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beatchef 06-14-2006 02:09 PM

Adventure games that have scared you (and ones that probably shouldn't have)
When I think back to my gaming past as a very bored child in a seaside town full of retired people, I remember a lot of traumatising moments. It may seem funny now, but at the time the graphics were all state of the art, or pandered to your imagination far more than now, and as a child things seem more 'real'.

So, what games from your childhood scared you or freaked you out? I'll start, maybe we can get some sort of support group going hahaha!

Granny's Garden - So, you're playing an educational game when you're like 5 years old. You have a really active imagination. The primative graphics are pretty disturbing to you, as are the descriptions ... then there's a time limit on something and you're not that good at maths so you fail the question, and then this shows up:

Arghhhh! Traumatised. It still looks pretty disturbing now, in an abstract way.

Zelda 2 - Okay, this is a silly one. A year or so after I got a NES. When Link dies there's a silouette of Ganon and an (at the time) scary laugh. And it comes from nowhere, in a game that was otherwise pretty tame. I think it scared me so much because of my traumatisation from Granny's Garden.

Shadowgate - Same sort of time. More well written descriptive text. Really creepy music. Really creepy graphics. I should've known better. I've gone into this room, there's slime.. what? I don't know what to do.. i'm dead? Wha? This is scary! Big skeleton! (Death) Traumatised. Again.

Asylum (Atari ST) - Made to play this by a friend at their house as he thinks its so cool. Another text adventure that's well written, and it's about murderers in an insane asylum. Hmm!

Okay, after all that I was reduced to NES games that were by Nintendo that either featured Mario, Mega Man or Kirby. Still, not a bad way to lead your gaming life.


Maniac Mansion - Not the NES version (that had far less disturbing graphics for the Edisons), the PC version. Left alone with it at a parent's friend's house. Hey, this is cool, nice music intro! These people are funny! Look at their big heads! The writing is funny, i'm enjoying this. Okay, i'm in the house, in the Kitchen.... what the hell is that? Zobie nurse! Arrghh. Run, run! captured! Still played a bit more... these people are coming from nowhere, at random, so I don't know what to do or when to run, so I don't want to even set foot in the mansion. So scary! Wouldn't go down hallways in the dark for ages after that.

Theme Park Adventure - Very disturbing. Only found out today what this was called, another case of being left alone with a disturbing game in an unfamiliar setting (parent's friend's house)

Operation Stealth - What's going on? I've been Disavowed? Creepy animation of being carried off and killed. No-one will know I ever existed?

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Amiga) - Played for hours with no problems... the Nazi bit. Get into a fight, lose it because the sucker punch doesn't work twice. What, Indy's dead? I'm responsible? Hitler takes over the earth? Noooooo. Traumatised. (I really loved Harrison Ford as a kid)

Monkey Island (Amiga) - lalalala this game is really funny, cool, get really far in it, really enjoying it.... aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! What the hell is that?? Traumatised. (Can you guess what it was?)

Beneath A Steel Sky - My character can die? Ay any time? Freaky graphics too. I want to play.. but... he could get killed at any time.

Darkseed (Amiga) Demo version. Played any demo going. Okay, I'm some man and i'm walking around. Creepy music. Getting louder, what am I meant to be doing? An alien is coming out of his head! Argh!

Indiana Jones & the Fate of Atlantis - Indy, dead? Nooooooo

The Dig - That bit where you can ressurrect someone you shouldn't, and I did. You know the bit. For some reason it really chilled me.

7th Guest - Full stop.

Alone in the Dark - Should have known by the title. The zombie coming up through the hatch at the beginning. Okay, I was about 14 by now, but those zombies are pretty disturbing even though they're not traditionally scary. Foolish enough to persevere, then go downstairs and the entire room full of sitting zombies.

Some sierra adcenture , set in the middle ages, i'm sure it's part of a long series. Do this. Dead. Do that. dead. Do somethigng else. Dead. Maybe not scary, but very disconcerting.

