I am a wimp. I can freely admit it, and I feel no shame. There have been many horror games I’ve purchased in the past, convincing myself that I’ll get through them, but aside from a few exceptions – the first Dead Space being a particularly proud moment – it’s fair to say I am a total failure when it comes to finishing horror games.
You might be thinking “why don’t you just stop buying them then”? And the thing is, I really appreciate the effort it takes to make a good horror game, so whenever a new one catches my eye, I desperately want to experience it. And that’s exactly what they are: an experience. It’s been suggested that I should just play them with the lights on, or turn the sound off, but then whats the point? I played through Alan Wake (another proud moment) exclusively after 9pm, with the curtains closed and the lights off. It was fantastic.
But sometimes it’s just too much, and as much as I love feeling a controlled amount of scaredness, some games just push me over the edge. I’ve gathered up a bunch of examples below. These are all games that I tried to play, and failed…
After unwittingly wandering into a toilet searching for ammo or something, I triggered the scene below. This put me on edge for the next 3 hours as I forced myself down narrow corridors with all manner of demonic gits jumping out and trying to tear my head off. I made it as far as a room with lightning spewing out of a vent somewhere near the ceiling, and I could hear a distinct groaning sound coming from the next room. I remember backing into a corner, torch trembling in my hand, my entire body stiffening up. Then I quit out of the game and uninstalled it.
I truly loved this game, and the first few hours are some of the most immersive and atmospheric gaming experiences you can have. There’s small camps of NPC’s wandering about, exploring the wasteland alongside you, and bandits squatting in derelict buildings. It has one of the best lighting engines too, capable of showing off some incredible storms and weather effects. But as soon as this guy sent me to the underground bunker called Lab X10 or something to find some special artifact, I encountered the poltergeist. Floating objects, and eerie music blocked my way forward. I remember turning the game off at about 11pm one night, promising to come back the following day. But I never did…
Couldn’t find a video of Lab X10 (no-one else on youtube thinks its scary apparantly) but theres plenty of videos of this infamous scene:
I couldn’t finish the demo of this. Ever since this game, I have been terrified of any and all ladders…
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
This is a recent purchase, and one that I’m DETERMINED to get back to one day. But, after exploring the first the first couple of hours of the most-definitely-haunted castle, I had bricked it at least 20 times and have genuinely never been more scared while playing a game. You have no weapons, most of the time the only option you have is to either run away, or hide in a cupboard… Brilliantly crafted, I recommend this to anyone who likes their horror. But I’ve no idea if I’ll ever be able to go back and finish it.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
The game that converted me into a PC gamer back in the day, this had one of the best multiplayer components ever, and its influence can still be seen in modern shooters. I could never get past the first zombie crypt level of the singleplayer, though…
Aliens vs Predator 2
This was the sequel to the original game by Monolith, released in 2001 (I bought the new one too, but its still in its wrapping). I managed to play through most of the Alien campaign of this – tearing up helpless humans with razor sharp claws and leaping across the room to scurry away on the ceiling is hugely satisfying – but I could not get past the second level of the marine story. Being hunted by both aliens and predators with nothing but a machine gun and a few clips of ammo… that’s just not where you wanna be.
Alone in the Dark (DOS)
One of the first games I ever played, I must’ve been about 6 or 7, and my dad had been given some dodgy floppy discs of several games (Doom, PGA Golf, some Lotus racing game, among others) and the original Alone in the Dark was one of them. The music in the intro alone got me on edge, but its not until you make it to the first real puzzle room where shit gets real. You control a clumsy pixellated block-man (or woman) and have to maneuver some furniture to barricade a window and a trap door. Fail to do so, and believe me I failed, a wolf will jump in through the window and maul you, or a zombie will come out of the trap door and eat you. I had never been so scared at the time, and it opened my eyes to the true terror of games.
Below is that entire scene in all its original pixellated glory:
And that’s the story of my gaming failings so far. I should probably add Dead Space 2 to this list, but I am resisting for now as I think there’s a chance I will go back and finish it… I just don’t know when.