It used to be that if you found yourself in a horror scenario there were only a few simple few rules to follow in order to become a victim.
Don’t say “I’ll be right back”, don’t go anywhere alone, don’t leave the kitchen before arming yourself with a rather large carving knife, you know, common sense things.
But now, thanks to the ongoing surfeit of horror games, it’s entirely possible you could find yourself in a survival horror situation. Worse still, few of the old rules are still effective. So it falls to me to deliver a whole new set of commandments that, if obeyed, will significantly boost your chances of survival. You can thank me later, assuming you live that long.
1 Avoid any location with a pleasant or disturbing name
Are you planning a holiday, or maybe just going on a short trip? Then choose your destination carefully. Research has shown that any location with an pleasant name is bound to be a home to unnameable horrors; Raccoon City, Bright Falls, Leafmore High and so forth. Conversely, you should also avoid anywhere with an unsettling monicker such as Darkwater Island, or The Splatterhouse. Instead, pick somewhere with a middle-of-the-road name. Squirrel Cove? Nope. Gravewood? Steer well clear. Whilverton? Now that’s more like it.
2Bring your own torch
In the unfortunate event that you do end up in some disturbing backwoods location, you’ll need a torch. The problem is that the torches featured in nearly every survival game defy the laws of physics. It doesn’t matter how often you change the batteries, the torches you’ll stumble across will only ever illuminate a small area five feet in front of you. So make sure you bring several torches with you, leaving at least one in the car. Ideally, these should be as large and as powerful as possible, making it impossible for any shadow-dwelling fiend to get the drop on you.
3Don’t touch anything
Seriously. Don’t touch a single thing. Noticed a strange artefact glinting on a picnic table? Leave it well alone. Have you, against your best instincts, wandered into an abandoned house and spotted an old tome on the floor? Don’t even think of picking it up as it won’t end well. And use your common sense; if an object is covered in dust or cobwebs, it shows that other people have had the wisdom not to put their sticky paws all over it. Don’t be the idiot who makes a grab for it and ends up summoning some demonic abomination.
4Invest in a pair of garden clippers
One of the reasons that so many people stumble into spooky locations appears is that they’re fenced in by bushes or other vegetative barriers. Solve this problem by always carrying a pair of garden clippers and, if your budget stretches to it, keep a hedge trimmer in the boot of your car. Instead of just idiotically wandering through the front door of the spooky house that you’re apparently being funnelled towards, simply take out your clippers and snip your way through the offending shrubbery. Problem solved.
5Check that you have a pulse
If you find yourself in a survival horror situation, be sure to check that you’ve got a pulse. There’s every possibility that you’ve Been Dead The Whole Time ™ and finding you’re not breathing or that your heart isn’t beating is a dead give away. If you discover that you’re deceased then yelling “It’s a fair cop!” or similar might at least put paid to the supernatural trials you’re undergoing.
6Don’t touch anything else
If you have blatantly ignored Rule 3 and started picking up things just because they look interesting, stop right now. Have you discovered a sheet of paper pinned to a tree and, noticing other such sheets scattered around, got the urge to collect them all? Stop. They’re not Pokémon; the only reward for catching them all is certain death. If you’re with anyone else, get them to empty their pockets to make sure they’re not squirreling away objects that will quicken your doom when some otherworldly entity comes to reclaim them.
7Destroy or dismember dummies
While this tip isn’t necessarily going to save your life, it’s certainly a wise precautionary measure. Should you find yourself encountering a disproportionately large number of shop dummies, or indeed any mannequins at all, take the time to deal with them before moving on. At the very least pull them apart and, if there’s a heavy object nearby (this being an exception to Rule 3), smash them to smithereens. They’ll have a much harder time following you when they’re in fragments. While dummies have a confirmed history of pursuing people, usually when their backs are turned, there’s no documentary evidence that they are able to reassemble themselves, Terminator 2 style.
8Carry a crowbar
If you’ve wandered into an enclosed location, there’ll likely be a myriad of doors that you’re unable to open. Some may require you to find a discarded key, others might require you to assemble an absurdly complex lion’s head and some may lack any kind of obvious opening mechanism. You can bypass this rigmarole by shoving a crowbar into the door jamb and apply sufficient pressure. It can be also used as a weapon to fend off any monsters who may attempt to waylay you.
9Leave all recording equipment at home
If you’re in a survival horror situation you should discard all recording equipment immediately; this includes cameras, tape recorders and even pen and paper. The notes and audio logs that you stumble across when playing a survival horror game have typically been written by individuals who have themselves met a gruesome demise. Logic therefore dictates that in order to stay alive you shouldn’t document your experiences, or record anything of note. Smashing your camcorder and tearing up your notepad will help you live longer.
10Don’t. Just don’t.
Above all, if you do feel the urge to wander around disturbing locales on your own, don’t. Just stop. Pick up the phone and call someone else. The Police, the Ghostbusters, anyone who is better equipped to deal with the situation. You don’t have to inform the former about your situation’s supernatural aspects; you can tell them that there’s a knife wielding cult after you without letting on that the same cultists can hover two inches above the floor and possess psychokinetic powers. Car broken down? Call the AA and stay put, instead of wandering over to that rickety old farmhouse to see if anyone is at home. Stupidity shouldn’t be your cause of death.