Water may be lovely to look at in videogames, but what is circling beneath your dangling legs? Water, for me, is one of the most terrifying aspects of playing videogames and even ultra-child friendly games can have me sweating buckets at the mere sight of water … strangely enough, in real life, I’m a very competent swimmer and love a good seaside frolic in the waves … Once things get pixelated, however, I’m ready to bolt … especially at these 10 moments in videogames.
- The Water Temple – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
So technically this isn’t scary, it’s just extremely annoying and aggravating and mental break down inducing … You could say I was scared playing it, but only scared for the safety of my console which was about to have the controller painfully inserted into it … The Water Temple is legendary among gamers for being one of the most unfairly difficult levels in all of gaming, especially as the Zelda games are geared towards children … not even 10-year-old Stephen Hawking would have gotten through this level without a fresh pair of teeth marks appearing on his controller.
- The Witcher 3 – Fear of the Unknown
Anyone familiar with the game will be racking their brains trying to remember scary water moments and are probably coming up blank. This entry is more personal than most of the others on this list, however I hope I’m not alone in saying I was terrified throughout the opening hours of The Witcher 3 because I kept expecting a giant nasty to erupt from the calm watery surface and eat me with tartare sauce. The game has you fighting monsters of all sorts and so I assumed there would be horrible mutated shark beasties or at least a Kraken-thing (like in The Witcher 2) and so I was terrified the whole time I was paddling about (especially in the black waters of Skellige) or taking my little wooden boat backwards and forwards from Fyke Isle. It wasn’t until I googled it that I realised that aside from a few drowners or harpies, which are easily dispatched, there is nothing scary beneath the waves … still terrified me, though, in that mission where Yennefer makes it possible for you to breathe under water … shudder.
I also had this problem the first time I found Lake Mead in Fallout: New Vegas.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Giant Slaughterfish
I have been playing Oblivion, on and off, ever since it was released back in 2006 and yet I only just discovered this terrifying beast … okay it’s actually just a slaughterfish that’s a bit bigger than the others in the game (at least in Oblivion you can kill them easily, unlike Skyrim). I was exploring a cave which had a waterfilled canyon of sorts within it. I could see where I needed to go across the way, however I thought I’d got for a dip to wipe away the troll blood that was tarnishing my armour. At the bottom of the canyon-thing was a small hole which I entered and being a relatively low-levelled noob-mage, was not ready for the giant slaughterfish and two of its cronies hiding there. I soon ran out of air and was eaten … I re-loaded the save and tried again with a whole host of potions and managed to defeat the bastard and stole all the loot it was carrying … which is strange as it’s a fish … I can only assume I cut it out of its stomach …
- Far Cry 3 – SURPRISE! Crocodile!
For me Far Cry 3 is full of terrifying water moments, whether it’s the constant threat of shark attacks of unwittingly being grabbed by a crocodile as your stroll along the river bank. Usually in games, I just ignore watery areas if they contain nasty aquatic death monsters, however Far Cry 3 makes you hunt sharks (don’t know how I should feel about that, ethically speaking …) and so there’s really no avoiding them. At least with the crocodiles you know that they are only ever hidden beneath water lotus flowers and lily pads, so you learn to avoid them … or blast them with both barrels of your shotgun … Unfortunately for everyone playing the game, the developers decided that they weren’t going to follow their own rules and in one mission when going all Tomb Raider-y, you jump off a ledge into a tunnel filled with water, except as you hit the water … OH HOLY MOTHER OF MERCY SOEMTHING’S GOT ME … ahem … And I was forced to fight off the crocodile … and attend therapy sessions.
- Resident Evil 4 – Del Lago Fight
It was a toss-up between this and the Leviathan fight from Gears of War 2, which I only realised when writing this list completely copied the Del Lago fight (yes, I know you don’t need ‘the’ in front of ‘del’ … shut up). There I was, crossing this murky lake, already terrified from having to fight semi-undead Spaniards, when what happens, a Verne-esque monstrosity decides it wants me for lunch. Luckily for me, I had some handy harpoons and rope (I always carry some anyway, as you never know) and fought the oversized zombified crocodile-fish thing to the death.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Dam Level
This TMNT game is a classic of the videogame world … though the dam level can do one. When playing a side-scrolling beat ‘em up, you don’t want to have to avoid electrified sea weed (‘cause that’s a thing), electric zappy fence things, and spin-y red wheels of death … all whilst under a time limit as you try to arm some bombs. It was infuriating and tense and childhood me had too much to deal with in life already to have to worry about this shit (I still couldn’t get my head round the ending of the latest Scooby-Doo episode and I was fairly certain my brother had just eaten the last choc-ice, so you can understand that it was a rough time for me).
- Batman: Arkham Asylum – Killer Croc Sewer Fight
Is this the tensest moment from any non-horror game of the past 15 years? I think so. Arkham Asylum is one of my all-time favourite games and I strongly believe it is the best one in the series (Arkham Knight was so awful, it astounds me people like it … but that’s a fight for a different day). Killer Croc already scared the bejeezus out of me when I first met him at the opening of the game and now I was in his lair walking across rickety pallets as he growled insults and jumped out of the water from nowhere, leaving me only capable of hurriedly lobbing a small bat-shaped piece of metal at him, which luckily always knocked him away again … phew … Anyone have any pills that can stop the nightmares?
- Sonic the Hedgehog – Water Levels
The infamous Sonic water levels … is there anything more sweat-inducing than these child-ruining levels? They make the TMNT one look like a swim in the park. Sonic is famously a game about running around and collecting coins … so the developers thought let’s put him underwater – where he can’t possibly run -- and make him scrabble around the ocean floor in search of air bubbles to stop this beloved-childhood mascot drowning to death … Children have underdeveloped sweat glands and don’t often sweat, but I still managed to ruin many a colourful t-shirt featuring the likes of Thomas the Tank Engine or Winnie-the-Pooh … characters who were never forced to drown by their creators, may I add …
- Banjo-Kazooie – Clanker
Not to trivialise mental illness here, but I seriously still get PTSD flashbacks from this f**ker. There I was, with my brother, playing our new favourite 3D platformer, Banjo-Kazooie, a game about a bear with a bird on his back as they travel a magical landscape collecting things and trying to overthrow an evil witch … My broski and I were swimming through this metal tunnel when what floated before us? A terrifying metal shark with humongous teeth and eyes. Talk about jump scares. This was me done. I was far too scared to ever play the game again and so let my brother continue on … it turns out the shark is friendly and just wants to be freed; but I’m still terrified to this day and haven’t even bought the remaster … and I’m 24.
Banjo-Kazooie gets a bonus mention, as well, as if you stayed too long in the coastal water a talking shark started chasing you and would eat you if it got too close … this was a bloody kids game … no wonder millennials are all slightly neurotic if this was our entertainment!
- Ecco the Dolphin – Alien Head Boss Fight Thingy
This really, really had no place in a children’s game … particularly a children’s game that had you swimming around a virtual ocean as a dolphin and doing dolphin things (although not getting caught in tuna nets and being forced to dance in chlorine pools for a bunch of tourists … I suppose they’re saving that for the reboot) and also fighting some aliens, of course. The fight with the Vortex Queen (which was a massive rip off from Ridley Scott’s Alien) is one of the most terrifying things any child of the 90s ever went through … and we grew up with Courage the Cowardly Dog, I’ll have you know.
Any other terrifying gaming water moments we may have missed? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @MugwumpBlog