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#1 Edited by ghostNPC (793 posts) -

In the impending holiday coming up, I thought I'd take a chance and dig a little deeper into horror games. Why do they scare us? Why do some do nothing for us?

But to start off, I'm curious; What is the scariest game you have played (not your favorite, but something that really terrified you), and what is it about that game that scared you?

In my opinion (and I'm sure a lot of others') Amnesia was the scariest game I've had the pleasure of getting through. But the biggest question is, why? What was it about all the elements thrown into that grotesque melting pot that made for the perfect heart stopping concoction, and what exactly were those elements of horror? In the end it's all about removing mental safety nets. Among the various things that horror games do to set up a creepy environment (trapping the antagonist in an abandoned or hopeless location/situation) helplessness of being unable to defend yourself was probably one of the most effective things to ever happen for a horror game, and Amnesia did it wonderfully. Removing that mental safety net meant that you, as a person, no longer had any feeling of strength, any feeling of control over any situation that the game threw at you. You were literally left cowering in a corner somewhere (sometimes outside of the game as well :P ).

So, what games do you think are the scariest, and why?

#2 Edited by Verendus (348 posts) -

Silent Hill 2 as kid.

#3 Posted by HerbieBug (4208 posts) -

Resident Evil 2. I was 13? 14? Something around there. I don't play horror games anymore. They're exhausting. Gaming time is supposed to be relaxation time for me.

#4 Posted by mosespippy (4465 posts) -

Dark Souls probably. The reason is consequence. It's difficult to push forward into the unknown when you've got something to lose.

#5 Posted by Turambar (6898 posts) -

Dark Souls probably. The reason is consequence. It's difficult to push forward into the unknown when you've got something to lose.

In that case, try playing some EVE. That game is consequence city.

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#6 Posted by Brodehouse (10133 posts) -

I didn't find Amnesia scary, I just found it stressful. Two competing resources that are always dwindling. Stay in the dark, run out of sanity. Turn on the light, run out of oil. No winning. I'm not like OH GOD RUNNING OUT OF OIL I'm like fucking hell, I'm not figuring out this puzzle fast enough.

Fatal Frame 2. Until you learn each of the ghosts' attack patterns and tendencies. Until then it's brutal.

Silent Hill 1 is scarier than Silent Hill 2 or even 3. But Silent Hill 2 is more depressing and Silent Hill 3 is probably the best overall game game.

#7 Posted by mosespippy (4465 posts) -

@turambar said:

@mosespippy said:

Dark Souls probably. The reason is consequence. It's difficult to push forward into the unknown when you've got something to lose.

In that case, try playing some EVE. That game is consequence city.

My brother in law does. He's offered to let me play his account for him while he's at sea. I told him GTA5 was coming out the same week that he was going so I couldn't for this trip.

#8 Posted by ZeForgotten (10397 posts) -

Resident Evil 1, I was a kid.

#9 Posted by Turambar (6898 posts) -

@mosespippy: With the Rubicon expansion coming out next month, the game might have some deals for new players going on. Not 100% sure though.

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#10 Edited by jiggajoe14 (837 posts) -

I've actually had a list of games lined up for this month just to challenge myself through difficulty/sheer terror (I'm an f'ing wimp. Horror games are not my cup of tea at all). I finally got around to beating Dark Souls and beat Outlast on Sunday and Amnesia: The Dark Descent yesterday (with the lights on of course!). This month has fucking strained me so much but my final game on my list is Machine For Pigs and then I can finally curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep.

As for the question Outlast was so damn intense for me, especially with the jump scares. Like I said I've hardly played many horror games and none of them I would really classify as truly scary (Doom 3 was ok in that department at times and I've only played RE4&5 out of that series but those were a bit too action-y to actually scare me....oh and F.E.A.R. had tense moments but didn't carry the scares throughout). I fucking had to sleep with the tv turned on after finishing Outlast because I couldn't handle sleeping in the dark after finishing it :/.

