Moments of Horror!
Well it’s late October and it seems to be that time of year to be thinking of all things spooky and more specifically to be playing some scary video games! I thought it might be fun to do a quick post about some of my scariest gaming experiences… that have unfortunately left me feeling forever unnerved! There may be some game narrative spoilers in the post, as well as youtube videos with questionable language… you’ve been warned!
Condemned 2 : Bloodshot
There’s a specific moment from playing this game that has always stuck with me! This game is pretty horror filled in general, but for me it was the unexpected that proved to be the most unnerving. There’s a level where as you’re exploring you see a lone “Mannequin” standing in a room… and for whatever reason I decided to punch it… nothing happened, or so I had thought. Yet when I turned around the game had spawned a group of Mannequins right behind me, just staring lifelessly at me. I half expected them to attack, but it was almost worse that they didn’t… For whatever reason, this has always stuck with me! Check the video below :
Thief : Deadly Shadows
Thief wasn’t intended to be a horror game… or so I had thought on going into it. I had expected a suspenseful, stealthy, romp through a fantasy medieval setting… but the game had more in store for me. There’s a mission called “Robbing the Cradle” where you go to a location called Shalebridge Cradle. Now the history of the “Cradle” is that it was once an insane asylum, and before that it was an orphanage… and even for a short amount of time housed both orphans and asylum inmates… One night an inexplicable fire broke out, and since then the “Cradle” has been abandoned. On entering the mission, it becomes obvious fairly quickly that it’s haunted. As you dive deeper into the asylum/orphanage, it’s revealed that the Cradle has the ability to “remember” people and trap them inside… So the player is then forced to traverse backwards through time and fake their own suicide so that the Cradle will forget them and let them go… All the while avoiding asylum inmates and burned orphans… it was seriously messed up. So messed up that PCGamer released an entire 10 page review just on the Cradle itself in March 2005. Calling it “One of the scariest missions in video game history.”
Half Life 2
I think many gamers have fond memories of Half Life 2, but for me… in 2004… it scared the crap out of me. More specifically the mission that brought us to Ravenholm, an old mining town turned deserted and infested with Zombies and Headcrabs. Overall I always found the zombies in Half Life 2 to be so upsetting… their twitching movements, and horrific noises was truly upsetting to young Wes. I’ve just always remembered this one moment where I was so scared trying to make my way through Ravenholm, and I had just successfully set a “fire trap” for a group of Zombies. As the fire went off, I felt a moment of relief as I watched them burn… only to have that interrupted by a headcrab flying through the flames towards my face! I quickly paused the game, only to have the pause screen just be the flaming headcrab filling the screen. I had to walk away from the computer for a while in order to build up the courage to go back…
More recently The Forest has made a pretty considerable impact on me. I think this is a game that really flies under the radar of most gamers, yet it’s extremely well done. Not only from a survival game standpoint, but also a very considerable plot line buried within the game… Intentional or not, The Forest is a wonderful slow burn that at times lulls the player into a false sense of security… only to have that come crushing down. In the first moments of the game you may encounter these cannibalistic tribal people, that inhabit the island you’ve crashed on. Alone they are pretty scary, they can silent creep up on the player while they are gathering supplies and trying to stay alive. They have high pitched screams that can truly rattle you, and are highly unpredictable. Then there’s the mutants on the island… amorphous abominations of human body parts, hobbling their way towards you… it’s pretty bad. Yet the real horror gem in all of this, are the caves. I’ve been in dark scary places in video games before, but these caves felt different. There’s always a clear uneasiness about the caves, lack of light, and the very real possibility of getting lost. It felt like “The Descent” the video game… couple that with discovering rooms filled with blood and body parts. It’s tense as hell, and the ending of the game left me considerably shaken. If you haven’t yet, go play The Forest… It’s on sale right now ;)
Any list about horror video games would be remiss if they didn’t include an nod to P.T. Released in 2014 as a random download on PSN, P.T. or “Playable Teaser” was a hidden and secret teaser for an upcoming Silent Hill game. It quickly became an internet sensation as people discovered hidden layers and secret messages within this small game. The game is so extremely well done, but also so incredibly unnerving. There’s a specific breathing noise that the “ghost” gives off, that to this day still gives me chills. Couple that with the fact that every playthrough is seemingly different and random… adds to the allure and fear of this game. There’s so many things that this small teaser does perfectly, but for me the best moment is at a certain point the game seems to start to glitch. It starts with a small visual glitch on the screen… the screen looks like the “camera” has been damaged. It slowly starts to get worse as a demonic voice begins repeating the same sequence of numbers over and over again, until finally the game makes it look like your PS4 has frozen and there’s an error code on screen… and reboots. After the “reboot” the game pretends to start over again, but if you have a keen eye you’ll notice subtle differences in the new intro and know that the game hasn’t started over… it’s merely continuing. If you have the time, look up a playthrough or perhaps read this article they go into considerably more depth than I could.
I think my one last nod might actually be to Red Dead Redemption, Kotaku did a really great write up of some of the game’s weird and creepy moments… In any case I hope you enjoyed reading! Hope you’re all enjoying this Halloween Holiday with a spooky movie, or horror game… preferably with friends… :)
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I make games, I play games... and sometimes I have some thoughts about that.