We’ve tried awesome game moment (please do still submit yours, I always need ideas for great games to play). Now let’s do scary ones.

 

I will admit to not playing a lot of ‘horror’ games. My sanity and, ultimately, my sleeping pattern are quite dear to me and I’m a bit of a wuss when faced with anything horror film related. To give you an idea: the first few episodes of Supernatural made me rest uneasily. That’s how much of a coward I am.

 

So you can imagine how proud I was of myself when I actually finished the dreaded ‘Asylum’ level in Thief 3. For the uninitiated, all Thief games are all about lurking in shadows and not being seen, creeping from place to place. The mentioned level pulls off the nasty trick of filling a creepy place (an asylum/orphanage) with horrible sounds, then waiting bloody forever to make you face any enemies. I don’t know what this does in other people, but it scared the crap out of me.

 

Sound is one of the dominant forces of horror, not only in movies, but also very much in games. This is one game genre where graphics mean nothing. After all, nothing is more creepy than that which cannot be seen. Show me a horrible monster, and I can probably shoot at it, show me a fleeting shadow going round a corner, and all I can do is know something awful is waiting there for me. That is suspense, and the Thief series does it beautifully. Thief 1 is the only game I’ve ever shut down cause I was too scared to go on. All because of a whispering soundtrack. The graphics in that game are awful, almost Doom like. But let me tell you, I did not need a good picture drawn for me to get all squishy inside.

 

Come to think of it, not a lot of genres relate themselves to the horror theme. It’s not like there’s a horror RTS out there (is there?). Thief is one of the few sneaky games that occasionally goes in that direction, even though a full blown scary sneak game sounds like an *awesome* and terrifying idea.

 

There’s a few puzzle games like the 7th Guest and old fashioned adventures like the completely unknown Lost Crown, which makes you actively hunt for ghosts. But most of the creepy games are shooters. Probably cause they can use scare tactics that don’t even acquire atmosphere, but simply very fast opponents. I rather vividly remember the first headcrab I ever encountered in Half Life, and those ghouls in Fallout 3? The ones you didn’t see coming from miles away? Dear lord.

 

Recently I’ve been playing Bioshock, which combines both the atmosphere bits, and the tricks, making it altogether not a very healthy game to play for the likes of me and my poor nerves.

 

Bioshock plays in an underwater base which is on the verge of collapsing. It’s rooms are filled with the sounds of hissing and dripping pipes, making the oppressive atmosphere almost tangible. Lighting effects leave long, flickering shadows, mist hangs in the hallways and empty-eyed art deco statues decorate the walls. The game really piles it on. And then come the tricks. And I know they’re just tricks, but they still work. Like freezing your character momentarily while a mist comes over the screen. You regain your vision, only to see a weird shadow coming from behind you. Quickly swivelling round, you’re face to face with a mutated dentist! Gah! The ghosts are almost a welcome diversion.

 

So, what makes a game scary for you? And if you’ve started it, have you ever gotten past the cathedral level in Thief 1?

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