#11 Posted by wemibelec90 (1839 posts) -

I would say Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but I would also say I think that was the game that broke horror games for me. The balance of not being able to sit in the darkness, due to your ever-rising sanity meter, but also having to be avoid light to be spotted by monsters urged me forward in a way other horror games hadn't. I clawed my way through the first 3/4 of that game barely wanting to play it. At that point, however, I figured out the "trick" of when enemies would spawn and how to get away from them and pretty much negating the fear I had for the enemies. Since that point, nothing has really seemed all that scary to me. Instead, everything feels like cheap jump scares and predictable enemy patterns. I may still be afraid of Amnesia if I went back to it, but I have a feeling current horror games are just broken for me. Until someone does something different again, I don't feel very put off by current horror games.

#12 Edited by Yummylee (22575 posts) -
@brodehouse said:

Silent Hill 1 is scarier than Silent Hill 2 or even 3. But Silent Hill 2 is more depressing and Silent Hill 3 is probably the best overall game game.

I agree with this, though I think I found myself more frightened during Silent Hill 3 overall; the part in the Hospital when you're reading the diaries about Stanley and his 'fascination' with Heather... I can remember every time I encountered one, I would leave the game running on the file for a fair bit of time, too scared to return to the game proper. Jeez, and the haunted house segment as well, complete with that eerie red light that chased you through the hallways at the end. Still, the first Silent Hill is surprisingly effective as well, impressively so even given its age. Silent Hill 4 was still able to get to me, too. Specifically when it came to the third victim you encounter, once you return to the prison complex. I was also always holding in my gut whenever it came time to discovering another one of those ghostly apparitions with your phone in Shattered Memories.

I also agree with the mention of Dark Souls, as that could prove to be incredibly unnerving at times. I can still remember when i first entered Ash Lake and how I felt when looking upon the giant Hydra monster patrolling the vast expanse of open water. Despite already exploring plenty of the world at that point, and going against the fact that Ash Lake itself isn't an especially large environment, that was the first time the game managed to make me feel so incredibly small. Its musical theme certainly helped with that... God, and then there was the bleedin' dragon to top it all off!

Oh, and while rather brief, the encounter with Neptune in the Resident Evil remake will stay with me for life.

#13 Posted by thatdutchguy (1283 posts) -

Silent Hill the room and Silent hill 1 were some of the scariest games i've ever tried to play.

#14 Posted by CornBREDX (6052 posts) -

I cant say anything is the 'iest. Theres a lot that scared me or is scary. Outlast was ok for a couple hours but the gimmick wears off as they do jump scares to often. Undying is an oldie and was pretty scary when it came out. RE2 was good at the time. SH (most of them) were pretty intense games. F.E.A.R. is pretty good. Penumbra was creepy as hell. Amnesia was terrifying.

I think the strangest one I can mention is Dark Souls. Its not inherently a horror game, but its atmosphere is incessantly foreboding and on top of that the real world mythos the game has (that its so incredibly hard- which it really isn't) gives the game its own sense of dread.

#15 Posted by spraynardtatum (3722 posts) -

Definitely Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Because that water monster thing shouldn't be legal. It's too scary.

#16 Posted by cloudnineboya (847 posts) -

ALIENS for ps1, WHY- listening to the pips get louder and louder fuck those facehuggers.

#17 Posted by Svenzon (731 posts) -

Silent Hill 2. No horror game has ever managed to get under my skin that way. Brilliant storytelling.

#18 Edited by Scrawnto (2467 posts) -

Probably Half Life 2, because I'm a wuss when it comes to that sort of thing. I jumped out of my seat a couple of times in Ravenholm. I've never even tried to play something like Amnesia.

#19 Posted by jayjonesjunior (1087 posts) -

AvP2 when scary games still had an effect on me.

#20 Posted by Nodima (1297 posts) -

Resident Evil 1. My cousin rented a Playstation for my birthday party and I couldn't watch him play that for more than 20 minutes. We had to put in Triple Play '97 or whatever year it would've been.

