Is Minecraft the Scariest Game Ever?
Minecraft is a lot of things. It’s the ultimate sandbox and creative outlet. Anything you can imagine can be made in Minecraft, even replicas of entire countries. It’s one of the best multiplayer experiences ever, working together to build, take on challenge maps or make up a fun contest can provide hours of fun. Is Minecraft the scariest game ever? Well, it really depends who you ask. There are little kids who wouldn’t think twice about fighting a Ghast, Creeper or Enderman. There are hardcore gamers who wouldn’t bat an eye if suddenly thrown into a deep cave with two torches and some sticks. A quick search, though, reveals that there is a popular fear of Minecraft. So what is it about Minecraft that inspires the fear we see in forums, blogs and chat rooms? If we compare it to some popular horror titles we might just find out.
If you think about what makes the Silent Hill franchise scary, it’s all about the atmosphere, and that’s something Minecraft actually has in droves. Nighttime comes quickly and is unforgiving. The darkness is one thing if you happen to be in the plains or desert, but if you’re in the jungle, a forest or the tundra then the darkness becomes a whole different beast altogether. Creepers, Skeletons and Spiders can easily traverse unequal terrain to overwhelm you or drop in from an unseen position. Combine that near constant threat with the growls of a zombie or the shrieks of a spider and you’ve got one bone chilling atmosphere. That’s not even including dungeons, strongholds, the Nether and the End. Caves are vast and brutally dark. Creepers attack from behind and above. Dungeons are teeming with whatever monster their spawner creates. Strongholds and the Nether aren’t as dark, but are persistently hostile. These environments rival some of the worst nightmare segments from Silent Hill without a single bleeding wall or pyramid head. In fact, Minecraft pulls off a brutal and crushing atmosphere so well, it makes it hard to believe that games like Dead Space 3, Alone in The Dark and Resident Evil 5 – 6 struggled so mightily to be scary. With a legitimate threat and overwhelming darkness a scary game you can make.
Then there’s the vulnerability, something you can easily recall from games like Fatal Frame, Slender and Amnesia. At the beginning of the game trying to survive the night without shelter is ill advised. Endermen or an errant creeper attack could easily end you. Fighting is not the answer, at least not yet. The combat vulnerability isn’t the only thing that adds o your feeling of vulnerability and helplessness early on. Minecraft doesn’t have continues. If you die in a cave or in the nether, chances are your stuff is just gone. Beds grant you a respawn point and chests allow you to store items, but those must first be earned and are inexact. You don’t get to just pop back up in the middle of the cave you were exploring on a whim, kiss that diamond goodbye. Games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil allow you to save with all your items, but things can end swiftly for you in Minecraft with no way to recover.
Then there are the monsters themselves. Resident Evil’s hunters, Regenerators, Nemesis and Lickers are the faces of the franchise. We know them, we fear them. I don’t know if any of them match the tension a dark cavern full of creepers can illicit, or being hunted by an Enderman you accidentally offended by gazing into his vacant eyes. The Nether is where the truly horrible creatures spawn, with Ghasts at the head of the pack. They squeal loudly and spout humongous fireballs. They are more than capable of blowing out your Nether portal and stranding you in what can only be described as a pixely hell. Blazes come to join the party as well and you better hope that you don’t accidentally harm a zombie pigman because their entire race will hunt you down relentlessly.
So Minecraft’s stifling atmosphere, constant vulnerability and vicious monsters are some popular horror game tropes that really make the game frightening. But it is also a multiplayer game which can always kill the fear, just look at Dead Space 3. The game’s simple, pixel look also keeps people from being afraid of the jumble of cubes that is attacking them. For me, their odd assemblage is the scariest thing about them, but for others it makes them laughable. Let’s also not forget, any games fear factor can wear off after many hours of play. Minecraft may get less scary over time, the more comfortable you get playing it, but it’s initial impressions are certainly strong. What do you think, is Minecraft scary? What did I leave out? Are we all just babies that need to play some real games? Let us know in the comments.