Halloween. It’s a corner of the year that is synonymous with many things to many people. For Joe public, it’ll likely signal the chance to whip out the pumpkins, dress up in some ostentatious and inappropriately revealing costume and head out in to the night for a good old knees up. Film fanatics may adopt a more anti-social route by planting their backside on the sofa, loading up on copious amounts of chips and other obligatory junk, kicking back and firing up a Friday the 13th Marathon on the box.
When it comes to gamers, though, Halloween affords ample opportunity to indulge in a night’s worth of our favorite “scary” videogames, whether that be the psychological freak show that is Silent Hill or the blood-filled zombie fest in Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise. These days we’re spoilt for choice though, with newcomers like Dead Space and Siren: Blood Curse also muscling their way in for that fabled Halloween marathon spot. And let’s face it—as gamers, we relish in the chance to piss ourselves with terror whenever the chance pops up.
Over the years, gaming aficionados have had a myriad of standout, pant-wetting shocks drilled in to their minds that have lead to countless sleepless, sweat-filled nights, and it’s these iconic, fright-filled moments that the chaps at PSU Towers have braved to celebrate in conjunction with Halloween 2010. We’ve plucked ten moments spanning the PlayStation brand’s illustrious 15-year history worth of scares for your consumption below.
Who Let the Dogs Out? – Resident Evil, PlayStation, 1996
Kicking things off is this quintessential jump-out-of-your-seat moment from Capcom’s inaugural installment in its Resident Evil series, way back in 3D’s infancy during the mid-‘90s. And what a whopper it is. So, you’ve just starved off the first zombie attack, found out your comrades have miraculously vanished off the face of the earth, and are left with no choice but to explore an undead-infested mansion on your lonesome. So, you take a gander at a few rooms, spooky music ensues. Barely halfway down a seemingly innocuous-looking corridor (although the freaky, idiosyncratic taste in décor comprised of human bones should have set alarm bells ringing), Shinji Mikami’s fright fest gives you your first sofa-soiling moment as two bloodthirsty undead dogs crash through the windows, rotten jaws gaping for your jugular.
You barely have time to comprehend what just happened before promptly dispatching man’s worst nightmare in a flurry of gunfire. Or, like us, you ended up a sprawling heap on the floor. Indeed, while simple in terms of execution, it’s horrendously effective in its intended goal— to scare the crap out of you. Ok, so you won’t ever succumb to it on subsequently play-throughs, but anyone who grew up in the ‘90s will remember how impacting this moment was in gaming. And for that reason, it goes down in our book as an absolute classic. Note Capcom would later inject a twist in to this iconic moment for its 2002 Resi remake on GameCube—just to make you cack your pants all over again. Sneaky buggers.
James penetrates the depths of Toluca Prison – Silent Hill 2, PlayStation 2, 2001
Highly lauded by critics and fans alike as one of scariest videogames ever conceived, Silent Hill 2 inevitably offers a myriad of sofa-soiling moments to enjoy, ranging from your bog standard jump-out-of-your-seat shockers to employing more prolonged, psychological tactics to put the frighteners on unsuspecting gamers. It’s the latter we ultimately plumped for, as they by far proved the most memorable. Here, we find glum protagonist James Sunderland scouting out the local Historical Society, which leads him to the remnants of the spooky Toluca Prison and the dreaded Labyrinth. While the Hospital have cemented itself on the public consciousness as an iconic piece of architecture in the Silent Hill universe, Toluca Prison in our eyes is an entirely different kettle of fish when it comes to fundamental scares, offering up a plethora of pant-wetting moments that puts the inhabitants at Brookhaven to shame. Dank, dark and chock full of nightmarish beasts, Toluca Prison’s finest frights shouldn’t be attempted to be cut up and singled out; it’s a cumulative effort, a depressingly dreary and perpetually chilling locale filled with stomach-churning unsettling subtleties and full on shockers. As such, by the time you complete your substantial trek through the maze of corridors and underground catacombs, you’ll feel like you’ve braved Hell itself.
Some of our highlights include the morgue with the corpse that may or may not have moved, the sound of galloping horses in the ominous gallows area devoid of anything but pitch blackness and of course the encounter with a spear-wielding Pyramid Head stalking you through a flooded basement—after all, you can’t broach the subject of scary games without giving the nod to everyone’s favorite monster-molesting, point-hated adversary. Oh, and then there’s the little moment when, in a subterranean cemetery, Sunderland finds himself leaping in to his own grave. Indeed, the task of leaping in to black holes remains a constant undercurrent theme of the Prison complex, as if representing our hero’s attempts to dig further in to his subconscious in an effort to unearth the truth of what really happened three years ago with his deceased wife. Never mind being one of Silent Hill 2’s most memorable settings, Toluca Prison is possibly one of the most gut-wrenching, unsettling environments we’ve ever braved in a videogame. Terrifyingly but utterly compelling stuff.
