Halloween is just a few horrifying hours away, which means we have just a little while until small children arrive on our doorsteps to present a normally ill-advised protection racket - 'Give us sweets or we'll egg your house!'
We plan to spend most of the night in front of our computers with the lights off, pretending not to be home - but what shall we play? Below is the email conversation that we've been bouncing around the office as we try to decide which is the scariest game we've played...
So, it’s Halloween, should we do a scary game article?
Thing is, I really don’t like being scared – I have almost no interest in horror films because they’re either stupid and nonsensical, or they creep me out so badly that I can’t sleep for weeks. Even Ghostbusters freaked me out when I first watched it (I was eight at the time). I remember that there was this long landing upstairs in my family home, with my parent’s room at the end.
The door to that room would always be ajar when I was going to bed, and the lights would always be off, so it was pitch black inside. For some reason I imaged that the two red, shining eyes of a Hellhound would appear in the dark, so I used to peg it along the landing to my room next to my parent’s, jump into bed and huddle under the covers (because duvets are like warm, comfy Mithril, right?). That went on for what felt like years, just imagine how an interactive, truly scary game would affect me! I don’t think I’ve even tried one.
Do you have any favourite scary games you could write about, Paul?
Well no, not really. I’m much the same as you Clive, though my first experience of being terrified by a film or game was with the slightly more obviously scary Alien (Ghostbusters - really?). For some reason my parents let me and my brother stay up well past our bed time (which was well out of character for them) to watch it on TV.
I can’t even remember if I made it all the way through the film, all I remember is barely sleeping that night as I was convinced that there was a facehugger under my bed. Every scratch and scrape, every creak as the house cooled down after the heat of the day made me tense up. I think I went on that way for at least a fortnight. Thanks Mum. Thanks Dad.
As a result I’ve never been a big fan of the horror/thriller genre, whether it be in the form of films or games. I’ve always been aware that I should be able to overcome it though (the rational part of my brain is embarrassed by my feebleness) so I periodically try. The last time I had a real go was when I got my first decent PC, which was around the time that FEAR came out. I told myself I should play it so I bought it and sat down to give it a really good go. Jesus it scared the living hell out of me.
I remember being petrified by it and persevering until the point where you’re climbing up a ladder and that little girl (I forget her name) is there at the top. You just peek your head over the top of the ladder and you can see her ankles there, so close and with you in such a vulnerable position. I basically jumped out of my skin, hammered the escape key, quit to desktop and never played the game again. End of.
Is FEAR even that scary? Is there something better I should play?
FEAR is not scary. It's an action game with bits where something jumps out at you, not a thriller.
You should take a look at some properly scary games, both of you. Condemned: Criminal Origins still freaks me out - it's this melee-centric FPS game where you basically fight hobos and thugs through subway stations. It draws so much terror out of me partly because of the environments themselves, which are rundown grimy slums. Growing up in a tiny village in Derbyshire, the thing I was most scared of was big cities!
Well, that and Thief: The Dark Age. My Dad used to play that a lot when I was a kid and, though I really liked the game, I could never play the second level. It's a prison break where you have to climb through some disused, zombie-infested mines to reach the prison built on top. The issue was that you couldn't kill the zombies with anything other than holy-water infused arrows - of which there was a finite amount. I hate that idea of just running out of resources.
The scariest game ever though is still Amnesia: The Dark Descent, right Jamie?