The lights are on
Take a seat stranger. The Internet gets dangerous around this time of year, so stay awhile and listen. A few of us have hunkered down together to share some of our scariest and most spine tingling tales. Grab some hot cocoa and a flashlight; you don't want to be left in the dark.
The 7th Guest (1993)I was a big fan of The 7th Guest back when it first came out. There wasn't anything like it at the time, and it singlehandedly sold me on the then-novel idea of CD-ROM gaming. Suddenly, entire worlds of voiceover narration and fully animated graphics were possible. It was a big deal in 1993.
Stauff's mansion wasn't really all that spooky. There were flashes of creepiness throughout, but it was more silly than scary – with the exception of one sequences. One of the rooms was filled with a variety of paintings, including a representation of a young boy. When you clicked on the boy, he started talking. (Click here for the video, and jump to the 4:50 mark.) It is ridiculously tame now (and it probably was then, too, to be honest), but something about the kid's processed voice and his transformation took me by surprise. I didn't jump out of my seat or lose any sleep over it, but it was a moment that filled me with revulsion. It was a total sense that something was very wrong with what was happening. It's stuck with me to this day, even as I laugh about it now.
Slender (2012)Conan O'Brien wasn't a big fan of Slender: The Eight Pages, but I have a special appreciation for the indie horror experiment. When the game first released last year as Slender, a few people around the office started talking about it in hushed voices. I heard about it in passing, but I didn't know much about the game other than the fact that it revolved around the invented Slender Man lore.
A few evenings later, Tim Turi knocked on my bedroom door (we're roommates, so that wasn't the creepy part) and asked me if I checked out Slender yet? I said "No," and he said, "Ah man, it's really cool, come check it out." However, after I had sat down in front of his computer, he quickly excused himself to "make a phone call." I started up the game and could immediately tell that it wasn't the kind of game you wanted to play alone in a dark room. Two seconds later, my phone buzzed as @TimTuri tweeted about how he had just left me alone in a room with Slender, and I had no idea what I was in for. That tweet might have tipped me off more that Tim wanted, but Slender was no less horrifying.
Half an hour later, when Tim returned, I was running through the forest screaming as I scrambled to find a third page. We played a few more rounds of the game that night, and then I went off to dream of a lanky man, obscured by tree limbs. Slender: The Eight Pages isn't much of a game, but it is a cool horror experience, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to pull a prank their friends. Just don't tweet about it after you abandon them in a room with the game.
Silent Hill 2 (2001)My first experience with the Silent Hill series was with James Sunderland and his journey to find his deceased wife in the mysterious town. I knew nothing about the series, and thankfully entered the game with no prior knowledge or expectations – and it was terrifying. It wasn’t Pyramid Head that gave me the greatest scare, as was the case with most players, but rather a moment that occurs much later. The first part of the game has James exploring the town and abandoned apartments and a hospital, but as you move forward, deeper into Silent Hill, you eventually make your way underground to explore the labyrinth.
Maybe it is my own claustrophobic fears that made the whole area unsettling, but something about going underground when above-ground was scary enough on its own made the whole experience unsettling. After a long, intimidating flight of stairs and a handful of creepy boss battles, you come across a room with a number of graves. There are tombstones all with shallow, empty graves, but there is one that is clearly darker and deeper than the rest. Entering the grave is the only way to progress, and the tombstone at its head reads, “James Sunderland.”
It wasn’t a jump scare, or a terrifying monster. It was a quiet moment in an underground graveyard where you have to make the decision that if you want to move forward, you have to walk into your own grave. Through all my experiences with Silent Hill after playing two, that is the moment that has stuck with me the most.
Dino Crisis (1999)When I was growing up, it was difficult getting any scary game past the violent video game embargo enforced by my parents. Resident Evil was promptly returned to the video store. The opening cutscene from Diablo quickly caused that PC role-playing game to be uninstalled. Eventually, my brothers got older, my parents became a little more relaxed, and the video game Dino Crisis appeared under the Christmas tree.
In an early level, a hallway exists where one wall is glass. You walk down the hallway and nothing happens. After some trigger, that hallway becomes a deathtrap with a raptor between you and the exit. Of course, when the raptor first breaks through the glass, the pivotal first few seconds are spent jumping out of your skin and spamming random buttons. It amazed me how I could unlearn every control in the game in that fraction of a second. I would spend hours avoiding this hallway. If I ever needed to cross it, I would back track, save, and hold down the run button in a terror-filled sprint for the exit. Good times.
The pure terror of playing this game (and watching it being played) had something to do with the embargo on violent games that my parents had once put in place, because horror games had not scared me previously. It didn’t help that I was an avid fan of Jurassic Park and everything dinosaur related. I knew how bad humans fared against dinosaurs, and for the first time I was placed in that unfortunate situation.
What about you stranger? What's the scariest adventure you've ever had while playing a game?
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