Quote from: "Blace"
The Parasite Eve games were pretty good horror RPG's, they used more horror than most. They are for PS1 and in the $20 range on Ebay.


Yeah, Parasite Eve was cool. I didn't every give the sequel a whirl. I passed it by for the longest time because I thought it was another straight survival-horror title.

Quote from: "Hidoshi"
Persona 1 and 2 are fairly more 'horror' than P3. Also look into SMT: Nocturne and Baroque.


Yeah, I gave a ROM of the first SMT game on SNES a shot a long time and it seemed pretty cool. I liked the mysterious atmosphere and the modern setting. I never really got into it too seriously though. I'm much more likely to go back and give that a shot rather than Nocturne. I'm a fan of more traditional systems. Although, I do hear high praise for Nocturne.

Also, in all this talk someone should have mentioned Legacy of Kain. Cool game.
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Prime Mover
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2008, 07:42:42 PM »

I dunno about Horror, but the creepiest game I've ever played was Super Metroid. That kicks the shit out of every resident evil I've ever seen. It's creepy because you don't expect it. The whole mood and atmosphere is just a little "off", and every half-an-hour or so, they'll just stick in something freeky, like Crockmire or the Chozo statues, or just a really creepy area. Sure, it's not an RPG, but neither is Castlevania either, so I thought I'd mention it. Oh, and Castlevania's horror vibe is sorta lost with the music, which is killer, but is too uptempo to really get you in the horror mood. While Metroid's music is just ambient and atmospheric as hell. Parts of Metroid Prime creeped me out similarly... though Echos just tried to hard and fell on its face.

Probably the creepiest section of any RPG I've ever played was in the Shinra Mansion basement of FF7, with those "Yin-Yang" monsters. I was playing the PC version, which used to glitch, and the spooky music wouldn't stop playing during the battles. Their movement was just so weird, it would get my heart pounding for some reason. I couldn't play that area at night.
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2008, 07:45:39 PM »

Quote from: "Prime Mover"
I dunno about Horror, but the creepiest game I've ever played was Super Metroid. That kicks the shit out of every resident evil I've ever seen. It's creepy because you don't expect it. The whole mood and atmosphere is just a little "off", and every half-an-hour or so, they'll just stick in something freeky, like Crockmire or the Chozo statues, or just a really creepy area. Sure, it's not an RPG, but neither is Castlevania either, so I thought I'd mention it. Oh, and Castlevania's horror vibe is sorta lost with the music, which is killer, but is too uptempo to really get you in the horror mood. While Metroid's music is just ambient and atmospheric as hell. Parts of Metroid Prime creeped me out similarly... though Echos just tried to hard and fell on its face.

Probably the creepiest section of any RPG I've ever played was in the Shinra Mansion basement of FF7, with those "Yin-Yang" monsters. I was playing the PC version, which used to glitch, and the spooky music wouldn't stop playing during the battles. Their movement was just so weird, it would get my heart pounding for some reason. I couldn't play that area at night.


At night is the only time I will ever play anything horror related. I love getting scared, its awesome. Metroid Prime was a great game to play by yourself, at night, with the lights off and the sound cranked up. Same with RE1 for the GC and RE4. Ah...great memories. RE5 couldn't be further away :(
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Der Jermeister
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2008, 08:33:52 PM »

I've never truly been scared by any RPG...the thought of losing a lot of game progress because of cheap mechanisms definitely scares me at times, though :/
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Ramza
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2008, 10:40:08 PM »

Quote from: "Blace"
Quote from: "Prime Mover"
I dunno about Horror, but the creepiest game I've ever played was Super Metroid. That kicks the shit out of every resident evil I've ever seen. It's creepy because you don't expect it. The whole mood and atmosphere is just a little "off", and every half-an-hour or so, they'll just stick in something freeky, like Crockmire or the Chozo statues, or just a really creepy area. Sure, it's not an RPG, but neither is Castlevania either, so I thought I'd mention it. Oh, and Castlevania's horror vibe is sorta lost with the music, which is killer, but is too uptempo to really get you in the horror mood. While Metroid's music is just ambient and atmospheric as hell. Parts of Metroid Prime creeped me out similarly... though Echos just tried to hard and fell on its face.

