Forget survival horror. Forget zombies. Forget fancy graphics. An Atari 2600 game is the scariest game I've ever played.
That game is called Adventure. Most will know it as the first game to feature an Easter Egg, or an early example of the now rather popular RPG genre. To me, the austere minimalism of the game world - all straight lines and right angles on a plain grey surface - was capable of instilling a dread in my 8-year-old self that still baffles me to this day.
In Adventure you play as a noble cube, tasked with finding a golden chalice and returning it to your point of departure. As you navigate the game world's multi-screen maze you're harassed by a floating seahorse, which is actually a dragon, but looks more like a seahorse. It's not exactly the stuff that nightmares are made of then, but I could never play it long enough to see the end, because it gave me the creeps.
In retrospect, I think it freaked me out because it seemed so alien: here was a big, freely explorable world with absolutely no context provided. Your character is nothing but a block. The game's title is as non-descript as they come. Though the box art depicts a hedge maze and a castle, the game itself didn't look anything like either of those things. It felt like this game coded itself, deep in some ominous Atari basement, co-existing with other sentient super-machines plotting to hypnotise the world's children via super weird video games. Nothing about it felt human.
But that's just me, and chances are if you play it yourself, you won't have the same response. Have you played anything that elicited a feeling or response that probably wasn't intended?
Have you ever been inexplicably creeped out by a game?