If there is one game that truly frightens the living daylights out of me, it is an old game (that I sometimes still play today with the aid of dosbox) that I got as a reward for doing well in my studies back in my school days.
Nope its not first Resident Evil game nor is it any of the Silent Hill series. In fact it is not even considered a horror game technically. By classification its a turn based strategy game and it was released in the 1990s.
I first remembered looking at the box art and thinking to myself that there is no way this is a strategy game with that alien looking hand there. But the back of the box said strategy and many gaming magazines were praising it so it should be safe.
Boy was I in for some of the scariest moments of my gaming life.
The first few hours of gaming was ok I remembered. Building my base, researching new weapons and taking out cute looking aliens (the ones with small body and big head) with ease and seeing my squad of alien smacking soldiers improve. Day became night as hours flied by as I continued my war against the alien invaders.
It was only then that things got scary. I remember researching my first alien dead body like the one in the picture above and the box art of the game came to mind. In a house that has most of its lights off as its bed time for everyone but me (it was the school holidays), and being still a kid, I really got scared.
If scary images of aliens wasn’t enough, the game engine was such that areas you have not explored will be blacked out like in the image above. As my soldier has not entered the alien spacecraft, its blacked out and I can only see whats inside once my soldier goes in.
On the surface this sounds all good until you open the spacecraft door to find an alien in front of you and shooting your soldier. I remember covering my mouth so as not to wake the whole house up with my scream in shock and horror.
Now before you laugh, let me explain that soldiers once dead stay dead. Means that soldier that has grown in experience is now gone forever. Add that and the suspense at every corner and door that you see in bigger maps, plus the very engrossed Kenneth still as a kid, well you get the idea why this game was so terrifying to me.
I still go back to the game once in a while as there are few games today that has so much strategy goodness packed into a simple (by today’s standards) game. I don’t get scared anymore and I don’t curse and swear anymore when I failed to check a corner which resulted in one of my soldiers dying.
Well I do hope the re-make of the original X-COm game by Firaxis Games (the people who brought us the civilization series) will do a good job and if I get those scare the living daylights out of me moments again, you can be sure the rest of the POPCulture Online team will make me share it here!
by Kenneth Wong
© POPCulture Online 2012, All Rights Reserved.
*By any chance if anyone decides they want to try X-Com: Terror From The Deep out, Steam is selling it now for a cheap USD $4.99 over here*