Since it's the month of October, I decided to do a little three part series on horror in video games. The first part is about six games that scared the crap out of me even though the weren't, strictly speaking, considered part of the horror genre. Meanwhile, the second part will feature six titles that failed to scare me despite being classified as horror games. For the third and final part we'll look to six nightmare inducing games that are in the works. Ready? On to the first part...
I've heard the claim that horror games intrinsically can't be scary to a lot of players simply because they'll mentally brace themselves for the worst the moment gameplay begins. In this case the only way you can really creep these hardened types out is to catch them off guard. Ideally this is achieved by not letting them know ahead of time that they're playing a horror title. Here's six games that pulled this particular kind of fast one on me by using just such a strategy.
X-COM: UFO Defense
this music is playing in the background. As if having to kill zombified civilians and former squad mates wasn't bad enough, the original X-COM was designed such that implanted Chryssalid larva would always hatch either in three turns or immediately after the host was killed...and you thought playing the new game on the classic difficulty was hard.
Thief II: The Metal Age
Jacob Marley except he's got a hefty sledgehammer and an insatiable desire to use it. Now, creepy as these guys are, I wouldn't loose my nerve when I happened upon one (or several) in some abandoned cathedral, old crypt or burned out house. After all what else do you think would be there? What did get me though was coming face to face (or rather face to skull) with a Haunt in the poorly lit library room of an otherwise ordinary mansion I was casing. In hindsight I guess I should have guessed that the place might be "Haunted" at night. Needless to say next morning the household servants had to clean up some bodily fluids on top of accounting for what was stolen.
Space Quest V: The Next Mutation
In truth all the Space Quest games have horror segments, sometimes jarringly so given the game's overall comical nature. Worst of all though is the mutants which appear about halfway through SQ V. Resulting from humans inadvertently being exposed to an illegally dumped toxic waste called "Primordial Soup," these creatures first appear shortly after a remote colony losses contact with one of their survey teams. For the next several nights sighting are reported around the perimeter. A search team is sent out and vanishes too. Then one night the entire compound is overrun. Only the administrator survives by sealing himself in a secured enclosure. Despite his best attempts the mutants are able to commandeer the only shuttle leaving the lone survivor to slowly succumb to the toxins. Oh...yeah, when you figure out about all this after the fact some really eerie music plays just to make it all the more disturbing. I thought this game was supposed to be funny...