Spoopy question: Scary moment in a non-scary game


#1

What game you played that wasn’t a horror game but had some sort of scary moment or atmosphere?

I was expecting Gone Home to be some sort of light horror with the lack of music, emptiness of the house, and how the misdirection of the house design. But as soon as the story unfolds about the sister’s discovery I was beginning to relax.

Bloodborne, while not traditional horror, was playing it smart with it space horror and the unknown.


#2

The last act-ish of Metal Gear Solid 2 was super unsettling to me. It’s something I haven’t played for over 15 years and still remember vividly.


#3

The Souls Series isn’t exactly horror, but DS3’s Irithyll Dungeon has those pillagable corpses that scream at you and they scre the shit out of me eveyr time.

And the reveal of that first passive Dragon Failure is E X T R E M E L Y. U N S E T T L I N G.


#4

So Codemasters makes some pretty good racing games. Dirt, Grid, and so on. But there was one game they had in development that was going through hell. It had apparently been teased forever but was always being delayed.

FUEL.

FUEL was sort of a precursor to the kind of game The Crew became. FUEL is a post-apocalyptic racing game where society is on the verge of collapse because of climate change and the energy crisis. It’s a little bit Mad Max, but not much. There’s still plenty of forests, open plains, and green grass, it’s just extremely desolate. The ruined husks of dead vehicles and planes that fell out of the sky dot maps.

When I say FUEL was the precursor to The Crew, that’s because FUEL used to (and may still?) hold the Guinness world record for the largest contiguous open world. The map is meant to represent a scaled down version of the United States, from the bay of San Francisco all the way to what’s supposed to be New York. Despite being scaled down, it’s still big enough that driving from coast to coast will take several hours. And I want to stress that even though I just mentioned two cities by name, there really is literally nothing in this world; there is only one city they actually let you drive around in.

We’ll get back to that.

FUEL sucks. Straight up. The game buckled under its own scope and as such, the handling model, sound design, menu system, and even the race events themselves suffered. It’s a game that’s missing about three layers of polish and only really has maybe half as much content as it needs. Still, a cult of fans have developed around the game, and some modders have taken to trying to fix FUEL. Enter REFUELED.

REFUELED is kind of the only way I’ve experienced FUEL. I played the original demo for FUEL, knew it kind of felt like garbage, but ended up picking the full game up in a Humble Bundle or something anyway, knowing the modded version existed and being curious. REFUELED does not turn FUEL in to a good game, but it does turn it in to a better game. I’ve put probably an embarrassing amount of time in to REFUELED even though all in all it’s still boring, empty, and same-y.

One of the improvements made by REFUELED is the addition of a hovercraft. Now, as far as I know, this was probably in the original FUEL, but I have a feeling that if it was, it was an unlockable. Your car doesn’t mix so well with water in FUEL, something very intentionally used to block you from going certain places. Like, for example, what I assume is the aforementioned San Francisco:

The city is just out of reach, half sunken on the shore of the ocean. It would appear you were meant to go there at one point, as there’s a road leading straight in to the city that abruptly just ends on a vertical cliff, almost like a developer came in with a terrain tool and chopped off the road, leaving a jagged, almost pixelated edge.

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Ah, but REFUELED gives you that hovercraft. Where we’re going, we don’t need “roads!”

As I sail closer to buildings, it becomes extremely apparent that I’m not actually supposed to be here. My navigation system is struggling to orient me. Big, boxy, barely-textured skyscrapers awkwardly jut out of the water. It all contributes to this growing, unmistakable creepy feeling. The ruins of a city nobody was ever supposed to see are haunting me. I am out of bounds.

And it feels like, at any moment, something’s going to happen. It’s like when you get the feeling you’re being watched, or like there’s a killer coming up behind you with a knife drawn. It’s pure, unfiltered anxiety. What if my vehicle explodes? What if I fall through the floor? What if I drive so far out that I never make it back? Thoughts of the Battlefield Megalodon dance in my head. I’ve driven in to the heart of this city and now I desperately want out.

Nothing happened. Because… well, of course it didn’t. It’s a video game, and even though I was panicking, I was still fully in control at all times, even if it was starting to feel like I wasn’t. At worst, the game might’ve crashed. But there’s definitely a feeling to being out of bounds sometimes, about being trapped in this world you don’t understand, and one that was never planned for by the developers. That can be, and was, pretty scary.