Man I liked that Triple Play. It had the Steppenwolf song about magic carpets.

#21 Posted by SunBroZak (1379 posts) -

I'd probably say Gone Home or Home, but hear me out.

I wasn't allowed to play horror games when I was young, I only started playing them a few years ago. So I don't have these horrific memories of playing Silent Hill 2 or Fatal Frame as a child. Now when I play the typical horror game, Outlast for example, I find them tense and creepy in the first couple of hours then I become desensitized and I end up playing the rest simply to find out what's really going on.

But with a game like Gone Home, or Home, the games never present you with a monster or a spirit. They use your own imagination to scare you, and I find myself terrified in those games because I'm always expecting something to jump out. It just never comes.

#22 Edited by cloudymusic (1234 posts) -

Silent Hill 2 for me, definitely. Playing that whole underground prison sequence in my friend's basement, at 4 in the morning, with the wind rattling the windows was fucking intense.

#23 Posted by supermonkey122 (874 posts) -

Manhunt. Played it for the first time at age 10 when it first came out with a friend, we saw the first kill with the plastic bag, and immediately turned it off. Played it again later and it's really intense and disturbing, since it's quite realistic despite it's age. Great game though.

#24 Posted by ghostNPC (793 posts) -

Horror games seem to run into a very simple yet obvious problem; game mechanics. Of these are games we're talking about, so you need some sort of mechanic in order to have a working experience with the medium. But like all systems, it can be broken. My experience of playing through the Silent Hill series was that of figuring out the perfect length in which to swing my weapon so that I would have no problems defeating the enemy. I started to see the predictable movements of my enemies. The world broke down and I could see all of the mechanics of the game. I was taken out of the world that they tried to create.

What can my character do, how do I win, and how can I fail? When you start playing a game, everyone consciously or subconsciously thinks this through. It's just people's ways of exploring a world that is new. Personally, as someone who's played a lot of horror games, I can't help but figure out the structure of the game so that I can defend myself. It's just a way of mentally defending myself against the anxiety; and I know I'm not alone on this.

Of course that's not everyone's path. It all depends on the mindset going into a game. Some people can always look past those mechanics and suspend their disbelief naturally better than others, without even knowing that they do that. But for those of us who can see the matrix and dance around the AI, I'm glad for games that are ambiguous in their mechanics throughout, or really play with the fact that they are a video game with mechanics. Experiment12 and A Mother's Inferno, for example, did this spectacularly. They were vague, weird and very disturbing in a meta sense.

#25 Edited by SoldierG654342 (1821 posts) -

@brodehouse said:

Silent Hill 1 is scarier than Silent Hill 2 or even 3. But Silent Hill 2 is more depressing and Silent Hill 3 is probably the best overall game game.

I'm not sure I agree that 1 is scarier than 3, but it certainly doesn't get the credit it deserves and outclasses 2 in that department. 3 is basically unarguably the best game of the series, though.

It's probably a tie between Silent Hill 1 and System Shock 2 for me. I might have to give it to Silent Hill 1 just because System Shock 2 falls more on the intense side of the spectrum than scary most of the time.

#26 Posted by ShaggE (6717 posts) -

White Day: A Labyrinth Named School. It's Amnesia way before Amnesia, and it fucks with me like no other game. Goddamn lunch lady...

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#27 Posted by Ravenlight (8011 posts) -

Banjo & Kazooie.

Though it was probably because I was the sickest I've been in my entire life and messed up on antihistamines and Ny-Quil.

#28 Posted by awesomeusername (4218 posts) -

Fatal Frame (2?). I couldn't finish it. Played about half an hour but the gameplay and camera made it hard to play and running away from those ghosts scared my pants off. No way I'd finish that game.

