A horror game like Amnesia or Silent Hill that could create tension while allowing you to make decisions in the game an level up. Any ideas?
Is this a recommendation thread or a game design thread? If game design, you ought to sketch out an antagonist first.
Level up systems tend to empower the player, making it difficult to keep them afraid. Therefore, the leveling up should be fairly low-key. Something like Dark Souls works pretty well; it's dry, impersonal, and doesn't really feel like that much of an accomplishment.
One Man Army
Have you looked into Koudelka? 'Twas the prequel to Shadow Hearts.
"Wait, it's IV. Of course they are. They'd make IV for Dreamcast." - Enlong, on yet another FFIV remake
Maybe for leveling up, have something like an perk/flaw system? So for every new ability you learn, you have to choose a flaw to offset it somewhat. This would mean you'd have to choose perks strategically, and it would keep you from becoming too powerful which can kill the horror atmosphere. Justify it in-story by saying your character is mutating or something.
My concept is that you can only fight the enemies with, shall we call them, artifacts, and leveling up simply broadens the variety of artifacts you can use.
Or alternatively, you could have the horror come from the actual story of the game, rather than from character weakness.
Some Guy Or Something
That creates some serious disconnect though. I mean, if your character in cutscenes goes off to hide in the corner everytime a guy you can easily one-shot shows up, it ain't going to be very scary for the player.
Nothing like that. I think metaphysician actually means that the horror isn't coming from the characters' weakness, even in cutscenes. You'd have to be put in a situation that is still horrifying even if you can punch monsters out with your bare hands. Okay, so here's a cliche example: how much good would having a +2 fire sword be in the midst of a fast zombie uprising that is killing or turning everyone your character knows and loves? You can probably kill any zombie that comes at you, personally, but does that make the overall situation that much less horrifying?
The level up system wouldn't be like the one from Skyrim, it'd be unique. For example, you can upgrade your speed so you can run faster from enemies, but that will impact your your aim while running. You could also upgrade your health so that you'll last longer after attacks, but then enemies will adjust their tactics. It be like a rock paper scissors thing, with each thing having its own cool advantages and weaknesses/contradictions. You'd have one weapon: a single pocket knife that is nearly useless in combat. But you could use it to cut rope and other things to get out of situations more fluently. Their could also be a dialogue system like Mass Effect.
Some Guy Or Something
I'm sorry but my head immediately went to this...
- Renegade Option: Braaaaainsssss...
- Neutral Option: Braaaaainsssss...
- Paragon Option: Braaaaainsssss...
Speaking of the dialogue, if you kept using the aggressive option while speaking to characters, they'll betray you eventually and you will have more problems to deal with, but you'd get through the current problem easier. If you use the neutral option a lot, characters won't attack you but will not help you either. The peaceful option requires you to do a difficult side quest to help the person, but they will repay you in some way.
The Zappy One
The threats your character is facing is important to how your leveling system works. If you're fighting against a pack of zombies, a perk and skill per level system would work well. For example, after earning enough exp, you level up your damage and get a perk for double damage towards certain enemies. A Silent Hill-Amnesia style of gameplay wouldn't work very well with that system, it makes your character seem powerful and takes away from the atmosphere. An gear based system would work well though. Having a leveling system that forces you to take both strengths and weaknesses is a Sadistic Choice to gamers. If you force them to level up, your imposing on them, but if you don't force them, they have no reason to use the system, nullifying the point. A Gear-based system means that you can have strengths and weaknesses that balance the game, and still allow players to play the game the best way they know how. It also doesn't detract from the atmosphere as much as a level up screen does.
Best way to deal with that is, as I implied before, to make a story wherein it doesn't matter how powerful you become, its *still* horrifying. Or even better, make it so that your own growing power is a source of the horror. Maybe you develop newer and better psychic powers, but each new ability requires you to make "room" in your brain for it. . . which you do via a psychodrama sequence in which you encounter memories of your own past, and have to destroy them.
Parasite Eve didn't leave much room for fear. Even though some aspects of the original game were mildly atmospheric, it remained an action RPG with body horror-themed enemies.
The closest thing to the OP's concept would be the Persona games, and perhaps other SMT titles. Even if you've leveled yourself up a ton, doesn't mean that the next cutscene won't leave you feeling deeply disturbed.
Wandering Student ಠ_ಠ
Even then, that's not survival, and not necessarily horror. Perhaps... the player is a strong character... but he's facing enemies who hunt him very well and can over-power him. I think of STALKER when I posted this. Normal enemies, humans, they require tactical thinking, but the enemies which can over-power you and mess with your mind are the most dangerous and therefore the scariest. Strengthening the character doesn't necessarily mean making it possible for him to kill all who stands before him, it might mean that it's easier to run... but then, the question might become, what might he be running into?
Eh, with the exception of Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha, every SMT game I've ever played is very definitely horror. Yes, even Persona 4.
Wandering Student ಠ_ಠ
I can agree on the older persona games and DDS, but not so much 3 or the latter two persona games. They don't really have the trappings of what I think of when I think of the horror genre. With persona 3/4, it's more psychological horror, dealing with the problems of the characters, but even then, it's done very quickly. The characters are powerful and fight enemies with ease, and they're not so meant to horrify you or the protagonists. Nocturne, It's still not very horror. Though that actually begs the question of what counts as a horror game, and what counts as a horror game when in combination with other genres.
Honestly, psychological horror *is* horror. And spending an entire in-game year desperately trying to get some grip upon a mystery, only to have that effort constantly prove ineffective as punctuated by dead bodies? Is not "quickly over."
Wandering Student ಠ_ಠ
What I meant was: the psychological problems, the reasons for their shadows, are quickly taken care of, the realization of their true selves and how they act is very quickly resolved. The main character and the overarching plot is the plot of the game. Those aspects, yes, are over a long period of time. And while the game has aspects of horror, I don't believe they're the focus of the game. I never got "horror game" from the game. Psychological horror for the characters, yes. Temporary horror from the dead bodies, yes. But for the most part, it's a visual novel with turn-based RPG combat. It's not meant to horrify the player, and the protagonists aren't that horrified until the last month or so.
Avvie-free for life!
Might it be possible to allow the player character to continually become stronger as the game progresses (with no way to avoid it) but have the player's perception of the world become more and more warped as the character's strength increases? Stuff like having essential allies temporarily appear to be threats, deliberate camera shenanigans and the like. At the end the player character would be the traditional superpowered One-Man Army but be almost completely unable to avoid messing things up in terrible ways. Eternal Darkness did something similar but not quite the same.
Gunpla is amazing!
Ever heard of the 4chan fan concept game Pressure? Horror incarnate man. The ocean scares the shit out of me.
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What can't 4chan make horrifying? They don't even need to make a game of it.