Happy Halloween: Scary Stuff in Non-Horror Video Games

I haven’t updated very much this month.  My life has had a lot of ups and downs and transitions and what have you, plus I run an anime convention that happens in my hometown in October.  I thought about trying to talk about something specific and really exciting for Halloween, but I’d really rather not be academically minded this week.  Since I’m coming off of Fal-Con and gearing up for NaNoWriMo, I’m just going to talk about some scary stuff in video games that otherwise are not particularly frightening.

The Midgar Zolom

Alright, let’s talk about this horrifying snake for a second.  You’re walking through this marshy area, and a random encounter happens and BAM… giant eight foot tall snake.  Now, the thing about the Midgar Zolom is that it doesn’t usually party wipe you.  Even if you don’t run, it will usually knock one of your party members away so that after the battle they’re left on the edge of the marsh with two corpses and a healthy dose of survivor’s guilt.  Then, after you’ve escaped, you realize that it’s not a random occurrence at all.  You can see it, hovering below the swamp, waiting for you.

Water's fine, Cloud.  Come on in.

Water’s fine, Cloud. Come on in.

The thing about the Midgar Zolom that’s most frightening is how unwinnable the fight feels.  You HAVE to wade into it’s home to get to your destination, but if it catches you then your situation is hopeless.  Now, I know the purpose of this obstacle was to introduce the concept of catching giant chickens, which opens the door for the ever important Chocobo Eugenics sidequest, but honestly that snake was scary.  Also, I keep referring to it as singular, but at some point there was more than one.  We know this because we see what our villain did to one of them when he had HIS run-in.

If you think about it, "Sephiroth impaled this thing" is a running theme in FF7.

If you think about it, “Sephiroth impaled this thing” is a running theme in FF7.

Atelier Rorona’s Black Dragon

Ok, so for those of you who don’t play the Atelier games, they’re an awesome RPG series where you play as alchemist’s having awesome adventures.  You usually run an alchemy shop, which also requires you to go out to find ingredients and fight monsters.  These mostly range from slimes to griffin-like creatures or wolf-like beasts.  In Atelier Rorona, the first of the games for the PS3, you can be successful focusing on alchemy and not giving too much attention to your combat level because combat is avoidable and not needed for most of the challenges.  That is, until you reach Night’s Domain.

Night’s Domain is an area where you have to gather materials for one of the game’s mandatory quests and while you don’t necessarily need anything from the monsters there, they do pursue you very aggressively.  Oh, and they’re much more difficult than their predecessors.  Many of the monsters in Night’s Domain look like shadowy variants of earlier creatures, and if you’re not careful you will run right into this…

Up to this point in the game, every enemy has been about your size.

Up to this point in the game, every enemy has been about your size.


Unlike other enemies, the dragon only moves if you get really close to him.  He blends into the background a lot better than that picture would otherwise indicate and I’ve seen people be nearly chased right into him.  In combat, he’s every bit as difficult as he looks and if you haven’t put the effort into making your ragtag group of adventurers into heroes then he’s just going to take you apart like a thing that you take apart (I’m bad at analogies).  There are other creepy parts of Night’s Domain, including a section where a floating, bloodshot eyeball hovers in the sky, but none of them shocked me quite as much as this guy did.

Arkham Asylum’s Killer Croc

A lot of lists talk about the morgue in Batman: Arkham Asylum as being really scary, but to me there wasn’t actually a whole lot of suspense there.  Sure, if I were Batman going through that situation it might scare the bejeezus out of me, but I remember finding the whole Scarecrow section to be more annoying than anything else.  Croc on the other hand…

For those who aren’t familiar, Killer Croc is always depicted in the media as being a giant brute with very little in the way of cunning or intellect.  In the animated series, his big story about how he almost got Batman was as simple as “I threw a rock at him!”  While it was, admittedly, a big rock, that doesn’t change that most people would likely expect Croc to be a bigger, boss version of the brutes you have to manipulate into running into things earlier in the game.  

Instead you find yourself playing a really intense game of cat and mouse (er… Bat and Croc) as you sneak along a set of platforms praying that you don’t get noticed and grabbed.  Suddenly, Croc isn’t a brute anymore, he’s a cunning predator who will quickly and lethally remind you that you’re in his domain whether you like it or not.  It’s actually vaguely reminiscent of the Midgar Zolom, except that once you get his attention it’s too late to run, fight, or hope a giant chicken will save you.

Icarus from Deus Ex

The original Deus Ex was an amazing game in literally every way, and anyone who has negative things to say about it probably deserves to be fed to Karkians.  It also had quite a few legitimately creepy sections.  The scariest one, though, happens in Paris.  You’re sneaking around in a sewer, hiding from bad guys when suddenly someone comes over your comm-link.  It’s not any familiar face, just a disembodied eyeball that tells you that it now has full access to your systems.

Oh, so, if you don’t know for some reason, you’re playing as a nano-augmented soldier.  So basically, this thing comes out of nowhere and tells you that it’s in your head and has access to the controls.  It continues to torment you throughout that section of the game, taunting you.  You can’t see your tormenter, and know absolutely nothing about it except that it can apparently see you.  It knows where you are and what you’re doing, it’s in your head and you have no way to fight it.

I’m not going to go into any more detail because you should really check out the game yourself if you haven’t already.

Well, that’s all for this section.  I really do plan on my updates becoming a more regular thing again.  In the meantime, Happy Halloween.

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