I was afraid of the dark when I was younger. I would have my mom check under my bed for monsters, aliens, burglars and rapists; then the closet with a similar list of potential assailants. Despite her routine searches, she never seemed to find a single threat. Personally, I think it’s because she wasn’t really looking well enough, otherwise she’d have discovered my box of imported pornography and dangerously curdled ankle socks. Although, it’s thanks to my mothers subpar monster-scouting skills (and my realization that not all seventeen year old boys have Thomas the Tank Engine night-lights) that I finally decided to purchase a bed without an open bottom.
It wasn’t long before I found that the frequent gunshots and screaming prostitutes were the only things left to fear — two unavoidable symptoms of living in the lower-class neighborhoods of New Jersey. I was bored, though. Falling asleep in a scared panic was the only life I knew, and learning to slumber any differently was proving quite difficult. So instead of consulting a doctor or trying an over the counter treatment, I decided to form a club for kids that couldn’t sleep and also enjoyed marginally scary stories. I called it “The Midnight Society.” While most teenagers at the time were crashing keg parties and fantasizing about Pamela Anderson, me and the other friendless losers would gather in the middle of the woods and tell “hair-raising” stories with poor plotting and underwhelming antagonists.
Nevertheless, it managed to solve my bedtime issues, as soon after I was dozing off in front of the campfire on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, I’d always wake up with a face full of non-dairy creamer and with David — one of our groups weirder storytellers — standing over me, breathing heavily like he’d just been lifting weights. Although it has been years since we’ve gathered at that campfire site or even spoken to each other, I wanted to give the surviving members a chance to recommend a scary game before an inevitable heroin overdose takes another life from the back-booth of an underground Hollywood strip club, so submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story “Games That Will Make You Cry.”
1) Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Gary chose Amnesia: The Dark Descent. He said he was positive Sardo had something to do with it so I punched him in the face. My take: Amnesia: The Dark Descent puts you in the shoes of a man slowly descending into madness while being pursued by unknown abominations. The worst part? You can’t fight back. You’re a helpless wuss that refuses to toss a lantern or a piece of wood at one of the creepy monstrosities, instead opting to hide like Cole Sear. Who knows, the plot twist could be that they’re all just projections and that the real culprit is actually “Guss,” the yard-worker whose job was on the line somehow. Oh wait, they brutally slaughter you if you don’t manage to escape. I don’t remember that type of violence in any episode of Scooby Doo I’ve seen. Sexual innuendos? Sure, but ruthless murder? Not on Joe Ruby’s watch.
2) System Shock 2
Frank chose System Shock 2. I kicked him in the shin before he could mention Dr. Vink, but I’m sure he believes that the AI was created by him in some shape or form. My take: System Shock 2 is scary in a completely unexpected way. The game has you exploring a spaceship that has been taken over by an evil AI, fighting off infected crew members and making some murderous discoveries. While this all may sound like a terrible Star Trek/Law & Order crossover, the real terror comes in the form of raw struggle. Your resources are shockingly limited and enemies are never really forgiving, so every corridor is potentially a pathway to death. The bright side is that you can probably just pour some water on SHODAN since she’s just a computer, right? Well, in a “this isn’t even my final form” turn of events, SHODAN expands beyond that vulnerability, becoming quite the frightening foe. Thanks to System Shock 2 I still lock my laptop in a drawer before going to bed.
Kristen chose Slender. I decided not to punch Kristen because like any true gentleman, I’m absolutely terrified of prison. With that said, she never mentioned why she chose Slender, but I also didn’t really give a crap. My take: Slender is one of those experiences that are difficult to explain. Have you ever felt like someone was behind you while taking an evening stroll? How about while searching for pages with nothing but a flashlight to illuminate the eery surroundings? Well, it’s like that only with a strangely horrifying character following you around. Wait, scratch that. Imagine being a girl in middle-school in a neighborhood where the Sexual Offenders Registry map looks like it has the chicken pox. Now, imagine those sexual offenders being extremely tall and faceless. Add a haunting atmosphere and some creepy sound effects and you have yourself some urine drenched boxers, suspicious neighbors and a new outlook on darkness.
4) Silent Hill 2
Eric chose Silent Hill 2. I don’t even know why the hell Eric responded to my fictional email. We kicked him out of our group after hearing two of his mind-numbingly boring stories, so why would I want to consider his choice? Well, the Irish buffoon chose one of my favorite games of all time, so I let it pass. I did, however, remind him of his level of suck by making uncomfortable hand-motions — which I later realized were indicative of multiple sexual acts; a ten minute charade which was followed by some angry misunderstandings. There wasn’t an explanation in the world that would have calmed that mother, her three children or the four mall security officers that forced me to leave the Starbucks stand.
Nevertheless, my take: Silent Hill 2 starts on a scary note, and I do mean that quite literally. After receiving a letter from his dead wife, James decides to visit the town of Silent Hill; a town that manipulates itself to screw with any visitors. In what is possibly the greatest psychological horror of all time, you confront several humanoid monsters including an acid-vomit spewing, disfigured atrocity that’s surprisingly quick for a mostly-faceless crawler, a monstrous mannequin that pretends to be dormant until approached and Pyramid Head, a brutally violent and extremely evil creature that, according to his strange introduction, rapes mannequins. If you don’t cringe, cry, shudder or scream in terror, you were probably molested as a child.
There you have it folks, scary game recommendations from the members of The Midnight Society that can still afford to pay their internet bill. Naturally, we have to warn you that all of these games are based on true stories, so the next time you’re digging around the backyard watch out for any ancient Indian artifacts or alien technology. With that said, join us next time for another four games that are sure to make you question your sanity.