#29 Posted by marirranya (5 posts) -

I'd say Silent Hill 1. The game really forced me to imagine creepy images and effects while doing puzzles and quests. The sound effects were insanely perfect to get me in new dimensions while just sitting at the sofa. And I can still remember that goddamn locker T_T

#30 Posted by believer258 (12208 posts) -

I'm going to say Doom 3.

All right, hear me out. I don't actually think Doom 3 is remarkably terrifying most of the time. I think it plays with lighting and darkness in some pretty creative ways and I think it does a fantastic job of building up atmosphere. The Mars facility that they crafted goes a long way in making that happen. If you stop and pay attention to the details, it really does seem like a place that was, until recently, quite well lived in.

There is about twenty minutes in that game where nothing attacks you. I don't exactly know the level, but you have to get power back to the elevators and bigger doors. You can hear things hissing, grunting, and growling around you, but you don't know where they are. You would think that after four or so hours of gameplay, you would be able to identify what's making noises on the other side of a wall but no, you can't tell. And since these creatures have established that they can pop out of anything - ceiling, floor, behind doors, thin fucking air - you start to expect that something is going to happen. But it takes what feels like forever for anything to happen. It's really just a short section of the game, but it got me thinking about how downright terrifying Doom 3 could have been if they had followed that sort of template in more places in the game. It's actually pretty comparable to the Ishimura visit in the second Dead Space, only better done.

For the record, Doom 3 is the answer I've got because horror games aren't really my thing. I like good, dark atmosphere and that naturally comes with some horror and tension, but I don't like letting my imagination run wild with thoughts of what terror might be stalking my character and, by proxy, me.

#31 Posted by Gamer_152 (14113 posts) -

Probably Amnesia. The sparse use of monsters, the large periods of tension-building, your complete powerlessness in the face of enemies. It managed to do so many things that traditional horror games just haven't.

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#32 Edited by Brodehouse (10133 posts) -

@brodehouse said:

Silent Hill 1 is scarier than Silent Hill 2 or even 3. But Silent Hill 2 is more depressing and Silent Hill 3 is probably the best overall game game.

I'm not sure I agree that 1 is scarier than 3, but it certainly doesn't get the credit it deserves and outclasses 2 in that department. 3 is basically unarguably the best game of the series, though.

It's probably a tie between Silent Hill 1 and System Shock 2 for me. I might have to give it to Silent Hill 1 just because System Shock 2 falls more on the intense side of the spectrum than scary most of the time.

Granted I only played Silent Hill a couple years ago, so this effect will be unique for me; but I feel like the decrease in graphical fidelity you get in the original Silent Hill compared to its predecessors actually works to its advantage. With less polygons, texture fidelity and resolution I feel like my brain is adding imagination to each creature, each room. The hunched over brown Mumblers running around moaning do more to agitate me than the Mannequins or Numb Bodies of the sequels. I also fully believe that Silent Hill has maybe the best first 10 minutes in any horror game, and the first time you experience an Otherworld transition inside the school must have been mindblowing in 1999.

#33 Posted by impartialgecko (1689 posts) -

Demon's Souls. At the time I had never experienced dread like it. Dark Souls was similarly harrowing but I knew what I was getting into.

#34 Posted by BeachThunder (12434 posts) -

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

  • The focus on evasion and not even looking at the enemies.
  • That horrible music when you're being chased; actually, the audio, in general.
  • I think they perfectly got the balance of tension/release in terms of safe/puzzle areas and enemy encounters.
  • The intense running away sections (notably, that section).
  • I think they handled the balance of collectibles very well.
  • More than anything, really, just the general atmosphere. I was even having nightmares before I even encountered an enemy.
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#35 Posted by Rick_Fingers (523 posts) -

Binding of Isaac

Child abuse + horrible grotesques disturbed me far more than any number of jump scares or jarring pianos and violins

#36 Posted by falserelic (5407 posts) -

Silent Hill because it was creepy as shit at the time. You was isolated in a dark foggy town while getting attack by bizarre demons. You'll have random shit happen that'll scare the shit out of you, same goes for SH2 aswell.

