A survival-horror video game is nothing without its environments. The music, the buildings, the creatures that lurk in the shadows - it all plays a part in how truly terrifying a game can be. Without the right creepy area for a hero to explore, you might as well just be going through the motions of the story. The extra touches make all the difference!
I have a guilty pleasure for a good horror video game. I can't resist finding a new game and getting into the story; battling the monsters and getting scared every once in a while. There are a few places in video games that have caused me to jump more than once and I couldn't help but think about which ones are my favourites. I've decided to rank my ten favourite scary locations in video games. Let's start with #10...
Note: This is a personal list of my favourite locations, so you may have your own choices. Also, I've excluded general locations of cities (i.e. Raccoon City from Resident Evil, Silent Hill) as they contain multiple scary locations. This list is set for specific places, buildings, areas and mansions.
A creepy mansion secluded in a forest is a bit of a cliche nowadays as a horror trope. However, when I was a young kid playing the original Clock Tower, I was petrified. The Barrows Mansion is an ominous and dilapidated building with many twists and turns that set out to kill the main heroine, Jennifer Simpson, at every turn. Plus, we can't forget the serial killer with the large pair of scissors! My teachers always told me never to run with scissors and this video game may be one of the biggest reminders why I never did.
I'm not a nature person. I don't tend to hike through the woods or go out camping on a hot summer day; I'd much rather enjoy some time playing a video game or a night out. One of the reasons may be how creepy the woods are at night. Slender: The Eight Pages reminded me how scary it is to be out at night, lost and lonely in the woods with the fear that someone may pop out to scare you. Sure, playing a game of manhunt in the woods with your friends is all well and good, but finding pieces of paper with warning messages of a killer would freak me out.
8. Himuro Mansion - Fatal Frame
This may be a simple explanation for why Himuro Mansion made its way onto the list. There are ghosts...lots and LOTS of ghosts. You can see them. They come out of the walls, move through the hallways, stand on the rafters. There are ghosts everywhere and it's apparently a normal thing. The mansion has a sordid history with death and anyone who ventures there is practically destined for a gruesome murder. I mean the only thing that protects you is a camera and yet the ghosts keep coming. Fatal Frame is a scary game and for the first entry in the series, Himuro Mansion set the tone for more ghostly adventures to come.
7. Moyer's Lumber Mill - Deadly Premonition
Deadly Premonition is more of a quirky investigation drama than an outright horror video game. However, whenever Agent York would visit a crime scene and enter the Other World, the tone would change and the monsters would come out to play. From all the different locations, the Lumber Mill serves as the scariest location. It's where York encounters the Raincoat Killer, where he ventures deeper into the mystery, and a crime scene that was more bloodier than the first few locations in the video game.
6. Bart's Department Store - Condemned: Criminal Origins
Mannequins creep me out. I don't mean the headless mannequins you see in most retail stores at the mall. It's the ones with the plaster heads that almost look too lifelike. As someone who has worked in retail and during the late shifts, mannequins are creepy and this level in Condemned: Criminal Origins still scares me. The video game as a whole is terrifying and this level in particular is one of the reasons why it took me years to finish this game.
The Evil Within is hard to pin down in defining a location. I won't spoil the major twist or plot points to the story; you can get a better idea from reading my video game review. But, if there was one place in particular, I would choose the underground facility where you encounter the sharp traps and the spider-like monster. Whenever I play survival-horror video games, I get uncomfortable when the character enters a sewer or a dark underground area because I know that things are about to become intense and the monsters are sure to come out.
4. Freddy Fazbear's Pizza - Five Nights At Freddy's
Who knew a pizzeria could be so scary? Five Nights at Freddy's takes place at a children's entertainment centre where a few animatronic costumes go haywire and set out to kill the gamer. It's not just the animals that make the game terrifying, it's the location. Let alone that you have to use a surveillance camera to watch every part of the building, but it's a dark and massive location with many unnerving posters and props hanging everywhere. Why couldn't someone just turn on a light?
3. The Spencer Mansion - Resident Evil
Resident Evil is one of the first survival-horror video games I played as a child. The zombies scared me to the point that I had to have my brother in the room to play the game. The Spencer Mansion is a large building located in the woods not far from Raccoon City. As compared to the other mansions on this list, the Spencer Mansion holds many traps and monsters popping up in every room and every hallway to stop the player. The building of the Spencer Mansion only scratches the surface of the true horrors it holds.
2. Mount Massive Asylum - Outlast
Similar to a large mansion in the woods, the asylum is a common trope in horror video games. Outlast, on the other hands, is a terrifying story in part to the sordid history, and recent destruction, of its asylum. Mount Massive Asylum is falling apart at the seams and the patients are running wild, either tearing the building apart or looking to murder the main character. Countless people are dead and it shows; the asylum is dark, menacing and it never lets you forget that there is no safe way out.
1. Toluca Prison - Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill is a scary video game series. No matter which entry, there are plenty of different locations and stories that are meant to mess with the mind and the senses. Since there are many locations within the town of Silent Hill that could be included in this list, I only chose the one that still gives me the creeps. Toluca Prison in Silent Hill 2 is home to many terrifying creatures and dark hallways that James Sutherland has to encounter. Silent Hill 2 is the best in the series and with horror locations like this, I can see why.
What are your favourite scariest locations in video games? Share your thoughts in the comments below.