Content Warning: Suicide After the release of Silent Hill: Dying Inside, Scott Ciencin wrote three Silent Hill one-shots. Silent Hill: Three Bloody Tales collects these one-shots. The collection was published in 2005 while Among the Damned was originally published in December 2004.
2003. Silent Hill 3 had just come out. Though I never felt that the game reached the heights of its predecessor, it cemented itself as the scariest game I’ve played before or since. While Resident Evil triggers my arachnophobia, SH3 triggered my previously-unknown phobia of deformed, giant, demon women (perhaps Silent Hill is a prequel to Attack on Titan??!).
With SH3‘s fear factor in mind, the premise of an SH comic felt almost forbidden. It was to be published by IDW (Idea + Design Works), fresh off of the unprecedented success of 30 Days of Night (written by Steve Niles with art by Ben Templesmith).
The Broodmother was once an ordinary female dwarf, but Branka the Paragon let her be “fouled” by Darkspawn so that her transformation into a Broodmother could be studied. The Broodmother is a hideous mass of multi-breasted flesh that spawns more Darkspawn.
I like it when video games give you chances to deepen your bonds with other characters. Getting to know your party members better is often the best way to learn things about them that you otherwise would not.
Favorite Examples: BioWare games, recent Persona and Fire Emblem games, and in Harvest Moon.
2. Dialog Trees
Related to the above, dialog trees can be a lot of fun. I always like opportunities to impress my personality upon a game (those poor games). Dialog trees can impact a game’s story, characters, and endings. They can also affect what items you get and which areas you will go to. A nice addition to dialog trees is the integration of quick time events as seen in the Mass Effect series from 2 onward. These force you to make instinctual choices.
Favorite Examples: BioWare games, the Fallout series, Telltale’s games
3. Multiple Endings
I like these for similar reasons to the above tropes. What could be better than your decisions shaping your ultimate fate in a game? Of course, you run the risk of it not being the fate you want…
Favorite Examples: Shin Megami Tensei, Silent Hill
4. On-Rails Shooting Sections
(Possible?) Hot take: I like these when they pop up in third-person shooters and action games.
Favorite Examples: Metal Gear, Resident Evil, Uncharted
5. Training Modes That Teach You All of the Moves
These modes in fighting games seem to be unpopular with some, but I rather like them… until I get about halfway through a character’s move list. Then the combos start to make me crosseyed.
Favorite Examples: Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken
These can be fun to mess with for a while, especially to recreate characters from other sources, or to see what kind of twisted creations you can make…
Favorite Examples: Soulcalibur, WWE games
7. Randomized Dungeons
I like these in action-RPGs and roguelikes because they add some variety to the game.
Favorite Examples: Dark Cloud, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon
8. Skill Trees
Skill trees may only offer an illusion of freedom, but I’ve loved them ever since I played Final Fantasy X. The more freedom, the better.
Favorite Examples: FFX, Tales of Xillia 1 and 2, Xenosaga III: Also sprach Zarathustra
Settings in video games are very important in terms of atmosphere, design, and storytelling. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Gold Saucer, Final Fantasy VII
Basically, a minigame town. The minigames include Mog House, which is like a brief virtual pet game, basketball, and arm wrestling. Though your first visit is probably the most impressive due to the minigames being their most fresh, subsequent visits will allow you to fight in a battle arena and race your own chocobos. The music is fun and peppy, too.
It will be worth seeing how Gold Saucer will be presented in the FFVII remake… sometime in the next three years. :I
2. The Sunleth Waterscape, Final Fantasy XIII
The Sunleth Waterscape is a fun and beautiful place to explore with great music.
3. Fortune City, Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
The sun may have set on Capcom’s open-world zombie-slaying series, but I’ll always have fond memories of the first few games (I’ve yet to play 3 and 4). Fortune City, an honage/parody of Las Vegas, allows DR2 to expand on the foundation of the first game. There are several secrets, weapons, slot machines, survivors, and psychopaths to find. The Off the Record rerelease adds a new area to Fortune City: Uranus Zone, a theme park.
4. Silent Hill
Silent Hill arguably had its strongest appeal with the first four games made by Team Silent. They created a town that was dark but atmospheric and compelling. It was also fun to explore parts of a city that you would never get to in real life. If Silent Hill is ever rebooted, whoever is in charge needs to portray the town as a character unto itself, and put real craft into designing it.
5. Raccoon City, various Resident Evil/Biohazard titles
Like Silent Hill, Raccoon City was once a nice, quiet little town with some dark secrets. Silent Hill still lingers somewhere out there, but Raccoon City met its apocalyptic end when the US government decided to nuke the town to contain the bio hazard outbreak plaguing it.
Though RE/BH is more physical than metaphysical, exploring Raccoon City in such games as RE2, 3, and Outbreak has a similar appeal to Silent Hill in that we’re exploring places we’re not supposed to. Tee-hee!
6. Dracula’s Castle, Castlevania/Vampire Killer
Dracula must have one hell of an interior design team, because every time a hero invades it, it has changed considerably. One consistent installation is the Clock Tower, featured in most CV games.
