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Horror Darlings: Saturn 9


It's not horror in any kind of classic sense, as I doubt most people are as afraid of getting their memory card wiped as they would be of someone trying to kill them. It does bring up an interesting point about horror games, though, as you really aren't going to die if you avatar is killed, are you? You're just trying your best to immerse yourself in the character's plight so that you can live through them for a while. That's really the only way that horror in these games work, but trying to scare the player directly with things that would frighten a gamer is a neat trick. It wasn't done as well in Saturn 9 as it was in Eternal Darkness, but the idea of it is a fun one. It breaks the fourth wall and is a little silly to do so, but it's a nice way to catch a player with a scare in an unexpected way.

Saturn 9 ends with a sequence right out of the Slenderman games, and to be honest I felt this was its weakest point. Everything leading up to it had been playing with atmosphere, player expectation, and careful choice of scares, but this was where it just didn't hold together. Player movement felt really frustrating when it had to be used with something chasing you, but the monster didn't move any faster than you did. It unintentionally made the sequence kind of goofy. Also, rifling around a room for five items hidden in random spots just didn't feel all that scary, and was more like a chore I didn't want to do. The more time I spent poking around looking for the final item, the more annoyed I got that everything looked the same and I couldn't find my way. I should have been more frightened as time moved on since wasted seconds meant more opportunities for the monster to catch me, but all they did was give me more time to dwell on how the mechanics and lack of direction were bugging me. Slenderman style sequences can be done well, as they were in White Noise Online, but this one just lacked the same punch.

Why? Probably due to how well the game had been setting up its scares previously. My expectations of what the monster could do were pretty high by the time I ran into him. I'd been expertly frightened by the thing a couple of times, but watching it hobble along while I slowly picked up data pads just sucked all the fear out of it. I just wasn't afraid of the thing, which was a shame. The game had so much going for it, so for it to end on this note was a bit of a drag.

For its length and price, Saturn 9 was packed with excellent horror ideas and shows me that Raoghard (the developer) has a firm grasp on how to frighten people. Through careful jump scares, limited movement, and some neat fourth-wall breaking effects, the game just does a great job of constantly shifting how it frightens the player and keeps the scares coming. If anything, it's shown me to keep an eye on Raoghard for any more horror releases. They're bound to be worth my time and money.

Saturn 9 is available for the dirt-cheap price of $1.00 from the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace.
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The Gameslinger   1



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About JoelCoutureone of us since 11:26 PM on 05.27.2013

Contributing Editor for mashthosebuttons.com, destitute but determined fantasy novelist & short story writer at joelcouture.com. I wish I was paid for either of those jobs.

I love horror games. If you scare me, I will give you money. I also love terrible games, as it's a lot harder to make a game that's so bad it's hilarious than it is to make something that is just bad.

For some reason I'm not super clear on, I am obsessed with J. Jonah Jameson.