I’d say Silent Hill, the original PS1 game, is probably the most frightening video game I’ve ever played. At times – and I’m serious here – I actually had to have the N64 one playing the music from Yoshi’s Story in background or I couldn’t get through the game. Something about the atmosphere and suspense scared the living daylights out of me, and I really connected with the whole story. Maybe it’s the darkness, or the fear of what’s around the next corner, but for some macabre reason I’ve always loved those sorts of games.
Resident Evil didn’t scare me, once, and I despised the acting, storylines and set-ups that seemed to just get so wrapped up in themselves as the sequels came and went, but the Silent Hill series just seemed to click with me, and I even enjoyed the rather more poorly received current-gen version which managed to up the action but still keep it pretty tense throughout. With Hallowe’en just around the corner I got to thinking which other games have scared me over the 25 years or so I’ve been gaming.
Maniac Mansion was one of them. I remember playing it with a group of friends and we’d all be terrified, trying to outrun the house’s inhabitants as we slulked around looking for clues. It wasn’t really a scary game per se, but the tension was always high and I think that managed to keep us on our toes because being caught reduced us to giggles as we desperately tried to get away. More recently, however, the PS3 version of Siren is an absolute killer – crackly graphics, the genuine sense of dread and almost pitch black surroundings – ugh!
Others? How about Dead Space, a brilliantly atmospheric third person shooter, or F.E.A.R? Slightly cheap in the way it uses jump tactics to keep you on your toes, but it’s such a good game I can forgive it. Fatal Frame – the game that forced you into looking through the lens of a camera is a classic too, as is Clock Tower. Finally, how about the Gamecube’s Eternal Darkness, or the utterly fantastic Condemned on the Xbox 360 – anyone that says they didn’t jump at that bit at the top of the staircase is a liar!
What are your favourite scary games?