Video games hold many forms of entertainment like adventures, comedy and mind exercises like puzzles. With the unique interaction video games offer, the pleasure had from them is an active one as opposed to a passive participation of a movie. The decisions made feel heavier, the hurdles overcome feel more triumphant and of course, the terror felt in a horror game is more real when the player has to see what is around the corner. In keeping with this week’s theme, a list of the scariest video games seems to be in order.
“Condemned: Criminal Origins,” a game from 2005, did not have much going for it in terms of a story or voice acting. However, it caught the essence of feeling in danger. Run-of-the-mill horror games tend to give the player creepy enemies and dark rooms but offer them enough weapons and ammunition to fund a small army. “Condemned” gives just enough equipment to make it through the current situation. In fact, a cool feature of the game was the absence of an ammo count. Instead, if the player held the reload button, the character would pull his clip out and look at it, letting the player count the amount of bullets left in the clip. That’s right, one clip. That’s what the game offered. Once defensive measures are taken away, a game reaches a whole new level of scary.
“Amnesia: The Dark Descent,” a game many people know of thanks to “Humble Indie Bundle 5,” focuses on fear of the unknown. It isn’t until a good hour into the game that the enemy of the game is even present on-screen. But sounds made by the enemy, accompanied by the character’s panic, are enough to shake even a veteran to the game. The player character of the game is supposed to be frail and terrified and the game uses visual effects to allude to his sanity. At one point the player walks down a long, narrow hallway, hearing a creaking noise coming from around the corner at the end. As the game set the pace already, players are expected to creep slowly during this point. The player’s vision blurs and pulses, making the walls look like they are closing in on the character, simulating claustrophobia.
Another game in a similar vein is “Slender,” a free horror game online. The interesting thing about this game is the origin of the antagonist, the Slender Man. He is actually the creation of a “Something Awful” forum post for a photo-editing contest in 2009. A user added a tall, pale figure in the background of the pictures, having no explanation of who or what it was and it eventually expanded to forums all over the Internet. Fast-forward to 2012, an indie developer took the creative common enemy of the Internet and put him in a game. Following his origins, the game offers no background as to why the player is doing what they do or why the Slender Man is after them.
Speaking of unexplained terror, “Eternal Darkness” for the Nintendo GameCube holds the title for the most surreal kind of scariness. Most games scare the player within the confines of the game itself, but “Eternal Darkness” was apparently not satisfied with that alone. The player would play the game just like any other, except strange things would happen. For example a volume bar turning all the way down, as if somebody sat on the remote, or saved files pretending to be corrupt upon resuming a game. In another instance the character’s head falls off for no reason, yet he doesn’t die and keeps walking where the player tells him. Suffice it to say, this game scares in a very unique way and is personally one of my most feared games ever.
None of these games, however, would be the same if it weren’t for “Resident Evil” in 1996. While it wasn’t the first horror game published, it is thought of as the granddaddy of them all. The series has taken a joyride away from its roots, but the original is still shocking to this day. With limited equipment, jump-out moments and a creepy atmosphere, this game brought the genre to what it is today. “Resident Evil” was definitely the game that brought people to the horror genre, making it more popular than ever and if anything, the game should be praised for that.
For a horrifying experience, these games are definitely on the “must play” list. None of them are recommended for the faint of heart, but for thrill seekers they are guaranteed to give the scary gameplay that is expected… Or not expected.
By: Steven Knauer