It’s that time of year where ancient legend tells us that the walls between the land of the living and the dead are thinned and the dearly departed may walk among us. Many a ghost or ghoulie is bound by its past to an object, person or place of particular importance, and aren’t quite so free to wander abroad. That’s a shame indeed, how can they be expected to go trick-or-treating if they’re stuck inside all day?
Gaming is awash with its own ghost stories, not all of which were put in their by the writers. In this week’s Top 10 we’ll be focusing on the ones that were actually put in the game intentionally.
10) Ghosts – The Sims
When a Sim dies, they move on to the afterlife. At least, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Some linger for that little bit longer, some to live in a house that used to belong to them and some to just wreck the lives of those that potentially wrecked theirs. Throughout the evolution of The Sims, these ghosts have served numerous purposes. Mainly to make their victims sad, these ghosts are able to haunt the living and scare people with ease.
Generally speaking, they’re casual observers and nothing more. Sometimes however, they can interact with the living in crazy ways. Long-standing Sims family, the Goths are host to many ghosts and from The Sims 2, hauntings happen. One of the coolest instances is when one of the ghosts possess a teddy bear to scare people and let the teddys head spin around. Generally, they linger as they are bound to the house lot they (typically) died at. Weirdly though, if they linger with The Goths, they’ll all get along nicely.
9) Headless Horseman – Skyrim
I’m not sure how long I chased him for. I regret doing so on foot, and I certainly regret all of the combat I ran into and out of in my pursuit. I didn’t actually find out about Hamvir’s Rest, Skyrim’s a big place after all, but fortunately there’s a wiki for that. The Horseman rides circles around Skyrim during the night before standing vigil over his own crypt at night.
He’s nameless, connected to no quests, and completely indestructible, although there are theories that he’s Ragnar The Red whose beheading was immortalised in song by bards around the country. The song also mentions Rorikstead, not too far from Hamvir’s Rest. If it is Ragnar, the former warrior has changed alleigance to the army of the dead, whose inevitable triumph over the living he ominously foretells.
8) 7th Guest
This infamous puzzle-solving classic sadly saw a remake campaign on Kickstarter cancelled, but that hope – much like its’ cast of characters – are not entirely dead.
Murderous toy maker Henry “Old Man” Stauf watches omnipresently as you work your way through his manor, uncovering the terrible story of the group of six party guests forced into the madman’s dark game as he demands to be brought the soul of a child he needs to complete his terrible collection. As you play, you watch as conflict tears the party to pieces, those who want to deliver the child so they can be free, and those who wish to save an innocent soul, all re-enacted by their lingering spectres.
One by one the party guests die, leaving only you, the mysterious “Ego”, the 7th Guest (oooh I get it now) who arrived far too late. Of course, why the deranged toy maker felt it important that his doomed visitors sort his pantry, or learn proper cake portioning as part of his dastardly scheme, we may never truly know for sure.
7) Haunt the House – Adult Swim
Time to get adorable! A poltergeist generally doesn’t like people in their house, walking around and breathing, stinking up the place with their blood and moving stuff around. Haunt the House is a cute little game made by Adult Swim, they may never go down in history as world class games-designers, but playing a ghost trying to scare people out of his house by inhabiting inanimate objects, wafting the curtains, banging doors and rattling chains until everyone is too spooked to stay.
6) 5 Days a Stranger
Ben “Yahtzee” Crosshaw is an internet icon, someone that I myself watch from time to time. I first found out about him through his very own game that he developed, 5 Days A Stranger. It’s a thriller-esque game which sees you playing as Trilby, a cat burglar, who is looking for a bit of swag. After he enters the mansion however, he realises that strange things are afoot inside of this mansion, as he’s now locked in with many strangers.
The story revolves around a boy who was brutally tortured and murdered inside of the mansion. The concept of the game really is to stop the ghost from haunting the mansion and to bring him back from the dead and finally give him the death he so sought. It’s a weird tale, but it’s utterly brilliant and free! Perhaps we’ll do a video of this at some point.
5) HAUNT – Text based
Clearly, stories of haunted mansions date back a long time and indeed way before a computer was made. However, in an early example of a haunted mansion video game, we are greeted with HAUNT. This was a simple single player text-based RPG, which sees you traversing through a haunted mansion. The game ran on mainframe machines and was written in a language I had never heard of called OPS4.
HAUNT was written back in 1979 which makes this our oldest haunt in video games, which sees you running around the mansion, finding clues and trying to escape from the place. If you know of any older than this one, let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter as always!
4) Haunted brick – Discworld 2
Many objects have been the subject of hauntings; dolls, books, paintings, and bricks! Well how else are you going to transport a ghost that’s bound to a building?
As part of the Rite of AshkEnte, Rincewind requires a little ectoplasm, being a conduit between life and death and helping strengthen the connection to Death himself. See, not everything on the Disc is a joke, but the ectoplasm is. Enter the Fool and Chucky, a jester who communicates entirely by conversation with a sceptre called Chucky, both sadly caught in an explosion at the Jester’s guild, and forever bound to its bricks and mortar.
