The Scariest Game I Have Ever Played?

It’s not a Resident Evil game, not Amnesia, not Slender. It’s 1992 adventure game Alone in the Dark. The original Alone in the Dark.

This intro might not scare you, since nothing really happens, but that was exactly why the game was so terrifying. It was so minimal. Just the crunch of your footsteps, the creaking of an old door and the unsettling site of your polygonal avatar traversing a house that was sitting there just to try and kill him (or her, as you could play as one of two characters).

I know, if you’re under the age of 27, you’re probably looking at this and thinking “what a janky old piece of crap”. And in many ways, it was. Being a pioneering 3D title meant control of your character was tough, and things like aiming weapons were almost impossible. It also meant the game’s visuals were jarring, like Dire Straits had made an FMV adventure game.

But those rough edges only served, at the time at least, in the game’s favour. If you’re playing an action game and your most common quote is “what the f**k just happened”, there’s probably something wrong with it. But when you say it as often as you do in this game, whether as a result of something unexpected or just weird, it only enhances the horror experience.

So, there you have it. Laugh if you want. You’ll laugh more when I tell you the second-scariest game I’ve ever played is any 3D game with underwater monsters. Even Wind Waker. But at the time, this game was scary, and the joy of recommending it now is that not only has time transformed it into something hilarious, but that it’s an important video game.

Watch the video above, then play the game if you can, and when you’re done, the next time you go to give Resident Evil credit as being the grandfather of the survival horror genre, remember the only thing it had that Alone in the Dark hadn’t done four years earlier was split its inventory into a grid system.


Comments

    Yes when I go to give credit to the survival horror genre I will give credit to haunted house on my little Atari. Or maybe ant attack on the speccy or.....

    When the wolf came in through the window, I shit a brick and a half. The whole act of having to shove furniture over and in front of openings made this the most unnerving game I've ever played.

      Abasolutely!! The tension in this game was fantastic - and that moment scared the crap out of me the first time.

      I'm glad that Kotaku recognises this basically made Resident Evil what it was - too many people claim RE started the whole genre with having a clue. AID 2 was pretty good too!

    This game has nothing on Sweet Home for the nes, not only is it scarier it is much more well designed and holds up to modern games more then alone in the dark could ever wish to.

    Watch the video above, then play the game if you can, and when you’re done, the next time you go to give Resident Evil credit as being the grandfather of the survival horror genre, remember the only thing it had that Alone in the Dark hadn’t done four years earlier was split its inventory into a grid system.

    Also remember that Resident Evil also started life conceptually as a first-person horror game, but the creators loved the fixed camera angles of Alone in the Dark so much that they chose that format for their whole game. The early Resident Evil games owe a lot to the original Alone in the Dark.

      True! I remember from an old Edge magazine article that they were playing the 3DO port from memory (in case anybody was wondering how the Japanese developers ended up playing a French PC game ;)

    Love this game.

    For me it was Clive Barkers: Undying. Walking through that deserted house, listening to the wind in the trees and the boards creaking. I've never had quite so much on the edge of my seat suspense in anything else.

    More a modern quick-thrills horror game, do yourself a favour and get down to the closest large amusement centre and pump some money into DARK ESCAPE (4D) - I played this game in Japan a month ago and was blown away how it captures that movie horror element - its now been translated into English and is available in Australia (Playtime Highpoint has it in Melbourne)

    Well worth it for any horror fan. 3D glasses, DTS surround sound, vibrating seat and a wind feature that blows air at you to simulate certain scenes in the game.

    oh good grief...don't get me started on underwater monster....

    Underwater sections of any game, monsters or not, are the scariest of all game segments for me. I'm also a bit aquaphobic when it comes to large, or deep bodies of water. My second is any gaming section with heights. You guessed it, I'm acrophobic as well.

    Last edited 03/11/12 2:37 am

    I played this on my old WIN95 computer about 16 years ago and hated it, the controls were clunky and the game was boring. I couldn't get past the bit at the staircase with the winged demon, and it killed the sense of fear and dread for me, because a giant polygonized winged monster isn't all that scary. Never understood what people loved so much about the AITD series. I liked games like Dark Seed and The Last Half of Darkness, they were far better and knew exactly how to create a scary atmosphere.

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