Scenes In Videogames That Creep Us Out
Posted on Sunday, September 20 2009 @ 14:16:44 Eastern
A few weeks back I made this blog post about my unusual fear for large, underwater creatures in videogames. The comments section turned into a discussion about what freaked out comrades here on Game Revolution and it emerged my fear wasn't so abnormal. I didn't even expect that entry to reach Vox Pop, so as a sign of appreciation to the community and whoever put it on the front page I made thisthread. Basically, it asked people to say what unusual stuff freaked them out in videogames and now I've made a list based on that forum topic. Feel free to continue the discussion in this entry's comments. Here's a round-up of what you guys suggested. As always, images belong to their respective copyright owners, not me.
1. Wallmasters, Floormasters and Skulltulas (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
As suggested by myself and MattAY. Wallmasters and their grounded counterparts were basically giant, disembodied hands which reacted differently depending on the situation. Wallmasters lurked in the high ceilings of certain dungeons and drop down directly on top of Link if he stayed still too long. Floormasters were little buggers to get rid of, as they'd split into smaller pieces after the main body had been defeated. They weren't as scary as their ceiling-dwelling cousin, which you could only kill if you acted quickly after hearing a 'wooooosh'ing sound whenever you were in a room with one.
Skulltas were huge spiders with skulls on their bodies. They'd block passages and often hid out of site until they were ready to pounce on you. As a child, they never really frightened me as much as Wallmasters did. Link is introduced to these arachnids very early on in the game, so I was possibly desensitised to them by the time I went against the bigger ones. However, the cursed half-spider, half-human family did give me the creeps. I think mainly because they looked so strange and unnatural.
Rakon suggested that Zelda's zombies (ReDeads) also gave him the shivers. I initially agreed, but then I remembered the silliness that happened if you wore the Captain's Hat around them in Majora's Mask.
Ocarina of Time was able to offer a lot of disturbing or shock moments. The graphical direction of series' latest titles has really prevented these from happening since, but surely that's good for an action/adventure game?
2. Deathclaw Sanctuary and Feral Ghouls (Fallout 3)
Feral Ghouls are basically the zombies of the Fallout world. Although Fallout 3introduces you to many Ghouls that still have their sanity, encountering the crazy ones is a tormenting experience. They all live in dark, dank underground places and can be hard to spot. Often they'll be upon you before you've even noticed them, if their screech hasn't given them away. I personally think zombies are an overused concept in horror titles and we've been exposed to them for too long to find them scary. Context is the thing that makes them creepy in Fallout and I think encountering one in the open wouldn't be so bad. Cheers to both used44 and TheDiesel for this suggestion.
Deathclaws are different. keepithowitis says just their Sanctuary scared the **** out of him but I run a mile whenever one spots me out in the Wasteland. Unless you carry an arsenal of heavy weaponry, then getting attacked by one at close range is essentially a guaranteed death. Going into a cave full of them is almost suicide, as you are practically dead if one catches you by surprise. I think the scariest thing about these mobs is their raw power, not their looks.
3. Breaking the Fourth Wall (Metal Gear Solid 2, Eternal Darkness and Batman: Arkham Asylum)
This is something that was suggested by Lars, Ted_Wolff and used44, while being contested by keepithowitis. Breaking the fourth wall is done by a number of games from Pokemon to Banjo-Kazooie, but can be surprisingly scary if pulled off well in the right setting. I recall MGS2's moments being spooky because of the haunting music and aesthetics that accompanied them. Moreover, seeing the Colonel (a bloke you've trusted the entire game) suddenly flickering from being normal to talking skull and back is definitely unnerving, especially if played in the dark. Eternal Darknesspushes the boundaries further, appearing to delete your save files and turn off your TV. Its easy to see why this is scary; when you get too freaked out by a game its easy to turn off the power and go do something else. If that game then starts exerting influence on the real world, then you slowly begin to doubt the limitations of a videogame and feel it could penetrate your life. Possessing such a feeling, if only for a second, intensifies the experience.
"You m-must continue your m-mission!"
4. Atmosphere (Dead Space, Fatal Frame and Condemned)
Although I feel that 'atmosphere' is the most traditional way to build tension in a game, a lot of you guys suggested it in one form or another. Dead Space and Fatal Frame mainly achieve this through throwing a lot of creepy **** at you. A lot of the time you don't even know if you can beat enemies. I remember playing the opening levels of Dead Space at a trade show and I feel the scariest parts consisted of encountering monsters I simply didn't expect. Ergo, I couldn't defeat most of them.Fatal Frame presents a similar situation, as only having a camera to defend yourself with feels extremely insecure. Music also plays a factor in making these intense games, as both its presence and absence from certain scenes makes things extra scary.
Condemned is just crazy. The majority of the game has you running around areas full of insane tramps. Have you ever been on a bus with a really weird drunk who keeps spouting absolute crap to anyone who makes eye contact? Its unnerving and I feel Condemned purposely taps into that very real sort of fear we all experience by encountering such strangers in real life. Well done to Lien for mentioning it.
5. Total Mind****ery (System Shock 2, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and theSilent Hill series)
I figured this would be a fine point to end on. Tykk, madster111 and Lien all mention the above titles. When a game is able to mould your own psyche as it does the virtual world, then you know you're playing a horror. Whether its walls made of blood, computer programs pretending to be God or demons going crazy, these games really know how to make us think 'WTF?'. If played with friends these sorts of scenes provide a good laugh between the bunch of you. If played alone, they can be seriously frightening and detrimental to mental health. While Condemned tries to relate to reality to provide scares, these titles go out of their way to be absurd as possible. When facing such fantastical horrors, zombies from Resident Evil and predictable cutscenes from FEAR just seem mediocre.
Feel free to discuss the above... again!
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