Survival Horror (2): God


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:1 (NIV)”

“I have not learned wisdom,
    nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One. Proverbs 30:4-5 (NIV)”

In a lot of games, you can swap the word god for entity because it’s not necessarily equated to the normal idea of God, but in any event it still really is. I say this because it’s always some absurdly powerful force that defies any efforts on the part of the main character to stop it. What is bobby in Clock Tower but a relentless force, until the game gives you a chance at the absolute end of the game to ‘stop’ him. Even the force or idea of evil becomes a god in many games: Silent Hill is probably the best example. What is Silent Hill? You can claim to understand it, but it’s more easily explained by not explaining it and giving it a name ‘Silent Hill’ to represent the ‘it’ potency that it bears.

 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”” Genesis 2:4 (NIV)

Going off from the basic idea of game gods, we have the methods with which people approach them. Sometimes it’s a ritual or sacred knowledge and symbols. Very often these methods are used by antagonists to become gods themselves, or to simply gain communion with the gods. For instance, in the classic Alone in the Dark series, the evil necromancer person, who had originally owned the house, tried to complete rituals to defeat death (thus making himself a god of sorts).

“This `is’ an account of the births of Adam: In the day of God’s preparing man, in the likeness of God He hath made him;” Gen 5:1 (YLT)

Of course you have a split with this dynamic. These characters have to accept that they already have some connection to the gods – via their own nature, or through these methods in order for them to transition to a ‘god’ or to have the power of one. (Of course how do you contain that power if you’re not one otherwise?)

“And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Gen 9:12 (NIV) – more to come on covenants later!

Symbols in some ways deserve their own separate section as they not only become things in which power is focused, but they also come to be our way of knowing and approaching a concept. How do we know the building is evil? Well there’s an upside down Cross, telling us it’s a black mass (Clock Tower 1). Or even, if we stay with that game, the Scissorman’s very weapon, which defines him, also makes a bloodstained cross when opened.  Games like Silent Hill focus power into symbols: seal of Metatron, or even the sun circle which you use to save your game with.

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1 29-33

Ritual and knowledge also connects into this idea of conception and birth. Most religions credit a god or gods with life, and many also have this idea of rebirthing a god into the world.  It’s a hugely common concept in survival horror. Jennifer is supposed to rebirth Bobby in Clock Tower. Alyssa is to give birth to whatever thing wants to be the god of silent hill. (Who wants to rule a town with bleeding walls for paint?) Alyssa in Clock Tower 2 is born with this ‘evil’, powerful other personality inside of her.   Fiona is supposed to rebirth Riccardo in that creepy castle adventure Haunting Grounds. And in all this, who can mess with this whole life death birth cycle…but a god?

“And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” Matt 3:9 (NIV)

Going off of the birth/rebirth is the idea of family. Someone is either a descendant of the gods, or somehow they have developed a bond to them. They can be ‘touched’ or ‘special’. We all realize that Silent Hill chooses you; you don’t just ‘happen’ upon it. The structure of a normal family is never in safe hands in a survival horror game. If we dig deep enough, Jennifer might be related to the Barrows (I won’t tell). Riccardo is, in fact, Fiona’s dad. Except he’s a clone…and he wants to..Nevermind. The sacred went out to sea in this field more than others.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”” Rev 21:3-4 (NIV)

Finally, when you’ve been messing with life and death, of course you’ll be needing a promise land too. This idea of course goes far beyond just the survival horror genre, but it’s a little more unique in this one because the backdrop is so much more miserable. Just how is a bunch of blood and the seal of Metatron supposed to clean up all that rust and get rid of vagrant pyramid men? As if anyone trusted entity thing in Penumbra to bring about some unique symbiotic world where they didn’t mess with your mind and take over (again).

Stay tuned for part 2: Blòód



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