So the theme of what made me scared? Games with time limits in which you had to do something or get killed or captured, at any time, at a random interval. Mostly games that really immersed you, either in their writing (I get lost in books) or graphics, and THEN did that. It probably all stems from Granny's Garden. Never thought about that until today!

Gonzosports 06-14-2006 02:25 PM

A lot of my favorite games were so good because they did creep me out. My favorite game of all-time is The Temple of Apshai. There have been versions after the one I played, but the one I remember was on the Commodore 64.

It used the C64s ability to make small little pixelated graphics Apples couldn't make which were pretty good for the technology at the time. You could see individual ribs on the skeletons.

Anyway, the experience took about 25 minutes to load through the casette deck. So you popped in the tape, left and waited to hear the familiar sound of a gong being hit with a weird wind flute like sound. This meant the games was loaded and you were buying equipment from the dwarf.

Then, you'd enter the dungeon...and when monsters would appear, would make a sound that I remember to this day, this strange otherworld alarm that would turn into a sound not unlike the Jaws theme, that would play as they got closer and closer to your character (if you killed the monster, a triumphant little sound would play)...

Playing this game in the dark, especially if my parents weren't home, would put me on the edge of my seat with fear.

That being said, Doom II creeped me completely out in the later stages with the miscellaneous pieces of flesh and Amber: Journeys Beyond definitely was a game late at night would have me looking around.

I don't have huge experience with adventure games, if anyone knows of any games that truly freak you out, and can compare to a Lucio Fulci or Dario Argento film, please post them. I'd love to play them.

beatchef 06-14-2006 03:19 PM

It's all about the old-school games. There's something inherently disturbing about the sparce black backgrounded graphics, the electronic noises and music and the disturbing monsters that don't look quite right hehe
Also, a lot of them relyed on clever writing to scare you.

"Kneeling down next to the fountain, you drink a
handful of the acidic water. You can't scream because
you no longer have a throat, let alone a larnyx!!"

How scary and harsh is that? hehe

try Shadowgate on the NES, in the dark, late at night, with headphones. (use an emulator) It's an ancient game but you will get creeped out at least once. (Yes, I went back later and confronted my fear of that game)

Oh and the bit in Monkey Island? Here's the answer and it moves "Aww, he likes you!" ;)

Psychocandy 06-14-2006 04:13 PM

Remember that ominous dead guy in the desert of King's Quest VII?

"You... are... far... away... from... life. And love... And... hope..."

Yeah, THAT guy. He gave me a dramatic case of the heebs like you wouldn't believe.

Udvarnoky 06-14-2006 04:15 PM

I'm pretty sure I've shared this before, but whatever: When I played Last Crusade as a kid, I unknowingly had the volume turned up to pretty much maximum at the part where you get a closeup of the knight's shield accompanied by the loud zing. Gave me a decent jolt.

beatchef 06-14-2006 04:20 PM

Yes, I think the sierra game in my list was a King's Quest game. It definitely had voice acting so that rules out some of them.

saucyminx 06-15-2006 01:30 AM

Shivers. While the stupid spirits Ixupi looked really lame, the atmosphere, the shadows and the soundtrack really got me. Spooky.

simpson_yellow 06-15-2006 01:35 AM

beatchef, that Granny's Garden screenshot sent chills up my spine! I used to have it on the trusty BBC B+. It stressed the hell out of me, always worrying that the witch could appear out of nowhere at almost any moment.

The only other adventure game I can think of that freaked me out was Castle Quest, also on the BBC.

Couldn't find the right screenies, but the bits I remember shaking me up were the spider dropping on you, and the troll chasing you over the bridge. Eek!

jacog 06-15-2006 03:31 AM

Ooooh I remember Asylum, played it on my C64. That title screen guy was pretty creepy, and so were some of the unexpected deaths... like when you meet the guy holding the sign that reads "Look Up" ( don't ), or the rocket pack incident.

