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If you heard the words “asymmetric horror” ten years ago, chances are you either had no idea what it was, or thought it was some sort of cutting-edge niche indie genre you’re not cool enough to know about. Asymmetric horror is one of the fastest growing and most streamed genres in gaming these days, popularized by titles like Behavior Interactive. Dead in broad daylight and Gun Media Friday the 13th: the game. Since the recent release of popular horror IP adaptations such as diabolical death on the forthcoming release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacreto the explosion of interest in indie titles like Hellbent Games’ VHS Via social media, I chatted with a handful of developers about how 2022 will be the biggest year yet for the genre.
“games like Friday the 13th: the game and Dead in broad daylight created a mold,” says Wes Keltner, CEO/art and audio director of Gun Media. “If you’re a game developer who wants to do asymmetrical horror, we’ve provided the baseline.” Gun Media Launch Friday the 13th: the game in 2017, pitting seven players as helpless campers against an all-powerful Jason Voorhees. The asymmetrical gameplay paradigm it focused on was quite unique at the time and seamlessly blended the formula of iconic ’80s slasher movies into a cohesive gaming experience. The addition of such an iconic horror character as Jason Voorhees also helped boost notoriety – an addition that notoriously sparked legal drama that also drew many fans into the game. “There’s a powertrip to be the killer,” Keltner says. “There aren’t many games that put you in that seat and give you the tools to utterly destroy other players.”
Behavior Interactive had taken a similar route a year earlier in 2016 with Dead in broad daylight, pitting four survivors against one killer. “Asymmetry has been tried in different ways, but I think what’s made the horror genre work is that it demands almost absolute asymmetry,” said Mathieu Cote, Game Director at Behavior Interactive. “In horror, you immediately accept that there is a side with absolute and untouchable power, and a side with very little hope. This sets the stage for great storytelling.
Dead by daylightt, which celebrates its 6th anniversary this year and has recently joined its new Ringu chapter, consistently remains in the top 20 most streamed video games on Twitch. It’s partly the result of the cast of characters Behavior affectionately dubs its “Horror Hall of Fame” – what other game can you play where resident Evil‘s Nemesis stalks Halloween‘s Laurie Strode? – but also its replayability factor. Similar to fortnite, it is possible to start a match and die immediately within the first two minutes. But the lure of winning the next game is what makes players think, “One more game!” until their gaming session becomes an all-nighter.
The human element and the allure of playing “The Bad Guy” were both sentiments shared equally by Jesus Iglesias and Tim Willitrespectively studio head of Saber Madrid and creative director of Saber Interactive, the team behind this year Evil Dead: The Game. “People love being scared,” Willits says. “You’re scared when watching a show or movie, but you’re even more scared when your actions and decisions affect what actually happens to you.” Evil Dead: The Game features an innovative and trending gameplay element in the asymmetric horror genre: the ability of survivors to fight back, or as Ash Williams puts it, “rip evil into new”.
“Many teams try to create an engaging experience and find it extremely difficult to maintain,” Iglesias says. “It’s really not an easy genre to pull off, and that’s why we took a different approach.” Rather than being at the mercy of The Bad Guy, evil Dead arms the survivors with melee and ranged weapons to fend off the Kandarian demon as they complete their objectives to defeat it completely. “There is something unique in evil Dead. It’s a challenge to take a well-known and beloved franchise and adapt it, and there’s always a risk of failure, but we strongly thought it could work well with our approach.“, explains Iglesias. VHS takes a similar route, requiring survivors to craft special weapons to retaliate against killers in order to win.
Innovation seems to be the key to what keeps the genre fresh and what attracts so many people to it. “Push the genre forward,” says Keltner. “It’s the only way to keep this genre alive. Rinse and repeat will not be enough. I think VHS is a great example of a team taking the baseline and building on it. » Gun Media draws lessons from the success of Friday the 13th: the game and relying on them for their next Chainsaw Massacre game, taking the previous paradigm of one killer versus multiple survivors and turning it into three killers versus four survivors.
Plus, the five developers I spoke to also believe there’s an inevitable convergence of horror movie fans and horror game fans – after all, Gen Z’s top entertainment choice. is the game. “The more scary and interactive games we can create, the more players will be immersed in their own experience and fear. Ultimately, that level of immersion will attract more fans,” says Willits. “For a long time , movies have been the big brother of games,” Mair explains. “These days, games look amazing and TV shows use game engines to help tell their stories.” Keltner echoed a similar opinion saying, “I think gaming in general is more ubiquitous. As players get older, they don’t put the controller down; they continue to seek escape and other methods of entertainment.” For a genre that blends the experience of film and game so much, the future is undoubtedly bright for asymmetrical horror this year and beyond.