Are ‘Saw’ style moments making good games great?

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As you know by my Best Game of 2010 list, Heavy Rain is a phenomenal experience. The most memorable moment of the game has to be the now infamous ‘finger chopping’ scene, where lead character Ethan is forced to chop one of his fingers off in order to save his son. Despite the fact you can use a hacksaw, or a pair of scissors to do the job (both of which conjuring horrific images of the resulting scene) the actual amount of goriness is kept to a minimum.

That said, the pain and anguish in Ethan’s face and the loudness of his screaming after the event is enough to make this count as a ‘Saw’ moment (Something you would see in the Saw series of films). It’s a truly shocking, and intense moment that pushes both the game’s story and tone to a new high, which in turn makes the game even better. 
I couldn’t bring myself to post the picture of the scene, it makes me shudder.

I bring this topic up after recently completing a game in a genre completely different to Heavy Rain, Dead Space 2. Here, and this may be considered an end of game spoiler, Isaac goes through a ‘Saw’ moment of his own. Thanks to the lack of any aversion to gore in Dead Space, you see every last detail here, the ‘stick a needle in your eye’ segment being 10 times worse than it originally sounds. After being on the edge of your seat for the past 7 hours, waiting for things to jump out at you, this segment requires pin point precision and a steady hand, not easy if you have a problem with eye based trauma, like me! 
A similar effect happens here, where a game verging on the edge of brilliance is given a push by a ‘torture’ like scene. It’s weird that I would see these as a positive addition to either game in the first place, as the Saw films have always seemed pretty pointless to me. I think that’s where the true nature of my opening question comes into play, these scenes improve a game that’s already good and make them a must play, even if in Dead Space 2’s case the developers decided to place this scene directly before one of the most frustrating endings I’ve ever played. 
They may not be for the squeamish, but expect the rest of the game’s industry to take notice of ‘Saw’ moments and start including them in other great games waiting to become essential. 

One thought on “Are ‘Saw’ style moments making good games great?

  1. While watching other people in 'saw style' films you can think "at least that's not me" because most of the time the characters will not remind you of yourself at all. Especially because it's american! In the games you really start to personify your role, especially if the immersion's good. Isaac starts to become Sam as it were. This is where the true horror of the horror genre comes in. So yes, saw style moments in games are a lot more effective.

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