Scariest Video Game: Go!

We asked about books, and then movies.

Now it’s time to talk video games.

Scary, distuuuuuurbing video games.

(insert something something gamergate)

(respond with something something fuck gamergate)

You’ve played video games. Which ones startled you? Freaked you got? Climbed up on your back like a demon monkey and chattered its infernally primitive heresies into your ear as you played?

Drop into the comments, let ‘em fly.

97 comments

  • System Shock 2, by far.

    I had roommates who’d watch me play for the freak factor as we desperately clawed our way to the end. There’s nothing scarier than those psionic monkeys. I recall at one point being at the end of a dark corridor, the lights casting their glow over stretches every fifty feet, and that pit in my stomach knowing that when I’m in the dark sections something’s going to eat me. With barely five bullets to my name and ten percent health, I get to a dark section and one of those rabid little psychic chimpanzees screams eek eek! I spin around, nothing there, heart racing I spin around again to get down the hall and the monkey’s there and blasts me.

    Fraking monkeys.

  • There were a lot of games that sent chills down my spine (Silent Hill 2, The Path and The Secret World, among others), but the one that freaked me out the most was probably Condemned. No other game made me beat so many people to death with a lead pipe.

    • Yes. Totally and unequivocally yes. Anyone not saying this game clearly has not played it, and they should be glad, may their dreams be forever duckless.

  • Of the new games, Alien Isolation is a great game and has a good amount of tension and thrills and chills.

    The original Silent Hill is the only game to make me turn on all the lights in my home.

    Fatal Frame 2 is the only game to make me avoid my PS2 for a week because the disc was still in the drive and I wanted nothing to do with that.

    In general I am prone to over-reacting to horror stimuli so I avoid it, but for older games Silent Hill/Fatal Frame all the way. Alien Isolation is great. The original FEAR (FPS game) was also good for a combination of horror elements and action elements.

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one who got freaked out by Alan Wake. I would like to finish it, maybe on PC this time. Part of the reason it was so hard for me to play through was because I was freaked out and scared and ALSO not very good at the controls for XBox. I’ve heard that The Secret World has some pretty scary moments, but I haven’t gone far enough yet.

    Also, the recent Tomb Raider with all the creepy people was kind of scary for me, but again with the controls issue. :P

  • Resident Evil 5 or 6 when you’re playing in a dark room (or Resident Evil Revelations on the DS when it’s late and you’re alone), or Bioshock 1 or 2 when it’s storming outside and pitch black. It’s an awesome way to spook yourself! Same with Alan Wake and Evil Within.

  • I’m going back in time here. I don’t do horror, but the ethical questions posed in the description of this 1998 game intrigued me. I didn’t finish it. I remembered that James Woods did the voiceover of some Satanic/Darklord character, so I looked it up on IMDB.com and found the title: “Of Light and Darkness.” Here is an image from the opening room: http://www.mobygames.com/images/shots/l/203924-of-light-and-darkness-the-prophecy-windows-screenshot-this.jpg Jack-in-the-boxes have never seemed whimsical since. And James Wood can be really creepy.

  • Well, this is a first… I can’t tell you anything about video games that creep me out.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I love the creepy ones, it’s just that I’m not allowed to play them.

    Okay, go and get one of those Wii or Playstation games you love so much, open the book… to the warning on the 2nd or 3rd page… yeah, read it… it says it might bring on or cause seizures… right. Sorry guys (leaves the room as you all go back to playing…)… I’m not allowed near them – any of them.

    Being an Epileptic, I’ve never played a Playstation or Wii game, no matter what it is.

  • I’m going to throw one on the pile that isn’t exactly a classic horror game, but it fucked with me hard: Spec Ops: the Line. The tension is wound tighter and tighter as the game progresses. As the protagonist becomes more and more desperate and unhinged, I became more and more disgusted with myself for perpetrating his savagery. I couldn’t play it for more than an hour at a time. When I got to the end, I was profoundly happy to have had the experience. I will never play the game again.

    • My achievement-grubbing friend could never understand why I said one playthrough was enough for me. The pre-determined sequences are one thing, but stuff just HAPPENS, too. Like the time I flinched and gunned down a woman before I realized she wasn’t a threat. It just… yeah.

