Just as I have a specific type of game to play on a quiet, lazy Sunday morning, there are also games which I never feel right playing unless it’s late at night.
Playing late at night is tricky because a day spent in front of a computer followed by an evening spent in front of a different computer means that by 10pm my eyes have dried up and I feel like I’ve just been through a few sessions of the Ludovico technique. So, any game that has a night time vibe to it ends up languishing on my shelves steadily depreciating in value and the few times I do play it I always have to start from the beginning as I’ve forgotten what all the buttons do.
Any game that’s trying to scare me needs to be played at night with headphones, otherwise it isn’t going to work. It’s the same with films; I tried watching Spanish zombie horror [REC] once; watched half of it at night and nearly had palpitations, then watched the second half in broad daylight and ended up doing a bit of laundry while it was on. If something wants to scare me, I generally have to help it along a bit with an appropriate mise-en-scène.
Just as a horror film isn’t scary by day, a horror game lacks something if you’re trying to play it with sunlight in. So, I never completed Resident Evil 4; didn’t even make it past the opening village. Every few weeks when I found myself able to play at night without needing eyedrops, I’d stealthily head into the village, reach the point at which my presence was discovered and then I’d run around like a frightened, screaming child shooting uselessly at the chests instead of the heads until I ran out of ammunition and the guy with a bag over his head and a chainsaw found me. Every. Single. Time.
I’ve heard that there’s an entire game to play if you can get past that point, but I wouldn’t know about it. Similarly, the entire Ravenholm chapter of Half-Life 2 nearly prevented me from ever completing the game. Ravenholm is by far the most oppressive part of any game I’ve ever played, and the psychological pressure of it all was almost too much. Zombies, man. They creep me out.
It’s not all about the shlock horror though. Rez took me ages to finish because it felt like a game you should only play after you’d been out clubbing or if you had a girlfriend you could plug the second controller into, and, well, as I said…long time to finish that one.
Likewise the recent follow-up, Child of Eden. Clearly a chill-out game, all lovely flowery levels with translucent neon space whales and a Genki Rockets’ soundtrack, I bought it about six months ago and have so far managed to half-heartedly play two levels.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that the game just isn’t very good, but it’s hard to tell. If you only watched five minutes a week of a Seth Rogen film, you might not be able to accurately gauge the quality of that either.