I’d just like to open this article with the following:
I LOVE horror as a genre.
Not gore, not squelch, not violence for the sake of violence, but psychological and supernatural horror are pretty much two of my most favorite things. I adore Asian horror cinema, I’ve seen ghost movies from Russia, Poland, Holland, China, Korea, everywhere, I just absolutely love horror! While not my favorite genre ever conceived, it’s certainly up there!
Every so often there’s a moment in a horror game that makes you just put down the controller, sit back and go “Dang…that literally just happened!”
Newer horror games don’t so much do it for me, because newer “horror” games are pretty much just “OMG SOMETHIN’ BIG GONNA GET YA FROM THA SHADOWS!” or “LOOOOOOUD NOISES!” as Brick Tamland would say.
To get to my top five “dang…” moments, we’re gonna reach back a bit. Ready to go on this adventure with me?
5) “Come find me…I’m right here…” -Creepy Little Ghost Boy in Spirit Camera
Fatal Frame is generally a creepy series as it is, though the horror factor tends to disappear for me about a fourth to half of the way into the game. This is primarily because it’s so freaking long! The first one anyways. A buddy and I sat down to beat the game one weekend, as I have the whole series and we both enjoy a good scare, and, yeah… Clock Tower 3 took us two weekends (he went and got married on me, so now we only get a Friday night every now and again to game…traitor!) to beat. Fatal Frame 1? Yeah…we tried for three or four weekends, figured we had to be almost done, looked at a guide to check our progress, and proceeded to weep openly.
Spirit Camera, a spin off for the Nintendo 3DS tried the approach of bringing the horror right on home. The game is played with a journal that you aim the 3DS at to discern certain things about the world, solve creepy puzzles, and transport from your house to Himuro Mansion to try to figure the mystery of the face stealing ghost maiden out before she, well, steals your face.
Which by the way, I should be faceless right now because I never finished that game.
Anyways, the ghosts attack you in your house and you aim your camera to find and fight them. This is kinda creepy, because the screen compensates you having to play in a well lit room by making the visuals dark, moody and, well, purple, as you’re fighting. There was one instance where I had to chase a little ghost boy in and out of the spirit world. He wanted me to help him at first, but was eventually driven mad thanks to the crazy face stealing lady. In our final battle, I chased him from Himuro back to my house, and he was nowhere to be seen.
I kept hearing a little voice going “I’m right here…come and find me”, and giggling every now and again. I looked left, I looked right, I looked down the hallway (as the game is really good about blocking out your house and picking spawn points that will be creepy for you. At least, my copy was. Or maybe my house is just haunted…
Anyways, I looked down and the kid was nowhere in sight. I knew where he was, and with a sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach I slowly panned up. The kid, wearing a freaky mask to compensate for having no face, was sitting on my ceiling. He grinned wickedly, and then just dove at me! I had to physically jump back to get away from him, then he dove at me again!
My little running narration on the game mentioned that I felt sick to my stomach. I looked down with the camera, and the ghost crawled halfway out of me, waved, then lunged!
I snapped that picture so hard! He went flying to the ground, scurried under my couch, and the fight was on!
4) “I’VE FOUND YOU, CLEVER GIRL!” – Clock Tower 3
Clock Tower 3 started out super creepy, and then halfway through they swapped out the atmospheric horror music for…techno and trance…so…yeah. Honestly though the fear factor starts declining quite rapidly after you finish the first serial killer off, the hammer guy.
For those that aren’t in the know, the game focuses on a girl named Alyssa having the worst possible birthday out there. There’s just something about girls named Alyssa or Alessa…they don’t have great luck with b-days it seems. In this particular case, Alyssa gets the news that her mother is dead, her grandfather is the head of an evil cult and wants to father a child with her that will be the vessel for their pagan god, aaaand that she comes from a long line demon hunters all on the eve of her fourteenth birthday and within the first fifteen minutes of the game!
Alyssa spends her time going from time period to time period being chased by demonic serial killers trying to piece together the tragedies of their victims to give said victims rest, then piece together the mystery of the killer. Once she does so she’s transformed into a Seraphim like warrior and does battle against the demon to cast it back to hell. Prior to this however, she’s left running and hiding helplessly as the killer stalks her in real time around the game world. In her regular form Alyssa is defenseless, her only weapon being three phials of Holy Water that will temporarily stun the killer or ghosts chasing her.
There’s one particular moment in the game where you’re running and hiding and hiding and running when out of nowhere the hammer guy just kicks the door in as you’re running by, sending a screaming Alyssa flying into a wall and crashing to the ground as he mocks you! The killer then storms towards you as you desperately try to roll to your feet, get your balance and run like mad to another room!
