The writing team at Frugal Gaming each take a look back of their favourite horror games and the most frightening moments within.
Is yours there?
Have they got it wrong?
Ian (MrBadDog) : Silent Hill 2. Pyramid Head First Encounter
Walking down a narrow hallway, the all-consuming darkness broken only by the light of your torch, you approach a door. Whatever maybe waiting for you on the other side surely can’t be as depraved as what you have already witnessed, twisting the handle you slowly venture forth; how wrong you were. The sight you behold has changed everything, you will never be the same again.
A demonic figure struggles for control over two mannequin creatures, using his hips to push them against what appears to be a kitchen surface, the sexual violence is merely suggested, but it’s there. Horrified and afraid you hide in the only place available, a small closet. Hastily closing the door behind you, you’re are compelled to watch as this savage and frightening being slowly drags a lifeless monster behind him.
As it gets ever closer to you it appears to sense your presence, dropping the now unimportant, with outstretched arms it approaches you. The light darkens as his shadow fills the narrow openings in the door. Terrified you pull out your gun and fire aimlessly into the dark. The bullets seem to do little damage, just enough to slow his movements. Then, suddenly, all is quiet. It is gone. For now.
Whilst this scene is relatively short, the violence depicted here has stayed with me ever since I first played it all those years ago. The sound of the mannequin’s screaming and squirming is genuinely haunting. The power with which Pyramid Head enforces his will is very intimidating, his apparent invincibility is terrifying and the moment he senses your presence and slowly edges closer to you hiding place is horrifying. I have played a vast array of horror games over the years and with absolute certainty this is the most emotionally crippling scene I have ever witnessed.
Adam B (Bwortang) – Aliens ZX Spectrum 1987
I had a very sheltered life in the 80’s; my experience of horror was limited to knowing of a possessed angry doll called Chucky, and a bald chap with pins in his head. In the early 90’s my exposure hit +11 on the horror scale, in 1991- at the age of 11, I was further exposed to the movie ‘Alien’ at a birthday party; you can imagine how the chest bursting scene went down.
Weeks later for our next hit we saw the 1986 sequel ‘Aliens’. Two weeks past before we then acquired ‘Aliens’ on the ZX Spectrum.
We were actually there, on LV-426 on a bug hunt to locate the mute colonists, As Ripley and Co we set off with limited ammo, motion sensors and no map, the room numbers were non sequential and coloured in bright colours of blue, purple and red. The walls gunked with an unknown substance, we set off through Hadley’s Hope until a blip noise on our motion sensor, which instantly aligned our pulse rates meant an alien was in the room. The intensity of the blips increased as our sweat glands went into overdrive as we frantically scrolled left or right in the corridor trying to locate the alien before the Xeno turned and faced you, with your imagination providing visions of the infamous second mouth & the inevitable ‘Game Over’ for that character; on screen static then filled the screen. Let it be said I never survived for more than 5 minutes.
For my scariest moment in gaming, I was going to write about Bioshock or Fallout 3. Modern masterpieces in tension and suspense. But to be honest, nothing even close to scaring me as much as Super Mario Bros 3 did for the original NES.
I remember sitting there with my dad, way past my bed time, as I watched him face off against Bowser. We were a team, me helping him through the earlier levels and watching him play as the difficulty increased and the extra lives became sparse. Days had been spent getting to this moment. The simple save function meant the console had to be left switched on, and a ‘Game-Over’ meant the game would reset to the start of world 8, a minefield of tricky and horrible levels.
There were no guides or FAQs, no Youtube tutorials. Just me and my dad, facing off against the king of the Koopa clan. I can remember how tense I felt even to this day. Nothing is as scary as the pressure of an end boss, and it still remains as the greatest, most terrifying final stage I’ve ever faced. Even if I wasn’t allowed near the controller.
James Holland: Resident Evil 3: The Nemesis.
I could have picked so many moments from the original Resident Evil games on the Playstation, but the scariest part of any of the games had to be the Nemesis from Resident Evil 3. This guy was unstoppable and a constant menace throughout the game. The other games always felt as though there were safe areas where you could take a breather and think about your next move, but the introduction of the Nemesis changed all of that, he would smash through walls and could even follow you through doors; something that just didn’t happen in the games before.
Encounters with the Nemesis gave you two options and you had just seconds to choose from, normally it would be flight or fight with flight being the best option. Even when you put the beast down, it would then get back up and chase after you with its signature roar. The Nemesis also carried a rocket launcher, so he could attack you from range as well as from up close. He pursued you through the whole game, you never felt safe and he was an underlining presence that ensured you would always need plenty of health and ammo, just in case you ran into him. Even with so many games in the Resident Evil series, I will never forget the terrifying encounters I had with the Nemesis, most of them were precluded with the monster slurring the word Stars……
Chris Purdy: Condemned: Criminal Origins
For a game that delivers an absolute master class in how to deliver a truly tense atmosphere throughout it’s entire story, picking a scariest moment has been a difficult thing. In the first ten minutes alone you investigate a sickening murder scene, watch your colleagues get shot and experience getting thrown head first out of a window. The real stand out moment for me came in the first chapter while tasked with exploring an abandoned building and trying to turn the power back on. It’s not what I saw, or experienced first hand, but rather what I heard that made the hairs on the back of my neck prickle back in 2005.
Floorboards creaking, the sounds of thumping footsteps from above and objects being knocked over or smashed to pieces all let you know that you are not alone. The ambient sounds that follow, chase and harass you throughout the game add more to the feeling of terror than any cheap jump-scare or fashionably bloody cut-scene ever could. The sounds stay with you long after playing the game, and even now nine years later the memories still set me on edge.
Karlos Morale: Sanitarium – PC
There was a rhythmic thudding, as though part of some great machine; bang, bang, bang. Mostly mechanical, unnatural and yet seemingly with a wet sounding, organic component. Relentless and perfectly timed. I looked about me for the source of the sound and was appalled to see a man banging his head against a brick wall – with every stroke, blood spattered out from the centre of the blow. Again and again he struck and I stood still – mesmerised.
I try to speak with the fellow – to makes sense of what I’m seeing – but there is nothing. I wear pyjamas like a patient in a hospital and my head is bandaged; evidently I am not the only one who is sick.
After meeting some other people and solving a puzzle or two I am enveloped by the wings of an angel. My adventure begins.
Rachel Ellis: Alien Isolation – The Xenomorph.
Alien Isolation is a fearful experience; the atmosphere within Sevastopol is intense from the moment of arrival. Upon hearing the slightest noise of something scuttling in the vicinity you’re given the impression that your hunter can appear at any given moment. By the time you’re pitted face to face with the colossal creature, you’re already in the position to spend the foreseeable future shaking in a corner praying he doesn’t turn your way. The Xenomorph stalks you throughout the desolate space station, if you wander into his line of vision; you’re as good as dead. More often than not you will be hiding under desks or in containers in a hope that it’ll save you, but that’s not always the case. The Xenomorph is a formidable enemy whose unpredictability makes him utterly terrifying.