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It’s spooky season again, which means you’re probably carving pumpkins, hoarding candy, committing petty acts of vandalism, and casually worshiping Satan. Well put down that spray paint and sacrificial dagger because it’s time for our eerie query:
What is your scariest game experience?
Bryan “Hellraiser” Heraghty
I’ve played a decent number of horror games, but I’ll never forget the feeling of dread I felt in Silent Hill 2 whenever Pyramid Head would appear. The stand out moment of subtle horror came about 3/4 of the way through the game, near the end of the hospital level. Walking through zigzagging corridors, you would see him gaining on you with every turn. No music, barely a sound. Just the sight of his awful form coming for you. It was eerie and effective.
“Count” Andrew Bennett
For me, my scariest game experience is the Killer Croc segment from Batman: Arkham Asylum. While the rest of the game has some pretty fearsome moments (such as the final Scarecrow battle), Croc’s time in the spotlight still haunts me to this day. You’re in a sewer. An incredibly dark sewer that’s located underneath an asylum. You’re in a race against time to combat Poison Ivy, but you’re not the hunter. You’re being hunted by a massive beast that can not be taken down for good. The atmosphere is genuinely scary, and trying to rush through the area with a zip line will often result in death when you least expect it – I learned that the hard way, and fell out of my seat.
Dan “Wolfen” Worcester
I think my one of scariest gaming experiences happened when I was a young teenager. On Tucows, there’s a Chex Quest total conversion mod for The Ultimate Doom, for people who don’t have the original CD and a computer that can somehow run it. The problem is that some assets were left over from Doom, such as the last two episodes and some of the monsters. After playing through the first episode a few times (except for the last level because it always crashed) I got a bit tired of playing the same levels and went to try one of the later episodes. The first thing I noticed was how bizarre the textures were. A few of them were left over from Doom, and the ones from Chex Quest really didn’t fit with the surfaces they were supposed to represent. So I’m walking around, firing my laser remote at sentient gobs of green slime that looked like they came from a space opera pulp story. Then a lost soul, this flying skull with flames trailing out of its mouth, rushes at me. After struggling to keep firing at it without getting killed, I finally managed to defeat it. But instead of being teleported away like the flemoids, it exploded in a violent ball of fire. But that was nothing compared to what I was up for next. I fought off a couple more of those lost souls as I searched the map, and I soon crossed paths with a cacodemon. It’s this huge ball of red flesh with a single green eye in the middle of its head, and it spits fireballs at you. It wasn’t too difficult to beat, as it’s fairly slow and the fireballs that it shoots aren’t any faster than the ones from the imps; it just takes a lot more shots to bring it down. When it dies, it collapses in on itself and lets out a frightening moan. The way the cartoonish tone clashed with the sights from Doom was already off-putting, but the sight of the cacodemon’s demise really freaked me out at the time.
“Spooky” Stephen Snook
When I was a kid I had an irrational fear of in-game deaths. Luckily for me I also had an asshole older brother. He would play Super Mario 64, and intentionally drown Mario because he knew I would run screaming down the hall in terror. The most recent scary experience I’ve had is with the Silent Hill playable teaser, and the Clock Tower series.
Travis “Damien” Donnell
Getting a new title was pretty rare for me when I was younger, so when I got the then just released Resident Evil for my birthday, it was pretty exciting. There had been thunderstorms going on all day, so when I finally settled in to play it that evening with my younger sister, who wanted to watch despite the “it’s scary” warning, the mood was already set. By the time we made it through the opening and the first zombie, we were already on edge, and then the dogs jumped through the window during a huge crash from the storm outside. In what must have looked like a scene from Scooby Doo, I threw the controller and my sister and I screamed and embraced, shrinking back from the TV. Though I haven’t since had a reaction as strong, later scare mentions include Clock Tower, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School, and Dragon’s Dogma, a game that perfectly captures the uncertainty of night.
“Candyman” Cary Brounley
I have mild asthma and chronic bronchitis. I get random bouts of bronchitis about twice a year, and the occasional upper respiratory infection. I didn’t mind getting sick when I was younger because it meant I got to miss school for a week and play video games. During one week of hocking yellow loogies in the sink I was playing an emulated version of the original Silent Hill on my computer. I had hung quilts over my windows to make my room as dark as possible to fully engross myself in the experience, and had spent the past few days in a state of building tension. One of my friends was sick as well (or had played hooky, I can’t remember exactly) and called me to talk. I was only half paying attention to both the game and the conversation, putting my mind in a very vulnerable state. In game I had come into a locker room, and as any Silent Hill player would do I planned to ransack each locker for equipment. One was shaking fiercely, as if something on the inside were trying to break its way out. A cutscene began, focusing in on the rattling locker. I got my hopes up for something exciting to happen. The blood soaked locker was empty. I expressed my disappointment to my friend, and walked away from the locker, only to have another crash open. A copse toppled out, and I simultaneously toppled out of my chair, letting out a shriek of panic and colliding with my blue carpeted floor. When I regained my breath and picked up the phone my friend told me she thought I had been murdered. This marked the start of me falling out of chairs while I play horror games.
