It’s Halloween on Thursday and we all know what the majority of gamers will be doing: turning off the lights and picking up the controller for a jump-scare-filled horror title. I like to mix things up a bit here though. For example, last October I made my other-half watch trailers for the worst entries in the genre according to Steam – and we’re still scarred from the experience.
For this Halloween, I’m once again offering something a little different. Forget about those horror games considered to be the most frightening: this year I’m looking at releases outside of the genre that still manage to spook the pants off of us, yet weren’t actually designed to be scary. Several of my blogging friends were willing to get in on the action and reveal their gaming weaknesses, so here are the titles that got the hair standing up on the back of their necks.
If you haven’t yet played any of the following games and intend to do so, I’d recommend navigating away from this post now and coming back later. There are some spoilers in the following paragraphs.
@LaterLevels The rattle of chains in Persona 4 and Persona 3. Yeah I am in no way prepared to battle the reaper...—
🎃 PumpKhinjarsi 🎃 (@Khinjarsi_) October 11, 2019
“In Far Cry 3, just like other Far Cry games, you’d need to ‘collect’ animal skins in order to be able to upgrade things like pouch storage. One of the better upgrades required you to kill sharks. Most of the time you could see the sharks from land so you’d know if they were out there waiting for you. What I used to do was stand in the shallows and shoot arrows at them until they were dead, then I’d wade in to the water and quickly claim my prize. I specifically remember one occasion where I’d been shooting at a shark and I finally saw it go limp and start to sink, I quickly swam out to grab and noticed that I was in an area that was actually pretty deep, and the shark was sinking fast. Utter panic came across me as I scrambled to grab it (I wasn’t letting it get away, I’d worked too hard), but it was just sinking and sinking in to the dark murky depths and I bottled it, I quickly turned around and swam as fast as I could back to the shore all whilst feeling terrified that there was a shark following me about to bite my behind (there wasn’t). It was at that moment I decided I didn’t need any upgrades that required shark skin.”
“Honestly, I have a hard time coming up with an example. I think perhaps due to me playing so many horror games and me being a reviewer, I can always detach myself and look at it from a gameplay standpoint or design decision. I totally didn’t get scared of the ghost in Freddi Fish 2 when I was younger, naaaaahhhh…”
“The opening of Gone Home has all the makings of a horror situation: a thunderstorm, an abandoned house, rooms shrouded in darkness and many niggling questions. As a 1990s teenager who used to watch The X-Files and mess around with ghost stories, the scene in the living room with the flickering television felt all too familiar. And that moment when you have to go down into the basement – I was sure something would be waiting there for me. There’s nothing scary within the game but it makes me feel as though I’m being followed.”
Halloween Rules (@adventure_rules) October 09, 2019
“My other-half cannot deal with being chased. By anything. Auto-scrolling levels in Mario, the mosquito thing in Rayman, anything that pressures you to move quickly is just immediately terrifying to her. She leapt out of her skin the other day in Grand Theft Auto V when she was hiding from the cops and one just suddenly showed up right behind her!”
“Yakuza Kiwami has a system called Majima Everywhere. After a certain point in the story, Goro Majima will will roam the streets looking for you so he can fight. There are times when he will just pop up out of nowhere like a inside bin or from a manhole cover. You can get a detector that gives out a noise when Majima is near by. Whilst this is helpful, the noise fills me with dread everytime it goes off because it doesn’t tell me exactly where he is. So now I know he’s near but where he is exactly I don’t, which is terrifying.”
“Night in the Woods has a few moments like that. The least spoilery one is when Bea runs away from a college party and Mae has to chase her down the dark alleys. It’s kind of intense for an otherwise not intense game.”
