Why Are There so Many Terrible Indie Horror Games?
As someone who thoroughly enjoys video games, it physically pains me to see the scourge that has befallen Steam. Terrible, godawful horror games have colonized the last Steam store page and do not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Identical, boring, and linear it's a miracle that anybody buys them at all, but the worst thing is that some of them have mixed ratings! Meaning that someone actually enjoyed them. Shocking, I know.
I have taken it upon myself to investigate this phenomenon by playing and reviewing Judas, a game that was released not too long ago and appears to be quite "promising."
A True Horror Masterpiece
At a glance, Judas doesn't seem to be that bad. I mean the graphics are a little bit simplistic in the screenshots and the thumbnail is nauseatingly generic, but nothing that would instantly give it away as a piece of garbage disguised as a game... That immediately changes the moment you read the description. This is what Studio48 - the developer - had to say about Judas:
Judas- atmospheric horror first-person associated frightening events
filled with death and cruelty in an apartment house where the protagonist falls.
But accidents are not accidental, and it means that you have the dead on its plans, but playing with the past can cost your life.
There is clearly inhabits someone who crowded desire to leave you here forever .. Solve the secrets of the inhabitants of the house or die ...
Features: psychological tension throughout the gameplay, the sounds do not leave you in a second
and immersed in the gloomy atmosphere, genuine story of the facts of which are hidden throughout the game ..
I have not changed or edited a single word. Everything you have just read can be found on the game's store page. Steam has somehow allowed this... masterpiece to be published and sold on their website. This costs real money.
As soon as I saw the amount of effort that had been put into this game, I knew that I absolutely had to play it. My hands were shaking with anticipation; I barely managed to type in my credit card information at the checkout. Sweat was dripping into my eyes. My heart was pounding in my chest. For a mere $3.99, I had the opportunity to experience a "genuine story of the facts of which are hidden throughout the game." A truly once in a lifetime opportunity. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
The game starts with the player standing at the bottom of a staircase in some abandoned apartment building. Rays of sunshine flow through the nonexistent windows and the comforting sounds of DogBarking.mp3 and NatureSounds.mp3 can be heard playing on an endless loop. No explanation for why the character is inside of the housing complex is ever given.
As you wander around the empty corridors searching for fuses or whatever, a door suddenly slams shut in one of the apartments down the hall from you. The moment you enter the flat, everything in the game suddenly completely changes. The bright and sunny day turns into pitch-black night, and our beloved barking dog is replaced by the most obnoxious thunder recording I have ever heard.
After that, the game is nothing but a continuous series of terribly executed jumpscares and stock horror sounds. The developers of Judas are so incompetent at game development, that they somehow managed to fail to properly implement the easiest horror trope, not to mention the awkward saving system and impossibly glitchy gameplay. Make no mistake - this game is absolutely terrible, and there is nothing that you could possibly gain from playing it. Do not buy it. Not even if you just want to experience this game's awfulness first-hand. Save your dignity and your money - avoid Judas like a cancerous tumor.
A Youtube Video Showcasing the Gameplay
The Painful Truth
Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes. Terrible video games.
The problem with a lot of the amateur game developers is that they erroneously assume that making horror games is easy. If you were to play every single terrible low-quality "scary" game on Steam, you would find that they all have the following three elements:
- Haunted and/or decrepit environment.
- Excruciatingly loud audio.
- Jumpscares. Lots and lots of jumpscares.
That is the ultimate horror formula. The developers don't even care if you like their game or not. Why would they? After spending a lazy weekend slapping together stock Unity assets and peppering the result with as many jumpscares as they could fit in, their only goal is to make an easy profit off of the poor souls who buy it. It's despicable.
I have no issue with people making not-so-great games and publishing them to get feedback. That's perfectly understandable and completely normal. The process of perfecting your skills as a game developer relies entirely on trial and error. Every good game developer has created their share of terrible content in their early days.
However, developers like Studio48 do not care about making better games; they certainly don't care about their games. Studio48 is very well aware that they made absolute garbage, yet they will put it up for sale anyway. Do you know what that makes games like Judas? A scam. And they should be treated as such.