Probably the creepiest section of any RPG I've ever played was in the Shinra Mansion basement of FF7, with those "Yin-Yang" monsters. I was playing the PC version, which used to glitch, and the spooky music wouldn't stop playing during the battles. Their movement was just so weird, it would get my heart pounding for some reason. I couldn't play that area at night.


At night is the only time I will ever play anything horror related. I love getting scared, its awesome. Metroid Prime was a great game to play by yourself, at night, with the lights off and the sound cranked up. Same with RE1 for the GC and RE4. Ah...great memories. RE5 couldn't be further away :(


Metroid's moments of horror are TOP NOTCH.

1) Prime Mover, I'm totally w/ you on Super Metroid. What an unexpectedly, surprisingly scary game. The Ghost Ship scared me as a kid. As an adult, I get the chills when I'm in Meridia.

2) The scariest part of Metroid Prime, (and the hardest), PHAZON MINES. Scares the ever-loving crap out of me. I was sweating and shaking as I played through it, for the first time, at 4am.

As for Horror *in* RPGs...

I'm-a say System Shock 2. Note that I haven't played the first one, so I can't weigh in on the debate. All I know is that Portal's GLaDOS is such a Shodan wannabe. (in the "hey I'm an AI that's guiding you, but I would be more than happy to see you die" kind of way).

Ramza
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2008, 11:31:19 PM »

X-Com series. Technically not RPGs, but they're at least as much strategy RPG as like, a lot of strategy RPGs are. The atmosphere in the first one creeped me out. the setting in Apocalypse creeped me out. For UFO Defense, it's hard to explain, but the fact that most of your guys die in one or two hits has something to do with it, and the tendency to get night missions, and then you start getting base raids... also http://www.ufopaedia.org/images/6/6c/Chryssalid.gif

Apoc's setting is weird because one of the complaints long time fans had is that it's too bright and colorful to be scary but that just made it more unnerving to me. it's not *happy* bright and colorful. It's a very plastic and fake sort of bright and colorful. On the city map screen, it does look cute, but you get into the buildings and it kind of turns into Eraserhead, scored by The Knife.

Contact creeped me out for reasons I'm not getting into although I will say Strangelove on heavy dissociatives.

That biolab in SaGa Frontier. Then again that entire game had moments that made me feel a bit weird.

See, I think there's a common theme here, with SGF and Contact and Apoc and the original X-Com in that you get into these huge structures that barely make any sense and don't seem to ever end.

You ever have that dream where you're in that unending hallways and blue hands are reaching out from holes in the wall and touching you?

Similar, it's kind of why the original Metroid creeps me out a bit more in some other ways. It's the glitches. The way you can fall into secret worlds. Or the really high ceilings in Metroid 2, even, but nowhere near as much.

also not really an RPG, but Hardwar. another thing with Apoc was that the industries you saw everywhere that nobody seemed to operate and seemed to have odd functions, such as making babies or something. Hardwar similarly has all of these weird buildings everywhere and a weird, underlying conspiracy theory.

Of course, since I brought up space, Star control 2. It's odd cause it's really a damn funny game, but in a really dark way, but that's not why it's scary. It's scary cause space is huge and doesn't make a lot of sense. Starflight 1 and 2 and Noctis also get that down, but not as well. I don't know why. Space is creepy. Space is *inherently* creepy. But in SC2, you know stuff's out there, but not what, and that's what makes it all the weirder.

One time -- I used to live in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and my dad had an office there -- one time we're driving back from one of the festivals -- river fest or summer fest or Neil Armstrong Fest -- and dad wants to stop at his office for a second. I'm like, five at the time. Anyway, there's a light or something on, and he sees a shadow, and calls the security guys.

Star Control 2 is like *that.*

Of course, Daggerfall's dungeons don't work because as soon as you start anticipating this stuff too much the effect disappears.

I guess in the same sense, the weird labs in Phantasy Star 2 should've been freaky since you get the impression nobody actually built them but maybe they build themselves but there's nothing to really make you feel that way. Then again, maybe there is. I don't know.
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o/` I do not feel joy o/`
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Ramza
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2008, 12:42:55 AM »

Quote from: "MeshGearFox"

That biolab in SaGa Frontier.


how could I forget that?! That was some creepy shit. Made me feel ... yueaaceha...
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Shiguma
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2008, 02:24:12 AM »

The "Soylent System" in Xenogears gave me the creeps.
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