To avoid any notice I’d be sure to receive upon making such bold a claim, let me state now that yes, I did take games such as, Resident Evil 5, Dead Space, Condemned 2 and Alone in the Dark in mind when I made the decision that Fallout 3 was my scariest game of all time. Bethesda’s first go at the Fallout series put us in a post apocalyptic nuclear wasteland that was no doubt grim and depressing, but was it scary? After investing close to forty hours of time roaming the Capital Wasteland I’d have to say yes, it’s god damned terrifying.
First off, let’s look at the situation at hand with Fallout 3. A post apocalyptic world ravaged by a devastating nuclear war, a war that started when tensions between a democratic nation and a communist nation rose to the breaking point. Now unless you’ve been living in your own VaultTec vault for the past sixty four years, I’m sure you’ve heard of a little something called the Cold War.
Thankfully it’s long over, but the next time you’re headed from Megaton to Rivet City, just take a moment to think about how close we’ve come as a society to fulfilling that dreary storyline. Not to mention although the tensions are gone, the tools still remain. Fallout stands as a desolate example of where we can end up if we loose control as a species.
Then to really drive home the point the game is set in the region formerly known as Washington D.C. Seeing a fictitious location destroyed can have very little effect on those setting their sights on the destruction. Inversely, seeing a place you not only know of, but in some people’s cases have been to in real life can do wonders to add to the effect. It’s not every day you get to see what your friend’s apartment would look like after a nice uranium sunburn.
Now one would think such an utter travesty would surely unite the few debateably lucky survivors in an effort to make sure the horrors of nuclear warfare could never be realized again right? Hell no. In fact, let’s make the bombs tiny enough to shoot by hand and kill each other some more with it. Let’s rig the bombs that were thankfully duds to go off anyway.
Fallout 3 does a perfect job of giving us a hint of how even in the face of such tragedy, mankind can be cruel and relentless. If the embracing of nuclear weaponry after such a holocaust isn’t creepy enough, how about the reemergence of slavery and boosting of bigotry (Ghouls are people too), or the fact that the VaultTec vault program was an elaborate way to run social experiments on people without them knowing?
Fallout 3 isn’t the type of scary that causes you to jump out of your seat or watch that dark corner at all times, wondering what’s about to come out from it. No, it’s the type of fear that takes time to sink in. It’s the type of fear that operates on a grander scale and soaks your bones because it’s based on fears that can be very real and break the shackled comfort of “just being a video game.” So the next time you’re listening to Three Dog and roaming from town remains to town remains, take a moment to consider what this game really says about ourselves as a species, and just how close we sometimes are from living the nightmare.
That’s not to say that there aren’t enough moments in the game to cause you to jump right out of your skin. Traversing the metro tunnels with Feral Ghouls chasing after you is creepy enough to make any grown man shiver just a little bit every time they utter their deathly growl. The threat of death even grows to a greater part of reality when you’re being chased by tons of Mole Rats shortly after escaping Vault 101.
Finally, shall we consider the state of the different vaults and what went on in them? These live human experiments are enough to freak anyone out. Can you imagine slowly having your mental facilities slowly torn away from you, only then to perhaps realize you’ve turned into a savage, blood thirsty animal? Or perhaps your entire world being overrun by beasts that are more hideous than anything previously imagined…Fallout 3 is, without a doubt, the scariest game I’ve ever played.
Also, Vault 106 was just plain creepy as hell.