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31st October 2013
Top 5 Scariest Remedy Moments

It's Halloween! I have never really celebrated Halloween, apart from eating the left over sweets we bought in for trick or treaters...But my cat (Tabbs) does. She does A LOT. Tonight she will probably do the same thing that she's been doing every Halloween since we met; sit on top of our van and lightly bop people on the head as they go past. However it's also the time of year when numerous video game websites revisit some of their favourite horror titles, and today we're going to crumble under peer pressure.

While Remedy's titles have never really dedicated themselves to the full hardcore horror genre, there's definitely some moments which are scary, especially if you're playing the game at night for the first time. Here's a list of my top five scariest moments in the Max Payne and Alan Wake franchise:



5. IT'S A DEATH RALLY!

The two Alan Wake DLC packs were certainly more action focused than the original title, with many sections where you just had to leg it and hope that when you ran out of stamina, you would still have enough to dodge. Nearing the end of the first DLC pack, The Signal, Alan enters a large open area next to a barn...but it's quiet...too quiet. 

Barry, Alan's imaginary construct, is standing on top of a log pile narrating the scene. Alan is unable to return to the previous area, the fence is too high, but help is not lost as there's a red cabinet to the right of him. The box is filled with flares and other assorted goodies to protect the protagonist from the dangers of the night. Just then, there's an inhuman roar...

"It's a demolition derby! Al, it's a Death Rally!" Barry cheers.

Suddenly two huge monster trucks emerge from the fog at a terrifyingly fast speed, their engines growling. Alan has nowhere to run. He has just two options, to get into a nearby car or test his luck by running.

Of course, I died several times during this moment, but replaying it, the section is just as terrifying as it was when I saw it the first time. 



4. FOX WILL PROBABLY CANCEL IT AFTER ONE SEASON

We can't do this list without mentioning Mr Scratch once! But...There's a slight problem; while his acts are certainly creepy, he has this kind of lovable charm. Nevertheless, there was still a moment for me in American Nightmare, during a TV broadcast, where that charm faded and his evil nature showed:


The Arizona desert settles and cools under the stars. The area is motionless, only interrupted periodically by the flickering neon lights of the motel. Breaking the silence, Scratch turns on the camcorder after showing a young lady back to the motel. She sits with her back to Scratch watching a rerun of an old Nights Springs episode. Scratch moves closer to the camera, whispering to Alan who's powerless to stop the events from occurring.

"Watch this!" The doppelganger announces, smiling devilishly.

 He moves to give his new friend a backrub, but pauses moments later to withdraw a sharp knife he had hidden in his belt. In one swoop, he cuts her throat, mocking her cries for help as he does so. He pauses before dancing across the room, adrenaline controlling his movements. 


"DID YOU SEE THAT!" He cried, before walking over to admire his work. 

I've been thinking of why this particular broadcast was a lot more scarier to me than the others, but it occurred to me while writing the previous paragraph that, as a player, we feel powerless because Alan feels powerless. There are numerous times in the game where Wake's actions are incredibly brave and he goes far beyond what he's expected to do. We empathise with the character's predicament, and we want him to have the ending he deserves, but when he is confronted with a challenge he doesn't know how to face, we equally feel as defeated. That feeling of defeat is scary.



3. I'VE GOT MY BRAND NEW COMBINE HARVESTAAARRGGGHHH-

I'm going to cheat with this one, because it's not actually a specific moment in the game but how a certain enemy introduces itself to the scene. I'm talking about the highly dramatic poltergeist! While poltergeist makes a continuous appearance in the game, there are several times where Darkness tried throwing a tractor, a train and a combine harvester in your face. As entrances go, that's pretty dramatic!

Before I started playing the game, I heard terrifying tales of the machine that Alan meets near the start. So I pretty much spent the first part of the game in anticipation for its arrival. When it did appear, it didn't disappoint! I still live in fear of the machines' tight turning circles. The HORROR!


2. TILL IN THE JOHN MIRRA...


One of the Max Payne nightmare levels had to appear on the list! They're actually one of my favourite parts in the games. When thinking of the scariest, one particular moment comes to mind from Max Payne 2:
Max awoke disoriented, and lying on the sofa in the front room of his apartment. The place didn't look like anything special, but the rent was cheap and it was far away from the house he had lived in before, so he wasn't too picky. Waking up was a strange experience,  he tried desperately to gather his thoughts, to stop the room from swaying, but it didn't. In the distance he could hear a voice from the TV narrating his actions and thoughts; too close to reality for comfort. Then, just as the TV had foretold, there was a knock at the door...


The TV shows in Max Payne 2 were always great to watch, and with series like Lords & Ladies, Address Unknown, Dick Justice, and Captain Baseball Bat Boy, we were spoilt for choice! And Address Unknown definitely made for some really creepy and fun levels. It would be great to see the show reappear in future Remedy titles



1. THAT'S WHEN WAKE CRAWLED INTO A CORNER WITH HIS COFFEE AND CRIED.

Remedy does an awesome job at creating tension, especially when they're foreshadowing events. There's a particular page in the second episode appropriately entitled "Wake Hears a Chainsaw", which led to me being paranoid over every slight movement until the chainsaw actually appeared. Here's the manuscript page:

"The night had been one desperate situation after another. I was exhausted and my body felt as though it had been chewed up and spat out.  The flashlight was heavy in my hand, and each pull of the trigger sent a painful shock up my arm. But I was finally out of the woods and things were looking up. That's when I heard the chainsaw."

Thank you for the nightmares Remedy!

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