@LaterLevels Treasures of the Deep (PS1) basically the whole game because of creatures in the deep sea. Awesome game though for the time!—
Phil (@ll__Phil) October 11, 2019
“At some point in Red Dead Redemption 2 you will end up in the Bayou Nwa, not far from the esteemed city of Saint Denis (reminiscent of real life New Orleans in Louisiana). Here at one point I was doing some simple hunting for a perfect alligator pelt to upgrade my camp, where around early evening with some heavy fog coming in from the North on the road I suddenly see the sad visage of a person hanging from a tree. What’s weird about this is that while the person is clearly gone from this world, he has some strange carvings on his body. Being the curious adventurer I am, I jump of my horse Roach (yes, all my rides are called Roach in games, thank The Witcher) and walk up to investigate.
“As I look closer to at the body, the camera being close enough I don’t think much else other than how weird it is out here in the Bayou. Turning around is when the scare hits me. With no sound whatsoever, three men had walked up behind me all wearing torn, tattered clothes and a mixture of mud with white paint. Machetes in hands, they still without saying a word begin walking towards me clearly showing what their intentions are. I quickly drew my volcanic pistol and with the use of Dead Eye, shot all three before running off to Roach, riding out of the swamp faster than the wind could carry me.
“The Night Folk are a scary group and I do not look forward to meeting them again. As they are looking to maybe be practitioners of Voodoo that can have dire consequences of the ones they aim it at.”
“Dragon Age II has one of the most horrifying events I’ve stumbled across in a non-horror game… Basically, a Blood Mage serial killer decides he wants to get his dead wife back. To do this, he kills off a bunch of women and combines their body parts into a Frankenstein-like creation. The final piece? Leandra’s (Hawke’s mom) head. Hawke at least gets a few parting words with what’s left of her (or his) poor mom, after murdering that twisted freak.”
Athena Veta (@TheAmbiGamer) October 09, 2019
“One moment that always gives me shivers is in the otherwise nature-tastic bizzare-fest Ecco the Dolphin for the Sega Mega Drive. I guess it’s just one of those sections that freaked me out as a child and for some reason stuck around into adulthood. For those not familiar with Ecco, it’s a game that’s filled with plenty of ‘scary’ elements; sharks, spider crabs, octopi. But nothing makes me want to get in and get out as much as the moment when you meet ‘Big Blue’: a huge blue whale swimming deep under the polar ice-cap in the Cold Water stage. Weirdly though ol’ Blue himself is a friendly character that Ecco has travelled the ocean to see, but something about that huge whale sprite floating there under the ice makes me shudder every time. Unlike the rest of the stage, the scale of Ol’ Blue-features really gives the impression that the plain blue background isn’t just a colour, but rather an expanse of water devoid of features stretching on and on. It’s like stepping in to a really big room and suddenly being aware of how much space there is around you… *shudders* I’m going to stop talking about it now.”
“Thinking about the scariest game I’ve played which shouldn’t be scary, my choice feels like a strange one. The fear was real, the tension, the screaming. Five seconds into a YouTube video, to remind myself of what I was writing about, this was all it took to bring it all back. ‘Wanna play Rayman?’ I would ask the wife. ‘NO, NO I DON’T’ would be the reply.
“Rayman Origins shouldn’t be scary, but it was. In fact it still is, we can’t go back, even after eight years. My wife and I enjoyed this game on the PS3 when it released, right up until we started trying to complete the Treasure Chase challenges, which are peppered throughout. These involve running at high speed, dodging all sorts of obstacles, just catch up with a treasure chest and claim the treasure. Simple, right?
“Small children are supposed to be able to do this!” I would scream as we got so close to the end of the levels, on more than one occasion. If it wasn’t me plunging to my doom, it was the wife. We were also frequently responsible for the others demise! So confident was she that I was to blame for our suffering, she tried to do them on her own and still failed, screaming all the way, as I looked on aghast! I recently set up her dust coated Wii in the living room. Curious about the Rayman games she owned before we met, I asked her to play Raving Rabbids for me. I will never forget the look in her eyes at the mere mention of Rayman.”
So is this post a celebration of how many effort developers put into the atmosphere and feelings of their games, or our cowardice? You decide! And if you’re in the mood for more scary-not-scary gaming moments, then check out this great post by Athena over at AmbiGaming. Whatever you do for Halloween this week, I hope you have a spooky time – and tell us about your own freaky gaming moments in the comments below.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.