Readers describe the most terrifying scenes they’ve experienced in a video game, from Alien Isolation to Doom 3.
Since it’s Halloween this weekend we wanted to know what’s the most frightened you’ve ever been by a game. Although there was the proviso that you couldn’t mention the dogs jumping through the window in Resident Evil 1 – even though a number of people did anyway.
In the end, multiple different Resident Evil moments were mentioned, especially the Regenerators in Resident Evil 4, as well as classics such as Silent Hill and Project Zero 2.
Low tech scares
Video games are far scarier than any movie I’ve ever watched, and I’ve watched them all. Clearly it’s the immersion that does it but while a number of films have creeped me out there’s at least two games that have made me feel almost physically ill while playing and I’ve had to put them down and come back later.
One was the original Silent Hill (Silent Hill 2 is also excellent but it’s less surprising if you’ve played the first) and the other is Amnesia: The Dark Descent. For me these are the two scariest games ever, with the remake of Resident Evil 1 in third place and probably Amnesia as the absolute number one.
Those first two were low tech games even at the time, and Silent Hill is almost unplayable now, but the atmosphere, the disturbing imagery… just like movies it proves that it’s not a big budget and fancy effects that makes things scary, in fact it’s probably the exact opposite.
There were lots of scary moments on Resident Evil, the infamous dogs through the window was a decent jump scare, but the truly terrifying moment came bit later on when you returned to the mansion and met your first Hunter.
The way the game suddenly switched to the creature’s point of view and made you watch as it ran through the level opening doors heading straight for you was a moment of true terror. By the time it handed you back control of the game you were close to a state of panic. It might seem a bit tame looking back now but at the time there was nothing like it, very few games have ever managed to create a moment as scary as that.
Out of the closet
The most scared I’ve been in a game is in Doom 3. I used to play it late at night in a dark room. The backgrounds sounds used to put me on edge, but what really made me jump was the monsters who would appear to your left or right as you walked down a corridor.
As they were unexpected I’d end up jumping off the sofa. Great times.
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I’m generally not that scared by games, or films for that matter, but Alien Isolation really stressed me out. Hiding in lockers while the xenonorph patrolled the room was terrifying to me at the time. The androids creeped me out too.
You were helpless for most of the game, which added to the fear. That game was dripping in atmosphere. Outstayed its welcome by the end but I quit due to my anxiety levels a few times.
Although Resident Evil 4 is more tense than scary I find one enemy very unsettling: the Regenerators!
That horrible creepy breathing noise you hear so you know one is nearby, the way they lunge at you and bite your neck! And then you get ones with added spikes to impale you!
Fear of losing
The usual suspects can be named for survival horror games. Silent Hill, Forbidden Siren, Amnesia, and I’d probably say P.T. is by far the most unnerving but rather than retread through the reasons that it is I’ll opt to mention a different version of fear. The fear that titles such as Bloodborne and, more recently, Returnal give you.
That terror of losing all your blood echoes whilst searching in vain for a shortcut back to a lantern or (as in Returnal) trying to avoid those accursed kamikaze drones dive bombing you into oblivion in the Derelict Citadel. The run through the first three biomes to finally face the Nemesis boss was a palm sweatfest made all the more so by the fantastic 3D audio screaming through the headphones. Every encounter making you certain that death was seconds away and that the DualSense was careering into the neighbour’s garden via your open window.
The worst was probably that huge descent in the Abyssal Scar biome. You know the burnt umber coloured matter will be making a move to the fan as the game has already made you endure constant surprise attacks and yet this one is totally obvious. Down in the murky abyss you find what I would say is the hardest enemy in the game… the truly hated Malformed Typhonops. Pretty certain I held my breath for the entire duration of that epic hell pit battle. It’s still my GOTY though.
PS: There’s a discount on PSN for a game called Visage. A rather large homage to P.T. by the look of it but allegedly a scary experience so that’ll be my Halloween game to play/endure.
I’d have to say Resident Evil 7 in VR. I’m not into scary games or movies but that game I thought, yep, I’ll give it a go in VR.
I only played it for about 10 minutes then it was deleted and put at the back of the cupboard. I had the headset as well, so every creepy sound I could hear. I’m 39 and I don’t mind saying I’ll never buy a game like that again.
Near fatal frame
I have said before that video gaming could be a more scary medium than others, but not so much now as I’m pretty use to scares and gore these days, especially jump type and creepy images. But you can’t beat the atmosphere of games like the original Project Zero games from the PlayStation 2 era.
The first one was really a jump into the deep end of horror, made more so by being rather difficult and very tough towards the end. Getting up and close to the spirits with the camera obscura and at the last second snapping the aggressive spirit to exorcise it! Really brings tension and heart pumping situations.
The ongoing atmosphere with oppressive sounds, that always seem to be lurking in the background that make the hairs on your back stand up on end, especially if a rather creepy ethereal kid’s voice makes you, in real life, turn quickly around thinking it’s behind you in your actual room! It can really merge the real and the virtual worlds quite successfully indeed.
Films and books are good but games are sometimes better. But now I am finding games, books, and films can be enjoyed without getting scared or having my heart quickening up as a part of it. But I do very much enjoy horror a lot and the gothic architecture and stories linked to them from all varying different mediums, with sci-fi horror included, especially H. P. Lovecraft.
Happy Halloween though to everyone and my film choice will be of a Japanese horror style this weekend, as I feel Japan and South Korea do the best film horror stories in my opinion. Sleep tight and don’t have nightmares!
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