Happy Halloween! While you may be too old to wear a costume or trick strangers into giving you diabetes, you’re never too mature to get the shit scared outta ya.
I don’t have a particular taste or distaste for horror games myself, though I take them in moderation. Some titles, like Dead Space, are ultimately too action-y to actually frighten me for a long period of time. By contrast, other games, like the Silent Hill series, early iterations of Resident Evil, and Alien vs Predator (the original, not the crappy recent remake) were atmospheric enough to give me the heebie-jeebies.*
Silent Hill and Resident Evil did a great job of making you, the player, feel helpless… at least initially. Playing the game in any reckless manner wouldn’t end well for your character, and watching his/her gory death on screen (alone in a darkly lit room, presumably) was enough to unsettle players like me.
Similarly, the original Alien vs Predator for PC did a great job at masking information, leaving most of the scares to your hallucination. With only a scant few flares, a battery-limited flashlight, and a motion detector that detects creaky doors and hostile life forms in the same way, it was easy to get unhinged. There were plenty of times where I stood shaking at a door, refusing to enter because my radar was lit up like a Christmas tree. When I finally got the guts to enter, there was just some loose wiring swinging around. Relieved, I would let down my guard and turned around, usually to find a xenomorph devouring my face. My panicked, girlish screams are the talk of everyone at the family dinner table.
As for games specifically designed to make the player change his/her pants (I’m looking at you, Amnesia and Slender), count me out. My bloated ego doesn’t leave a lot of room for iron-clad psyche in my personality, and I don’t think my fragile fear barrier would hold up long against such persistent threats.
Of course, not everyone’s a wimp. What about you? What’s the scariest game you’ve ever played? Have there been any titles too terrifying to finish?
* Is there actually a correct way to spell this?