With Lethal Company and Content Warning, video games might have finally nailed the horror comedy


Outside of maybe rom-coms, horror is probably one of the most diverse genres out there. There’s just so many sub-categories of it, whether it be slashers, supernatural, survival, gothic, folk, sci-fi, fantasy, even Christmas, it has something for every horror fan. One of my favourite subgenres is the horror comedy, which in and of itself has a breadth of titles – Shaun of the Dead, Scream, Evil Dead 2, even American Psycho, none of these films are quite like the other, but they all undeniably an important part of film history.

Importantly, they also all work so well because they’re funny, using comedy as a way to heighten the scares. Laughter makes you feel safe, but the safety is only temporary, only offering a brief reprieve before you s**t yourself at the next jumpscare. Horror comedies are a staple of the genre, but I don’t think it’s one that’s translated all that well to video games just yet. There are horror games that people find funny, like the original Resident Evil, without its awkwardly translated and delivered dialogue (obligatory Jill sandwich reference here), and there are actual horror comedies like Lollipop Chainsaw, though here I think some of the “horror” element is lost.

Watch on YouTube

And then, last year solo developer Zeekerss released Lethal Company, a four player co-op horror game where you scavenge for scrap and do your best to survive both the cryptids that await you and your job itself. Since then I’ve been waiting to see if anyone could replicate Lethal Company’s formula, taking its spirit and turning it into a whole genre itself. Now, with the arrival of instant success Content Warning, I think that video games are finally placing their own stake in the horror comedy.

Content Warning, much like Lethal Company, puts four players together, but instead of looking for things like sheet metal and axles, you have to film scary things in a forgotten land that’s filled with all sorts of creatures to get big views on a fictional version of YouTube. The filming part of it literally lets you create two-minute-long videos that you can save and share online, taking the tongue-in-cheek approach to content creation and making it almost literal.

But the key thing in both games is getting terrified by the game’s respective monsters to such a degree that your friends can’t help but cackle at your demise. Sure, getting killed by that one bug that mostly just collects treasure in Lethal Company is embarrassing, but your friends are having a good time, so who cares? Of course, that can eventually lead to all but one of your crew dying, turning them into a final girl of sorts, making the scares all the more intense as it’s now down to them to secure your loot/ views.

It’s moments like these where both titles excel because comedy is so naturally baked into these horror games precisely because they let you get so silly without despite the fact that so much wants to kill you. They’re horrific, but they’re hilarious because they’re horrific, a perfect blend of two genres you might at first think couldn’t work together. A horror game can be funny because of a scripted joke, yeah, but there’s nothing funnier than letting the gameplay help the player to tell the jokes (they’ll probably laugh harder than any bit of dialogue could manage anyway).

Personally, I hope that people keep making games like Lethal Company and Content Warning. Horror is one of my favourite genres, and even though I’m not that much of a multiplayer person, being able to goof around with my partner while one of us runs for our lives is just such a great way to spend an evening. Even more than more games like them, I hope it inspires more horror games to get funny with it, I promise you might end up scaring people more that way.

Related articles

Recent articles