Yeah…Wilkie and I both jumped the first time that happened…
3) The Mannequins Are Alive… -Silent Hill 2
This one doesn’t have as long of a story behind it. I just hate living dolls. Part of my fear of them might have come from my favorite bedtime story about a China doll that came to life and killed everyone in the household except the father who was all “Aww heck naw!” and killed it once he sorted out what was going on. Is it morbid that that’s my favorite bedtime story? That might explain my love for all things macabre…
Anyways, there’s a moment relatively early in Silent Hill 2 where you have to go through a darn near pitch black apartment complex. I’m not even entirely certain I was supposed to be there yet, as I didn’t have James’ trademark wooden plank with a nail in it, nor did I have a flashlight, but SH2 was fairly non-linear like that.
I found my way into a dressing room or something, or maybe it was a seamstress’s apartment? Either way there were a ton of mannequins and fabrics and junk. Everything was totes legit as I made my way through the creepy complex…riiiight up until the mannequins started following me out of the blue! Then they tried to kill me! I tore through the hallways to get away, as thus far I had a hand full of ammo with no gun, and ran through the twisting environment until I reached a dead end and was beaten unconscious by the mannequins.
Yeah…I freakin’ hate living dolls.
2) Fancy meeting you here… -F.E.A.R.
F.E.A.R., which stands for First Encounter Assault Recon, which…just real quick, Assault Recon? Is that like, they go in the room, they shoot everybody in the room, and then they try to figure out what on Earth just happened in said room?
“What’s the sit rep private?”
“Sir, we came in the room and there were dudes in there. We shot all of them. Presently, they’re dead.”
“Good work private!”
I’m just like…how do you…how do you recon on the enemy…after you…shoot…all of them first? That seems…counter productive…
Anywho, Fear was supposed to be the fusion of horror and FPS, which doesn’t really work when you can slow down time and literally spin kick dudes in the face. Even so, Fear had a couple moments that creeped me out. I’ll admit to be sufficiently creeped the first time I played and I was in that sewer and there were the bloody skeletons and then everything was on fire and then I turned around and Alma was stalking towards me and then I was running and then I turned around and she was grabbing for me and then I was running again and then I turned around again and she was all “PSYCHI DO-KEN!” and sent me flying out of the sewer through the wall.
There was also the moment when she walks out of the movie screen in Fear 2. That was creepy.
The biggest “OH CRAP!” moments for me came in one of the many sewer cavern thing levels. I was walkin’ around, minding my own business, and the game had taken that well designed tonal shift that the second and third titles couldn’t capture. The first one was great about slowly shifting you from “I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD!’ to “It’s dark and there’s lots of noises and shadows and junk…”. The sequels, not so much.
As I crept through the sewers I just knew Alma was gonna show up any second. And she did, where and how I was not expecting! As I turned to go down a ladder, the camera swung and shifted dynamically like my point of view actually would. As I looked away I heard a small voice almost pleasantly yet mockingly say “Don’t fall”, and as my view shifted back up I caught first Alma’s feet, and then the camera snapped up pretty much the way I would’ve reacted. Alma was standing at the top of the catwalk with a little knowing smile as she waved at me, and then disappeared.
Creepy as that was, about fifteen minutes later I’m crawling through a claustrophobically tight tunnel turning this way and that, again going “She’s gonna pop up aaaany second now…” and nothing happened for quite a while…
As I turned a random corner there was the loud screeching violin noise as Alma crawled like an insect in rapid circles towards me in the tunnel as my flashlight flickered on and off! At the last second before she grabbed me, the lights went out, she laughed, they came back on, and I was alone.
I am not afraid to admit I jumped!
1) …Did I just get chased by a giant mutant demon baby? Yep…I just got chased by a giant mutant demon baby… – Clock Tower (Super Famicon)
I almost don’t even want to say anything about this one. I can’t really explain this particular moment in the game without spoiling the entire story. All I can really say is the first game, not completely unlike the second one which was on PS1 is a point and click style game, which adds to the tension when you’re getting chased by the deformed killers wielding giant sheers. You’re on a class trip, you end up stopping at a giant old house, your teacher and all the girls that came with you go missing, and you’ve got to sort out what happened.
Soon thereafter you get chased by a guy with giant scissor. The obvious consequence happens if he catches you over the course of the game.
There are several false endings you can get which are all awful for the protagonist and her friends, but if you manage to pursue the truth all the way to the end…well…yeah…
The header says it all.
So, those are my top five that happened moments in horror games. I chose not to include modern loud noise big monster out of a glass window titles like the entire Resident Evil series or Dead Space, and also haven’t played games like Slender or Amnesia yet. Even if I had I probably wouldn’t include them, as they’re both titles that millions of people have played and are really easy to just go “OH MAN! I WAS DOIN’ MY THING AND THEN SLENDER MAN CAME UP OUTTA NOWHERE!” or “DUDE! THIS INVISIBLE THING! IT WAS ALL UP IN MY GRILL DUDE! ALL UP IN MY GRILL!”
No offense to those games, as I’ve heard they are both quite scary. I just wanted to pick titles that you probably haven’t heard of on every major news site already.
What about you? What games have scared you over the years? Tell me all about it below 😀