That is why you end up with the inventory item Haunted Brick, a sure fire contender for number one “odd inventory items” but so far as hauntings go it’s a solid favourite. Keen eyed fans would actually notice that the Fool and Chucky are a returning character from the first Discworld game, and will be glad that should we see a fourth we will not be hearing from them ever again.
3) Beyond: Two Souls
Aiden is dead, let’s face the facts with this one. Jodie, his sister, still is able to communicate with Aiden who is in turn able to communicate with her via the physical world. It’s quite an intriguing spin on the dead-sibling story and it made for some great story telling. On our list, this might be the truest sense of a haunting, even though it’s not a vengeful haunting but rather that of a protective one.
I never got to play this myself, but our friends over at 1001Up were able to last year and I watched it all. You truly wanted to push Jodie to succeed and a lot of that was thanks to Aiden, her brother, who can be a player 2 if you want someone else to play with you. The player 2 controls whatever Aiden does, however you can just do the controls under player 1.
=1) Shalebridge Cradle – Thief
Here’s an odd turn of events, we couldn’t honestly resolve which of these haunts to put in the number one slot. The Lavender Tower in Pokémon is legend, but there’s a real contender in Thief 3’s Shalebridge Cradle. Here’s why:
- The Thief series is as well known for its’ horror aspects as its’ stealth element. The combined Asylum/Orphanage Shalebridge is possibly the best location in the game.
- The ghost of Lauryl is an essential component of the story that crosses both Thief 2 and 3, and her tale permeates throughout Deadly Shadows.
- Lauryl – though helpful – tends to show up at the most opportune moments to make you jump.
- Lauryl’s body is still walking around, inhabited by the monstrous Grey Lady of fairytales.
- Part of the mission in Shalebridge involves Lauryl helping you to exorcize her spirit from the Cradle that holds her prisoner. Later you release her body from possession, letting her pass into the afterlife.
- Lauryl shares a voice actor with SHODAN from System Shock, giving her an extra creepy edge.
Now to hear from the competition…
=1) Lavender Tower – Pokemon
Face the facts here, we wanted to be sure that we got this one on the list, but between this and Shalebridge Cradle, we really couldn’t decide what deserved the top spot. Here’s a small list of why we think Lavender Tower deserves number one:
- Marowak is one of the most well known stories in Pokemon lore
- Nostalgic for many different reasons, some people enjoy remembering the story of the Rockets, whereas many of us just feel bad for that poor Marowak.
- There are numerous fanfics and fan arts made of this Marowak and indeed Lavender Town/Tower
- That dreaded Lavender Town music.
- In Pokemon Yellow, seeing Pikachu get sad whenever he enters Lavender Town.
- Spawned numerous Creepypastas
Now we pass the vote over to you. Which of these two entries deserves the top spot, as the number one haunting in games.
Are you scared yet? Have we sent shivers down your spine?
Then we shall have to try harder, and it’s not like we’re running out of material here! The dead aren’t going anywhere any time soon, and as we find we have an ever increasing backlog of forlorn spirits bound to our world, so too we have bound a couple of spooks to the end of our list as a kind of afterthought to the afterlife.
Luigi’s Haunted Mansion
You guys al remember the one time Luigi was good for something, right? His haunted mansion is often cited as one of the best Mario games on the market. As part of some other-worldly plot, Luigi wins a mansion in a contest he never entered. The helpful professor E. Gadd enlists Luigi’s help in cleaning the mansion up of the ghosts that he is now too weak to fight, and hands him his powerful vacuum cleaner that absolutely is not a proton pack!
King Boo has trapped Mario inside a portrait, and Luigi is finally the hero as he sucks away Boos and other ghastly monsters as he fights his way to his greatest nemesis to save his brother, King Boo! And while I’m sure a few of us waited to hear “Sorry Luigi, your brother is in a different painting”, no, unlike Mario, Luigi can actually save the day in one attempt.
Ghosts – Pac-Man
The yellow gobbling disc guy himself is constantly haunted by four brightly coloured ghosts, named Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde. These four ghosts frequently make it to Top 10 lists and greatest ghosts in games lists, for good reason. They make signature WooOooOoo sounds like a good ghost should and even when you kill them, they return back from limbo in their spawning home.
Hey, this has given me another idea for a story for Pac-Man. Pac-Man is actually a caretaker at a graveyard. One day, he accidentally unlocks the gate between the spirit realm and the physical realm, letting the ghosts roam the Earth again. Binding them to a graveyard, Pac-Man sets out to clear all evidence of his actions by ridding the world of all of the links between the physical and the spirit world. Not a bad tale, if I do say so myself. Be right back, just going to write this into a best-selling thriller.
And so as our festivities draw to a close we put it to you. Do you agree with our picks for the Top 10 haunts? Did we miss any of your favourites? Linger on in the comments down below. For now, exorcize your right to freedom of speech… as in use it, not banish it into another realm. Choose next week’s geeky Top 10