Five non-horror franchises that should make the jump to horror
Halloween season is here! Everywhere you look you'll find jack-o'-lanterns, inflatable black cats, and those Frankenstein's Monster window sticky... things. There's no better time to play your favorite horror titles than now. That said, what if your favorite non-horror titles received a face-lift — or rather, took someone's face and wore it themselves like good ol' Leatherface? It's interesting to see experimentation from developers in long-running franchises, and a tonal genre shift would definitely be intriguing for a few of our faves.
Here are five non-horror game series that would make awesome horror experiences.
The Legend of Zelda
Remember when Zelda used to get really creepy?
Nintendo may have a family-friendly appeal, but the company has been known to release some pretty dark content from time to time. Internationally, the company published the brooding JRPG, Pandora's Tower for the Wii, and though it was kind of lo-res, that game was filled with haunting, often grotesque imagery. Then there's Luigi's Mansion, which is essentially a haunted house horror comedy. But a complete shift in genre, or at least style, would be most fitting for The Legend of Zelda.
In the past, Zelda has played around with horrific scenes and chilling moments. Ocarina of Time features one of the creepiest scenarios when Link wakes up from his prolonged slumber and finds that Hyrule, now essentially a wasteland, is crawling with undead creatures. And who could ever forget Majora's Mask, which is a largely horrific game thanks in no small part to the scary masks, apocalyptic world, and sounds of Link screaming every time he transforms using one of those haunted masks.
You could make the argument that Majora's Mask was Nintendo taking a stab at a horror Zelda, but even then, the company hasn't turned the dial all the way up. Given its expansive roster of monsters, the series could easily alter some of the creatures' designs to make them even more terrifying — or it could introduce brand new enemies the likes we've never seen before.
A horror-centric Zelda wouldn't need insane amounts of blood and gore. When discussing horror movies with friends who aren't fans of the genre, I've legit been asked, "What exactly makes a horror movie? The gore, right?" I don't think we'll ever get an M-rated Zelda, but I also don't think we'll ever need one. So if Nintendo were to experiment with a new type of horror experience, it could do so without having to add buckets of blood. Bizarre imagery, hideous creatures, and body horror all work well within the horror genre without having to turn up the violence.
And yes, I know they're kind of cheap by today's standards, but maybe a jump scare or two would be great in a Zelda game. Also, leaning heavily on building tension works great when creating a successful horror experience. I like to imagine a cut-scene where Link is inside a dark castle, with a lantern faintly lighting his path. Every breath he takes creates a visible vapor cloud, and that's when you know something supernatural is just around the corner. A long, gray, bony hand reaches out from behind, and we see fear in the eyes of the legendary hero...
God of War
Ancient mythology is filled with violence, monsters, and endless amounts of blood. God of War has all the elements you'd expect out of a horror series, but its roots are firmly planted in the fantasy genre. Already the game has branched out in terms of lore, originally starting out as Greek mythology and then jumping into Norse mythology with the latest chapter in Kratos' odyssey. The series wouldn't need to stray far from what it currently is to provide players with a newfound horror adventure.
It's not difficult to see God of War employing moodier themes similar to Dark Souls while still keeping its gameplay style intact. Plus, the series is known to put players up against behemoths that tower over Kratos. That's already pretty scary. Oh, and because God of War is already an M-rated series unlike the previously mentioned Zelda, it could definitely enjoy its share of splatter effects and actual oceans of blood.
Titan Comics' Assassin's Creed series delves into horror and gore and takes you to Salem's witch hunts.
The Assassin's Creed series prides itself on taking players to various eras throughout history. Each installment is essentially a period piece that faithfully depicts different timelines. That's why it would be great to see a new Assassin's Creed game lean heavily into 1600s Salem, at the height of the Salem Witch Trials. The Assassin's Creed comics have visited this time period, but the games have yet to do so in any meaningful capacity.
Visiting this era of Salem could potentially create one of the most unique Assassin's Creed experiences ever, as it would potentially allow a more supernatural element and darker story-based elements. Not to mention it would mean a thematic shift and would likely mean new set pieces filled with overcast skies, dead trees, and haunted buildings.
Alternatively, Assassin's Creed could go straight-up J-horror and visit a haunted, decaying Japan. With both ancient mythos and modern horror to work with, the possibilities would be massive.
Space-themed sci-fi is already kind of creepy, and the Metroid series is no stranger to monstrous creature designs and lonely environments. Though the series has certainly drawn inspiration from the Alien series of horror films, it could definitely use a little more of that classic otherworldly horror. Pulsating walls and living, breathing environments that could sprout tentacles or spit toxic waste at Samus Aran wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility for Nintendo's space-adventure franchise.
Metroid is perfect for a horror makeover, and it wouldn't require too much alteration from the current state of the series. You guide Samus through a dark area, defeat a mini-boss, and obtain a new ability. Then, as you run back to reach a previously inaccessible location with your new ability, you realize that something's different. There's alien sludge along the walls and floor. You hear a sound in the distance. You slowly make your way farther into the darkness, and you're greeted by a gruesome creature that's now blocking the very space your newly acquired ability was meant to allow you access to.
Metroid would do well to receive a horror entry as it could really utilize a more Alien-like tone and even venture into cosmic horror. There's not a lot that's scarier than being stuck in space with the unknown.
Grand Theft Auto
Trevor is basically straight out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Okay, so Grand Theft Auto might seem like a stretch, but it's really not that difficult to think of the series receiving a horror update. Hell, Rockstar doesn't even need to go the complete horror route. Just give us a standalone expansion on par with Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. I know the zombie thing is kind of played out — actually, it's really, really played out — but within the realm of an open-world GTA game, it would be freaking awesome.
What are some video game franchises that could work if they were to incorporate more horror elements or go full-on horror? Let us know!