For Halloween, Readers Share Their Horror Favorites
HorrorScope is a recurring feature exploring the horror genre in gaming and drawing attention to its elements, its tropes, and its lesser-known but still scary titles.
We’ve highlighted a lot of lesser-known horror titles during the course of HorrorScope, many of which are among the most phenomenal and off-the-beaten-path games you can find in the genre, now or ever. You’ve heard about what we’ve played and liked; last week, we asked you what you liked.
The responses to both our Facebook poll and a post on Game Front were interesting. A lot of people cited a number of well-known titles — Dead Space, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and entries into the Silent Hill series came up a lot. And there were a few other great discussions about other titles that made many players’ lists, as well. Some we expected, like the well-loved Eternal Darkness. Some others were not, though.
We’ve compiled a few of the best responses here, along with a little commentary and explanation. Feel free to share your own horror favorites and experiences in the comments below.
That Time Eternal Darkness Made You Think Your GameCube Broke
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem came up a lot during the discussion of horror titles, but we didn’t feature the GameCube classic here because it’s somewhat impractical to try to play it today — although the Wii is backward-compatible, your search will generally take you to eBay if you want to get hold of a copy.
But Eternal Darkness has resonated with a lot of people over the years, and included some really brilliant game design in order to create not only fear and terror in players, but a varying degree and quality of fear. Commenter ZephyrTuvai explains:
“Unlike most games, where you can tell yourself ‘it’s just a game,’ as the ‘horror’ is happening to the characters within it, this game had a unique element called the ‘Insanity’ meter, or bar.
“The more you interacted with enemies, the more the bar would fill. At first, it would be minor things, like extra, creepy sound effects that would get more prominent as the bar filled, and a camera that tilted off-kilter more and more as said bar filled, to the point of being very obviously askew, to name a few.
“Then, after a point, really, really weird things would happen. But not in game. To your game.
“I still remember clearly my favorite example of this. Walking into an unexplored room, I start to look for items and keep an eye out for enemies. The coast seems clear and I begin to cross it to grab a shiny on the other end, when out of nowhere a large group of creatures come from all sides, surrounding me with no clear area to back into and take a stand. Jumping at the sudden attack, I begin to get ready to defend myself, when a message pops up on the screen, something along the lines of: ‘The controller in port 1 has been disconnected, please reconnect controller.’ I remember this well because I hadn’t saved in quite a while, and looking down at my GameCube, I see the controller is plugged in. I quickly jump up and unplug it, then reconnect it, to no avail, horrified as my wasted hours go out the window as my character is mauled to death.
“Then, a second later, there is a flash, and my character is back at the entrance to the room. I seriously thought my GameCube was broken.
“Anyway, I don’t really recall the story, but the way the game just really messed with you, the player directly, got to me really well and kept me paranoid not only about the in game “scary” aspects, but half the time whether or not what was happening was really happening.”
You can find Eternal Darkness on eBay, but you’ll need to supply the GameCube, Wii or Wii-U.
When Darkness Falls Over Minecraft
Commenter gasmaskangel explains why playing Minecraft alone can be a harrowing experience, especially the first time:
“Of course there’s the big games of horror, the ones that get in your head and freak you out for days like Silent Hill 2 or Eternal Darkness. There’s also the ones that are master pieces of atmosphere and dread like Amnesia and certain parts of the Dead Space games (the parts where monsters aren’t jumping out of closets and presenting you with an opportunity to slice off their important bits are fantastic), however for my money the scariest game I’ve played is Minecraft.
“It becomes more horrific the more you think about it, and especially if you’re playing it alone. Sure, during the day you’re pretty much safe, nothing but cows and sheep around, but at night…. At night, the dead rise and terrible green things that blend quite eerily with the landscape move about and hunt you, each one capable of single-handedly destroying all that you’ve spent your time building.
“So you dig, desperately seeking shelter from the unholy things that stalk the night, and maybe you break into a cavern filled with useful stuff, but to get to it, you need to get past all the monsters. Things which moan and scrape through the dark around you, and seem to wait until the moment you turn your back to mine some coal to attack.
“And even if you hide, wall yourself up and desperately wait for daylight to come they still know where you are, and they moan and chitter till the sun finally drives them away.
“Then the cycle starts all over again.”
And that doesn’t even take the Endermen or the Nether into account.