Paige FTW: Scare Factor

As a belated tribute to Halloween, I thought I would freely reminisce this week about the scariest games I’ve ever played.

First of all, I should make it clear that generally speaking, I do not play scary games. I am a coward at heart, and I like being a dashing, noble knight on the battlefield far more than I like being a trembling wreck sneaking through a zombie-infested hoard.

I often think of The Last of Us, that classic, and how I was so affected by the Clickers that for weeks after, I would automatically take cover behind my couch when I heard a gecko. On more than one occasion, I would blink and think, “What am I doing here?” It was a very immersive experience for me.

As a child, though, is anything scarier than a ReDead in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? I dread those brown corpse-like creatures that leap onto Link and start sucking his life out — and that screaming noise, ugh. Interestingly, I think the primitive Nintendo 64 graphics added to the genuinely off-putting nature of the creature. Its later appearances lack that same sense of fear when you approach them.

I also find the robots in Nier: Automata very uncomfortable, as they chant in their robotic-yet-childlike tones, “Father!” or “Play with me!” Some of them are programmed to kill you, yes, but equally many are innocently going about their lives until you drop a sword on them.

The trend I’m seeing here? Facsimiles of humanity scare me — something so close to myself, yet missing an essential component. The Clickers lurch around, their bodies taken over by a nefarious fungus; the ReDeads moan and groan as they turn physical contact into a satire. The robots of Nier may not look human, but they groan and beg to feel even as you slaughter them.

Perhaps the scariest thing of all … is ourselves?