You Don't Scare Me

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You Don't Scare Me

It's not "Survival Horror," it's "Survival" or "Horror."

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The Shalebridge Cradle level in Thief 3 was ridiculously frightening. Not only did it follow the formula you spelled out (give the player atmosphere, not constant death), but having not read many reviews of the game, I had no idea it was coming.

In a way, that kind of pissed me off, though. Here I was playing a fun stealth game and now all of a sudden it's The Ring. Come to think of it, I really didn't like that level at all, despite my admiration for it on a technical basis.

Not so serious answer: Fighting the final sister of faith in GoW 2. God she was hideous. Gave me nightmares man!

Serious answer: Fatal Frame 3 (Project zero 3) While I was walking around and I saw ghosts in the background. Scaaaaaary. This game didn't need much to get me immersed. Where was I? Why was I here? Who gives a fuck, this place is fucking haunted!

I don't play alot of SurvHor games, so I haven't really experienced a lot of 'scary' moments. I remember when I first played Half-Life (12 years old) I was pretty freaked out by the headcrabs popping in and out of nowhere (of course having seen 'Aliens' the night before didn't help).

The one element in games where I experience sustained dread (read: dread, not exactly fear) are water levels wherein my character is rendered all but defenseless, surrounded by all sorts of aquatic critters intent on doing him harm.

The fact that I am out of my element paired with enemies that are totally in theirs is a very nerve wracking experience.

Maybe it's a silly thing, but the moment that spooked me most was in the first Metroid Prime, in the Space Pirate base. After a harrowing first battle with a Metroid (during I spent half of which rolling around in terror from the dang thing, since I have no Ice Beam yet), I climb down a spiral pathway lined with cages which contain more of the buggers. I just know they're gonna bust out and eat me any second, but I make it to the bottom unharassed. So I grab the key item at the bottom and...

The power goes out. No or very low lights. No barriers around the Metroid cages. And I have leave the way I came. >.<

Rest in Peace Survival Horror :(

"What's your scariest gaming moment?"
In Siren: Blood Curse the moment where you play as little girl and need to get to the church. And when you get there it appears that this girl is attached to the bottom of horrific Shibito maggot. That was sick, I was actually shocked and scared. That's why Siren: Blood Curse is the only modern horror game - it makes you fear, panic. You're always afraid that you think you're saving your friend, but it's a monster, or it's being turned into monster right now.. And you can't be sure that you're still a human. You've just played as a human, and suddenly your character goes mad, or appears to be already a Shibito, fooled by unholy Kaiko powers to think he's still a human... Interestingly, game lets you play many roles and in the end you're really scared and confused. This game is easy, but it's incredibly scary.
Because you can't be sure that you're not a monster yourself...

A very interesting article, anyway. My thoughts exactly. A true horror game should be easy - death should be very rare and very scary.

First few bits on Bioshock when you just have the wrench and the pistol, oh and summing ou the courage to fight that first big daddy.

Nice article.

When I was a kid I was always terrified when I had to fight a boss in Legend of Zelda games.
I had my cousin beat them:)

Doom 3 is the scariest game I've ever played, which already says lots about my gaming habits; I don't play that much horror. Nonetheless, the sound in that game was amazing, which was also what made it so scary for me. I wasn't scared once the cat was out of the bag and it was me and a BFG9000 verus 10 Imps, but rather those moments in between. From where will the next hideous demon try to bite my ears off? When will it chose to do so? Is it a new type of demon?

A particular scene springs to mind. Somewhere in the beginning of the game, I was running through a series of corridors. Not seen anything for a while. Lighs flickering, almost complete silence. Upon walking through a door, I start to hear moaning. It gets louder and louder as I move along. Changes to subtle screaming. The turn before the source of the screams, there is one last loud shriek. By this point, I was shitting my pants. I didn't want to see what was on the other side. I wanted to run away.

I stood there for a good few minutes. Collecting courage. Reloaded all my guns. I take a deep breath, and I step around the corner.

What followed was a cutscene, where a scientist was impaled upon spikes on the cieling. The cutscene followed his dying breath and after that a new type of demon appeared. My pulse probably dropped by 50 during this cutscene, because I now knew what it was. What I felt during those ~5 minutes was genuine fear. Afterwards I asked myself why I didn't turn it off the game and safe myself some sleep, but back then I was so immersed in the game it never crossed my mind.