#5

FF7 for sure, the end of Midgar and the Midgar Zolom were scaryyyyyyyy


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#6

I don’t think it was entirely unintentional, but coming out of a jump in Elite Dangerous only to face a brown dwarf, neutron star, or black hole hits me in some kind of existential terror way. Even if i know ahead a time because its on my trade route, I dread seeing those purplish “not quite stars”. It’s so weird because when I jump out into giant ball of fire or 3 I feel comfort but anything else makes me want to leave leave leave.


#7

The eel in Super Mario 64 (Dire Dire Docks?) scared me so much I started sweating and my hands shook. I think I had to make my brother lure it out. I have a thing with sea creatures, and it was probably the biggest, most real-feeling creature I had encountered in a game up to that point.

I saw it’s back in Odyssey and it’s got me fucked up.


#8

MGS1 corpse filled hallway leading up to cyborg ninja fight. Your radar getting jammed along with creepy ambient sounds really fuels the eeriness.

Megaman Legends’ underground ruins were way creepier than it should have been. I remember the lighting was pretty dim and the view distance wasn’t great either. but the worst was hearing robot sounds in the distance approaching you.

Tenchu Wrath of Heaven’s later stages take a supernatural turn with demons and invincible enemies that IIRC takes a special sword to kill. Extremely Anxiety inducing when you make a wrong move and start getting chased by undead.


#9

goddamn, Ocean House Hotel, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.


#10

Hearing a door open downstairs in Battlegrounds.


#11

When I first played Ocarina of Time as a kid, the Redeads scared me really badly. It was painful enough to deal with those few areas where they appeared, but when I went to the future and found the town full of them, I panicked and shut off the game and cried for what felt like ages. I eventually got over it and returned to the game, but they still freak me out to this day.


#12

oh SAME i had to get my brother to play those parts in the open graves and i avoided hyrule town as much as possible

also the gibdos in majora’s mask are basically just redeads reskinned but them & that whole fuckin thing w the guy who’s turning into one just, ngaaah no thank you

i feel a bit silly going back to the games as an adult bc they’re both kind of goofy but at the tender age of 9 they frightened the life out of me (and i’m left with kind of this Residual Dread about them still, haha)


#13

Rollercoasters crashing out of the blue in rollercoaster tycoon was always pretty scary?? Or maybe not scary but definitely got my heart racing.


#14

The last boss in Earthbound. That whole part was just fucked up.


#15

Oh man yeah the Redeads fucked me up proper back in the day.

Also for me the MGSV mission at the Devil’s House (you know, the creepy-as-fuck hospital) is pretty goddamn unsettling - and that’s before a child begs you to kill him in an increasingly-agitated voice and a giant flaming dude tries to murder you.


#16

The Thief games always had a zombie/haunted area in em that was spooky. It bummed me out because I wasn’t playing those games to get spooked!

Also, the alien containment unit full of noxious gas and a wily gray in the first Deus Ex game. Greasels are nothing compared to that fucker.


#17

Half Life 2 isn’t a horror game, but the Ravenholm chapter sure is.
and actually, in that vein it doesn’t really have the trappings of horror but there’s a section in Episode 2 where you have to go through an antlion colony. It is this nest of twisting, very narrow tunnels that you know any minute a giant insect could come around the corner. Even though it’s a videogame and you know it orchestrated and beatable the design of the tunnels really gives this feeling that something could go wrong and you could take a wrong turn and get stuck in a corridor too narrow or fall down down a pit or something and find yourself trapped forever miles below the earth. it really spooked me.


#18

The part of Earthbound where Poo has to train creeped me way out when I was a kid.


#19

Who wants to talk about Xenogears!

Settle down, young ones, settle down.

So maybe a 1/4th of the way into the game you get to a city called Nortune, the capital of a country called Kislev. Most of the time you spend there (at least in the earlier part of the game) is as a prisoner with a lovely bomb collar strapped around your neck (I was gonna spoiler blur that, but if I haven’t convinced ya’ll to play Xenogears at this point…I can’t help you). While living out your meager existence in the prisoner block and taking part in mech gladiatorial combat for the entertainment of the middle and upper classes (listen…I know, okay?!) you get roped into the investigation of mysterious murders that have been occurring in the sewers. You end up wandering around hunting a monster that leaves slime by the bloody chalk outlines of the victims and ringing a bell to try and lure it out. It’s not, like, PT scary or anything but pretty creepy in its own right, and an interesting departure tonally from what the game has been up to that point.