Bella’s haunted hospital hang-up - Siren: Blood Curse, PlayStation 3, 2008
Sony’s stellar PS3 survival horror romp is full to the brim of grotesque, blood-filled highlights that make some of the more recent offerings in the genre seem like an episode of Scooby-Doo. Indeed, nothing quite encapsulates the game’s pant-wetting sensibilities more than the trip to the undead-filled Saiga Hospital as wee kiddy Bella Monroe, who must navigate the dilapidated structure armed with nothing more than a flash light and some cunning application of good old fashioned stealth. Make no mistake—this ain’t no place for kid, or grown men for that matter. Filled to the brim with shocks and subtly, the hospital makes for a truly disturbing locale, making even the most innocuous of atmospheric touches seem like an encounter with your worst nightmare. At the other end of the spectrum, the moment an actual foe clocks eyes on Bella and engages in a game of cat and mouse is among the most tense, gut-wrenching moments in the entire game, let alone being spooked by rumble of thunder or dancing shadows.
That’s not all, either. Aside from your standard slobbering Shibitos, our pint-sized heroine will also find herself stalked by a now-infected (and former survivor) Sol Jackson, who will pursue the poor lass throughout the remainder of the mission forcing you to keep on your toes even more than before. Oh, and then there’s that pesky siren blaring in the background, bringing about a certain Silent Hill-esque qualities to the proceedings that only works to elongate that knot of tension in your gut. Never mind the fact we’re playing as a 10 year-old girl, Blood Curse has a knack of rendering us to quivering kids the instant we pick up the controller.
T-103 Crashes the Party – Resident Evil 2, PlayStation, 1998
Capcom’s venerable Survival Horror franchise muscles in on yet another spot in our feature, this time coming in the form of 1998’s mammoth selling zombie apocalypse, Resident Evil 2. Indeed, while the general consensus among fans seems to point to the sequel being the least scary of the series, it’s rightly earned its place thanks to one particular pant-wetting moment. And it’s all thanks to that pesky hulk, T-103. Colloquially dubbed Mr. X by fans and media alike, this inexorable brute stalks Leon and Claire relentlessly through RE2’s ‘B’ campaign, soaking up copious amounts of lead like an ammo sponge while attempting to beat you to a bloody pulp with its meaty fists. However, there’s one particular instance where this tenacious Tyrant outshines his contemporaries in the scare department. You’ve spent about an hour without encountering your trench-coat wearing nemesis, and after solving yet another of the game’s obtuse puzzles, out of nowhere, Mr. X decides it’s time to reacquaint himself with you in style—by busting through a brick wall not five feet from your position.
As far as cack-your-pants shock tactics go, this would inarguably rank among the most effective in the series’ entire history. Fundamentally, there is simply no way you could have possibly anticipated such an event unless you were spoiled beforehand. And back in ’98, when Internet connections for us lot were synonymous with luxurious on par with the likes of Simon Cowell’s car collection, we were left blissfully unaware of the horrors that awaited us. And no, we weren’t foolish enough to spoil the fun by having a quick butcher’s at the latest PlayStation magazine in WH Smith, either. As such, if there was ever a fright guaranteed to reduce big grown men in to shrieking big girl’s blouses, it’s Mr. X and his wall busting antics.
Isaac braves the Morgue – Dead Space, PlayStation 3, 2008
After Resident Evil veered off the path in to a more action-orientated experience with the fourth installment, EA’s foray in to Survival Horror offered a refreshingly invigorating stab at the genre in a market that was slowly dwindling in half decent scares. And boy, did it deliver. Unequivocally one of the most terrifying games of the past decade, Isaac Clarke’s bleak trek through the bowls of the USG Ishmiura features copious amounts of scares, disturbing sounds, grotesque encounters and all manner of nightmarish beasts, so picking out one particular moment wasn’t an easy task. However, while that ending scene may be an obvious choice, PSU Towers ultimately plumped for something a little less obvious, namely the Morgue sequence. Embarking on yet another fetch-quest for his comrades, Clarke arrives in this deathly-silent location—and you instantly expect something sharp and ugly to claw its way out of the body drawers and attack you. Only it doesn’t. You venture forward in to the room, surveying the destruction, thinking you are bound to get jumped any second. Only you don’t. It’s this feeling of impending doom that fuels a constant knot of dread in your gut, unrelenting, as you senses are primed and ready for a marauding mutant to pounce, claws bared. And more fundamentally, let’s face facts—it’s a bloody morgue.