  • Outlast, Amnesia, and the Evil Within are the scariest I have ever seen. I agree that Alan Wake is one writers should play, but for fear factor alone it doesn’t even rank. I love watching Youtuber Markiplier play these games because I am a scared little kitten. The tiny scare in Vampire The Masquerade gives me nightmares. His “Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a great introduction, and another from my top five scariest games.

  • My scariest video game is definitely Silent Hill on PS1 for several reasons: The disturbing, grinding ambient music that kept you on edge. The narrow beam torch which didn’t always show the little creatures sneaking up to stab you in the knee. The maze-like interiors, causing you to have to constantly refer to your map. The fog in the streets that gave a constant sense of disorientation, and then you never quite knew when it would switch to the ‘otherworld’.

    I’m on my first play-through of Deadly Premonition at the moment, and you could describe it as the lovechild of Silent Hill and Twin Peaks. The ‘otherworld’ scenes always make me feel tense, and the sounds of the shadows are really odd. It doesn’t have the same level of fear as Silent Hill, perhaps because of its quirkiness, but I’m still enjoying it.

  • I can’t play full-on horror games, because I’m too frightened (I love horror movies though, maybe they feel less personal?). My gaming days are mainly spent on RPGS and other safe choices, but there are a few games that have pierced my defenses.

    Back in the PS1 era I bought a game called Koudelka (Shadow Hearts prequel), which is a haunted house RPG with lots of creepy things. Playing it was really exciting and scary, because of the gothic mood, effective voice acting and gloomy plot. My weapons would break down, and I couldn’t level up or find safe places that often, which was so different from anything I had played till them. I finally finished it last summer and really loved the mood and challenge.

    The second time I found a truly scary game was with Demon’s Souls. The game is set in a haunted land that’s full of monsters, bodies and demons. The levels are unforgiving and I died a lot only to start over and over again. When I finally reached the bosses they were horrifying, difficult and could kill me in an instant. Some of them were so horrible that just facing them felt like being in mortal danger.

    The subsequent Souls games have been easier and less scary because I know the mechanics now, but I still remember trembling while exploring the Tower of Latria where Gigeresque creatures roam and attack you. Stuff of nightmares I tell you!

    But yeah, maybe not that interesting to battleworn horror gamers. XD

  • Silent Hill and Fatal Frame have been mentioned a few times and are bother really great. The original SH are the best but sometimes their dialogue is pretty corny, “Radio. What is going on with that radio?” has become a running joke. I’d also like to add Amnesia: The Dark Descent because the ambiance is so scary I haven’t managed to bring myself to play long enough to get to the monsters. Also, Siren: Blood Curse was really creepy. I find that the more helpless my character is the more I want to curl up in a corner and hide.

  • Amnesia, hands down. I still haven’t beaten the game. The story is captivating, but good luck getting through it when the game scares you to death. You have no weapons against the monsters hunting you; even looking at them for too long will drive you insane. Your only defense is to hide in shadows, maybe in a closet or behind a door, except that you are scared of the dark and it also drives you insane. Luckily, you have an oil lamp (as long as you don’t run out of oil) and you can light candles (if you don’t run out of tinderboxes). Oh, but make sure you don’t need that room to be dark later when you have to run from the baddies. What does going insane mean in Amnesia? Your vision blurs, you stumble and crawl when trying to run for your life, and you hallucinate. The only way to regain sanity is to progress by solving puzzles and answering questions as to who you are and why you woke up with only a note from your pre-amnesiac self saying you need to murder a man.

    Good luck!

  • The original Thief: The Dark Project has you playing a thief in a steampunk/medieval city. The first few missions are normal enough for the world – tense, because you’re a hider not a fighter and the guards are patrolling around. Then you discover there are undead in the city and that’s not a joyful discovery. Then you get hired to do a job by a strange fellow who lives in an alice-in-wonderland weird house. After a test job, he asks you to go into a section of the city that’s been walled off and steal a gemstone kept in an abandoned cathedral there.

    You navigate the abandoned city, encountering zombies and worse – some sort of ghosts that talk in a weird backwards fashion. Eventually you find the cathedral and looking in a window at the back you see the place is just boiling, feverish with these ghost things. You can see the gemstone suspended in the air over the altar and it talks to you.
    It says “Comes a man to rescue me … poor man.” – then it tells you what you need to do to get the doors to the Cathedral open.

