The lights go out
Darkness is never a good thing. That’s why God invented torches, 60 watt light bulbs and that little, several billion tonne ball of burning gas called the sun. If you’re playing a game and all the lights suddenly get cut or flicker sporadically, you might as well start planning what you want your headstone to say. Nefarious space beasties and freedom-hating terrorists love using the cloak of darkness to sneak up on you. Fail to reach a well-lit room within 14 seconds of such a lighting malfunction and its odds on you’re about to get your spine snapped in two or be radicalised until you want to wear a balaclava at all times.
Above: Honestly, you never know what kind of horrors are waiting to prey on you in the dark
You find yourself in or anywhere near water
All video game water is evil. If it can’t kill you instantly just by touch (ala almost every 2D plaformer or GTA), it’ll have something lurking under its surface that wants to send your character to that game over screen in the sky. Is it really worth risking the wrath of the digital Grim Reaper for a sip of H2O? Our advice: stay well clear of anything wet and make sure your 2D comedy marsupial or homicidal criminal is stocked up on bottled water.
You hear music
Video games love to signpost imminent danger/death with an overwrought, sinister musical cue. Fine, sometimes it’s just there to celebrate you collecting a shiny new power-up or booting a boss in the spuds. All too often, though, the introduction of a soundtrack means the faeces is about to hit the fan in spectacular fashion. Just make sure your character is packing a suitably sized piece of automatic weaponry and try to act surprised when that sun-deprived serial killer jumps out at you.
Above: Watch out behind you, luv. There’s probably a sex offender hiding behind your couch
Really, the only thing more threatening than a bit of dramatic scoring is…
Seriously, dude. You’re f**ked. A prolonged period of time without the reassuring embrace of a catchy beat can only mean things are about to go homicidally pear-shaped. Silence, especially in survival horror, just means the developer purged the music to make sure you could hear the footsteps of the thing creeping up behind you that’s planning to rearrange your colon.
Above: Officially the most dangerous setting for a game ever