"In Asylum you play an adventure gamer who has gone a bit over the top. You have trouble distinguishing the real world from your adventures, and thus you have been locked in the Asylum."

C64, BBC, ZX Spectrum... the fact that we be quoting this ancient hardware is the scary part... heh.

kglaser 06-15-2006 03:56 AM

Lighthouse. When
the monster jumped at me when I opened that one door
, I screamed. The really pathetic thing is that, the next time I played the game, and it happened again, I screamed AGAIN.

saucyminx 06-15-2006 05:51 AM

Tex Murphy: Pandora Directive - I was practically shaking when the alien was chasing me in Area 51.

Crapstorm 06-15-2006 06:47 AM


Originally Posted by jacog
"In Asylum you play an adventure gamer who has gone a bit over the top. You have trouble distinguishing the real world from your adventures, and thus you have been locked in the Asylum."

Oh man, Asylum! That brings back many memories. I don't think we ever got more than halfway through it, but my best friend and I started from scratch at least 100 times. I remember trying to map the damn thing (which is designed to be impossible) and getting tied in knots. I ruined a lot of pencils. What a classic!

colpet 06-15-2006 08:40 AM

Zork Nemesis was my first really scary game. Others that had me jump out of my seat were Dark Fall, Last Half of Darkness and Delaware St. John 1 and 2. I also remember being spooked when Saavedro appeared in the window in Myst Exile. I'm presently playing Barrow Hill, and it has some good bits in it so far.

Psychocandy 06-15-2006 09:33 AM

Going further back, I could also mention "Castle Master" on the Amiga.
There was just something terribly unsettling and... wrong about that game. Scared the crapola out of me when I was a little girl.

Stroggy 06-15-2006 11:43 AM


Originally Posted by Mira
Shivers. While the stupid spirits Ixupi looked really lame, the atmosphere, the shadows and the soundtrack really got me. Spooky.

Hah, I had the same problem, Shivers really scared me when I was younger.
But there is a very good reason for that, namely my brother.

Back in the good old days me and my brother would play every Lucasarts and Sierra adventuregame together. Spending afternoons figuring out what to do next was loads of fun.

Whilst playing Shivers, however, we were stuck very early on in the game (near the gear puzzle... yeah really early on - we weren't even inside the museum, and when I played the game a few years later I solved the puzzle in one go)
After having tried to solve it for three days in a row with no succes, on the night of the fourth day I gave up and went to bed - my brother continued to try and solve the puzzle.

He managed to solve the puzzle and enter the underground entrance to the museum and play the entire way into the entrance hall of the museum. He was of coarse all too eager to show me what had happened from the gazebo with the gear puzzle up and until entering the museum.

(If you haven't played the game you probably won't understand what happens next)

We enter the underground passageway (which was very dark) I was about 7 or 8 years olf when we played it but I was used to scary games so the dark did not really upset me. We continue and eventually open a heavy door, bats fly out: a cliché but it does evoke a slight scream (nothing too bad)

We continue on to the boat and cross the underground river where the first (unavoidable) Ixupi sucks away some of our lifeforce. Now unknown to me my brother had cranked up the volume of the PC all the way to the top, so the Ixupi flashed up on screen with this huge piercing nerve-shattering scream.
I - naturally - begin to scream as well, but I manage to get a grip of myself. I shout at my brother and tell him to turn the volume back to normal, which he does (or so I tought).

We arrive on the other bank of the river and exit the boat where we find a corpse (Professor Windlenot) and if you've played the game you know what happens next: the ghost of Windlenot streams out of the body upon approaching it with a loud and ghastly ghostly moan, followed by a booming echoed voice. With the volume all the way to the top I simply cracked, I screamed and ran down the stairs where I continued to scream (to the great amusement of my brother)

Thanks for reminding me! I'm going to remind my brother of this when he returns next week... and perhaps I shall install Shivers again.