The whole ship is infested with creatures that are reanimated corpses and you’re in a room full of the things. Is there possibly a worse location you could ever be in? The whole experience left us with an inescapable need to rush for the sock drawer to retrieve a fresh pair of underwear. But it’s not over yet. After sweating off roughly 10lbs in teeth-chattering fear, we eventually decided to approach a room at the end—and prompted baked a fresh pair of trouser brownies as a hideous, never-before-seen Necromorph latches on to some poor chap and transforms him in to one of the creatures before our very eyes. Before we have a chance to react, the former human smashes through the window, baying for our blood. After dispatching him with a barrage of gunfire, it’s all over. And it’s still too quiet.
T-Rex Attack – Dino Crisis, PlayStation, 1999
Conceived by Resident Evil mastermind Shinji Mikami, Dino Crisis is an absolute stonker of a Survival Horror romp, albeit with one very intriguing twist—it’s got dinosaurs. Who would have thought? While the series may appear to be a death’s door these days thanks to a disastrous outing on Xbox some years ago, the original remains very much highly regarded by horror aficionados’ worldwide, so we just had to tip our hats to its ability to provide ample sofa-soiling moments in our Halloween countdown. Unsurprisingly, our attention focuses on an encounter with the game’s inexorable T-Rex foe that stalks you throughout the game. Make no mistake; this lumbering lizard takes ambush to a whole new level, and is capable of busting through concrete walls in an effort to gobble you up when you least expect it. In classic Jurassic Park style, you’ll be able to hear your foe approach before you see him, as his giant footsteps pound your eardrums and shake the screen, building a knot of tension in your gut as you anticipate an attack. And then in a blink of an eye, the T-Rex is on you, chasing, not relenting, not succumbing to the countless barrage of hot lead you throw at him in an effort to deter the ravenous reptile from its pursuit.
Indeed, this big beastie serves as a constant reminder that nimble heroine Regina isn’t necessarily as safe as you may perceive regardless of how Dino-proof her surroundings may be, and consequently the feeling of being on edge at all times is most unsettling. Aesthetically you could argue that Dinosaurs lack the fundamental fright factor seen in the ghouls and mutants that frequently inhabit the horror genre in other games, but in terms of sheer shock value, they rank among the cream of the crop. It’s a pity the sequel didn’t expand on these ideals more and instead transitioned in to a more action-orientated blast fest. Not that it stopped Mr. Rex showing up once again to wreck havoc on our underwear.
Harry Mason’s descent in to darkness – Silent Hill, PlayStation, 1999
Unlike the instant old school shockers employed by Resident Evil, Silent Hill has remained a comparatively cumulative affair when it comes to soiling sofa’s throughout the globe, relying on slow-burning, psychological tactics to lure the player in to a perpetual state of teeth-chattering uneasiness. And there’s no better example than the opening segments to Konami’s original 1999 horror fest. Having bumped his head and lost his daughter in an accident outside of town, protagonist Harry Mason staggers out in to the mist, surveying the immediate area. Suddenly, he spots a figure through the fog and gives chase, believing it to be his beloved Cherly. Zipping through the eponymous town’s fog-ridden streets, Mason eventually stumbles across a dingy ally and ventures further in to darkness, siren’s blaring in the background as he whips out his lighter to navigate the pitch-black surroundings. All the while Akira Yamaoka’s stellar score is working overtime, building, mutating, and exploding in to an aural assault of indiscernible yet ultimately stomach-knotting sound-bites and moody score work.
Mason eventually reaches a dead end filled with bloody corpses, only to find himself under attack from a pack of demonic, knife-wielding midgets. Looking for an escape (there isn’t one); you have no choice but to surrender to their brutal assault. Mason collapses, seemingly dead. Only he didn’t perish, he wakes up in a nearby café in the company of Officer Cybil Bennett. Was it a dream? Did he resurrect himself? Who knows. Was it one of the most terrifying five minutes of any game ever conceived up until that point (and still continues to disturb us greatly after 11 years)? The answer to that is an unequivocal yes. As such, it’s no wonder director Christoph Gans decided to replicate the scene for his 2006 movie adaptation to equally great effect.
