I’ve never felt fear in a video game quite like I did with Dark Souls. Sure games like Amnesia are frightening, but Dark Souls is downright terrifying. You’ve collected tons of souls, plenty of humanity, and then fate strikes you and you die. All was lost, but can be retrieved when you return to your bloodstain. That trip to the bloodstain is the absolute most terrifying experience in any game. You’ve got everything on the line. When you die again, it’s all gone. Every corner is taken with the utmost amount of caution, and every sound sends chills down your spine. In a game so immersive as Dark Souls, you find yourself trying to save your life, not your character’s. And then, you see your bloodstain. Souls and all, floating above the ground, and you run gleefully to retrieve it.
And then a horde of giant skeletons stomp on you. Dead.
Condemned 2 & Amnesia
Condemned 2, because of every one of those goddamn hobos who jump out from behind you in the abandoned apartments. Also, that motherfucking bear. Seriously all I need to say about that thing.
Amnesia as well. The idea that you CAN’T do anything but look away and hide when some gods forsaken creature comes out of nowhere just completely horrifies me. You can’t fight them! You have to be a shadow-cowering pussy! XD
Twisted Metal: Black
This was when I was in middle school or something, and not really mentally prepared for graphic stories about the criminally insane (I was scared by the movie Swimfan, to put things in perspective). Twisted Metal: Black came out, and I was so damn excited. I had played all the previous iterations of the game, TM1, TM2 (amazing), and TM3, the first one in 3d. This was the first one for the PS2, and I was so eager to get my hands on that game that I dragged my mom to gamestop to buy it for me (it was rated mature, and I couldn’t drive).
She said: “Oh, Keith- this game is rated mature, I’m not sure you should get it…”
“Mom don’t worry I’ve played all the others it’s just stupid and goofy, it’s SO FUN THOUGH, PLEASE!!!”
Eventually she relented, and I brought the game home, only to find that although the gameplay was amazing, it was filled with rendered cutscenes like this:
I don’t quite know what makes them so frightening, but nothing has ever scared me more than the System Shock 2 infected humans. Up until the point where I encountered them, I don’t think I had come across too many enemies, or if I did they weren’t particularly scary. The first time I encountered an infected human, I walked into a seemingly safe room when one of them charged at me wailing. I was completely unprepared, and in a frightened panic I dropped my mouse causing the main character to die.
For the remainder of the game, I became anxious whenever I heard one off in the distance. Sometimes I’d turned around and to my surprise there would be several infected humans tailing me. If I attempted to run away them, I’d usually end up accidentally bumping into a few more, which also frightened the hell out of me. At times, I would hear one grumbling somewhere nearby, and spend a good ten minutes riddled with anxiety trying to locate where it was. To this day I don’t know what exactly it was that made those enemies so frightening, I suspect it was a combination of how they looked in addition to the horrendous noises they made.
Dead Space & Limbo
I don’t often get scared playing games. I don’t think I’ve played a game and ever been scared the whole time. There are, however, moments in games when I experience something quite frightening. A lot of the time it’s not even what you’d expect. The greatest fear is fear of the unknown. When something eerily unexpected happens is when I truly get scared.
I’ll start from most traditional to least. When I first started playing Dead Space I didn’t think it was scary at all. But there was one frightening moment that has stayed with me. I had killed a necromorph from afar and as I approached its dead body the thing sprang back to life directly in front of my character. I wasn’t expecting it at all and it scared the hell out of me. From then on I shot the crap out of dead bodies.
Limbo, surprisingly, provided me with one of my scariest gaming moments. I was strolling through the grass minding my own business when I sprung a hidden bear trap and ended up decapitated. It blended into the grass blades so well that hadn’t noticed it and it happened so fast I nearly had a heart attack.
Condemned: Criminal Origins & Dead Space
One of the most memorable moments in my gaming career was playing Condemned: Criminal Origins with my two cousins, in the dark, at my grandmothers rickety old house (I swear that thing was haunted). We tried playing, but the further we progressed the scarier and weirder it got. At one point we glitched through the level and some creepy stuff started happening. Needless to say, we never finished the game.
The first thirty minutes of Dead Space almost made me wet myself a few times. It was recommended to me by a ton of people before I finally picked it up, months prior to Dead Space 2’s release. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, never really having seen any trailers or gameplay of the game. It freaked me out quite a few times, and ever since I picked it up it’s been among my top five games that I’ve ever played.
I don’t play many explicitly scary games. My moment comes from Super Metroid.
You drop down and find yourself in a long hallway. Right in front of you, a large red beast. It doesn’t take long to figure out that you’ll have to kill Crocomire in a different way than normal. Slowly, you get it to back up, until the floor beneath it collapses and it falls into a pool of acid. It doesn’t just die, though. It struggles, it screams, and its fllesh melts off right before your eyes, leaving but a skeleton.
You think it’s over. You run to the other end, and the boss music picks up! You desperately try to escape, but the screen is set in one place. Then, the wall collapses, and the skeleton of Crocomire appears, giving you one last fright before it collapses on the ground.
Water Levels (Specifically, Banjo & Kazooie)
Before I get into my irrational fear, I’d like to just answer with: Everything that has been said in this post. I am a pussy. But in particular, water levels have never failed to scared the shit out of me. You name it, Super Mario 64’s eel? Crying. Shadow of the Colossus’ water colossi? Screaming, “Why lawd, why?!” Accidentally falling into the water in Jak & Daxter and hearing the shark music getting faster? Turned off the console. But the worst one that still haunts me? That fucking mechanical shark from Banjo & Kazooie. (Not to mention that other smaller shark. Basically every shark ever.) Clanker. That son of a bitch. Friendly? Yeah, right. I got up to his teeth and lost health, I swear he just wanted to kill everyone. He was a robotic shark that bled, you just know he doesn’t mess around. I don’t think I ever even released him. Fuck that guy, he was a menace to society.