So there you go, there's my scariest gaming moment.

Sadly, I wish I could comment more on the article itself rather than your question, but as I stated, I'm not into horror at all. But Resident Evil, survival comedy? I sort of laughed at that, mainly because I was midly scared during RE5 at times. Oh well.

Plankhead:
The Shalebridge Cradle level in Thief 3 was ridiculously frightening. Not only did it follow the formula you spelled out (give the player atmosphere, not constant death), but having not read many reviews of the game, I had no idea it was coming.

In a way, that kind of pissed me off, though. Here I was playing a fun stealth game and now all of a sudden it's The Ring. Come to think of it, I really didn't like that level at all, despite my admiration for it on a technical basis.

i quite liked it myself, but every time the little girl spoke i gt properly creeped out. i was genuinely surprised she wasnt double crossing us. i didnt want to do what she sed, i wnted 2 ignore her

Horror is more or less a dying genere. By definition being scared is a negative, uncomfortable feeling, although it can be thrilling after the fact. The problem today is that people who can't enjoy their fear (at least retroactively) wind up getting to have a lot of say in what is made. Thus, it's impossible to be really "freaky" any more or push limits (which horror should do) because in the end someone will complain, and our society takes them too seriously when they do.

As a result you see a lot of people who say "I like horror movies, but nothing with graphic violence in it". Oftentimes followed by a lot of stuff about implied terror, etc.. etc... but it's been my experience that those people are rarely ever truely scared by the movies they watch. They like seeing something vaguely creepy, extremely cheezy, or fairly dark, but do not want something that really scares them or gets under their skin.

I think for example the "SAW" franchise and all of the so called "Torture Porn" movies out there succeed in scaring people, and capturing the imagination. People complain that they are greatly disturbed by the thought that someone could do the things shown in those movies to another person, as well as by the fact that someone could be entertained by seeing it. Those people are of course both missing the point of horror, and at the same time defining it.

When it comes to games it's the same thing. Right now most "horror" games are simply stylized Zombie/Alien shooters because that's horror-like within the accepted boundaries of not actually scaring anyone. Game companies being increasingly unwilling to push the limits of actually scaring someone due to censorship and complaints from people outside the target demographic.

Truthfully, I am reluctant to say there are ANY real horror games out there anymore, including Silent Hill. Silent Hill, like many franchises STARTED as a horror game, but right now pretty much re-cycles what is commonly accepted they can get away with, without much criticism. It's turned into recycling popular Icons like Pyramid head to the point where they really aren't scary anymore, and even most of the surrealism comes within an expected format. Silent Hill 4 (which was not originally developed as a Silent Hill game) being really the only SH game I personally consider "horror" except for maybe the first two. I say MAYBE because I know after the first one they started making concessions to not scare/offend anyone too badly. The removal of the flayed child-bashing as a result of the Silent Hill 2 Demo sticks in my mind.... the truely freaky beginning of Silent Hill 1 where such children "kill" the protaganist being to me one of the defining moments of horror gaming, and pretty much what the genere should be striving for.

That scene bothered a lot of people apparently, they weren't comfortable with it, and that is exactly the point, and why stuff like that has to be in a horror game or movie. If you can just easily forget about something and move on, with it occupying little of your psyche when/right after it happens, then it wasn't doing horror right. When I first saw that scene it stuck with me for a long time. The fact that I can still sit back and say "that was freaky" is what makes it classic horror.

Shamus Young:

The recent Resident Evil games have been survival comedy.

Just the recent? Whatever happened to the first game's hilariously bad voice acting and writing?
And the other games in the series haven't exactly won any golden writer's award in seriousness.

Well, you do have a good point certainly. If those games are meant to be horror, why is the survival part so necessary? Like you said, it mostly creates anxiety and stress. Horror games don't need to be difficult. Silent Hill 2 wasn't difficult at any rate. And yet, it caught on quite a bit with its audience and as a plus sold well.

Eternal Darkness is quite high on my list on games NOT to play alone and in the dark ever again. The insanity effects almost drove me insane. Another moment that almost made me have a heart attack was at the 1st Condemned game where an interesting surprise awaits you inside a locker at the school stage.

System Shock 2, 4 AM on a Thursday night. 3 rounds left for the pistol, out of everything else and desperately trying to scrounge up ammo or a recharge station. Around the corner I hear a roar and a Rumbler is bearing down on me.