Scissor Man snapping at my heels – Clock Tower, PlayStation, 1997
Clock Tower may not have reached the dizzying, vertiginous commercial heights of Resident Evil or Silent Hill, but this sorely overlooked early PS1 classic horror romp certainly comes up trumps where it counts—copious scares. Unsurprisingly, it’s all down to a crazy bloke who loves to wield a conspicuously large pair of scissors. His name? Scissor Man. Ok, so no awards for originality there, but that’s the least of your worries when this psychotic killer is limping after you attempting to slice you up faster than an onion on an infomercial. Similar to RE3’s Nemesis, this foe chases you around the game, appearing at random intervals inducing much pants-wetting shenanigans in the process. Indeed, if this snap-happy chap shows up, you better get out of the way sharpish—and by that, we man run. There’s no flamethrowers, machine guns or head-popping magnum revolvers to get you out of a pickle here, just old-fashioned evasion.
As such, Scissor Man’s ubiquity instills a nerve-shattering sense of vulnerability about the player—perhaps more so than any other major foe in horror gaming history—because you are forever reminded of the fact there’s little you can do other than hammer away at the ‘panic button’ and then prey you find a suitable hiding place to make it through the night. Indeed, whether Scissorman is springing forth from cupboards or roaming deserted hallways in search of victims, you can be sure that those sofa-soiling moments are never far away. You never quite know when he’s going to show, but you know that a confrontation is a horrifying inevitability—and that’s given us sleepless nights aplenty.
Ghostly Snapshot – Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly – PlayStation 2, 2003
The quintessentially Japanese Fatal Frame—known as Project Zero and Zero in Europe & Japan, respectively—is something of a double-edged sword. On one side it’s established itself as one of the most terrifying, if idiosyncratic (after all, you take control of a school girl armed with bugger all aside from a camera) horror games of all time, while on the flip side, hasn’t quite cemented itself on consciousness of Joe public to the same degree as its contemporaries. This matters not though, as we’re here to extol the game’s finest pant-wetting past times—and believe us, the game is bloody loaded with them. As far as edge-of-your-seat, trouser-brownie baking moments go though, nothing quite tops the sight of a malevolent spook sporting a snapped neck descending a staircase, its deathly gaze fixed on you. Yep, as far as scares go, girl ghosts rank amongst the most disturbing of the lot.
You won’t find any cheapened, Hollywood-esque shockers here; Fatal Frame takes a leaf out of The Grudge’s book (the original, naturally) employing some truly disturbing, twitchy and downright gut-wrenching ghouls to have you leaping for the underwear drawer at nearly every interval. Creeping around a spooky old house is bad enough, but when you find yourself grasping only a camera, a myriad of indiscernible sounds wrecking havoc on your senses, the last thing you need is a quick glance at said camera only to be greeted by a grinning ghoul—especially when you didn’t clock her with your naked eyes just seconds before. If there’s any scene that’s sure to have you cowering under the covers and enduring many a sleepless nights, it’s this—and there’s many more where that came from, mark our words.
Nemesis storms the R.P.D packing serious heat – Resident Evil 3, PlayStation, 1999
We couldn’t make a feature pertaining to gaming’s biggest scares without giving the nod to Resident Evil 3: Nemesis’s eponymous, leather-clad monstrosity. Indeed, we got ourselves in quite a bit of a pickle ascertaining the best Nemesis-related scare from the game—let’s face it, there are ample pickings, but we finally settled on one particular moment that had us chucking our joypads in the air as we made a hasty escape for refuge under the covers. Yes, we’re really big jessies at heart. Our third and final Resi shocker takes place once again in the zombie-infested Raccoon Police Department, with heroine Jill Valentine having recently survived her first encounter with the Nemesis. Exploring the prescient for supplies and key items, Valentine scouts out the S.T.A.R.S office before heading back downstairs, only to be stopped in her tracks by the unmistakable sound of shattering glass. A presagious, moody audio begins to flex its fear-inducing muscles upon your eardrums. Down the steps and around the corner, and the source of the disturbance is abundantly clear as your inexorable adversary busts through one of the station’s windows not five feet from your position.
If that wasn’t enough of a shock to the system, Nemesis also happens to be wielding a rocket launcher and immediately gives you a free demonstration. Try to run and he’ll follow you. Flee to the sanctuary of a nearby save room and you’ll be safe for the time being, but you’ll have to step out and face him at some point. He’s got you by the scruff of the neck, and you need to decide the most appropriate course of action. Regardless of your choice, the hulking beast won’t give you an easy ride; run and he’ll pursue you until you leave the building, fight and you’ll be rendered a limping, ammo-depleted wreck. Decision, decisions. Indeed, there’s a reason why Nemesis is revered and feared among RE aficionados’ worldwide, and after going toe-to-toe with him during this particular encounter, it’s no wonder why.
What are the scariest moments for you, ONTD? Not even on the playstation systems, to expand it I guess? I can go through a long list of things in Fatal Frame series, tbh.