By David Rawlings / October 31st, 2013
Halloween is upon us, and what better way to celebrate this spooky day then revealing which moments in video games made us jump in fright. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that we’ve all had that one moment in a game, that one moment we weren’t expecting, that one moment that made us drop the controller, curl up into a ball, and suck our thumbs. Yes, the ‘Jump Scare’. As cheap as they can be, they always get us. Horror Movies may have been doing it for years, but now these little pant-staining moments have crept into our favourite past time. And we’d like to share them with you.
I was playing Resident Evil REmake for the Gamecube. If you didn’t know, that game was an amazing graphical achievement, not only being better looking and more atmospheric than the original but darn near the best looking game for the system. I am not great at horror games by any stretch, but I find the series strangely compelling.
So I’m making my way through the mansion, trying to conserve ammo, but nevertheless shooting most zombies dead as I come across them. What I didn’t know yet was that you are supposed to burn the bodies, since otherwise they come back to life later as something called Crimson Heads. Then they are faster, stronger and just much more brutal. So I am backtracking on my way to a new area, get past a dead zombie, only to hear the music change a bit, getting tenser all of a sudden. I see the zombie I just walked by raise up, groan and rush me super fast! I nearly jumped out of my skin, and turned around just quick enough to become a zombie buffet.
Everyone who’s played the first Resident Evil remembers that one moment the zombie dogs come crashing into the hallway from the window. Unfortunately I didn’t play RE1 first. My first RE experience was Resident Evil 2, and it had something just as terror-piss inducing.
Most of the first half takes place inside a police station and naturally has an interrogation room. At first, only the room where the cops watch suspects behind the one-way mirror is accessible. I only found some ammo and whatnot. Nothing too overly important. But then the camera shifts to show the interrogation room through the one-way mirror. I can see an item sitting on a shelf on the far end of the room. That room is inaccessible until later on.
Fast forward an hour or so when I got the key for the room, I went in to explore it. It’s rather non-descript and mostly devoid of anything interesting save for a table and a shelf. I also spotted a First-Aid spray, an item that fully restores your life, on the table. I think that and the rather non-threatening room kind of put me at ease about this room. There are no hidden corners. I know there are no zombies here because I had full view of the room when I was on the other side of that one. I feel like I know everything there is to know about this room before I even walked in.
As I walked towards the shelf on the other end, the camera shifted and shows the mirror reflecting the room and myself. I know how one-way mirrors work, but for the next twenty seconds or so, I felt like it was just a regular mirror on a wall. I explored the shelf a little bit before picking up the key item. As I walk back towards the table to pick up the spray, a goddamn licker burst through the mirror. I jumped in my seat and literally forgot how to use a controller. For all of three seconds, my character was walking in circles and semi-circles and backwards as the licker sliced at me a couple of times. I finally regained enough of my composure, break out my shotgun, and killed it in two shots. I had to stop for a while after that just to calm down. I miss Resident Evil.
My entry comes from a quaint little indie title called SCP Containment Breach. Based off the similarly titled SCP website which features a compendium of fictional (or are they?) creatures and other objects of interest, the game brings to life a handful of the most popular entries from the site. Key among these is SCP-173, the arguable poster boy of the site.
Operating in a similar fashion to the Weeping Angels from the Doctor Who TV show, SCP-173 is extremely fast and deadly, but can only move when not being directly observed through sight. Players have to keep a constant eye on SCP-173 when it is present, but must also be aware of the game’s blinking mechanic, which forces players to blink every 15 seconds or so, giving SCP-173 a split second of movement. This can turn every encounter with the creature into a pants-wettingly freaky experience as players try to solve puzzles while, at the same time, not being murdered by this living sculpture.
I’m going to be quite honest here. I’m not really one to ever get scared by any sort of fictional medium. I grew up watching horror movies, so I’ve become somewhat desensitised towards anything horrific happening on screen. Plus, the notion of a video game being scary is quite laughable. Resident Evil? Piece of cake. Silent Hill? No sweat.
I had pretty much the same feelings playing Eternal Darkness. Sure, the atmosphere was creepy but it was never anything to make me worry about having to change my underpants every five minutes. The Sanity Effects, as fun as they were, never instilled terror or fright into me. It was largely an enjoyable game, set in a gothic world, with one of two moments that tried their best to scare me but ultimately failing.
That was until I entered the mansion’s bathroom. A small wash room with everything you would expect, including a bathtub. Yes, a standard, harmless bathtub… Maybe that was my downfall. I had become way too cocky and comfortable with the game, so for me it was completely unexpected. So unexpected, in fact, that I clearly remember letting out the most feeble and pathetic scream any twenty year old man could possibly expel. It’s safe to say that for the rest of the game, my nerves were completely rattled and I took extra caution when exploring any unsuspecting, small rooms.
What moments in video games made you jump out of your skin? Let us know in the comments below.