I start screaming "DIE DIE!" at the top of my lungs.

. . . . And my room mate barges into the room screaming "What the F*** is going on!!"

Then I realized that the game had gotten me.

Penumbra, which you oh so subtly mentioned. 30 minutes in and i've still not seen even one enemy. By that time i was so scared of something suddenly becoming violent, i had to take breaks.

Also, i think survival horror can exist, but only if you apply rogue-like saving. Come to think of it, i believe gaming in general would only benefit from a broad return to permadeath and save=quit methods. And there i go tangenting off...

It was about midnight after intense gaming in team fortress 2, a really good night, I was tired and I decieded i wanted to try a campaign in my newly steam downloaded L4D, No MErcy cause i like to follow the order. And ok it was pitch black in this big room except for the computer screen. Loads up, not to bad, until i hit the first groupings of the evil undead, I have no idea why, might have been the room, might have been the fact it was raining heavy outside, or maybe that i was tired enough to forget I was tired, but that is the only gaming moment I have pissed myself during, and I'm not ashamed of it. Scared the shit outta me.

There's a reason why I still cherish my copy of the Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time.

I've been really nervous or aprehensive of loads of things in games, from an important match on FIFA to a make-or-break battle on Medieval II, or even a TF2 clan match against a particularly difficult rival clan. However, these weren't really "fear" as such, more a sense that these are important (as far as a game can be), and that losing will be a major setback.

I think that the actual "scariest" moment was probably the very first time I played Killing Floor (free weekends ftw!). It was the first map I'd played and I had just got to my first boss stage, but the game glitched and instead of going invisible to run away and heal, only to come back and attack later, the boss guy went invisible and stayed invisible. I had no idea where he was, but I could hear him running around. I kept going round and round in circles looking for him and was truly afraid that he would burst out of the shadows at any moment (the only game I'd played before that was L4D, which doesn't scare you so much as stress you). I must have spent at least five minutes looking for him, expecting him to attack at any moment, before I realised that he had glitched and was just running around in circles. In the end I could only kill him by spamming my Katana into thin-air. That was incredibly anti-climactic. But before then, when I didn't know if it was meant to be like that or not, was thhe most scary moment I've had in a game.

top 3

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - when Ganondorf dies, and things are fine, and then pops out and turns into Ganondrof. yarbles.

Silent Hill 2 - the first time you see pyramind headjust standing there watching you from behind the gate covered in blood, and then you enter that room again and leave again, and the gate is gone, alon with the murderous entity. yeeshters.

Bioschok - the tape that documents the doctor' session with a nice woman. she is asked to break the neck of a puppy, she does so, but only because she is being forced by the use of a pavlovian response mechanism, and only because she is sobbing uncontrollably, probably due to the fact that she desperately does not want to kill the puppy. that part jacked me up.

I remember when I was around 11 or 12 playing the N64 of quake (ya I know it was inferior).

There was a gold key that I needed, I finally found the room where it was.

Alright so I grab the key and suddenly A GIANT WHITE YETI THING WITH BLOOD DRIPPING DOWN IT'S JAW WAS THERE. HOLY CRAP. My little brother watching me was more frightened then me :P . I died the first time then I went back and decided instead of fighting it I'd run.

Suddenly I realized it could open doors O.O and I started chasing me around the level until finally I arrive on the gold door and I finish the level.

I've never been so scared in my gaming life.

In retrospect, it probably wasn't that scary but I was still a kid :P

Therumancer:
Horror is more or less a dying genere. By definition being scared is a negative, uncomfortable feeling, although it can be thrilling after the fact. The problem today is that people who can't enjoy their fear (at least retroactively) wind up getting to have a lot of say in what is made. Thus, it's impossible to be really "freaky" any more or push limits (which horror should do) because in the end someone will complain, and our society takes them too seriously when they do.

As a result you see a lot of people who say "I like horror movies, but nothing with graphic violence in it". Oftentimes followed by a lot of stuff about implied terror, etc.. etc... but it's been my experience that those people are rarely ever truely scared by the movies they watch. They like seeing something vaguely creepy, extremely cheezy, or fairly dark, but do not want something that really scares them or gets under their skin.

