Don’t Blink While Exploring the Strangeness of SCP

A Myriad of Fears

Containment Breach doesn’t just go with one scare and hold it, the way games like Slender and SCP-087 do. It capitalizes on a number of ways to frighten the players, all of which draw on our deepest psychology. The environment is dark and foreboding; one enemy turns our physiology against us by taking advantage of a simple and fundamental weakness in blinking; another cannot be stopped even by the physical world.

There’s also the ever-present degree of defenselessness upon which the games play. Penumbra and Amnesia take advantage of leaving the player with few defensive options as well, creating an effect that means that players cannot, in many cases, ever truly resolve their fears. You can’t face down SCP-173 with a gun or a pickax; you can’t buy yourself safety through tribulation. You can only flee, and bide time.

At their cores, the SCP games, simple though they are, are about creeping dread. Knowing something is coming and not wanting to face it. Knowing something is coming and that there’s no way real way to deal with it. The fact that you get to deal with a number of strange, unknowable freaks along the way is just a terror-bonus.

But it’s obvious that the biggest generator of fear, in any medium, is not what you see happen, but what you imagine could.


Follow Hornshaw and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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1 Comment on Don’t Blink While Exploring the Strangeness of SCP

ShadowShifters

On September 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm

This game’s “dread” dynamics are a welcome tribute to old-school horror stories such as W.F. Harvey’s “The Beast with Five Fingers”, where the build-up is more important than the climax of meeting your nemesis face-to-face. “The Monkey’s Paw” is a classic example – we never actually see the corpse that shambled to the Mother’s door…