Those intense moments in gaming when you properly drop a lung because of a brilliantly constructed scary scene, I love ‘em.
The lights are off and the sound is eerily quiet giving you the most intense, closed in feeling. You walk down the unlit corridor of an abandoned hospital with your flashlight flickering as it’s about to die. You gently push trolleys and gurneys out of the way checking for any sounds that aren’t your own. There’s a little scratching sound in the distance and the hairs on the back of your neck prick up. Was it you knocking past something or was it something far larger behind the wall?
Then BAM, that’s when it hits you.
Your body reacts with a massive jolt of adrenaline. You tense up, your blood runs cold and you start to sweat, except in the real world you shouldn’t get half rotten zombie corpses jumping out at you.
What are you doing at an abandoned hospital anyway? Wierdo.
It is in honor of those brown pants inducing moments that I give you my top scariest moments in gaming. They’re not in any particular order, they’re just there.
The following list will contain spoilers for those who haven’t played that particular game yet, but maybe it’ll serve as a warning for those with a nervous disposition? Ye be warned.
It’s not a definitive list of scary moments throughout gaming, just my list, so don’t expect to see Silent Hill in there as I’ve simply not played enough of any individual title in the series to do it justice.
First to grace this list are the witches from Left 4 Dead.
Quite simply scary.
They look like a skinny, redneck female, who has been dragged through the sewers and is missing her children. She just sits there rocking back and forth and will happily leave you alone providing you don’t get too close and upset her.
If you’re playing with AI characters then you’ll be first alerted to a witch’s presence by a member of your team telling everyone to switch their flashlights off and whispering instead of talking ensues. Already there’s a heightened level of intensity and you’ve not even met her. Then comes the moaning.
It sounds like she’s crying about something, a real somber moping of bereavement. Maybe she wants her children back? Regardless of the reasons, it’s creepy.
You know when she’s near by but the difficulty is locating her without startling her. A good, tightly packed group of co-op players can take her down on the hardest difficulty, and a chainsaw to the back is always a good start. She’ll be pissed, but it’s effective.
When she’s angry you better pray you’ve got a full magazine to unload in to her head. Sometimes it will catch you by surprise when your errant bullet just happens to head in her direction and turn her from dosile to hostile in mere seconds, lashing her elongated finger/talons at you in a desperate bid to get at your juicy blood red flesh.
One of the beauties of Left 4 Dead is that the location of a witch in each section is completely randomly generated. Sometimes you’ll be able to tip toe past and ignore her and others you’ll have to take her head on because she’s in the only route through. I like that. It makes the whole experience feel more real in the zombie apocalypse from hell. What could be far fetched about that?
Next up is Alma from F.E.A.R.
The original game is still by far the best in the series with the subsequent efforts being mere jovial distractions in comparison.
I quite simply don’t know how I managed to go back outside or sleep with the lights off after my encounters with Alma.
Important to note that this is another female character that is scaring the bum spuds out of me but that’s not to say there’s a pattern forming. Honest. I’m married, happily, and have nothing to fear.
Alma is something else.
Experimented on as a child, she has developed these bizarre abilities of telekinesis and telepathy that allow her to warp and drastically alter the world in which you find yourself, and although she has grown up to become an adult within the confines of her prison, she still manifests herself as a small child throughout the course of the game.
You’ll be walking through a dimly lit tunnel when she’ll appear from behind a column in her bright red coat, and with an innocent child like gait, skip across in front of you to behind another column, yet when you run up there to find her she’s gone.
It’s a simple trick, but it really messes with the mind.
There are points throughout the game where she will appear to attack you but you’ll just be shooting at thin air as she disappears in to a cloud of ashes. I thought children were sinister before I played this game, now they’re just plain unholy.
Anyone who asks for a frightening game recommendation gets this title from me every time.
A little more recent than F.E.A.R. is Limbo.
A popular title for many with its cleverly devised puzzles that range from simple tasks of dragging a box over to get to a ledge to get higher up, to gravity related physics puzzles.
The most striking thing about Limbo is the monochromatic scenery in which you play. It’s instantly moody and quite striking, and there’s no background music so the feeling of isolation is quite dramatic.
The spiders that you encounter would make my wife run a mile if she ever saw them with their huge bodies and long spindly legs, and did I mention that they look to be three times the size of a human. It’s menacing the way that their long legs will slowly start to creep across from the side of the screen and chase after you but I was caught out by something far simpler.
A bear trap.
Early on in the game I’m merrily running along looking for what the next puzzle will be and then, unknown to me, there’s a loud metal chinking sound amidst the eerie silence that comes from a hidden bear trap laying in wait in the grass. Once I get my breath, and realise I’m dead, I step back and appreciate the simpleness and effectiveness of what has just happened.
Now, I could mention specific scenes from the original Far Cry game when you start encountering the Tridents, delve in to the sheer weirdness that surrounds the bloody paths and baby sounds in Max Payne, or mentioning the blipping of the scanners used in the Alien series of games, but I think I’m going to go for something that’s a bit easier for me to choose.
I’m talking about Dead Space, specifically the second one.
Both games to date are of equally high caliber and are right at the top when considering a sci-fi horror game. The third installment is on its way and promises good (well, actually quite horrifying) things to entertain me and scare me out of my skin.
In the second outing, you find yourself playing as Isaac Clarke trying to find his feet as he escapes an alien infected lunatic asylum, The Sprawl, which is where the first of many WTF moments occur.
Talking to an obviously disturbed inmate your conversation ends with the inmate slitting their throat rather graphically in front of you. If you’re thinking about playing this and you have kids about I’d think again.
Strangely that’s not the moment that made my toes curl.
There are a number of incidents with the Necromorphs that will have your pulse racing and sweat pouring but there’s one clear moment that caught me out and there was no avoiding what had to be done.
Towards the end of the game Isaac has to climb inside a machine to interface with his memories. What you’re not told about is the sodding massive needle that you then have to direct in through the eye and puncture through to make a connection with the brain.
The whole moment is terrifying.
It’s even worse for me because I have a strong dislike (phobia is a bit too far) of needles.
That scene in SAW2 where she’s scrambling through the needles with her bare hands is my worst nightmare. Being forced to direct a needle, the size of a turkey baster, in to Isaac’s eye wasn’t exactly a joy ride.
I suppose these gaming thrills aren’t meant to be a joyful skip through the park because what would be the point? We play these games to feel a buzz and the reward for getting through such a horrific experience is what we’re in it for.
Right, I’m off to the local A&E to see if there’s any signs of necrotic flesh.