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Welcome to the Game and web horror aesthetics

Do you know Welcome to the Game? It is a horror/puzzle computer game. The player is stationed at their computer in their 8th floor apartment. The goal of the game is to browse disturbing deepweb sites looking for keycodes hidden in the pages, in order to access a live torture stream called the “Red Room.” The reason for finding this stream is surrounded by a lot of cryptic story elements, but overall the player will face many antagonists trying to keep him from accessing the Red Room. These antagonists include the police, online cult extremists, a serial killer, and a kidnapper, among others, many of which trying to break into the apartment and kill the player. 

Throughout the game, the power in your apartment complex will be cut (by the enemies stalking you), and you will have to run down many flights of dark stairs to fix the junction box. You will frequently get hacked and have your progress compromised or erased completely, but you can order various hardware and tools to increase your chances of survival as the game goes on. When turning your head from the computer screen, you might see a pale masked face staring at you through the window. 

This game is truly scary. It’s frightening in a way that makes you actually feel sick playing it, which in my opinion, is an underrated and underutilized experience in horror videogames, because it has a physical effect on your body and makes the relief of little victories so much more appreciated. However, the voice and video acting in this game is admittedly awful. It’s rough around the edges in presentation and gameplay, but as a concept and aesthetic that can be expanded on further, I think it holds a lot of potential.

There are a few reasons why I think this game leaves such an impression:

- It’s very hard. The amount of work you have to put into staying alive, checking things on the computer screen, looking at your windows, as well as listening for literal sound queues of breathing at your door, makes you feel like you are actually insane. This experience is more visceral because there is actually a lot at stake when you fail. Kind of like the difficulty in dark souls; if there was a revive option, the boss fights would be hardly as engaging and rewarding.

- The environment. You are not in a dungeon surrounded by zombies. You are in a realistic home on a computer, which most players see frequently every day in real life. The terror sticks with you because the events in the game are actually possible. After playing the game for a while, when I walk around my house and see my window, my brain registers it as an object that might have a stalker behind it because that’s what I was forced to check for ritualistically in the game. 

- The shock factor. The websites really push the boundaries of what you usually see in a horror game. The dev pretty convincingly styled the pages to look like really depraved illegal content. 

I think the “come up and get me” scenario is absolutely thrilling. No Country for Old Men did something sort of similar. Finding horror and darkness not in fantasy or extreme settings, but in the environments we actually see everyday. An unseen pursuing threat. The rush of real terror that occurs when digital warfare becomes a physical danger. Putting your info into a site only to realize it was a fake textbox, after the fact. When online, we gauge the intentions of others based on how they type and present themselves. When a site or user message gives off unclear emotions and seems to be faking it’s sincerity for malicious intent, it’s like looking at an uncanny valley face; I could be in danger, but I don’t know why. Being hacked is scary, being compromised is scary, because you don’t know what to expect. They’ve got the numbers, and they might be in your area.

I'm in an eight-high abandoned building
No daylight, one midnight lamp lit twenty-four seven

Murdered out windows, two exits
Street or nosedive to the next life in seconds
And suicide ain't my stallion
So I'm surrounded

[Note: welcome to the game 2 is the definitive version. It is the same as the first, but with a truckload of new content and enhancements, so play that if at all.]

10 Kudos


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saroyan °

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hi racc :)
thank you so much for the wonderful recommendation! i had nearly given up on horror games because i really wasn't feeling anything while playing them anymore :( (i feel like most of them rely on just the usual jumpscares and don't rlly focus on world-building/raising stakes) but reading your review got me seriously hyped abt this one!
i trust you more than anyone else to know good horror media, so i'll watch it really soon! :P
i hope you had an amazing and rewarding day :D

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Hi saroyan!
Thanks for reading! I feel what you’re saying about horror games.. to be honest, I haven’t played that many because I get scared extremely easily (ironic, right?) but I can say with certainty that the tension and paranoia are really great in this one, and there aren’t many cheap jumpscares (but there are a few!). Atmosphere makes up for a lot of my enjoyment of any media really… It’s not for everyone, can be tedious and frustrating, but if I piqued your interest then do check it out! My day was rewarding in the sense that I bought $50 worth of junk food. I hope you had the loveliest of days.

by Racc; ; Report