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Horror game clichés that need to stop

Once you’re used to something—a scary noise, spooky music, a monster—it becomes less scary. It’s surprising then that the horror genre repeats itself so darn much. Some clichés are fun, like chainsaws, and show up even in the best horror games. But loads of them are just tedious, and should be avoided. Here are a few we’d love to see chucked in the bin.

Asylum settings, and the use of mental illness as a cheap horror device

When horror games choose asylums as their central settings, they almost always do so in a cheap bid to scare us. Leveraging the misconstrued stereotype that the mentally ill are to be feared, these games often include deranged or catatonic patients who the player will be forced to combat, or avoid outright. This outmoded representation of psychiatric hospitals is crude, dehumanising and unhelpful—particularly given there are so many other ways to scare players beyond a reliance on jump scares and archaic tropes. My first and fiftieth encounters with Alien: Isolation’s Xenomorph were equally terrifying. The same cannot be said after Outlast’s first asylum-set jump scare. —Joe Donnelly  

Insurmountable IKEA shelving units in narrow hallways

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