I wouldn’t say that The Secret World is a scary game. It’s a game that has scares in it, to be sure, but you’re also an immortal superpowered being with an arsenal at your beck and call and a community to team up with, so sometimes the bad stuff isn’t as terrifying as it would be if you were a weakling in a single-player setting.
Even so, there are certainly moments that have freaked me out, from cheap jump scares to deeply unnerving sights and sounds. Every long-term TSW player has his or her own list of the same, I’m sure. From a literal boogeyman to a house that’s out for revenge, here are my 10 creepiest moments and missions in the game.[Warning: Spoilers and scares ahead!]
The Secret World seems to delight in sending players into various underground parking garages and then messing with them in just so many ways. If you’re afraid of the dark and are claustrophobic, these missions will drive you crazy. I’ll point to when the cars’ headlights started coming on one at a time in the pitch black as one of several moments that made me jump out of my seat and go find something to do in the other room for a while.
2. The Filth infected’s comments
The Filth — that inky, oily substance that is turning everything in the world against you — has infected a lot of stuff over the course of the game. But it’s the people who get a dose of the black goo that really freak me out because they will sometimes talk to you even as they’re trying to gut you. And sometimes that talk is hateful, but many times it is a sobbing plea to be killed or nonsense gibberish or even apologies. All of it raises goosebumps for me.
This was a genius touch on behalf of the devs. There’s this large covered bridge in Kingsmouth that you end up crossing a number of times, and while it’s empty you hear noises and get unnerved by it. Well, eventually a mission sends you there in your ghost (anima) form, at which point you see the hanging corpses of the past and a grinning spectre gunning for you. Ughhhh…
4. Virgula Divina
Take a deserted lab that used to experiment upon children (yes, TSW gets very dark at times) and force a player to methodically explore it. There’s a whole lot of nothing here except noises and isolation, which made me so jumpy that when I encountered a girl who unhinges her jaw, I was like nononono NO NO NO NO NO.
The Atlantic Amusement Park is a disturbing, otherwordly locale in and of itself, especially with its weird, wavy visual filter and rides that operate themselves. But the part that got to me the most was when I took a rollercoaster ride (this game is awesome) only to be assailed by the Boogeyman and his cronies. I actually got through it mostly fine, but as the train car is slowly pulling back into the station, there’s one brutal jump scare that caught me unaware and made me spill my drink.
6. The Black House
OK, I was terrified to ever go to the Black House because I had been hearing for weeks from other players about how scary this place was. By the time I got to it, my imagination had been going on overdrive, and so I had to do that thing where I just go in running and yelling like a maniac, daring all of the bad stuff to come get me. It ended up being freaky, to be sure (especially the bathroom bit), but nothing as bad as what I was expecting from friends’ testimonials.
7. The Broadcast
The new 2014 Halloween mission is so incredibly good that it really should have gotten an award for something. While other MMOs are dabbling with headless horsemen and pumpkin piñatas, TSW pieced together a tale that used shortwave radios, old time radio plays, and a haunted Russian military bunker. The bunker was a “best of” TSW scares, using all sorts of past tricks and critters, but it was still great. And by great, I mean pants-poopingly petrifying.
Issue 5’s multi-mision arc concerned a Solomon Island resident who was filming and doing research on the fog phenomenon. The culmination of these events has us — for the first time, really — going into the fog itself and trying to do something or the other. I don’t remember the narrative so much as going into a bizarro Kingsmouth, getting lost, and getting killed by Andy’s “kitties.” Our group, which had been doing this questline together, became dismayed that we all had to do this final part solo. The screams and the frustrated cries over Vent haunt me even to this day…
9. The Nursery
Because the devs love topping themselves, they took Virgula Divina and decided to make something even nastier (but in the same vein) as a follow-up. So yet another mission in a chilling scientific lab after Something’s Gone Wrong™. This time there is blood and corpses and so many dolls everywhere, not to mention nannybots singing a lullaby that I now hear when I try to go to sleep at night. I’ve never been so scared of a kid’s playroom before.
10. Fear Nothing Foundation
Tokyo has plenty of moments that gave me the willies, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our extended trip inside the Fear Nothing Foundation’s headquarters. From the ground floor we looked up and saw human-shaped specks littering a glass floor far above us — and then we had to make it our task to get there. In the dark. While an invincible ghost that could one-shot us roamed the halls and made stuff go haywire. I am still glad to this day that I did this with friends, because I don’t think I could have handled it alone.