I think for example the "SAW" franchise and all of the so called "Torture Porn" movies out there succeed in scaring people, and capturing the imagination. People complain that they are greatly disturbed by the thought that someone could do the things shown in those movies to another person, as well as by the fact that someone could be entertained by seeing it. Those people are of course both missing the point of horror, and at the same time defining it.

When it comes to games it's the same thing. Right now most "horror" games are simply stylized Zombie/Alien shooters because that's horror-like within the accepted boundaries of not actually scaring anyone. Game companies being increasingly unwilling to push the limits of actually scaring someone due to censorship and complaints from people outside the target demographic.

Truthfully, I am reluctant to say there are ANY real horror games out there anymore, including Silent Hill. Silent Hill, like many franchises STARTED as a horror game, but right now pretty much re-cycles what is commonly accepted they can get away with, without much criticism. It's turned into recycling popular Icons like Pyramid head to the point where they really aren't scary anymore, and even most of the surrealism comes within an expected format. Silent Hill 4 (which was not originally developed as a Silent Hill game) being really the only SH game I personally consider "horror" except for maybe the first two. I say MAYBE because I know after the first one they started making concessions to not scare/offend anyone too badly. The removal of the flayed child-bashing as a result of the Silent Hill 2 Demo sticks in my mind.... the truely freaky beginning of Silent Hill 1 where such children "kill" the protaganist being to me one of the defining moments of horror gaming, and pretty much what the genere should be striving for.

That scene bothered a lot of people apparently, they weren't comfortable with it, and that is exactly the point, and why stuff like that has to be in a horror game or movie. If you can just easily forget about something and move on, with it occupying little of your psyche when/right after it happens, then it wasn't doing horror right. When I first saw that scene it stuck with me for a long time. The fact that I can still sit back and say "that was freaky" is what makes it classic horror.

Good stuff. About my only comment is that stuff like Saw doesn't scare me in the least it just grosses me out. If I wanted that sort of experience I could just watch someone poop :P.

I get REALLY engrossed in films to the point I forget I'm watching something and I feel like I'm in it. Yet any sort of gore porn just turns me off, it is so utterly unbelievable that I just sit there munching on popcorn waiting for the point.

Proper use of music, timing, camera angles, these things that create tension. That's what I get a cognitive boner for.

I really love your articles. They're usually off the beaten path, but still thought-provoking. Anyway, the scariest moment I've ever had in a game was Fatal Frame 2 on the PS2 while my ex-girlfriend was playing it. There's a scene where your sister goes into this palace area and comes up to a woman in a kimono. Then it goes back to your character and you start retracing your sister's steps looking for her.

Once you get into that room your sister stopped in a cutscene plays and shows that the room is covered in dead bodies and the kimono woman ghost shows up, laughing meniacly. This is when my girlfriend literally lateraled the controller to me like a quarterback tosses to a halfback right before he gets sacked. I'm calm and collected and whip out my trusty camera to take pictures of the ghost and start stealing her essence. Unfortunately, my film is not powerful enough and burns up. This is when I start swearing like a sailor and make a beeline for the door at the end of the hall.

I'm at the door and I suddenly realize I don't know how to open doors in this game. The pulse pounding terror I felt as I yelled at my girlfriend things like "WHAT'S THE **bleep**ING DOOR BUTTON" and get responses like "I DON'T KNOW, CHOOSE A SHAPE!" The kimono woman is so close at this point her aura is blurring the game camera as I finally find the right button and step outside where all that pounding music and demonic laughing cuts away to sudden silence and the soft sound of water hitting the leaves of a nearby tree. I immediately saved and stopped playing forever.

in 1998 I was 9 years old and my friend brought over what he claimed was the "best" game ever. Now, I would later come to agree with him and go on to beat that game over and over, but at the time, it was the scariest game I'd ever played.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

The first time a Skulltala dropped from the roof that tree and hit me, I practically screamed. No kidding, I was scared of the giant spider/skeleton nightmare creatures. I didn't go back to OOT for nearly a month. Finally when I hit Hyrule Field I just played the whole game through, no stopping but I was still the last of my friends to finish.

