Note: You are free to add any suggestions as to what horror games should and shouldn't be.
Horror games. Yup, "horror" games. Though some games (Namely from independent developers) have actually been scary instead of just startling, the horror genre is going to die if it keeps going on the way it is going on. I am going to start with Resident Evil. I personally think they should stop focusing on making the graphics wonderful, and try to actually make it scary. Jump scares are startling. They aren't scary. Okay, maybe they are, but that is just cheap. I have seen home movies that scared me more than RE. Now, to go on to what horror games should be.
JUMP SCARES VS A GOOD PLOTEditHorror games shouldn't just be jump scares, and they shouldn't have no jump scares at all. A game with no jump scares isn't scary. Even if you develop an amazing atmosphere, you pratically NEED jump scares. You absolutely need them. Now don't have it where a random Jeff the Killer face pops up for no reason whatsoever, you should instead create jump scares that actually make sense. Long corridor that's dark? Go right on ahead, everyone else is doing it. Water part? Don't (Do) make me shit my pants, but sure! Creepy metal staircase? Why not! Room that has lights and gives no sense of creepiness? NO. See, jump scares are warranted if the current scene warrants jump scares. The game Outlast is probably the best example ever (and while I'm at it, one of my favorite horror games). Now, a good plot should be used to tie in with warranted jump scares (Also, they shouldn't use jump scares EVERY FIVE MINUTES). Amnesia is a good example, and so is Outlast. I have no real tips for a good plot, since a good plot can be ANYTHING. Just look at some really good (PLEASE NOT THE REALLY BAD ONES) creepypastas. I think they have the good plot thing down. Mostly, they should try to make the player interested and immersed in the scene and game. Immersion is really what can make someone scared.
ATTACK OF THE UNFAIR GAME MECHANICSEdit
Now THIS is the real horror. One thing a horror game shouldn't have whatsoever (i shit you not, a horror game ACTUALLY DID THIS[it was a game titled "evil"]) is PLATFORMING. Okay, Outlast did it right. Evil? Nope, they didn't do it right at all. In fact, Evil is exactly what a horror game SHOULDN'T BE. A game that is absolutely weird and crazy FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. If my character had schizophrenia THEN you can make it all crazy and rip off Afraid of Monsters (Don't rip off Afraid of Monsters. Please). Anyway, there can also be unfair stealth systems. If your entire game relies on stealth mechanics (Amnesia), THEN MAKE THE STEALTH MECHANICS FUCKING WORK! If your game relies on a certain mechanic, make it work. DO IT. Also, no horror game EVER, should be a shooter (OH MY GOD IT'S RESIDENT EVIL ALL OVER AGAIN).
THE PLAYER AND IMMERSIONEdit
There's a difference between not immersed, and immersed. Creating immersion requires a combination of good writing, atmosphere (most of immersion relies on atmosphere, so if your atmosphere is shit then you're fucked), and GAMEPLAY. YES, GAMEPLAY. A good way to make immersion is do what Outlast did, and make the movement and animations realistic. I will be referencing Outlast a lot since it is actually really good. Atmosphere shouldn't be a room with lights (Though making it instantly turn dark and have blood be all over the place is actually okay) isn't good. Here's a tip, paint is gay, USE BLOOD! Don't use gore too much, gore should be used in a way that is discomforting. Gore isn't scary, it's discomforting. Having a guy just die is bad, having a guy fucking explode on the inside with his organs go everywhere is JUST RIGHT! With gameplay, I don't know. I don't make video games, I'm just a stupid guy on the internet!
THE BEGINNING IS EVERYTHING AND EMPOWERENTEdit
The intro is everything in a horror game. The intro will either make someone quit the game instantly (if its cause they were scared shitless, that's not a fault of the game designer) or wonder what is going to happen next. Amnesia did it well by creating a sense of suspense and actually putting the player at the same exact block that the character is at. The character knows nothing, nor does the player. That puts the character and player at the same level (which adds to immersion). Outlast did it fine with creating the cliche (Cliche doesn't mean bad, it means used a lot. Cliches can actually work if used correctly) of a haunted as shit mental asylum, and you're some dumb reporter that only brought a camera and no gun! Now even though not giving the player a weapon can be a subject to jokes, it works. Giving the player a weapon makes the player feel empowered (when it comes to action or adventure games, you actually would want to aim for this). In a horror game, this is not what you want whatsoever. Making the player feel empowered makes them feel like they are better than what's out there, which lessens the scare. Now, you may bring up the point that completely destroying this sense of empowerment is good, right? Wrong. Doing this can make someone rage. The goal is to not create this empowerment AT ALL. However, giving the player weapons CAN WORK. Dead Space is an example. The point is, to make the enemies still scary as shit even though you have a gun (and a space suit).
The setting is everything. The setting is the place. The setting is the time period. The setting is what happened before. Time period should be decided carefully. The time period is mostly overlooked. Some good time periods are: During or post World War 2, 1860s, and modern times. The future can work, but not MANY (there are definitely some) games are really good at it. The modern times is a really easy and flexible way to work. It lets the player understand what everyting (mostly) is around them. It also lets the player feel right at home, which is EXACTLY WHAT A HORROR GAME NEEDS TO DO. Medieval is not exactly a good choice, but it can be used. In medieval times, there was very little lighting besides the daylight and the setting is usually dark. Post WWll and during is pretty good as well. In post ww2, you can base it in a ruined city. Very little lighting, very little objects except old dusty bunkers, and corpses everywhere. Also the terror of the Holocaust is still fresh in the land. In fact, I would like to play a horror game based in an old concentration camp, your character's father was a nazi, and all the ghosts are trying to kill you and tortue you. To put you through the pain that they suffered, and the terror. That actually doesn't sound half bad. In 1860s, it's mostly because of gas lamps and just old dusty buildings. Also because Amnesia did it well and Amnesia is genius (Though not perfect).
THERE SHALL BE MOREEdit
I'm kind of done here since what I mostly wanted to address was jump scares. Just leave some suggestions and tell me how wrong and stupid I am in the comments! How else am I supposed to know I'm an idiot, my grades? You're the idiot here if you think THAT. (I am joking. I do not want to offend anyone plz don't sue me)