“I'm not scared”, sang Patsy Kensit in her absolutely appalling song, called ‘I'm Not Scared'.
But that means that Patsy must be pretty miserable, because psychologists say that we ‘enjoy' being scared because it is a form of cathartic release which offers a vicarious glimpse into an unfamiliar twilight world of primal fear whilst retaining an essential undercurrent of physical safety.
Well, as long as we're being scared by a videogame or a film or a Ghost Train and not by cowering in a closet, being hunted down by a big fat man with a massive knife.
So, because it's Halloween time, we put this question to a bunch of our bestest Internet mates with stupid nicknames: “Even though they are patently not real, which videogames have scared you most, you prancing great puffs?”…
Thief III (PC)
Shalebridge Cradle level – the old, abandoned orphanage. I defy anyone to show me a level – PC or console – with more sheer dread and sadness. The bit where you're in the nursery and there's all the ghostly cries of babies in the half-light... I remember playing that level one night, with the baby alarm beside me and our little lad chose that moment to go WAAAAAAAAAA! at top volume. As they say in Scotland, I fair pappered ma breeks.
System Shock II (PC)
Cheeky-screechy monkeys, monster midwives, cyborg assassin robo-bastards. Dark, deeply nasty and a lot scarier than Doom 3. Plus, you get to bludgeon the monkeys with a monkey wrench. Delicious.
Eternal Darkness (GC)
Especially that bit where you check the bath and…
The insanity effect was superb, like your arm falling off randomly.
Played it with the curtains closed during a between-jobs period. Had a minor heart attack when my girlfriend unlocked the front door.
Eternal Darkness is about the only game that has ever caused me to switch off the console and fling the curtains open in sheer pant-filling terror.
Really, really jumpy stuff. Fantastic Halloweeny use of sound and the 'You're going mental, mate!' sanity effects.
I thought the scariest thing was being told my save game had been deleted. Bastard sanity effects
Resident Evil series (Various)
Resident Evil, when the dogs jump through the window, and the Hunter is first introduced.
Resi 1. I'd already seen one of those big rock-hard guys drop off the helicopter, so I knew what was coming... But I could hear footsteps for what seemed like *ages*. So I decided to peep round the corner to see what was going on... WHACK!! EEK! Massive fist comes round the corner with one of those guys on the end of it.
Resident Evil 2 . Bastard lickers and giant spiders.
RE2 was best for jumps. We used to play it as a team, me and some pals, and somehow the stomach lurching into your throat was magnified when other people in the room were experiencing it too.
Silent Hill series (Various)
I've always found the Silent Hill series to be 'more scary' than Resident Evil . The slowly building madness works better for me than the ‘jumping out from behind closed doors' approach. My favourite 'scary moment' is in Silent Hill 3 , where you enter a room with a sink and a mirror, and if you look closely, you see the sink in the reflection start to fill with blood, and it overflows and the walls get covered in blood, and then when the walls are full of blood, the blood comes through the mirror and starts to fill your room with blood and...
Silent Hill 2 was a tad dull at points, with all the wandering and the clunky controls and stuff, but for me it had the single best storyline of any game I've played in my life. It really messed my head up for a couple of days after playing.
Silent Hill 2 is the scariest game I have ever played. I remember reading about how scary it was to play in some mag and thought, yeah? I turned off the lights, plugged in the headphones and off I went... The session lasted about half on hour before I was a nervous wreck. The game got returned to the shop the next day.
The controls, combat, puzzles and all the aimless wandering around in the fog were the true horror in Silent Hill . Having to walk around a 1ft-high wall instead of being able to hop over it was just ridiculous. It's full of inconsistencies like that which ruin the illusion.
Alien Resurrection (PS1)
There are plenty of decent Alien games (PC and Jaguar spring to mind) but this is the only game to get the face-huggers right. Level 3, I think it is. You hear them scuttling around, just out of view… Next thing you know they're flying through the air, right at your head, making contact with a sickening squelch, and giving you the sickest first-person close-up of an Alien stuck to your head imaginable. The worst thing is, you're not dead. You've got to run around, trying to find a medi-kit or something to get rid of it, with a timer ticking away.
Fatal Frame/Project Zero 1&2 (PS2)
Horribly unsettling and scary games. The sound particularly helps raise the level of tension and uneasiness. My wife was in the bedroom just now playing Fatal Frame. I was out in the living room reading. All I heard was:
"Jesus Christ! What the fuck was that?"
She'd finished playing Fatal Frame and was sitting out in the living room. All of a sudden, my little boy's door creaked open and he wandered out to go to the toilet. Now, he NEVER does that. He always shouts for one of us to take him. This was the first time he'd ever done that. My wife almost exploded with fright.
I was too scared to carry on playing Project Zero and had to take it back after two evening's play. I kind of realised that there's a real thrill in being scared, but I just wasn't enjoying being so edgy all the time. I'd still love to know what happens in it. I'll have to get some pals over and play in a group so we can hold hands.
