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  • Author Ced Yuen
  • Published October 31, 2013

Take fright: five scary gaming moments

The modern video game is a marvellous thing: funny, dramatic and scary. The deeper the immersion, the greater the scare. Here are five of the scariest moments…

Zelda

Too old for trick-or-treating? Bored by fancy dress bashes (you big party-pooper)? Watched all the scary films? If you’re looking for an inspired way to scare your socks off this Halloween, give videogames a chance.
 
The modern video game is a marvellous thing: funny, dramatic and scary in equal measure, and the deeper the immersion, the greater the scare. Here are Ced Yuen’s favourite scary moments in gaming. Clean undercrackers at the ready…
 
Resident Evil (1996, remade in 2002)
 

 
A US special police team investigates the disappearance of comrades in a forest, only to end up trapped in an abandoned mansion. Of course, the mansion isn’t really abandoned: it’s a labyrinth filled with monsters, mutants and traps. It’s not long before you find one of your missing comrades dead, your first zombie hunched over him. Scary, but you can deal with it. The real scare comes soon after. You go down a corridor, expecting a scare around the corner. Glass shatters behind you! And mutant dogs burst through the window. As if this wasn’t jumpy enough, the sadistic 2002 remake adjusted for fans’ anticipation of this famed moment, waiting until your second trip down the corridor to let the dogs out.
 
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
 

 
Ocarina of Time isn’t a horror game. It’s all about exploring dungeons for artefacts to defeat evil and save the world. At its heart it’s a sweet adventure, but those adventures can take a seriously messed up turn. Take Kakariko Village: a colourful place, with happy inhabitants. But there’s something hidden here, so you dive to the bottom of the village well to explore. And you find an ancient prison/torture dungeon, with blood and chains and skeletons, right before falling through fake floors into a river with withered hands sticking out. Creepy, creepy, creepy.
 
Resident Evil 4 (2005)
 

 
Resident Evil: the horrifying gift that keeps on giving, no matter how loudly we scream for it to stop. This one has a lone government agent looking for the US president’s missing daughter in a remote village. The inhabitants aren’t zombies – they’re brainwashed mutants with the speed and intelligence of regular folk.
 
These crazies come after you as soon as you set foot in this village. It starts with one man, who you put down with ease. But soon the whole village is after you. You go from house to house to hide, and they just keep bashing the doors down with axes and torches. Time to run. You turn a corner and a hooded, chainsaw-wielding man appears. That’s fine – you have a gun, right? It’s too late. Your head falls off, and your body slumps to the ground. Game over.
 
Bioshock (2007)
 

 
It is 1960. After a plane crash, you find yourself in the underwater city of Rapture. It was supposed to be an isolated utopia, but something went horribly wrong, and people left. Well, some did. Others stayed behind and went mad.
 
As you explore this eerie, rotting city, you find information that helps you piece together what happened before everything went wrong: genetic modification and human harvesting. Then you hear of a mad artist who experimented on people before turning them into statues. It’s fine: just like any city, the place is full of statues. That is until you get to one dank, dark corner of the city, and some of them suddenly come alive to bash your head in.
 
Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)
Batman takes The Joker to get locked up at Arkham Asylum, only it’s a trap, and he’s stuck in the building with a bunch of crazy criminals. The asylum itself is creepy enough without having to go after the twisted individuals that call it home.
 
At one point, Batman gets poisoned by the Scarecrow’s fear gas. And he starts to hallucinate. As he enters a morgue, the body bags start moving. He opens them to find his dead parents, mocking him for failing to save their lives “like a man”. You might not jump, but this one surely claims the gong for “most disturbing”. And people wonder why Batman’s so serious…
 

 
Ced Yuen is staff writer at What Hi-Fi? Sound & Vision.
 
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