I know this'll sound strange, and I've always gotten weird looks for it, but nothing in any game sends shivers up my spine like the last few "hours" before impact in Zelda: Majora's Mask. The fact that everything seems peaceful except for the random rumblings, and the music... *shiver*

Not to mention the villain isn't some "I want control" guy like Ganondorf or Vaati. He just wants to consume and fuck shit up. So when you see the moon there, you know it isn't some power play. He wants you and everything around you wiped off the face of the planet.

i just can't handle games that get dark and i have to take a chance

EXAMPLE: that goddamn shadow temple in LoZ OoT scared the shit outta me because it was freakin 11:30 PM!!!

That 'Survival Comedy' thing made me chuckle.

Erm..I've never really played horror games, so I can't really describe any outstanding moments. Eternal Darkness had some creepy parts, I guess. But that was years ago.
It's a genre I should look into anyhow, now that I think of it. Thanks.

Mordwyl:
There's a reason why I still cherish my copy of the Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time.

Ohmygosh. I thought I was the only human being in the world to have played those games lol. They scared the hell out of me when I was like, 8.

The only time I was ever legitimately scared by a game (and perhaps this is because of the type of games I play) was the demo of Half-Life 2, or "We Don't Go to Ravenholm" which I played in the dark late one night. The fast zombies (and the headcrabs that just leap out in every corner) freak me. Also those similar parts in Episode 1 where they assault you in the dark while you wait for the lift to come down, and you run around throwing flares and propane canisters at them. The HL headcrab zombies really freak me for some reason. Maybe it's the fact that they're all screaming in pain to start with.

While I was at GameX I got the chance to ask Yahtzee the question I'd always wanted to ask him ever since he reviewed Thief: Deadly Shadows- what he thought of the Shalebridge Cradle. He's said before that he prefers the parts of Thief where you're stalking through mansions and boncing people on the head to steal their knick-knacks, and he told me that some of the suspense was taken away from the Cradle because he'd been told about much of it (I hope my video didn't contribute to that), but he said he enjoyed it.

As for myself, the Cradle stands out as a supreme example of horror gaming. Not survival horror, per se- you're able to load up beforehand if you're careful and have an idea of what's coming up, and the game provides just enough hints if you know where to listen and look, not to mention that with some skill you can get through almost the entire mission without one second of combat- but the fact that you come into this situation half-blind and must look around to find out the depths of the story behind this oppressive, darkened, abandoned place. Having to uncover much of the history of the Cradle yourself, from tattered parchment and musty journals, gives you an investment in the place and what still remains inside.

That's why the Cradle gets one of my top three horror spots, as detailed below (spoilerized for your protection!).

There's a thread in the forums currently that has a fair list of scary PC games. I do endorse the Penumbra series, although I've had problems with it glitching and locking up on me, preventing me from getting very far in. Its particular methodology relies less on "tight resource management" and more on "you have no gun and absolutely suck at melee combat", so avoidance is key. Also, STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl gets an honorary mention- you could be armed and armored to the teeth, and there were STILL things lurking around that could eat your face.

pumasuit:
top 3

Bioschok - the tape that documents the doctor' session with a nice woman. she is asked to break the neck of a puppy, she does so, but only because she is being forced by the use of a pavlovian response mechanism, and only because she is sobbing uncontrollably, probably due to the fact that she desperately does not want to kill the puppy. that part jacked me up.

Actually, I think the person in that tape is Jack as a young child.

I guarantee i have one of the most unique scary game experiences ever.

I was playing through conker: live and reloaded. you know the zombie part in the castle? i was about 11-12. it scared the hell out of me!

still does a little

My scariest gaming moment was walking through the cell blocks in the prison in Silent Hill 2. It wasn't scary at all, but the noises were just so unsettling. Which, incidentally, is how I feel about most of the game.

There was this X-Files point and click adventure game that I played when I was between ten and twelve I think. Eventually there was this scene in which you're in some dark mysterious place looking for clues and suddenly there is some sort of monster or alien chasing you. I don't think the monster was actually ever even visible (which only added to the fear, of course) but you could hear it coming and had to frantically run away while somehow thinking of a way to keep it from chasing you. I was absolutely too terrified to attempt it more than once.

My scariest game moment was in Resident Evil 4 in the castle dungeon with the invisible ettercaps with the Sam Fisher eyes. This wasn't scary because the game is scary, but because I had purchased an old TV from The Goodwill for $8 and it was about this time that a colony of baby spiders started crawling out of the screen (no joke).

I yelped, dropped the controller and stopped playing for a while while I reassured myself that these two things were entirely unrelated.

Dog plus window. Enough said.

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