With Halloween we wanted to review which games really made us cringe in fear... until we realized that it's not really about the games is it?
Sure there are titles that make us wonder if we're really alone at midnight when we decide to load up Siren purely to torture ourselves, but it's more about those moments that give us that horror-like feeling. That gaming sequences that get your blood pumping, make you feel uncomfortable and have you clenching the controller waiting for it to end one way another.
That's the real spirit of Halloween, and if we could pull together an old school demo disc of the most anxiety filled moments of gaming then this would be our all star cast.
This feature was written by Adam Ma and Spencer Pressly
Metal Gear Solid 3's The End Sniper Battle (Spencer)
This is the definition of something that pulls you into a game and doesn't let go. I had been so hooked playing all of Snake Eater and had been curious how the boss fighter against the 100 year old sniper would go.
The battle starts not with a bang, but with the quiet sounds coming from the forest and you are stuck wondering what to do. This is because unlike most battles, you aren't sure what to do right away. In this fight you have to become a sniper and that is the only way you can take The End down. You had to sneak, track, and shoot him all over the three large areas and ended up becoming one of the scariest things I have ever had to do in any game.
Sadly once you finish this battle a couple of times and discover what you have to do, this becomes less scary, but still one of the best boss fights in a any video game.
Dead Space 2's Eye Exam (Adam)
It's strange how despite years of decapitation, disembowelment and general ultra-violence we're put through, there are still things that make me squeamish. Perhaps it's just the precision of the needle unobstructed by gore that strikes a nerve, or maybe it's because having poked myself in the eye a few times in my life I can understand a fraction of the potential pain.
Dead Space 2's eye examination was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I've ever had in gaming. Although overall the Dead Space formula is a little predictable the few rare gems like this remind me that there are still some moments in modern horror gaming that can make my stomach turn.
Surviving In Demon/Dark Soul (Spencer)
The Souls games are notorious for being some of the most difficult and unforgiving games out there. This is what makes them so popular and also infinitely scary. Since you not only loss all of your humanity and souls when you die, this makes the game become more about surviving then exploring sometimes.
Exploring offers new weapons and loot, but also increases the chance for something to just brutally kill you leading to all of your work staying with your now dead corpse. With the chance of getting all of your souls back by returning to where you died tempting you leads to the moment of horror when you run off a cliff you didn't see right next to your soul. This is not something special some players will experience and is something that happens to anyone who plays so PREPARE TO DIE!
Heavy Rain's Lizard Trial (Adam)
There's something about being forced to maim yourself that really leaves an impact in a story, and no game handled that kind of anxiety and pressure like Heavy Rain did. Stepping back from the story aspect of the scene and taking it from a gaming perspective the test was fairly easy - get a tool to cut a piece of your finger off. No hard riddles, no strange puzzles, just pretty straightforward dismemberment.
What made the entire sequence so deep was watching Ethan struggle with the choice. Being forced to pick the tool, to heat up the iron, to sit down and stare at your hand before making the choice was an incredible psychological trip.
I lament that the entire experience did not last nearly as long, nor was any other moment in the game nearly as memorable (though Madison's dream sequence at the start of the game comes in close second), but the Lizard trial does encompass much of what mainstream horror games have decided to cast aside in place of more popular action-oriented mechanics.
Visiting Silent Hill (Spencer)
Silent Hill is not just simple a scary place, it is a town that makes you really take a long and usually look at yourself. The creatures that inhabit the town in each game are all different, but still thought provoking none the less.
In my opinion each game succeeds in showing different ways how Silent Hill affects the characters you play. The stories are unlike anything your use to and the different endings make you wonder what really happened.
If you have never taken a trip to Silent Hill and want to experience a terror unlike any other game out there, play the Silent Hill games immanently.
F.E.A.R.: Alma, the blood hallway and ghosts not giving a damn about bullets (Adam)
Maybe F.E.A.R. isn't the deepest series when we discuss scary moments. There's no real level of psychological torture, the 'haunted spirit' style events are more about spooky lighting and the occasional ambient sound, and most of the game involves fighting paramilitary troops or walking
What F.E.A.R. does great is force players to ask themselves what's even real to begin with, and when the bullets start flying not knowing if what you're shooting at is even vulnerable to bullets adds a whole new level of action.
Not knowing if the interactive cutscenes are actually just traps or not means that players know they gain nothing from running, instead making combat itself the source of anxiety. In an industry filled with cutscenes and mechanics dedicated to hiding from villains being afraid of something even when you have a rocket launcher is a pretty big deal.
Call Of Duty Black Ops Zombies Mode (Spencer)
Much like Metal Gear Solid 3, you wouldn't think that there is a single scary moment in a Call of Duty game. However, when you add some zombies, that changes right away.
Playing Zombies to me is one of the most scary and fun experiences I can have with a video game. Making sure everyone is working together and keeping your rooms all boarded up can lead to those tense moments when the zombies come through.
Almost all of my games end up becoming so unfocused and crazy with players getting chased after zombies all over the place. Running out of ammo or just being stuck with a crappy gun from the mysterious leads to you being scared out of your mind until you eventually become a zombies next meal.
Half Life 2's Ravenholm (Adam)
Silent Hill is a pretty scary town, but that's because it's a town haunted by the tortured spirits of some of the most royally screwed up individuals ever to walk the planet. It's also on some kind of potential supernatural hellmouth, which at least gives it an excuse.
Ravenholm is a little bit of horror tossed into a world of science and advanced technology, starring Half Life's infamous headcrab as the villain of choice. Yes, you know the creatures are coming from around just about every corner. Sure, you know it only takes a couple good hits from a crowbar (or a well placed item from the gravity gun) to get rid of the little buggers, but does it make their screaming any less frightening? Does it make seeing one or more of those creeps jump at you any less creepy? No wonder nobody goes into Ravenholm.
The Walking Dead: Making Decisions (Spencer)
Telltale Games has shown that a game about making choices can not only be black or white , they can also make you rack your brain over what is the least worst decision. That is the thing about the Walking Dead game, there are no good decisions to make. All the choices the game presents to you are all pretty bad, you just need to make a decision that you would make and hope everybody doesn't hate you for it.
The addition of a timer on each answer adds so much pressure to an already tense decision you had to make. This is one of the many reasons why The Walking Dead game has been so successful. Now with episodes five coming out soon, everyone is wondering how this season will end after the already emotionally draining four episodes.
Slender: The Entire Game (Adam)
There's something incredibly endearing about indie games, and though I hate to bring up how awesome a series like Amnesia is, I'm more than happy to shine a bit of spotlight on the free to play Slenderman game.
It's essentially a mini-game that has players wandering through dark woods, an empty home, and otherwise scary looking places that no rational person would ever walk through alone. The goal is to collect eight pages while avoiding Slenderman, who will occasionally appear to drain your sanity away.
It's a little cheesy and is obviously low budget, but very easy to get sucked into. Slender most definitely delivers a good burst of adrenaline that many AAA titles just seem to lack.
What did you think of our ten moments? Did you agree, feel differently, or just have another scary moment in your opinion you feel we left out? Let us know what you think in the comments below and have a very happy Halloween! Also, don't forget to enter our Halloween competition!