My first CV game was Symphony of the Night, so I’m partial to it.It’s one of my top five favorite games, and has my favorite vision of Dracula’s castle due to the atmosphere, enemies, and gorgeous music. Highlights include a creepy cavern; an underground water vein; a colosseum; a library; and the Royal Chapel. I ❤ the irony of Dracula having a chapel in his castle.
7. Melody Town, Kirby’s Epic Yarn
It has not come up much yet, but I loooove Kirby and his games. Melody Land is a very fun level in a very fun game. Imagine a stage in a platformer where every platform is a musical instrument that makes a sound when you interact with it. That’s Melody Land.
8. New York, Parasite Eve
PE offered a recreated version of New York with some landmarks to explore, which was pretty cool for a PS1 game.9. Rapture, BioShock
I really loved BioShock. Rapture was a gorgeous place to visit. The extremely well-done fire, ice, and water effects helped.
Perhaps one day, I will do a different version of this article for fighting game stages.
This intro has it all: gorgeous graphics and music, and action. The CGI character models actually look years ahead of most games of the time.
2. Silent Hill 1-3
I kind of hesitated to put these games on this list because I thought I should include games with more original intros as opposed to one’s that feature clips from the game’s cutscenes, but considering that the purpose of this post is to list intros that get you pumped for the game, I realized I had to include these. These intros succeed because they set the mood with their imagery and some of Akira Yamaoka’s best music (“She”, “Theme of Laura”, and “You’re Not Here”, respectively).
3. Tales Series
Tales intros are like pizza: even if you don’t like an individual one, it’s still pizza. Some of them take a while to grow on me.
My fav intro sequences and themes are for Abyss, Radiant Mythology, Vesperia (Bonnie Pink’s “Ring a Bell”), Graces f (BoA’s “White Wishes”), Xillia (Ayumi Hayasaki’s “progress”), and Zestiria (Superfly’s “White Light”).
4. Chrono Cross
So CC killed off pretty much the entire cast of Chrono Trigger. At least the intro and theme totally rock. It’s all about perspective. Right? …Right?
5. Fire Emblem Awakening, Fates, and Heroes
It’s scary to think how close we came to not having these fantastic games. When the sales of the series began to sink, Nintendo delivered a rare ultimatum to Intelligent Systems: if the 13th FE game dud not sell well enough, the series would end. Well, over a million units sold for Awakening alone later, here we are.
I include these games’ intros because they are fantastic and beautiful with cel-shaded CGI and the theme songs. There is a deeper reason, but that’s for their eventual LPs, at least for Awakening and Fates… 😜
6. Persona Series
Particularly the Persona 2 duology (and their PSP ports), both versions of Persona 3, Persona 4 Arena and Arena Ultimax, and Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. Great, artistic, and intriguing animation (and downright adorable in the latter’s case) and catchy themes.
7. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga (Japanese Version)
The North American version features the same images but a different theme song. It’s good… but the Japanese theme is great.
8. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked
Less visually intensive than most of the games on this list, if not all of them, but the rocking theme song gets me pumped.
9. Rule of Rose
This obscure PS2 horror game has an incredibly creepy intro; yet, it’s theme is paradoxically gorgeous.
10. Resident Evil Outbreak
This game’s intro shows the disastrous fight between Umbrella Corporation soldiers and the mutates scientist William Birkin. It could have just been an action scene, but Capcom (of all companies) went with an artistic approach with Birkin’s attacks on the soldiers fading into viruses attacking cells. The solemn orchestral theme helps. The sequel features the same theme, but with considerably less compelling imagery (a fly through of the game’s environments. In real-time.)
October is nigh, and unlike last year, we’re going all the way with horror games this upcoming month. As a prelude, I’d like to share some of my favorite scary songs from games. They don’t all have to be from horror games, mind you.
You have been warned!
1. “My Heaven”, Silent Hill
Story time: I somehow didn’t realize how truly creepy this song is until I did a “30 Days Meme” for SH back on Tumblr. Just… listen.
2. “Don’t Cry Jennifer”, Clock Tower (SNES)
Question: Is Don’t Cry, Jennifer one of the best video game chase themes of all time? Answer: Yes.
Every element of this song works so well: the rhythm that sounds like a heartbeat; the strange sound that’s probably the laughter of the Scissorman; the tense strings…
3. “Trail of Blood”, Final Fantasy VII
This song accompanies some creepy moments involving Sephiroth. I like the strings.
4. “Hoshingoeka”, Siren
While this song is more atmospheric than scary, I also really like it musically. The Japanese lyrics sync up with the tale of the doomed village really well.
5. “escape from u.b.”, Parasite Eve
You’re Aya Brea, a badass cop with “good” evolved mitochondria awakened by a chance encounter with an opera singer who also unknowingly possessed evil evolved mitochondria. As Aya, you’re pretty desperate to save the world from the titular Eve’s offspring, the so-called Ultimate Being. Eventually, you seriously wound U.B., but he just refuses to die. So you retreat into the bowels of a Navy carrier to overlord the engines, hopefully taking U.B. with it. He chases after you, slowly picking up speed, with this playing in the background.
Do you have any favorite creepy songs from video games?