    You leave the quarantined city and (depending on whether you’re playing Thief Gold or not) spend one to four missions in relative sanity seeking the keys to the door of the Cathedral.

    Then you have to go back for the gem.

    The level ‘Return to the Cathedral’ was hands down the scariest game level I’ve ever played. It took me ages to summon the courage to unlock the door, because I genuinely did not want to go in there, just from what I’d seen through the window. I was talking to the game’s character, Garrett, telling him that surely he didn’t need the money THIS badly. There were other jobs! But no – you have to go in.

    It was almost as bad in there as I imagined. In some places it was worse.

    Forget the new ‘thief’ game that is totally butchered by the publishers to be all action adventurey. The original Thief was creeping dread in distilled form once it hit its stride. It established a solid norm, then gradually, things start to slide into an unsettling, creeping wrongness that haunts the whole latter half of the game. Created by the same devs that made the original System Shock, from which all the Shocks since owe their lives.

  • Umm, I don’t know. How about Dead Zone or Silent Hill? How about anything that takes place in dark rooms and doesn’t let you have flash lights?
    There are parts of different games that are kind of creepy. I’m playing Destiny right now and when you walk in that one room (you know, the really long warehouse of a room, but it’s fuck-you black and all you have is the light of your rifle, but it’s a shitty light because that’s the video game company tell you to suck it? Yeah, that game) and you get hammered with all kinds of screeching and demonic howls. They surround you, scare the shit out of you as they leap on you and eat your soul. Games like that – they suck.

    The Last of Us? Anyone?

  • I’d have to say either The Evil Within or Outlast. The Evil Within is absolutely brilliant, by the way. Seriously one of my favorite games. Outlast is pretty fun, but I get tired of having to hide from the same enemy over and over again pretty quickly. The Evil Within, though…I mean, damn. I wasn’t expecting it to be so good, and yet it is. The atmosphere and imagery are just so perfect.

  • Dead Space. I bought it as a Halloween gift to myself when it first came out. The roommate had a nice, big TV and an amazing surround sound system. I didn’t sleep that night. >.>

  • There was this old computer game called Phantasmagoria. It was a simple point and click psychological horror game set in a remote mansion that Adrienne Delaney and her husband have moved into previously owned my a magician. Adrienne was looking for inspiration for a new book. She unwittingly releases a demon who possessed the previous owner and made him murder his five wives in rather gruesome ways. It was simple, naked, horror. You didn’t want to click, but you had to keep clicking and each click led to something horrifying and you knew it would, but you clicked through anyway. For it’s time, when Myst was the thing, it was AWESOME!

  • A few years ago I bought a PC game on a whim. It looked to just be a puzzle game about a serial killer. I thought “Hey, two of my favorite things!” and bought it. Holy balls.

    I wasn’t aware that this PC game was basically trying to be an entire ARG. It eventually failed miserably, but I remember the first night playing it for a few hours in my dorm room, in the dark. I was thoroughly creeped out and woke up the next morning to a string of e-mails saying things like:

    “Are you getting closer?”
    and
    “I came to see you last night, but you had already turned out the lights.”

    Son of a bitch, that freaked me out.

  • ‘The Suffering’ on PS2. I worked in a store as a games buyer when I was at university and heard lots about it from a rep so I checked it out. Two friends and I started it playing it and when it got dark we had to put the lights on; we were all 20! It’s set in a death-row prison that basically is taken over by demons – think Doom meets Prison Break. All the monster were based on different types of execution. So well done and super creepy.

    I have to mention a newbie too; Alien Isolation is stopping me from sleeping at night!

  • Day Z. You start in a world overrun by a zombie apocalypse, with almost nothing at your disposal. Your mission is to survive, both the zombies, and the other players. Even a modest amount of time in Day Z will have you questioning who the real monsters are.

  • Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

    One of the key mechanics in it is a “sanity meter” as you deal with zombies and things with tentacles, your sanity meter begins to fall. When the meter hits zero…the game plays back. The first time I had my sanity meter hit zero, I was playing alone at night. I did not expect the game to have a mind of it’s own and when it did…I jumped. I have never had a reaction like that to a game.

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