Halloween season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by playing scary games? There has been no shortage of great horror games to look forward to, such as the upcoming Resident Evil 2 remake or the terrifying Nickelodeon Kart Racers. However, aside from the creepy monsters, horrific visuals, and moody atmosphere that make horror games so much fun (and such a fright) to play, one of the key components of a good horror game is a scary setting, and plenty of games have had terrifying locations over the years.
In celebration of this very spooky time of year, the DualShockers staff gathered to share just a few of the places that we fear from our favorite games: those old haunts that make us shiver when we think of them, and yet they remain oh so memorable. With that being said, here are just a few of our favorite settings from horror games, and why we love to never want to go back to them.
Iyane Agossah, Staff Writer
Water Levels in any video game
I’ve pondered for a while on what to share. I mean, it won’t be fun to just bring up something like seeing the zombie in the corridor in Resident Evil for the first time, or your first encounter with a ReDead in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I could make these into a funny story, but I’d turn too personal.
But if there’s one thing I’ve always found scary in video games, it’s water levels (though unlike the majority, I love the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time, surprisingly). There’s just something really scary about navigating the depths, be it in Super Mario 64 or Subnautica. The worst thing by far though, are water levels in classic Sonic games and their panic music when Sonic’s about to drown. This used to scare the hell out of me, and it’s still extremely stressing to hear it now, which makes me think that the original Sonic the Hedgehog might be the first game in my life I’ve ever found scary.
Other than this, my honorable mention goes to Alex Kidd in Miracle World, and its ghosts that were sometimes hidden in blocks.
Ben Bayliss, Staff Writer
Ravenholm, Half-Life 2
There was a time when I actively avoided playing horror games when I was younger. The demo of Silent Hill 2 for the PS2 freaked me out, and I kept my distance from Resident Evil. However, Half-Life 2 ended up forcing me into a setting I felt obliged to get through. Ravenholm took me from the comforts of FPS combat in broad daylight and threw me into darkness. The level design was done so well that even from the introductory area where you see the sign that read “Ravenholm,” it was instantly eerie.
Progressing through the level resulted in being low on ammo frequently, having scuttling Headcrab’s pitter-pattering around your feet, and then the ones that jump at you…I was out of my comfort zone. To this day, I remember how uneasy I felt wandering through Ravenholm, breathing sighs of relief when Father Grigori would shout out to me. It was one of the first horror settings I forced myself to sit through, and it inadvertently changed my view on horror games. Now, I can’t get enough of them.
Jordan Boyd, Staff Writer
Chapter 13, Final Fantasy XV
If you played the vanilla version of Final Fantasy XV like myself, you’re likely familiar with the game’s infamous thirteenth chapter: a never-ending labyrinth of hallways and bad jump scares that made me want to rip my hair out.
For some reason, the development team decided to turn this one particular chapter into a pseudo-horror Final Fantasy game. It’s so repetitive, so boring, so uneventful, and absolutely halts any momentum the last act of the story has. Why did they do this? I have no idea. Will I ever play through Final Fantasy XV again because of it? No.
Rachael Fiddis, Staff Writer
Dark Carnival, Left 4 Dead 2
It doesn’t take much to scare me if I’m honest, but the “Dark Carnival” campaign in Left 4 Dead 2 scared the bejeesus out of me. Not only did you have to contend with the usual pour of zombies, a Jockey hanging off your back while laughing maniacally in your ear, or the Hunter pulling you into the nearest bush; you also had to deal with clown zombies! I’d like to thank Stephen King for this life-long crippling fear.
With the fun fair music also playing in the background, the eerie setting that was created for “Dark Carnival” is definitely one of the scariest moments for me, but in saying that, I’d repeat it for a Left 4 Dead 3!
Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor
The Curien Mansion, The House of the Dead
Nowadays, I have endless love for a good, frightening horror game, as I find the tension of playing a horror game to be oh so much more satisfying compared to watching a horror movie.
However, I always remember the times back when I was a kid and was terrified of horror games, and among all of the games that I was afraid to even watch was The House of the Dead.
During the summers that I would spend down near the Jersey shore and head to the nearby boardwalks and arcades, The House of the Dead would always be there and for some reason, the game horrified me to my very core. Heck – I had to cover my eyes even walking past the giant arcade cabinet, as the mere sight of its collection of zombies and other grotesque creatures made me shake with fright.
Nowadays, I’m sure that playing The House of the Dead would give me nothing more than a few laughs given how “well” that game was probably aged. But when I think back on the games and locations that terrified me most, The House of the Dead was one that so vividly terrified me as a kid that I still think back on it to this day.
