Horror games are a unique breed, and the horror genre boasts countless hits and misses, from Silent Hill to the lesser-known Kuon. There's just something about scary games that sets them apart, making them difficult to replicate through sequels and spin-offs. Even then, recurring themes have constructed unwritten rules over the years, and atmosphere is any horror game's greatest concern.
Environments in these games tend to be dark with poor visibility, and the protagonist is forced to lone solo nightmarish creatures through normally mundane real-world locations. Thanks to Alan Wake, lumber yards have been added to my "This is How Horror Movies Starts" list, right under derelict hospitals and abandoned schools.
Logic states that wandering such eerie places by yourself is usually very unhealthy, so how would cooperative play affect the mood? F.3.A.R. (F.E.A.R. 3) places heavy emphasis on co-op play without compromising the horror elements gamers are expecting.
In F.3.A.R., Alma Wade is nine months pregnant and about to give birth to the 3rd Prototype, fathered by Michael Becket. Remember the end of Project Origin? That was him, the object of Alma's desires and her rape victim. Meanwhile, Alma's first two sons Point Man and Paxton Fettel are preparing for their half-brother's arrival, although it is unclear whether they intend to aid Alma or stop her from birthing the flippin' Antichrist.
Much of the horror aspect now lies in the uneasy alliance between two brothers; Fettel has latched onto his sibling, but his agenda is a secret. The environments are, of course, designed to be unsettling, often heavy with shadows that house enemies. You can deal with them in a variety of ways, whether as Point Man or Fettel. The former uses a more traditional run-and-gun style in first-person, and he can combo by chaining attacks with his younger brother -- trailers also portray Point Man with superhuman relexes.
Paxton is now a ghost, relying on his telekinesis and other psychic abilities in combat. He can toss objects around or possess living enemies for a certain period of time; when controlling a soldier, he can pick up weapons and do just about everything Point Man does. Instead of ammo, however, he's monitored by a little "spirit" meter running along the reticle.
With the scoring system, points can be earned in a variety of ways, though most remain under wraps. During the live demo, Day 1 explained that simply playing like your character is enough to bring in a few. Fettel, of example, can simply wander off to be "in character" and score couple more.
As for character development, the brothers will be shifting in and out of "Almaverse," seeing things from their childhood, also offering us glimpses into their relationship as children. Despite possessing all the Bogeyman-factor now, Fettel used to be the favorite child, sometimes bullied by his big brother when the adults weren't looking.
Anyway, here's Fettel taking after mum and being all creepy. For Point Man's sake, I'm thinking this third sibling needs to be stopped before it even begins, unless the guy wants to expand his weird-ass family.
F.3.A.R. is still set for Fall 2010, with rumors favoring an October release. For now: screenshots gallery time!