Sure, the normal collection of frightful video games are scary to a certain person. I’d include myself in that lot; I’m not good with jump scares, I must confess. While the likes of Amnesia and Slender are undoubtedly spooky, I’d argue that there are games out there that present true, harrowing fear. You may think that murdering monsters and rampaging madmen are scary, but have you ever considered the true terror that lurks within even the most paltry of video games? I mean, why does Nathan Drake kill so many people? Why is 'Rainbow Road' so horrifying? Will Doodlejump ever end? There are some genuinely scary games out there, here’s a short list of the ones to looks out for. You’re welcome.
A lead protagonist who goes about his business slaughtering countless numbers of goons isn’t anything new. Uncharted’s Nathan Drake kills no more hired guns and bad dudes as, say, Altaïr or Chris Redfield. What makes Nate such a terrifying prospect, however, is the nonchalant attitude he takes towards his murderous ways. Each bout of killing is followed by a witty quip or romantic gesture. The mad bastard clearly feels no remorse for the men he kills, in fact, it’s almost as though he doesn’t even notice the pile of bodies that line his path through each game. He’s quite clearly psychopathic. What’s worse is that most gaming protagonists have a noble cause; to prevent the end of the world, for example. What’s Drake’s reason? Buried treasure. Yeah, he’s certainly one of the most horrific characters in gaming.
Mario Kart - Rainbow Road
You think Silent Hill is a scary place? I’ll raise you one of the most torturing, brutal and soul-destroying locations in all of video games. Rainbow Road holds no prisoners. The concept of a race track levitating above the earth with no barriers and no limits is the stuff of both dreams and nightmares. Sure, it looks all pretty and colourful, but let’s not forget that once you fall off the edge, there’s nothing there to catch you. You’re respawned, so that’s good, but by the time you’re back on the track, the rest of the race is beyond you. It’s a track from Hell, despite its lofty location, and is by far one of the most frustrating elements of any game, anywhere. Venture on to the Rainbow Road at your own peril, there’s only one way down!
Grand Theft Auto
Let’s get a little more serious for a second. You want to talk genuinely scary? If any single game captures the harrowing reality of human life, then it has to be Grand Theft Auto. Through its not-so-witty parody and larger than life characters, Rockstar manages to create a vision of reality that reflects (and slanders) the questionable values that we live by in our capitalist society. The ugliness of natural human desire, greed and ambition is exposed consistently throughout the series. We can always feel safe in the knowledge that there are only a few crazy murderers, or Trevors, out there, but what about the common people who live each day with selfish intent? Fact is, we all do. We’re all scary people with secrets, prejudices, fears, hopes, bonds and ever-changing ethics. GTA blatantly points out these failings and forces us to accept the scary reality of our own lives.
Call of Duty
From the subtle to the painfully opaque. Call of Duty is a terribly scary game, not because you spend the whole thing shooting people (otherwise three quarters of the gaming industry would count), but because the online community centred around it is truly diabolical. I mean, is there a limit to how many times your mother can be slandered over the internet by an unsavoury youth? How many death threats does it take to make a game genuinely frightening to play? Of course, to say that this kind of behavior is exclusive to Activision’s FPS would be grossly inaccurate. It can be found in countless games. Call of Duty is, however, famous for the gaggle of underaged players who take advantage of the anonymous nature of online gaming. It can make online sessions extremely annoying at the best of times, and offensive and possibly scary at the worst. Some video game characters might be frightening, but it doesn’t get much more terrifying than a real life 12 year old whose homepage is the Urban Dictionary.
Does it ever end? That’s a question you can apply to a large collection of mobile games that force the player to aimlessly run, climb or jump to a goal that never presents itself. Doodlejump is a prime example; you can make your cute little monster rise through the skies and the online rankings, but he’ll never find his destination. No matter how far you climb, how many platforms you hit, you’ll always fall back to the ground. That’s a pretty depressing thought. At least in Silent Hill or Slender you can actually escape from the horror you face, in Doodlejump your only options are to quit, or try again. An endless cycle of jumping, always moving upwards, but never really getting anywhere. That’s pretty terrifying to me. I want to move forward with my life; earn some good money, raise a family, grow old and die happy. I’m lucky though, I can do that. Unlike the poor little Doodlejumper. He’ll be jumping forever.