Some people don’t enjoy playing horror games (crazy I know!) because they don’t like getting scared; that’s cool and all; each to their own. Sometimes though developers like being a gits and will throw in a horror level; just to mix it up and keep you on your toes.
What follows are the best horror sections in games that are not horror games…
…enter; if you dare…
Welcome to Ravenholm (Half-Life 2)
“That’s the old passage to Ravenholm. We don’t go there anymore.”
Valve really pushed the boundaries when they created ‘Half-Life 2’; in the second chapter though they showed real horror making ‘chops’. Before we embark on our journey to Ravenholm we get lore from the characters; primarily they tell us that something bad happened there and it is now off-limits.
When we arrive at Ravenholm there is an ominous atmosphere. It’s architecture is tradtional European, but there is absolutely no-one about. You hear some noises that seemingly have no origin. Then it happens; you enter a house and get attacked by zombies…Ravenholm has been overrun. Armed with only a pistol, crowbar and the gravity gun you must fight your way through Ravenholm to continue the quest and the resistance…there are no other options. If there were; you wouldn’t be here.
Ravenholm is a classic example of building suspense and horror. Valve purposefully give you little snippets of information; enough to get you curious and worried. Ravenholm is built up to be a place that you shouldn’t be. The pacing when you get there is expertly judged. Starting with a haunting musical score there is a definite slow build-up to absolute hell.
When the zombies and black headcrabs show up the horror doesn’t end. Valve makes full use of sound and atmosphere; the zombies make a creepy crying noise; they move slowly but in packs. The headcrabs scamper and jump out of nowhere…
…’Welcome to Ravenholm’ does horror better than most ‘horror’ games.
‘Moths to the flame’ (Dark Sector)
‘Dark Sector’ is one of the lesser known titles that was actually pretty great. It riffs off the framework laid out by ‘Resident Evil 4’; it is an action game. It is; perhaps unsurprising that it does incorporate some horror elements and no other chapter does so more than Chapter 4 which throws the player into a survival horror environment; a graveyard.
Again the developers put on a master class, its dark, its foggy and there is an eerie church bell tolling regularly they also toss in pitch black corridors that can only be lit by a flaming glaive (hence the title of the chapter). Then the game throws enemies at you. These enemies make the creepiest noise, like a wet growl; often you’ll only see them at the last minute.
There is the presence of a giant monster too; in an area that is neo-gothic in architecture; this whole level is an exercise of uneasing the player, and boy is it effective.
‘China Shop’ (Gears of War)
Gears of war is not known for it’s sophisticated story-telling and I won’t argue for it. What I will say is that the level ‘China Shop’ is hugely effective. Inside a tomb the ‘Gears’ hear a shrill, bassy roar reminiscent of the T-Rex’s in ‘Jurassic Park’.
For the first time; they are genuinely out of ideas they keep referring to a ‘Berserker’. An indestructible creature that while blind, is absolutely devastating, it WILL destroy you in one hit.
You’ve got one choice; the ‘Hammer of dawn’.
Unfortunately you can only use that with a clear sight of sky; you’ve got to lure the creature out into the open…good luck gear.
While this isn’t subtle horror, Epic have went with the indestructible antagonist. A creature who is so violent and relentless. They have stacked the odds against the player and on the higher difficulties there is no room for error. Sweaty palms and heart pumping ‘China Shop’ is a damned effective horror moment in Gears. Kudos Cliffy B.
‘The Flood’ (Halo: Combat Evolved)
This level kicks off in a marsh; in the middle of the night, after fighting through a number of waves of Covenant you get a distress call…you are the backup…you go to the source of the call and it is a bunker, you begin descending into it’s bowels…there’s a room full of covenant blood; weapons strewn everywhere, what could’ve done this? Friendly NPCs shoot at you screaming something about not turning into “one of those things.
The tone of ‘Halo: Combat evolved’ has changed.
You’re now in a homage to ‘Alien’. You’re now in a horror movie.
You’re questioning everything. Did you just hear movement? Master Chief finds a marines corpse a and watches the helmet cam footage. What follows is an ‘Alien’ rip, showing the soldiers landing, joking. Using expert editing skills Bungie show snippets of their experience in this bunker they leave plenty of blanks by fast forwarding through the footage generating tension. The end shows something truly horrific a massacre and a new enemy.
Then Bungie toss you into a large scale battle against these new enemies; you’ll need new tactics Chief.
Again, this is a horror level that does it better than many horror games. And so it should as it homages one of the greatest horror movies ever made.
Have we left out your favourite horror moments in non-horror games?
Let us know in the comments below!