The newest entry in our Warp Zoned Rewind series, our look back at the seventh generation’s most memorable moments, brings the scares. Today, we’re talking about the games that left you teetering on the edge of your seat.
With the lights out and the sound turned up, your clammy palms grip the controller as your character stands just short of the end of a hallway. You pause for a moment, trying to gather the courage to force yourself forward, despite knowing full well that what waits around the corner is nothing short of pure horror. But you must press on, because it’s the only way to rid yourself of the evil that lurks. Plus, you get an Achievement for killing it! Yes, folks, in honor of Halloween, Warp Zoned brings you five of our favorite fright fests…
Condemned: Criminal Origins
One of the first games released during this generation was also one of the most intense. Aside from being a great horror game, Condemned: Criminal Origins showed us that sometimes the best monsters aren’t monsters at all. In this game, you tiptoe through dark, abandoned buildings. You hope you can make it to the next checkpoint, when one of the game’s signature enemies – a drug addict – leaps from the shadows and attacks. Condemned has a lot of jump scares, and definitely does a good job of keeping you on your toes. What also makes Condemned such a scary game is the lack of firearms. Granted, you can pick up a pistol or shotgun every now and then, but unlike most games, there aren’t bullets hidden in every nook and cranny. Therefore, you are relegated to only using whatever melee weapons you can find in the environment, be it a 2×4, pipe, or the occasional paper cutter. The scares are broken up by some CSI-style investigating scenes, but for the most part, you’ll be on edge throughout the entire campaign. Oh, and the mannequins. My God, the mannequins:
If there’s one thing BioShock did best, it’s set the mood. As you descend into Rapture, you can’t help but stare in amazement at the beauty of this underwater utopia. Then the doors open, and you realize that this paradise is not as it seems. You glimpse shadows of Splicers, hear some disembodied voices, and as a result, are immediately unnerved. But for me, BioShock’s coup de grâs was the dentist’s office scene. In the realm of jump scares, the dentist ranks right up there with the original Resident Evil’s dog scare. If you’ve played it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, then would you kindly watch this video?
Left 4 Dead
In the haunted house business, scaring is a science. Getting good results is a three-step process: build tension, small scare, big scare, then rinse and repeat. Left 4 Dead follows this protocol flawlessly. You feel your heart rate rise as you and your fellow survivors slowly move through an area and clear out the straggling infected here and there. The tension really starts to build when you meet your first special infected. For example, getting vomited on by a Boomer zombie causes not only your vision to be clouded, but also attracts more of the regular zombies. At that point comes the big scare: the horde. The music immediately starts to pick up. You panic, and both you and your in-game character shout in warning, “Here they come!” And after you miraculously stave off the swarm of the undead, you know you aren’t out of the woods yet. As you continue to make your way to the extraction point, you start to regain some of your composure.
Then you meet the Witch.
If there’s one lesson to be learned from anything horror related, it’s that little girls are freaky as hell. This dates all the way back to 1956’s The Bad Seed and 1976’s Carrie, and continues with more recent tales from Japan like The Ring and The Grudge (as well as another remake of Carrie). And this well-known fact translates very well to video games. Case in point: F.E.A.R, a game featuring a character so scary, you’ll never want to have kids. What starts off as a traditional squad-based, first-person shooter, quickly takes a left turn at Albuquerque, as you are introduced to Alma, a child with some really creepy powers and an axe to grind. Throughout the campaign, Alma will decide to pop out at the most inopportune times, taking a page from the Jason Voorhees playbook and slowly walking with that “zero f**** given” attitude. What is it about that slow walk that’s so damn scary? But I digress. If you’re looking for a shooter to make you sleep with the lights on, F.E.A.R. definitely lives up to its name. Here’s a snippet of what to expect:
Dead Space is perhaps the scariest game to be released this generation. A game so scary, your goosebumps will get goosebumps. Dead Space did such a great job of bringing the scares. I couldn’t tell you how much ammo I wasted shooting at things that weren’t there. I even emptied a few clips into already-dead bodies, you know, just to play it safe. I think I made it through the second chapter before keeping the lights on (not like it helped much). Now, I do consider myself a horror fanatic, and it does take a lot to unnerve me, but Dead Space did that in spades. The use of ambient sound, tight corridors, and creatures that came out of seemingly nowhere were bad enough, but when you get locked in a room with an alarm going off, your emotions go from cautiously scared to outright panicky. You know you’re in for a fight, and it ain’t gonna be pretty. Then, just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, the Necromorphs get fast. Couple that with the fact that your aim must be precise, as hacking limbs is crucial to defeating an enemy, and you’ve got a game that forces you to freak out yet reminds you that you need to remain cool under pressure.
That’s all for the Horror segment of the Rewind. Stay tuned for more exciting installments (including “2D Games,” “New Characters,” and more) in our look back at the seventh generation of gaming. Do you have a particular favorite you want to see us cover? Leave us a comment and let us know.