5 Scary Games Outside of the Horror Genre

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Games like Depth (the underwater multiplayer game) have seriously scary and tense moments, despite not being a part of the horror genre. These five games have similar styles or moments that shock and creep players out.

Majora's Mask

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has, by far, made its way into the top five for a variety of reasons. Although it is not on par with the plethora of horror games, Majora's Mask claws its way to the top of the "creepy games" list. Ripe with unsettling sequences, such as the moon plummeting towards the town, wearing masks imbued with the essence of the shortly departed, or even the music box house in Ikana Valley with with the half-decaying man inside, Majora's Mask major anxiety fuel was the Romani Ranch ghost quest.

On the first day, Romani asks Link to visit the ranch at 2 A.M. to help her save her cows from the invading "ghost". At first, flatwood monster-esque creatures begin to slowly infiltrate the field. The beginning is not all that scary until the music eerily changes and they begin to flood the farm. The resounding responsibility of protecting the cows coupled with the eerie and ambient atmosphere of the invasion is what makes this moment scary. 

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum works its way into the top 5 scary games for the brilliance in both the writing as well as the level and character design for the boss fight against the Scarecrow. After pummeling Joker's henchmen, the bat makes his way up to the security room before trudging deeper into the asylum. At some point the game's screen glitches out as if it's broken, but then "restarts" with the usual intro sequence. What has changed, though, is the bat signal in addition to the Joker driving Batman to Arkham Asylum as if he is the patient.

Eventually, Joker shoots the Batman and the game treats the player as if they had just died and re-spawns them into a graveyard surrounded by caged and insane Batmen. In his toxin induced psychosis, Batman manages to fight off Scarecrow on his psychological battleground and is forced to fight inmates through the lingering hallucinogenic effects of Scarecrow's chemical cocktail. 

Pokemon Red and Blue

Pokemon Red and Blue may be fun, happy, and enjoyable, but the generation 1 games left trainers scratching their heads at things such as a handful of Pokedex entries leaving players scratching their heads collectively. For example, it is said a boy had suddenly transformed into a Kadabra overnight (implying that spontaneous psychic metamorphoses are responsible for a good deal of the Pokemon population), a Pokemon exists solely to consume dreams nightly (preferring the dreams of children), or even a ghost that will literally poison its victims by licking them. 

The most unsettling aspect of Red and Blue is the fact that the player, albeit it implied, kills their rival's Raticate. The infamous Lavender town, home to the games largest and only Pokemon cemetery, is where trainers are shown their rival standing over the grave of the previously mentioned Raticate, mourning the loss of their dearly departed partner. Even for a children's game, this material is still a lot to take in and is written in such a way that only people who would be able to parse the clues left behind by Game Freak would be able to understand the tragic implications of pitting Pokemon against each other. 

Minecraft

Minecraft has absolutely nothing in common with creepy games, but its cave exploration leaves a lot to fear. When playing in survival mode, excavators have to worry about mobs spawning or appearing out of nowhere, hours of hard work can be destroyed by a barrage of arrows from a skeleton or the sudden explosion of a creeper. Countless items and experience can be for not should an unwitting crafter find themselves lost in the massive network of randomly generated caves. 

Psychonauts

Perhaps the most heartbreaking and spine-chilling moment comes from Psychonauts. During the mission "Milla's Children", the player can veer off course to a secret room which contains a literal mental vault. The player, having ignored Milla's pleas, is subject to a heart-breaking and terrible secret. Milla had run an orphanage and loved the children she cared for. But, one night after returning from the grocery store, Milla had came back to a burning orphanage was unable to save the rest children. If the player opens a chest nearby, the game will display messages like "It Burns!" or "Why didn't you save us, Milla?", implying the birth of her psychic powers was concurrent with the dying thoughts of the burning orphans. 

 

 

Not all horror are equal, and games such as The Legend of Zelda: Majoras maskPsychonautsBatman: Arkham Asylum, Minecraft, and Pokemon Red and Blue are evidence of that. Horror is not purely psychological or visual, but its power lies within the estrangement of familiarity. Children's games, for example, are presented to the world as either happy or not as serious as their more mature counterparts. That, therefore, is where the many eerie and unsettling events of Majora's Mask derives its power; even the implied themes of death in Pokemon may leave even the most hardened trainer weepy-eyed and snotty. The fact of the matter is that any game has the potential to be jarring, horrifying, or spine-chilling. These themes are not contingent on something being solely geared towards a specific genre, but are scary because they tap into something familiar. 

Not all horror are equal, and games such as The Legend of Zelda: Majoras maskPsychonautsBatman: Arkham Asylum, Minecraft, and Pokemon Red and Blue are evidence of that. Horror is not purely psychological or visual, but its power lies within the estrangement of familiarity. Children's games, for example, are presented to the world as either happy or not as serious as their more mature counterparts.

That, therefore, is where the many eerie and unsettling events of Majora's Mask derives its power; even the implied themes of death in Pokemon may leave even the most hardened trainer weepy-eyed and snotty. The fact of the matter is that any game has the potential to be jarring, horrifying, or spine-chilling. These themes are not contingent on something being solely geared towards a specific genre, but are scary because they estrange into something familiar.

Published Aug. 25th 2016

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