This list started life as a Top 5 scariest games list, but then I realised that I had hardly played any horror games, because I’m a complete and utter baby. Instead I decided on creating a list of games that were set in the creepiest places. These may not necessarily be the scariest games overall, but they are definitely games set in places that I certainly won’t be visiting on holiday.
5. Innsmouth – Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
You don’t actually arrive at Innsmouth until you’re a good twenty minutes into the game, first playing a little prologue in a scary Massachusetts manor, and a bit of contextual development in Arkham Asylum (no, not that Arkham Asylum, batbrains). However, the moment you do arrive at Innsmouth you are overcome with the overwhelming sense that something isn’t quite right, especially seeing as all the townsfolk look like this:
The game is a bit of a slow burner, but the moment you arrive at Innsmouth tension begins to mount: you see something in the corner of your eye, you get the feeling you’re being watched. To alleviate how freaked out you’re getting you decide to stay at the local inn, and then everything goes to hell.
Based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu does a great job at creating unease. It creates paranoia rather than terror, but Innsmouth is a place that’ll definitely mess with your head.
So, if you find yourself boarding a bus made of wood, it’s probably best to cancel your summer holiday.
4. Mount Massive Asylum – Outlast
Old Victorian asylums suck. They’re huge, creaky, and seem to have their own weather, separate from any local towns or cities. Spoiler alert: the weather is always stormy.
Oh, and as is the case with Outlast, they’re often filled with people who want to murder you. TO DEATH. The best (read: pant-wettingly terrifying) thing about Mount Massive is that it’s still, for the most part, a fully functioning institution. This is a place filled with people whose acknowledgement of your presence range from terrifying indifference to equally terrifying wanting to stab you in the throat.
Good advice: Trust no-one.
Even better advice: Don’t go snooping around creepy asylums. Ever.
3. USG Ishimura – Dead Space
The worst thing about death in space? It’s always horrible. You never see anyone go into space, enjoy their life, and die, content, of old age. No, everyone who dies in space does so in a horrific manner, and aboard the USG Ishimura space-death is present in spades.
Noises in the vents, shadows in the corners, other people: all of these things want to kill you. What makes the USG Ishimura so scary is that allows Necromorphs to act like rats: you may not see them, but you can be sure they’re no more than a few feet away from you. Waiting to burst out at you when your heart is at its weakest.
Luckily you’re provided with an arsenal of weapons that can prepare you for the worst, Unless you play Dead Space in the same manner as I do, in which case you gracefully accept your gory fate rather than having to walk down another spooky, spacey hallway.
2. The Spencer Mansion – Resident Evil
Y’know what’s awesome? Mansions. Do you know what’s even better than that? Mansions that are actually a front for horrifying biological experimentation. Did I say awesome? I meant to say, ‘What the hell, Capcom?’ The Spencer Mansion is terrifying, even the PS1 version, which graphically, isn’t great, still has the power to scare me now. It’s a place that oozes dread. Also, monster dogs are keeping you from escaping through the front door…
With an effective use of silence, the Spencer Mansion appeared, on the surface, to be a lifeless shell. That is, of course, until you heard the groans, and then you were fully aware that death had caught you in its cross-hairs. Tight corridors, weak windows (amiright?), and the lab of horrors ensure that the Spencer Mansion will go uninhabited for a long time to come, despite the ever decreasing price of housing in Raccoon City.
1. Silent Hill – Silent Hill series
I would exclaim that this little seaside resort could go to hell, but honestly, I don’t think hell has anything on Silent Hill.
Psychological trauma? Check. Creepy little demon girls? Check. Fog? Check. Silent Hill has it all, and in this case ‘it’ means nightmare fuel. Yet, despite the abject terror that comes from a visit to Silent Hill, there is also a strange compulsion, a compulsion to unearth all of its residents’ dirty little secrets.
There’s also a fluidity to Silent Hill as a town. Sure it has its own canonical history, but it also operates on a higher level: it’s a state-of-mind, punishment, and jail. This multiplicity of meaning makes Silent Hill the scariest location in gaming, because it refuses to be defined.
Despite how unlikely I am to go to sleep after a session of playing a Silent Hill game I will always go back to them, especially the first three. So, for its ability to draw me in, and terrify me simultaneously, Silent Hill gets the top spot on this list.
This is a list based on places that I’ve experienced, I’d love to hear what locations in gaming scare the bejeebus out of you. Let us know in the comments.
And from everyone at To Continue Press, Happy Halloween!