Logan Moore, Senior Staff Writer
The Hallway, P.T.
Who would have thought that a demo for a game that would never end up releasing would become one of the most iconic horror games of all time? P.T. has become famous for a litany of reasons over the years, but separate from all of the noise that surrounds the canceled Silent Hills, this playable teaser still boasts one of the creepiest locations that I have ever seen in a game.
Only consisting of two hallways, a bedroom, and a bathroom, P.T.‘s environment isn’t large by any means, but that didn’t prevent Kojima and company from packing it full of terror. P.T. proved that good horror games don’t need to take place in sprawling locations. In fact, they might even be scarier when taking place within smaller confines. To this day, the thought of turning that first corner and looking down the long hallway that lies ahead gives me a pit in my stomach.
Eoghan Murphy, Staff Writer
Carcer City, Manhunt
The fear of the unknown is to be expected and works brilliantly within supernatural or psychological horror titles like Silent Hill or Corpse Party. However, I’ve always believed that the evil that our fellow man is capable of vastly outweighs that of imaginary entities.
If ever there was a game that brought that concept kicking and screaming into crystal clear view, it would have to be Manhunt. The grim title takes place in an abandoned American town called Carcer City, which has fallen into disrepair. Now, its only residents are you and several gangs of criminally-disturbed thugs armed with machetes and steel baseball bats who plan on filming the most grisly snuff movie before the night is out. Worse still, they fully intend on making you the star of their show.
The whole city reeks of fear and loneliness as you hide in its shadows. The echoes of your footsteps feel like they travel for miles, and every corner is fraught with the very real danger of being beaten to death. 15 years after Manhunt‘s release, Carcer City is still one of the most sickening places I’ve ever visited in a video game.
Zack Potter, Staff Writer
Mount Massive Asylum, Outlast
From the moment you set foot inside the asylum that Outlast takes place in, I felt on edge until the very end of the game, from the long, dark hallways to the bloodstained cells — all of which is primarily in complete darkness. Heck, I don’t know what’s worse: the fact you’re stuck in an asylum full of killer psychopaths, or the fact that you’re in complete darkness for the majority of this game.
Either way, this asylum is filled to the brim with terrifying surprises around every corner, and I can feel my heart race just thinking of all the jump scares and terrifying chases. A great example is near the back end of the game, as you encounter Dr. Trager — you know, the crazy nude “doctor” who nonchalantly cuts off some of your fingers just for some giggles — and as you escape, you’re creeping through rooms and halls full of his “patients,” some living and others not. Just when you think you’re free, Dr. Trager comes out of nowhere and chases you down these terrifying dark hallways as you run for your life and escape.
There were countless moments like these thanks to Outlast‘s fantastic setting that truly set a place for itself in the modern horror genre we see now. Just remember if you ever feel like revisiting Mount Massive Asylum — follow the blood.
Michael Ruiz, Staff Writer
The Forest, Slender: The Eight Pages
The forest from the original Slender game gave me nightmares. It isn’t aesthetically frightening by any means: it’s the atmosphere that the Slender Man creates and the mystery the forest holds. You never know when that tall, lanky, no faced figure may come for you.
Exiting the open forest environment into the close quarters of the tiled indoors only increased my anxiety until I inevitably got caught in the grasp of the one and only Slender Man, screaming until my mother told me to shut up… okay, that didn’t really happen. My mother was laughing at me.
Steven Santana, Staff Writer
Sevastopol Station, Alien: Isolation
Alien: Isolation‘s greatest strength is that of its setting, the Sevastopol Station. This strength obviously comes from its adherence to the aesthetic of the 1979 film Alien and its space freighter, the Nostromo: Sevastopol repeats the bulky computers, the green computer screens with giant lettering, and the beeping of the motion tracker. My love for the station comes from my love of the movie it’s based on, but its rendering isn’t just imitation, as it adds many of its own original work on top of its recreation of the iconic sci-fi horror film.
Logs in computers spell out the Sevastopol story: one of a company desperate to compete with Weyland-Yutani but incompetent when it comes to producing technology to challenge their dominance. Sevastopol was always going to fall apart: the xenomorph was only the catalyst to its fall. Sevastopol opposes your progress just as much as the titular alien: locked doors, android staff, the APOLLO supercomputer, and its decaying infrastructure all work to keep Amanda Ripley from succeeding, though she proves to be just as resistant as her mother when it comes to surviving.
And that’s it for the DualShockers staff picks for the scariest game settings around: what are the places in games that have made you the most terrified? Can’t muster up the courage to head into the Spencer Mansion? Share your picks for the scariest gaming setting/locations in the comments below!