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The Scariest Video Games of All Time: Chapter III
8. Resident Evil
You can’t have a list like this and not have this title on it. Originally released back in 1996 in Japan, it’s one of the longest running horror game series alive, or undead, anyway. It came to US soon after and spawned several sequels as well as some average movies with anorexic actress and model, Milla Jovovich.
The first game was no doubt the best. Even the opening scene with that voice that says “Resident Evil” grips you, right from the start.
I played the game on a PlayStation that belonged to my friend years ago.
The story goes that after the helicopter carrying the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo team crashes, they run from the scene being chased by some monstrosities and decide to take refuge in a seemingly uninhabited mansion.
You can choose which person you want to play as, and soon the team splits up. You immediately start looking around and start shooting these fellas, which we all know by now to be zombies.
Probably one of the worst bits is when you’re walking down that corridor early on and the dogs come jumping through the window. Tell me you didn’t see that coming. Of course I would mention it. How can you not when these dogs are running towards you, and you struggle to dispatch the mutated mutts with those contemptible controls?
I also found that the different ways that the remaining team members die throughout the mansion is quite entertaining while disturbing at the same time. Pecked to death by crows… and so on.
7. Thief: The Dark Project
Thief: The Dark Project was set in a steampunk universe with medieval architecture with elements of more Victorian-era technology. You played as a thief named Garrett, formerly a Keeper, and later a thief who would use his training to better himself, rather than watch on helplessly from the shadows like his former colleagues.
Most of Thief is tense and full of suspense – particularly the first playthrough. Things just seem edgy, and it seems as though you barely scrape through each mission. This is mainly because of the play style in the game – it’s way different from FPSs of the time, like Half-Life. You have to stick to the shadows, sneak around; remain unseen. Combat with the guards and anyone and everyone else around is completely the opposite of what you should be doing.
But the game does get sidetracked from the actual thieving business quite early on (which was admitted by the developers to be more of a design flaw, where missions were designed to fit the story), and this is evident… oh, right from about the 2nd mission. Missions like “Escape From Cragscleft” and “Down in the Bonehoard” first illustrated the potential this game carried as a horror or survival horror title. Then a few missions passed and you got to tour the ruins of an abandoned part of the city complete with zombies, Burricks, and also traps. A few more missions after that and you were actually able to go inside the infamous Haunted Cathedral.
This was said to by far be the most terrifying mission, and one of the best, in the game. After you enter, you find that you can’t go back out again as the doors are locked. You stumble around a bit only to see that the place is filled with haunts – basically possessed, reanimated corpses. And as they walk around, you hear the chains rattling and the somewhat incoherent speech. But when they see you, their maniacal laughs will send shivers down your spine, as they descend upon you. You have little chance against one haunt in full-on combat, let along a gang of them.
Not only this, but you will meet a character along the way who will keep sending you back into the premises in order to look for and retrieve things in order to lay his spirit to rest, when all you want to do is leave.
Excellent manipulation of the player’s emotions if I ever saw it in a game. The funny thing is that Looking Glass Studios denies that it was meant to be that scary. They claim it was just a bunch of scary noises and things put together. But we disagree. A great deal of it, like I said, was psychological horror.
6. Aliens vs. Predator
The Alien series of films is one of the most frightening series of all time. A number of games were based on the series, but I reckon the one that sticks in my mind is Aliens vs. Predator, released in 1999.
Now, the Xenomorph, or Alien campaign, was the easiest, and was actually quite fun. You were able to control one of the black menaces as you sped down hallways and jumped from floors to walls, to ceilings, laughing manically as you terrorize those poor marines. Well, the laughing was actually coming from me, but anyway…
Now the colonial marine campaign was a pant-wetter. You’re caught between an ongoing hunt between two powerful alien species, and you feel weak in your measly bag of bones body; so very vulnerable.
Luckily you do have some weapons to defend yourself with, including the smartgun which automatically tracks enemies and eliminates them, as well as numerous other weapons like the flamethrower and the iconic pulse rifle. You also have a tool which pops up on your HUD. It’s the tracking device, and it sweeps the area up to a certain range, alerting you to the presence of Xenomorphs.
Think back if you played it, or imagine the scene if you haven’t. You’re walking along a poorly-lit corridor, or crawling through a tight space, and you hear a noise. A pinging sound indicates that a creature is in the area. The pinging becomes continuous as you move forward, getting your rifle ready. Then all of sudden, the pinging stops. You could have sworn the thing would be right on top of you by now. You keep looking around but see nothing.
Then you hear it – the screeches in the distance – and out of nowhere seemingly, there’s this thing gunning towards you on the ceiling. You open fire just as it pounces on you and cut it down, only to have acid spray all over you. Almost ever battle with these things – even one of them – is a tricky business and usually ends up with you losing health almost constantly. You always have to look around in every direction because they move so damn quickly. And when there’s a whole bunch of them outside in the night, or crawling up a dark wall with little illumination, you just know that you’re time is limited before they descend on you and tear you limb from limb.
5. System Shock 2
This one is also a critically praised and yet more often than not unremembered classic of the 90’s. It’s no doubt the sequel to System Shock, and while that game was creepy in its own way, SS2 is the one which is sometimes listed or at least mentioned in the comments of articles that delve into the scariest games of all time… like this one.
System Shock 2 was made by Irrational Games along with Looking Glass Studios, who did the prequel, and is considered one of the best FPS/RPG hybrid titles ever.
With its addictive gameplay and excellent inventory system and UI, it remains one of the greatest games in my collection, which I still take out every now and again. It’s kind of like Deus Ex. Mention it, and someone, somewhere, will install it and play it for the umpteenth time. Go on. Do it.
The game used the Dark engine out of Thief: The Dark Project, and there were also several other similarities to said game: like the dark, shadowy areas, and the relentless AI, for instance, as well as the animation.
The soundtrack was also composed by Eric Brosius, like with Thief, and complimented the atmosphere immensely, with some tracks capturing that sort of lost, mysterious feel, while others cranked up the heat when the action really got going, and got your pulse racing adequately. Other tracks were just plain spooky.
Some of the most basic enemies early on, like the hybrids in all their different forms (pipe, shotgun, and grenade) are some of the most terrifying. They are the most vocal beings in the game, and are really just crew members aboard the Von Braun and Rickenbacker who have been infected by The Many – the fleshy offspring of SHODAN, a rogue AI who originally appeared in the first game. They wander around the starship with weapons in hand muttering to themselves and taunting the player with memorable phrases such as “Hurry! Run!” in their weird sounding voices.
But there are many other enemies in the game that will creep you out and some of which you don’t stand a chance against one on one without some serious heavy weaponry – like the Rumblers. Seeing one of these things bearing down on you is enough to see you hit the quickload buttons.
Another thing that can get to you is the audio logs that are scattered throughout the game. The people in these recorded logs often reveal the horrors ahead that you will face – giving you a peak into the future, and what you’ll be up against. And it also gives you quite a sickening feeling to listen to the logs of those who have been infected. The logs you pick up towards the end – in the Body of the Many level, are particularly chilling. In fact, that entire level is just plain gross, and in my mind, quite similar to another level in Blood, a couple of years earlier.
It’s survival horror at its best, and the game will see you frantically searching for guns and ammunition in order to take on the beasts you encounter throughout. There’s nothing worse than when you only have a crummy, and usually ineffective laser pistol left in your arsenal to take on a more biological foe – the result is usually death. Yours.
SS2 went on to inspire several games - like Deus Ex, Doom 3, and also BioShock, it’s spiritual successor. You could probably also add the likes of Dead Space to that list.
© 2010 ANDR01D