I love scary movies just as much as I hate them. Dark, tantalizing, yet absolutely scarring. And then I can’t sleep for days afterwards. Yeah, I’m a wuss. Which is exactly why I can’t open my copy of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. And I don’t mean that it doesn’t work or that the file has somehow been corrupted by some software or that DirectX crap that renders my copy of Saint’s Row the Third absolutely useless. I mean I just can’t click it. Physically. When my cursor would so much as graze the icon on my desktop, I felt shivers. I’m not a very hardcore gamer and I got the game in a cheap batch on steam, so I felt no remorse or shame taking the shortcut off my desktop.
Ok, maybe a little, especially now that I’m admitting it.
What makes me so terrified of this game? What keeps me from getting involved in a fictional environment in an imaginary castle with monsters you don’t even see half the time? I’m not quite sure. I honestly think it has to do with the terror I experienced after watching The Ring. I was a college freshman, naive and optimistic, looking for a light scare. And let me say, that was one of the worst movie experiences I’ve ever had. No, I’m not joking. I usually deal with scary media pretty well, but something in that film just broke me. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t look at a TV screen without thinking about it. The premise is of course as stupid as every other horror film out there – a ghost that actually haunts you through your phone and attacks you from your TV screen. Sounds more like that Sonic the Hedgehog creepypasta (Warning: Creepy Tails Doll pics in that link). I didn’t have great expectations for it. But it was actually a decent film. Too well done, in my opinion. And so I shudder every time.
So what does this film have to do with a video game? Well, it was a milestone in my life. It was the first time I had ever felt life-threateningly terrified from a movie. It game me nightmares. It sucked me in. And no amount of parodies or episodes of My Little Pony could wipe it from my memory. I can deal with it now, but back then it was just straight-up terrifying, and it’s that same fear that I carry with me in regards to video games. Which, to me, is actually a worse scenario.
Think about it. Unlike a movie, which simply demands the visual and (depending on the film) mental engagement of the viewer, video games put you in the driver’s seat of whatever horrible situation is being imposed at the moment. You are the player, the one in charge, and by extension, the victim. It’s an exciting experience, but it lends a certain role to the person in front of the screen that I don’t feel I can stomach sometimes. Heck, I used to get freaked out by those giant boulders that would chase you in Crash Bandicoot.
So even after looking at several walkthroughs of the game and seeing friends play it, I just can’t. Now don’t get me wrong, it looks like an amazing game with a great atmosphere and I know most people who bought it really like it. But I know that it would keep me at night. It’s illogical, but, eh, so was the fact that I believed the Boogie Man lived above my apartment until I was 7.
He was obviously under the bed.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is one of my self-imposed limitations, something that I would have to really push myself to actually experience firsthand. And I hope that one day I can muster up the courage to open that file. But until I lose a bet for which there are no take-backsies, it’s going to sit here and collect dust in my steam folder. And I know. That’s sad.
Amnesia is available at the Steam Store for the few who haven’t bought it yet:
And P.S.: They’re making a sequel.
Have you ever felt this way about a game? Maybe a movie or a certain life scarring episode that just got to you? Leave a comment and thanks for reading!