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15 ways to tell you’re in deadly peril in a video game


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…


Silence


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

51 comments

  • onewingedantista - January 21, 2010 4:47 p.m.

    First! Awesome article, guys. I lol'd lots. Beware The 'stache!
  • Doctalen - January 21, 2010 4:51 p.m.

    I love how the trees are always out to get you in games. A good example would be Fallout 3, the one place there are trees and they drug you. Not to mention Point Lookout where they drug ya and then cut up your brain.
  • banjokazoozie - January 21, 2010 5:10 p.m.

    this stuff is so true, lol at ronald mc donald with a knife
  • pimlicosound - January 21, 2010 5:13 p.m.

    The picture of a bloody-fanged Ronald McDonald is enough to frighten anyone, but is sure to scare clown-haters half to death.
  • Jacob816 - January 21, 2010 5:22 p.m.

    Awesome article. So true, yet really funny.
  • NanoElite666 - January 21, 2010 6:15 p.m.

    You forgot graveyards. Nothing good ever seems to happen when your character has to traverse through a graveyard.
  • NinjaJamez - January 21, 2010 7 p.m.

    Funny and educative.... a house mark of games radar.
  • zayleffein - January 21, 2010 7:03 p.m.

    I totally got chills when I saw Ronald McPennywise lol Great Article
  • bilstar - January 21, 2010 7:25 p.m.

    And going from a sequence of corridors or pathways into a large, open and probably pretty symmetrical area. Cool article.
  • OmNomRomRearghNergh - January 21, 2010 8:01 p.m.

    Ahh leaves, the silent killer.
  • noobeater - January 21, 2010 8:07 p.m.

    quality article guys,
  • dahsif - January 21, 2010 8:20 p.m.

    I nominate this feature for the Pulitzer prize.
  • DriveShaft - January 21, 2010 9:28 p.m.

    Lol, if you hear music YOURE DEAD if you hear silence YOURE DEAD, sad but true in survival horrors x]
  • dante1924 - January 21, 2010 9:48 p.m.

    The door slamming thing happens repeatedly in spirit tracks! I am walking around the dungeon, and suddenly, a wall springs up, and I have to fight a horde of monsters! Marcus is so screwed in your image!
  • dante1924 - January 21, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    Actually, when I think about it, zelda games have almost all of these things.
  • TrIp13G - January 21, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    I submit that Prince of Persia is the exception to the water rule.
  • garnsr - January 21, 2010 10:06 p.m.

    In the PS1 days, a sure sign that something was going to happen was when you'd hear the disc drive spin, and you knew something terrifying was being loaded, about to burst out at you.
  • speno93 - January 21, 2010 10:31 p.m.

    silence and darkness nearly always scare the shit out of me in videogames. Hell I get freaked out when the piano starts attacking you in Super Mario 64, that instrument's scary!1
  • Cwf2008 - January 21, 2010 10:32 p.m.

    That picture of Ronald McDonald about to knife that guy was hilarious! And who doesnt love Cpt. Price's mustache...oh...er i mean. Ya its cool
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