Mark B: It’s hard to whittle down all of the scary things you’ve faced in your gaming career to one specific moment that trumps all others. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of scary stuff, what was the worst? Running from a collapsing skyscraper in Disaster Report? Opening a door in Dead Space only to be grabbed by a tendril and dragged along a corridor to my potential demise? Facing down the Barons of Hell for the first time in Doom?
Actually, no. The scariest thing I can recall didn’t actually happen in a horror game at all.
One of the scariest things I can recall, video gaming wise, was encountering my very first Colossus in Shadow of the Colossus. Honestly, I hadn’t followed the hype of the game at all, so while I understood what the game was about, I had no idea what the game was actually going to DO until I scaled the cliff face leading to my very first Colossus encounter… and found myself staring about ten stories straight up at the thing I was expected to kill. I vaguely remember going “Oh, no”Â and staring for a moment, as I simply wasn’t really prepared for what I would be seeing, and at that moment, I kind of divorced myself from the idea that I was playing a video game and instead started contemplating the scenario in a personal way. “How am I going to defeat THAT? It’s going to squash me like an ant!”Â It was a surprisingly exhilarating experience, to be honest, and it was one I wish more developers could bring to life in a way that transcends the experience of playing a video game, a way that makes YOU identify with what’s going on instead of simply identifying with your character.
Aaron Sirois: This is going to sound silly, but the scariest video game moment I ever had was during Silent Hill: Origins. (I think Lucard just had an aneurism! )
It’s my own fault really. I wanted to totally immerse myself in the game to try and get the same experience that other people got out of survival horror. (It has never been my type of game.) So I waited until nightfall, turned off the lights, put on a pair of headphones, and stared into my PSP like it was my long lost lover.
Slowly but surely, I was creeping myself out. The music was chilling and would turn off once in a while, leaving me with nothing but my own footsteps for company. Every twist and turn in the hallways would be a game of suspense. When would the next creepy crawlie jump out and try to eat my sorry hide? The damned static from the radio wasn’t helping matters. It would go off, and then it would be a guessing game as to where the enemy was. I’d ready my weapon, take a deep breath, and step forward into the darkness with nothing but a small flashlight for comfort.
However, there was something all too reassuring about the static. At least I knew something was coming. I had time to prepare for it. Then I opened a door. There was no static from the radio. There were no creepy sounds. The music wasn’t building up to anything. There, right in front of me, was an apparition straight out of hell! I’m ashamed to say I jumped and would have dropped my PSP if not for the wrist strap I always use.
I had worked my nerves to the bone creeping myself out, and I let such a textbook scare tactic get the best of me. It never worked again, but I’ve got to give the game credit for pullling one over on me.
Alexander Lucard: It was hard for me to pick out a scariest moment, as to be honest, I don’t really get scared from video games. Most video games tend to be gory or “lite fright” which is something jumping out at you rather than filling the gamer with nameless dread or shivers of terror. I could name Max’s ending in Eternal Darkness for it is chilling. One man alone knows the secret of what dwells beyond our perception of reality. One man knows the things that lurk in the shadows. In his attempt to save humanity, he is laughed at, deemed mad, and then thrown into an asylum with only hungry rats for company. Is there anything scarier than being a sane man in an insane world and left to slowly die in the confines of a dank cell?
I could also mention the Director’s Cut opening to the Xbox version of Fatal Frame. The black and white opening where you play as the brother of Miku, Mayufu and you get a prequel of sorts that was previously unseen in the PS2 version. Man, the opening was eerie, and had the perfect blend of suspense with the notion of impending doom. Obviously Mayufu doesn’t make it out of the house seeing as that is the impetus for the whole game, but when he finally meets his fate, it makes you jump nonetheless.
Instead I’m going to choose all of Koudelka as my scariest moment. Three strangers united in a cursed place called Nemeton Abbey. A place filled with unimaginable sins and crimes against humanity. There was love corrupted and turned into the most hideous evil imaginable. This game, more than even Eternal Darkness captures the true mood and feel of a Lovecraftian tale. I remember the boss fight with a Dark Young vividly. I both marked out and freaked out, knowing that I had to actually do battle with the spawn of Shub-Niggurath. At least there I had Edward and James to keep me company. Later on Koudelka would have to face a Gug all by herself.
Koudelka is the game that later spawned the Shadow Hearts trilogy and was arguably the best looking game for the PSX. The game is definitely story oriented with moments of depravity and corruption replacing cheap scares and gore (Although the worst of the three endings is pretty graphic). It’s frightening to me because amongst all the fictional violence and monsters is the core of the game, which is a story of true love gone horribly awry and man’s folly when he allows his ego to reign supreme. It’s frighting because the horror is all too real.
Alexander Lucard was the Editor-in-Chief of Diehard GameFAN and Director of Operations for the InsidePulse network. He has since retired from writing, but clearly shows up now and again. He has worked in video game journalism since 2002 and is also a paid consultant for Konami and The Pokemon Company. Alex has previously written for Tips N Tricks, Gamespot, White Wolf, TSR, Wizards of the Coast, Eden Studios, 411mania, Not a True Ending and more. His writing could also be found in the monthly periodicals Massive Online Gamer and Pokemon Collector Magazine.