3D Monster Maze (ZX81)
A pterodactyl, T-Rex, elephant and… pig thing chasing you round a maze. Relentless. Shit me up a treat. Simple pleasures.
Rescue On Fractalus (Atari 800)
First game that ever made me jump when the Jaggi attacks your ship!
Ultima V (C64)
You get captured in Blackthorn's castle and one of your friends and party members is gonna die unless you grass up the resistance. The effect of seeing your mate sliced in half and permanently being erased from the disk belied the crudeness of the graphics. Nasty.
Dungeon Master (Atari ST)
Especially those bloody mummies sneaking up on you and the "hssssssk" sound they make.
Legend Of Zelda - Majora's Mask (N64)
There's a bit where you visit a house that looks like an old gramophone in which lives a cute little girl who keeps the door locked. When you get inside and open a cupboard, her zombiefied father attacks you! Man, that made me jump.
TimeSplitters 2 (PS2)
The first level - when you activate the device and all the dead come back to life. I nearly cacked my pants.
The introduction of the Flood. So maybe I am a pussy, but it gave me the chills.
Zombies Ate My Neighbours (SNES)
Utterly brilliant. The bits where the almost invulnerable Jason-esque axemen come after you, hacking through hedges, is quite terrifying. Until you transform into the beast of course, and start punching the crap out of them. Beautiful.
I was on the axemen level just the other night. I threw down a clown as a decoy and it made that manic laughing sound as they all homed in on it, hacking it to pieces. I was pissing myself with laughter.
Alien vs Predator (Jaguar)
The first time you're walking around (as a marine) and in an empty corridor you hear the deep "Anytime…" from a nearby Predator.
Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O'Fun (C64)
Just the cover art.
So terrifying that my mother took the box away from me after my prolongued campaign to mentally scar my little sister
That motion detector. Jeez that scared the willies out of me.
Aliens vs Predator 2 (PC)
Marine mission, where there's pretty much nothing to shoot at for the entire first 20 minuites. But because you know the history and genre you're playing, anything moves and you nervily try to shoot it. Scariest moment, though: activating the security station switch. Your radio goes crazy as your teammates start to encounter the Alien drones you've just woken up. You turn to run and get out of there and your motion detector goes ballistic. The most frantic, adrenaline-filled five minutes of gameplay.
As soon as the Sinistar was built you knew it would be after you and it was time to “Run Coward!”. The scream still gives me the shivers.
Flashback/Another World (Amiga)
Both of these had a genuinely creepy vibe, plus some good kickers such as being chased down a corridor by an obviously faster alien.
Tomb Raider (PS1)
Had its moments. The bit with the T-Rex lumbering out of the darkness… And, as I'm not very good with heights, most of the climbing stuff scared me stupid.
Plenty of Code Brown moments. All nice, flowing music, gentle colours, exploring and puzzling things out, open a door and SCREEEEWIDDLEIDDLE! A fucking great spider suddenly hijacks the SID and kills you through the face.
Dammit yes. Or going round a corner and running right into a fucking ghost. I don't know which heart-rate was faster, the on-screen one or my own.
Very cool horror themed game like Doom . Firing flares at the evil cultists was gruesome. They run around on fire screaming, “Aaargh! It burns! It burns!!!”
"I Live… Again!"
Return To Castle Wolfenstein (PC)
The bit before the last ‘castle' level, where you're wandering up some stairs and a severed head comes bouncing down. Lovely.
King Tut (VIC-20)
This used to really shit me up. You had a lantern, and you had to plunder treasure whilst avoiding this huuuuge spider.
And then your lantern went out.
Championship Manager (PC)
The horror. The horror. I must not go back to that dark place.
The noise of a door opening somewhere... Uh oh… And then the AARGH! moment when you open a door and there's a big Nazi with 2 chain-guns on the other side.
Not Very Scary
Go To Hell (Spectrum)
Friday The 13 th (C64)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Atari 2600)
“The only scary thing about Texas Chainsaw Massacre is that we used to play games like that.”
The original, deeply shittifying Japanese version. Not this stupid, shit, cockey-dubbed, rubbishly retitled one.
Clive Barker's Undying (PC)
Elvira I: Mistress of the Dark (Amiga)
Elvira II: The Jaws of Cerberus (Amiga)
Elvira III: The Unpleasantness Of Hair-Crimpers (Amiga)
Doom III (PC)
Splatterhouse ( Mega Drive )
Shadow of the Comet (PC)
Fright Night (Amiga)
Realms Of The Haunting (PC)
The Evil Dead (BBC Micro)
Alone In The Dark (PC)
Personal Nightmare (Amiga)
House Of The Dead (Arcade/Dreamcast)
The Typing Of The Dead (PC)
Carnevil ( Arcade )
Forbidden Forest series (C64)
Asteroids by Simon Munnery (VIC-20)
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