Ever since I started working on horror games (very first was a basic 2d game called Fiend) I have been thinking about what type of combat one wants in a horror game. This query was even much more essential when functioning on Penumbra as we had some troubles in Overture regarding weapons. Our thought was that player would want at least one thing to defend themselves with, so we gave them some weak weapons and cumbersome combat mechanics, pondering it would only be utilized as final line of defense. Instead all types of difficulties arose, some players thought that since there exactly where weapons, combat was meant to be utilized and complained about it be boring. Other people figured out some tricks with the combat and thought it was way as well simple. Very couple of players seemed play the game like we intended it to and we had to repair this somehow.
In Black Plague we took the decision to skip combat altogether and let the player be as vulnerable as possible. Not only did this make the design and style simpler for us (could often assume enemies where alive), but most players also found the game scarier and much more enjoyable to play. Nonetheless, I believe that there should be some way to use weapons, as it seems like such a "all-natural" point. For example: if some monster/undesirable guy traps you in a corner, you will probably grab what ever is close to and attempt to use it as signifies to get away. This type of mechanic is also really common in horror films, for example Scream uses it quite a bit.
For our new game "Unknown" we first deemed using weapons and having them as defense only. But following some playtesting, the identical issues that we had in Overture popped up. Some found the combat way to easy and others located it practically impossible. As attempting to configure very good hard settings would be actually difficult, we decided to tone down combat and make the player quite vulnerable alternatively. Additional gameplay testing seem to confirm that this was the correct thing to do.
In component 2 I will go over the distinct kinds of combat found in games.
Until then: What are your thoughts on the combat in Overture and the lack thereof in Black Plague? Does removing combat genuinely make a game scarier or is just a matter of how it is implemented?