Keith “Elm Street” Elwood
Playing through the original F.E.A.R. or Crysis were both pretty damn scary experiences. The fear I experienced in both of those games only heightened the level of enjoyment I had in blasting through baddies. I think my fondest memory of the original F.E.A.R. was that level where you are inserted via Blackhawk helicopter onto the roof of the skyscraper you are tasked with clearing out. It was both tense and more than a little scary at the time because I didn’t quite know what I was going to go into. As a side note, that game’s main character is where I took my first nickname from that I began using for online shooters, The Pointman. If, for whatever reason, you have never experienced F.E.A.R., you should go and fix that ASAP. Crysis on the other hand creeped me out just because that giant alien monster thing was scary as all hell.
“Slender” Andrew Stretch
My scariest game memory was from the original F.E.A.R. My friend let me borrow his copy of it way back when I was still in middle school and I think I barely got half way through the game. I never used to watch horror movies and even the smallest of jump scares would make me shout. Turning the corner in F.E.A.R. to see Alma rush towards you and disappear still sticks to my mind. Thankfully I’ve gotten a lot better about my jump scares since then!
“Deadite” Tabitha Dickerson
In Alien Vs Predator 2, I was doing the marine campaign and I had only a few rounds left in my rifle. I was in an are infested by Xenos, turned into a nest and the atmosphere was really oppressive and dark. Everything was pitch black except for my flashlight. My motion detector was telling me nearby there was a Xeno around the corner waiting for me. It kept bleeping at me. I must have saved about 6 or 7 times with the f5 button by this point, just sitting there waiting for it to come and attack me. It didn’t. I waited 5 minutes my gun at the ready, making sure my flashlight was recharged. I was sweating and finally decided to go and confront the beast. All my senses were sharpened, I had full flashlight and I reloaded my last magazine into my rifle, forfeiting the few bullets from the last so I was prepared. Slowly I crept up to the area where the creature was, the motion detector still flashing. I got to the area finally, and found after all this that the detector was picking up a malfunctioning door. I had to laugh, so as not to cry. I’ve since had that experience topped while playing Alien Isolation though. That game is so good.
Ben “Bates” Kuyt
My scariest game experience was easily the first time I played Resident Evil 4. I was 10 when this game came out, and I played it in October, and so many people I knew said this game was really good. So I decided that next time I would rent a game, Resident Evil 4 would be the game I got. So I go up to BlockBuster, go over to the Gamecube section, and get the only copy of the game that was there. Go home, and put the game in. I get into the game, sitting two feet away from the TV, and then I hear probably the scariest sound of my childhood; the chainsaw. I was 10. Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the scariest movie I’d ever seen. And when I first heard that chainsaw, I looked at my brother on the other couch and went “Oh shit!”. I go out of the house I was in, open the door, and guess who’s coming towards me? Chainsaw baghead man. I forget all about the other villagers and just target him. I’m shooting his head, his body, everything, but he won’t drop. And then he gets close enough, and lifts that chainsaw over his head, and puts it into his neck. My jaw was on the floor. I had never seen that in a video game! Leon Kennedy’s head slumped off his body after a blood curdling scream. And I will never forget it. I stopped playing for the night there.
“The Thing” Todd Wohling
I’m sitting in my dorm room on a Friday night around Halloween long after dark playing the original Resident Evil. As was tradition in the dorms, I left the door to the hallway open so people could come in and out as they pleased. All the lights in the room are off, and I’m playing on a big screen TV from a chair underneath a lofted bed. I’m doing fine with “survival horror” until the point that the spider drops down from the ceiling. I’m naturally suspicious of anything with more than 4 legs to begin with, but the combination of the room ambiance, immersion, and spiders dropping from the ceiling made me shout so loudly with surprise that 4 different people came to check on me to see if I was okay.
Patrick “Pennywise” Perrault
My scariest gaming experience is when I tried to play Diablo back in the early 2000’s. I was only around 10 years old at the time, and the game completely sucked me in and spat me back out. I remember looking at the CD case and thinking “this looks neat” and starting a new game as soon as I convinced my Dad that I could handle it. Well, as soon as I wandered out of the town and into the dungeons below, I literally started shaking. The game’s atmosphere was oppressive, and I’d never seen anything like it before. I was terrified about being cornered, and I would jump whenever I saw a monster appear around a corner. I literally lasted about an hour or so before I had to stop. If there is one thing I truly miss while playing Diablo 3, it’s missing the ‘dark’ feeling that Diablo 1 (and to a lesser extent Diablo 2) had in spades.
Do you have a controller gripping tale of terror of your own? Tell us about it in the comments!