So I played through Amnesia: The Dark Descent way back at launch and despite it absolutely terrifying me to death each and every time I played the bloody thing I saw it through to the end (Let's ignore the fact that I actually played the last 20% or so of the game with the sound muted...)
So after our escapades with Slender we decided to playthrough Amnesia. Honestly, I wasn't expecting it to bother me so much having played it before but frankly, it's equally as scary and I guess a big part of that is down to the randomness of the encounters. Very little of the game is scripted. Sure certain sound effects play when you open a cupboard and some human skulls roll out for example, but for the most part the terror is in knowing that the...thing that's stalking you can and will appear at any single moment. One perfect example is in the video below, but let me describe it too. I'm exploring some dank corridors looking for something to break a rusted lock with. At this point I've had a few close encounters with the thing and I'm on edge. My palms are sweating, my foot tapping nervously and then I hear it. "MURGGHH" I panic and run into the nearest room, turning and closing the door behind me. I turn around ready to hide in a corner and BAM. The thing is there right up in my face. I scream like no grown man really should and hit the Escape key in a moment of genuine terror. Had it not been for Maria pretty much forcing me to hit Escape and run the hell out of that room, I probably would have left the game there for the night...
So yeah, a completely unscripted moment can give a far more genuine sense of horror than any scripted event. Scripted jump scares can be effective but they just cannot match that level of randomness that unscripted events can give the player. A completely unique scare just for them.
The bit I'm describing up above is at 4:25!
Don't get me wrong, scripted scares can be effective too, but they just don't match the scares unscripted stuff gives. Or is that just me?