30 August 2015

Sometimes in a game you just feel like someone is watching you or, worse, chasing you. Games have an extreme amount of power when it comes to convincing our minds that we are in real danger, even from the safety of our chairs or couches or beds.

The stalking threat is a delicious trope of horror, whether it be an invisible menace or a twisted, macabre mutant intent on disemboweling the player. Truth is, some games just do it better than others. Today, we're counting down the ten games that implemented the best “chase” factor.

Slenderman

What gamer wouldn't think of the thin, business-oriented demon when it came to being stalked in a game. No matter which iteration you play, Slenderman is always somewhere, staring awkwardly and silently, waiting to short out your presumed camera. Needless to say, he's a hard foe to outrun.

The Water Monster

Oh, the silent horror in the waters. What could be worse than an invisible, cannibal leviathan splashing ruthlessly after you in the flooded chasms of madness? No matter what it is, the water monster in the first Amnesia installment makes its place known over the Worm from Penumbra, just for its sheer level of inexpressibility and the helplessness it leaves you with.

The spirits

Fatal Frame, the parent of paranormal camera-capturing in haunted Japanese mansions. These games are, without question, terrifying and a large part of that comes from the spirits that can spawn from anywhere and are always just a step away from leaving you trapped with them in an endless Hell. The aggressiveness, helplessness and pure random areas and rate at which they can spawn will keep gamers with metal spines whimpering until the very end.

The SCPs'

Ever had a nightmare where a creature from the X-Files was stalking you? How about stalking you in a warehouse loaded with more of them, each consecutively more dangerous? Well, welcome to the SCP series. The most famous of these is “the Sculpture”, SCP-093, a portly little abomination that can only move when you aren't looking at it – look away or let it get to close, and you'll be treated to your neck being snapped. Really, that is all the game needs, as it forces you to blink during timed intervals. However, you will also find yourself with creatures that will lunge manically at you if you look at them and ones that will teleport you into their own nightmare dimension purely to torment you into being more edible – sound good?

SHODAN

Malevolent artificial intelligences' are a delight, aren't they? We all recall GladOS from Portal fondly for her jovial stalking, demented humor and wicked song solo. But, we are actually talking about her sadistic great-grandmother, SHODAN. The self-proclaimed “goddess” in System Shock 2, SHODAN is a masterfully voiced, batshit insane AI that is always following your struggle to survive on a ship full of creatures begging for forgiveness. There is very little that is as unnerving, terrifying or isolating as hearing her crackling voice echo across your nerves, taunting you as you run through her corridors.

The Specimens

So adorable, so cuddly, so soul-wrenchingly horrifying. Spooky's House of Jumpscares features a plethora of lovingly-crafted levels, rooms and references for horror fans. It also comes with thirteen specimens that were apparently the remnants of GL Labs (spoilers). Varying from a floating slime monster, a horned deer-god, a murderous floating mass of Silent Hill homage and a white-eyed, stabbing puppet, you are sure to find something to make you yelp a few times. There's always the adorable little pop-ups too. They're nice to look at while you're being torn apart or stabbed in the eye by a needle.

The Janitor

Now here is a treat – an obscure, Korean horror game that was so frightening that patches had to be released for people to finish the game at all! As the protagonist, you sneak into school to leave chocolates for, well, White Day. There, you get treated to a haunted school full of aggressive spirits, traps, puzzles and a murderous janitor. Every time you hear keys jingling in the distance, your heart is sure to cram itself inside your throat.

Pyramid Head

This stalking menace doesn't really need much of an introduction. The giant, pale tormentor haunts every step the player takes in Silent Hill 2. Wielding a great knife that could split a car in two, the frenzied butcher is always just a step away with his infernal pests chasing you down and head crowned with the proverbial pyramid. Any Silent Hill fan can recognize this icon of terror – though, they probably wish they wouldn't.

AM

Speaking of malevolent artificial intelligences', how about removing all illusions that one hates you and just comes out and says it? AM, the overlord AI from I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream decides he would like to play a game with one of the six humans left alive after the presumable apocalypse. This sadistic, taunting overlord will not allow any mercy, nor death, and keeps the players trapped in an eternal Hell for its own amusement and out of the sheer hatred it holds for them. Charming scenario, no?

Zombies

This one is a bit of a leap, but there is no one outstanding example of zombies that jumps to mind besides Resident Evil. The fact is any zombie iteration in any game makes for a near unstoppable, overwhelming chase. The mindless, cannibal monstrosities have nothing to slow them down in their onslaught to devour you. Whether it is the slow horde of the classics or the fast, zipping mutants of the future, zombies are the stalkers that are ever prevalent, always growing and nigh unstoppable.

Horror games are growing in their experimental nature, in their reach and how far they can go to scare us. Whether it is the game implementing a beast or force to stalk us, or convincing us that the very reality we thought we knew was a lie, one can only hope that the chases of the future will become even more delightfully frightful.

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