If you look up shivers on mobygames the screenshots archive has quite a few screenshots from the first part of the game (the gearbox puzzle, the river ixupi and Windlenot's ghost.

Another memorable part in Shivers is when listening to Windelnot's taperecorder, which manages to be funny as well as scary at the same time.

The things is Is till don't know if Shivers was supposed to be scary. I guess so, since they had all those burned corpses about.

I loved the fact that - after finishing the game - you could explore the museum again without having to solve the puzzles or being afraid of an ixupi hiding in one of the exhibits. At that point the game became an interactive museum of the strange and unusual ("welcome, welcome to Professor Windlenot's museum of the strange and unusual...")

LeisureSuitedLooney 06-15-2006 01:16 PM

Temple of, does THAT bring back memories, seeing it mentioned here! Whenever those creatures jumped out at me, my heart began beating faster, lol.

My sister and I were freaked out by Friday the 13th on the was weird, trying to explore the camp, only to have Jason slide into view, and chase you down!

Puzzle of Flesh (Phantasmagoria 2) was another one...the way Curtis kept hallucinating at work was pretty freaky...especially the thing at his computer monitor...that made me jump so hard, I nearly fell out of my chair.

Oh, and Shivers is the game I replay every how it uses atmospheric music and imagery instead of gore to really be freaky....

ahefner 06-15-2006 02:48 PM

The Colonel's Bequest.. the only Sierra game where the dozens of random ways to die really added to the atmosphere. A shadowy figure in the hat, hiding at different times around the house.. the first time you run into him (her?), it startles you, but subsequently when replaying the game you have to go back to the same spot, just to see if he's there.. hiding in the upstairs closet, ready to pull you inside.. or behind the boxes in the attic.. or in the shadows of a secret passage, leaping out to strangle you if you get too near.. and of course the shower scene (homage to Psycho).

The ghost is the graveyard adds great atmosphere (I always hoped there was a puzzle to be solved with the ghost, but I guess not), and I've always found the background sound outdoors extremely unnerving -- the uncanny sound of an Adlib card's crude simulation of masses of locusts, crickets, frogs, and god knows what else in the night.

The absolute creepiest scene is when (or rather IF, since so much of the exploration in this game was optional) you explore the basement toward the end.. in the dim light you can vaguely discern a mass in the far corner of the room, and as you walk closer your lantern lights it more and more fully until you see that it's a pile of bodies, dumped down the laundry chute.

JohnGreenArt 06-15-2006 03:15 PM

Haunted House for Atari 2600. Man, that game creeped me out. The box art was pretty scary, too. Of course I was like 6 when I played it...

BerserkerTails 06-15-2006 05:22 PM


Originally Posted by Mira
Tex Murphy: Pandora Directive - I was practically shaking when the alien was chasing me in Area 51.

Oh god, yes. When Tex stops and says "The hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end..." Eeeeek! I stopped playing for a couple days before I had the guts to go back. Other games that scared me:

Manhunter 2 - These games were creepy, but the second one was the worst for it. Early on in the game, you follow one character into a tunnel, just to find him at the end dead, and mutated, with "Me be man again someday" scratched into the wall beside his body. Eeeek! Also, later in the game, I found a monsters lair, which was empty. However a few minutes later, when I returned to the lair again, he was waiting for me. Very unexpected, very freaky.

Also a lot of the primarly static graphic adventures were freaky too. Shadowgate, with the woman in the closet... Time Quest with the dancing native... All very freaky.

saucyminx 06-15-2006 09:27 PM

There's this one scene in GK3 that spooked me - when one of the hotel guests disappeared during the middle of the night, Gabe sneaked into his bedroom to find out what had happened. You'll noticed that the windows were wide open and Gabe noted how it was relevent. Urgh, those open windows really creeped me out. Plus two weeks later, my neighbour's house was robbed and the robbers had left the windows wide open...

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