I’ve often been accused by my friends that I have no fear response because I’ve essentially numbed myself to it through my love of horror movies. Honestly, I can’t say whether that’s true or not. Just because I don’t get scared at movies because I’ve desensitized myself to their tricks doesn’t necessarily predict how I’ll react in a real-life scenario. And I don’t make a habit of putting myself in fear-inducing scenarios on a daily basis.
However, I do think I’ve desensitized myself to most fictional scenarios. It’s rare nowadays for a game to really scare me. I mean, I’ve never really been one to scream when I’m frightened — unless a spider fell on me. I’m more of a jumper/gasper. But even when a game’s atmosphere sucks me in, the best I can say is it makes me feel tense. Hypervigilant.
But in the case of Condemned: Criminal Origins, I kinda like that.
I feel like Condemned is the most realistic horror experience I’ve had in a while.
For one, the setting is much more grounded in reality than most games. Okay, I know everyone being strung out on drugs & driven subconsciously mad by strange soundwaves is a bit of a stretch. But crazy people do exist. I talked to more than a few of them when I worked as an emergency dispatcher. Hell, I still remember when that guy in Florida was strung out on bath salts & ate a guy’s face off. It happens. Granted, I’d have a hard time buying that the police in a major metropolitan area would just choose to turn a blind eye toward their antics. But at least the setting seems plausible to me.
The game also manages to pull what I think are very realistic reactions out of me while I’m playing. If I were in Ethan’s shoes, wandering through metro stations & sewers filled with crazed firemen & Samara wannabes, I’d be jumping at every rattling can & checking blind corners, just like I do while playing. And I’d make use of anything I could get my hands on to defend myself. Although I’d like to think I’d show a bit more hustle than him. Seriously, I’m supposed to believe this pudgy guy is a seasoned Fed? I’m trying to steal this guy’s fire axe while he’s tased. Adrenaline dictates I’d be moving faster.
Actually, that’s my only real complaint about the game thus far. Ethan moves so slow, even while sprinting. Everyone moves slow, actually. They all run in this bizarre waddling fashion, like they’re on the moon or afraid their pants are about to fall down. And this serves to draw attention to the dated character models, where most of the men are boxy squares with legs. That, & the “forensics” portion, which is only funny in the Hollywood sort of way where they think you can get detailed forensic analyses back immediately & have unlimited databases to search through.
With that said, I am “enjoying” my playthrough thus far, if you can say you enjoy being scared.