1. Horrifying and Terrifying – The game utilizes mounting suspense, jump scares, gore, or other features intended to evoke fear in the player.
2. Mysterious and Spooky – The game has a gloomy setting or air of dark intrigue without being overtly scary.
3. Tragic and Heavy – The game grapples with upsetting, sorrowful topics in an earnest and dignified way.
4. Morbid and Disturbing – The game contains taboo or unpleasant elements for the purpose of eliciting shock, dread, or disgust, possibly with the intent of making the player think critically about the subject matter and their reaction to it.
5. Light and Playful – The game contains dark content that has been made humorous, endearing, or otherwise non-threatening.
1. Death – The game contains central themes or storylines related to death, dying, mortality, or mourning. Less “oops, my character died for the 19th time while missing that tricky jump”; more “my character is attempting to cope with the loss of someone close to them as a key aspect of their development.”
2. The Occult – The game incorporates major references to mystical practices (such as witchcraft, necromancy, and dark rituals) or organizations (such as cults, covens, and churches). Your character may be a young mage learning how to create nifty potions, or they may be trying to defeat a deranged group of zealots who want to sacrifice them to some primordial dread god. The occult has a lot of range!
3. Dark Creatures – The game depicts beings from fantasy and folklore such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts, demons, and zombies. There might be dark creatures in the environment (which tends to happen when you’re a monster hunter, a paranormal investigator, or the sole survivor of the apocalypse), or your character might be a dark creature themselves (which tends to happen when you are bitten by someone with suspiciously sharp teeth, have been cursed since birth, or choose something like ‘Undead’ from the character class starting menu).
4. (Ill-)Fated Quest – The game is centered on a dangerous, harrowing, or arduous task that the protagonist—and only the protagonist—can complete. Maybe it was foretold in a prophecy, maybe you’re the last of your bloodline trying to secure your family’s legacy, or maybe it’s just, like, really personal, you know? Regardless, the quest almost always demands some sort of self-sacrifice along the way. The question that remains is how the journey will end. Will you be successful, but not in the way you expected? Are you destined for an agonizing failure mere steps before the finish line? Will things—somehow—go basically according to plan?
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