#37 Edited by JadeGL (975 posts) -

Amnesia. I really found myself supremely disturbed by the storytelling, especially with the bits you get from collectible journal entries and activating specific items in the environment. In the Choir and the Transept, for instance, clicking on specific things will give you an audio flashback. I found those to be chilling and probably the thing that really struck me when I look back on the game. I also found the balance between staying in the light versus hiding in the dark to be very well done. I always joke with my husband that he probably thinks the game is a hide-and-seek simulator because whenever he would look over my shoulder I would be crouching in a dark room, my face to a wall, as still as possible. But something about having to do that just works. It was great. I think that those two factors were what made Amnesia the scariest game for me.

I also remember being quite scared by Condemned. The store level with the mannequins? UGH. Just nope. NOPE NOPE NOPE.

BioShock had some similar moments. I think the scariest parts were probably in Fort Frolic. I think the first BioShock did a great job of balancing the fighting with tension. I remember walking into new areas and not fighting anything right away, then suddenly having a jump scare happen, then fighting maybe a little later. I really enjoyed the balance in that game between the exploration and action moments. I think it led to the moments of exploring being much more frightening and it is something that the later games lost.

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#38 Posted by thebeastwithtwobacks (143 posts) -

Fatal Frame 2

#39 Posted by joshwent (2353 posts) -

There be monsters in that aliasing!

Really though, I totally agree. It might just be a personal preference thing, but that's also why I still get scared watching the original Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, but with modern horror I'm just more impressed at the cool make-up and gore. If fear lies in the unknown, it can be a lot harder to find it in 1080p at 60fps.

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#40 Posted by 34f3ecwdc3 (162 posts) -

When I was a teenager, I played Wrath of the Malachi. Why I played that one ? because I was rushing to end up in a grave.

#41 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (6004 posts) -

Definitely Amnesia. The complete inability to defend myself, the desperate management of finite resources, and the constant fear of the unknown made the short time I played it one of the scariest.

#42 Posted by Tackchevy (266 posts) -

I started trying to play Croc for PS1 a few days ago. Tank controls on a 3D platformer? I nearly shit my pants at the prospect of ever touching that game again.

#43 Posted by BeachThunder (12434 posts) -

I started trying to play Croc for PS1 a few days ago. Tank controls on a 3D platformer? I nearly shit my pants at the prospect of ever touching that game again.

I'm so sorry you had to go though all of that *hugs*

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#44 Posted by Cybertification (206 posts) -

Penumbra: Overture.

I've played through Amnesia, and yes, it's fucking terrifying, but Penumbra I made it about half an hour before saying "No, I'm out of here!".

I plan on playing it at some point again. Amnesia really isn't at all as scary.

#45 Posted by DonutFever (3538 posts) -

I wish I had a better answer than Amnesia.

But I don't.

#46 Posted by VintAge68 (65 posts) -

Dead Space 2: scary and repugnant with all its atmosphere, sound and light effects

Of the older ones: Parasite Eve II

#47 Posted by xyzygy (10078 posts) -

Silent Hill 2.

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#48 Posted by Levio (1786 posts) -

I didn't find Amnesia scary, I just found it stressful. Two competing resources that are always dwindling. Stay in the dark, run out of sanity. Turn on the light, run out of oil. No winning. I'm not like OH GOD RUNNING OUT OF OIL I'm like fucking hell, I'm not figuring out this puzzle fast enough.

Fun fact, the less oil you have, the more oil the game gives you from the "oil dispensers", and they magically refill when you run low on oil again, so the game secretly makes sure you can't actually run out of oil.

Of course, knowing that fact removes the tension from the game, but c'est la vie.

#49 Posted by PSNgamesun (414 posts) -

RE2 and Bioshock(tension and the characters are crazy), also HL2 had its moments. Still I haven't played Amnesia so my thoughts might change.

#50 Posted by bluefish (557 posts) -

Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly (xbox edition with 1st person mode)

jesus tender loving christ!