I'm too big of a wuss for horror games, but they're so goddamn incredible I can't stay away

Ruka in Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse.
(Image credit: Koei Tecmo)

Generally, I'm smart enough to stay away from games I don't like. I'm not a huge RTS girlie (sorry PC gamers), Soulslikes make me want to lob my keyboard out my window, and sports games send me to sleep. But there is one goddamn genre that, despite everything, I can't seem to stop forcing myself to play. Why can I not keep away from horror games, despite my deathly fear of them?

Maybe it's my desire to get over my intense fear of all things horror. Perhaps I just want to be like all the cool kids who proclaim they've never been frightened in their life, despite the fact I manage to spook myself when I look in the mirror after forgetting to remove last night's makeup. I mean, I never used to be like this! I almost exclusively read Goosebumps when I was a kid, and that was real scary stuff. I am determined to once again be that bitch, and yet.

My latest attempt that left me a deflated, withered scaredy-cat was Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. The Fatal Frame series has always appealed to me—shooting down ghosts and ghouls not with a weapon, but an exorcising camera? Sign me up. It's a series I never ended up playing though, and Mask of the Lunar Eclipse never even saw a release outside of Japan until now. 

The thing is, like all horror games from the 2000s, Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is super tanky and janky. Controls feel like you're doing everything in quicksand, further hampered by trying to translate Wiimote controls over to a keyboard or standard pad. Characters 'running' looks more like they're desperate for a wee. It's that slightly immersion-breaking spooks of its era that should make me able to breeze through its ageing horror. But after an hour I had to put the game down because I was so bloody terrified. 

Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse

(Image credit: Koei Tecmo)

I'm not even sure if it's that scary a game, or if it's my own fear eclipsing whatever is being thrown into my camera lens. Not knowing what happens if a ghost manages to get their hands on me, if I get cornered and die. I think a regular sentiment is that horror games get less scary the more you fail in them, but I can't bring myself to fail in the first place. Exposure therapy is great, sure. But I don't want a ghost strangling me to death, or a man chainsawing me to pieces. I want to live!

Even still, I can't stop trying to power through and finally complete a horror game. I'm not the only one on my team either. Sharing my horror woes with online editor Fraser Brown and UK editor-in-chief Phil Savage revealed to me that they were both still trying to finish Alien: Isolation, one of the damn scariest games I've ever gotten my hands on. That game came out nine years ago, and yet people are still persevering in small chunks to get it finished.

Horror games are fantastic—engaging directly with the danger instead of watching it in a movie or reading about it in a book is totally unparalleled. Games like Resident Evil 7, Dead Space, Silent Hill, Doki Doki Literature Club and Phasmophobia are meticulously crafted experiences you could never get anywhere else in any other medium. They're all games I've done my damn best to complete and have never been able to because my own fear gets in the way. Despite the anxiety they make me feel and the dread they fill me with, there's still no satisfaction quite like getting through a chase scene or finally finding that one safe room. I'm hoping that in 2023 I can finally complete a horror game and with it, get over my fear little by little.

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.