This is the most wonderful time of the year: Halloween. In this feature, we flout Horror Protagonist Rule Number One and look back at some of the scariest moments on PlayStation. Peppered with developer insight and more than a few unexpected appearances – a mix of spine-chilling moments that sneak up on you and eviscerating blasts from the past – we celebrate one of gaming’s best-loved genres this spooky season.
One quiet revelation could make you lose it
Getting jumped by the Hiss or coming a cropper at the furry hands of mold zombies are always nerve-wracking experiences, but it’s not just the telekinetic action that gets your blood pumping in Control. As you dive into internal documents and explore the Oldest House to tackle an extradimensional invasion, many scares are slow burners drawn from, in-game director Mikael Kasurinen’s words, “the mundane meeting the strange”.
A case in point is the NSC power plant. It’s central to the day-to-day operations of the Bureau but no-one will tell you exactly what ‘NSC’ stands for. No, you’ve got to go digging – or rather levitating – on your own to uncover that appalling little titbit. The revelation, which we’re sure will be the cause of another lockdown one of these days, is made worse by an off-hand comment made by security chief Simon Arish you can overhear post-game. We don’t want to spoil the unsettling discovery, especially as Kasurinen stresses that “trusting the player” was a key part of the team’s design philosophy. We hope we’ve given just enough hints to pique your interest.
On a totally unrelated note: former Director Northmoor… what a guy!
You can’t believe your eyes
With Layers Of Fear, Bloober Team made you distrust your surroundings. Its later cyberpunk thriller is no different.
As cybernetically enhanced cop Daniel Lazarski, you investigate the deceased's’ neural implants for clues, and their dying dreams are far from sweet. In between loud, jumpy scares, you’re left to appreciate surreal worlds. But the chase sequences throughout have us on the edge. For instance, we think we’ve snuck out of harm’s way while exploring Helena Nowak’s mind, only for the scenery to change and zap us back into the cross-hairs of a pursuing mechanical monstrosity. Sleep tight.
So-ma-ch for the fate of humanity
Simon Jarrett, after undergoing an experimental brain scan, finds himself teleported to a scientific facility in the far-flung future. The robots here have run rampant, professing that they’re not robots at all. The film Tetsuo: Iron Man, in particular, is cited by game director Thomas Grip as a key influence, due to its “disturbing mixtures of human flesh and machine.”
Your first brush with the game’s antagonists comes when the Construct slams itself against a door, which is thankfully locked (you can open it, but who would do that?). Shortly after, Simon falls (literally) into a deadly game of hide-and-seek. For such a hulking form, the Construct can pick up an impressive, lumbering pace if it spots you. Your only recourse is to run.
This little piggy will send you running all the way home
Yharnam’s benighted townsfolk are turning into beasts, and the hunters who are sent out after them are transforming into monsters themselves.
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