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Nightmare Fuel: Left 4 Dead
If this is bad enough for you, just wait till you see it in-game and it's theme
For a game where you have loads of firepower and three teammates backing you up, it can be really scary. Any of the following things becomes vastly scarier when your party is either low on health, or worse, you are the only party member still alive currently. It doesn't help that the levels are both cluttered and dark, making it hard to see threats. You will find yourself often taking more damage from wild fire from your panicked teammates than actual zombies.
The basic zombie has two modes: listless, or sprint in your direction snarling, meaning that you often don't see them coming until its too late.
That is still minor compared to when the malevolent AI decides to throw a wave of several dozen which start sprinting towards your group from all directions, including the one you came from, with you hearing a chorus of distant snarling long before you actually see them.
The Special Infected are the truly scary enemies though, and most are heard long before they are seen. They consist of the Smoker, an enemy that can strangle you with a 50-foot-long tongue, the Boomer, an enemy whose attack obscures your vision with green vomit while triggering a wave of infected that will target you specifically, the Witch, a crying girl with very long claws that can knock you down in one hit and kill you in two more, The Tank, a ginormous monster with epually massive muscles, and the Hunter, who deserves special emphasis.
The Hunter is a stealthy zombie that slinks in a sinuous predatory manner off in the distance. If you shoot at him, he will dart past a corner out of view, only to try and sneak up on you from another path, including climbing up walls and other surfaces and need be. Eventually, he will attack you by pouncing up to 20 feet, knocking you over, and clawing at your chest.
What makes it worse? The Hunter has no eyes. If you look underneath his hood, you can see two empty eyes sockets with dissolved skin around them. This means the Hunter tracks you by sound and scent alone, meaning you can't hide from him.
The sounds that it makes in the second game are even more unnerving than in the first.
How about the Witch? She sobs like a dejected little girl until you shoot her, has fire in her eye sockets, has spindly claws for hands, goes into Unstoppable Rage when you shine your flashlight at her, and her attack is a one-shot. Even on the easiest difficulty, she takes twelve hunting rifle rounds to the NECK before even visibly slowing.
She is far more terrifying if your teammate shoots her. Not only is it now near-impossible to cr0wn her, but the guy who shot her is likely flailing about shooting wildly as he knows of the impending screwing he'll be in for. Worse if you're down a narrow path with no alternate route, as the witch will run into you, realize it can't get past, then promptly change her target to you (all of which happens within the span of a minute).
All of them make creepy noises, but special mentions go to the Charger, who screams like a six-year-old girl most of the time. The really creepy part is that there are times when he can sound genuinely human.
Incapacitation: Take enough of a beating from the Infected and you are left almost helpless on the ground. Sure, you can still shoot your pistol (very slowly), but your health constantly ticks down as you bleed out. You are completely dependent on your teammates picking you back up, and if they take too long, you will die. Now remember that you're probably still being mobbed by the Infected, who will switch to stomping on your body, killing you even faster. This means your survivor is also screaming in pain the entire time. To top it off, your view constantly lists to one side as you begin to have trouble keeping your head up, and, with the last bit of your health bar, your vision will fade to black.
Possibly the only thing worse than being incapacitated by yourself is being incapacitated together with a teammate, especially if they're being mobbed by Infected or if the rest of your team is trying to push to the saferoom without you. On top of your own Interface Screw, you have to lay there while you both bleed out, listening to your teammate yell for help while they die, knowing there is nothing you can do to save them.
Try having a Witch spawn in a place where it's COMPLETELY impossible to avoid her, like the subway car in No Mercy that you have to go through. (They hate light, yet they're always sitting under a bright light...weird...) Looking into the eyes of one of those things when she's looking your way is fear in physical form.
One particularly unsettling thing with the walking Witches of Left 4 Dead 2 is that noises near them are less likely to startle them but will still attract them, causing a really horrible occasion for me when I was backed into a corner with a running chainsaw, watching the Witch slowly following the noise.
It gets worse when the Tank appears. You're frantically spraying lead in his general direction and you inadvertently BACK INTO SOMETHING. While his attention is on you.
It is entirely possible to run from a horde, close the door on them, come face to face with a Tank so close he's within touching distance, THEN HAVE THE MUSIC START PLAYING.
The sequel takes place largely in broad daylight, which actually helps not at all; there is a sense that if the kind of terrible things that will happen to your team regularly can happen in the sun, then you really are beyond any help. These terrible things are not limited to the zombie menace; there is a much larger sense of a genocidal authority wishing you'd take the hint from the air strikes they regularly throw at you. It features new Special Infected, which include:
The Jockey, which laughs hysterically as it rides you like a mechanical bull and pulls you further and further away from your friends.
The Spitter, a woman whose entire lower face has disintegrated as a result of her mutation, who ejects pools of stomach acid onto wherever you are hiding.
The Charger, who shrugs off bullets, barrels into your group and then rhythmically pounds you to death with the arm that hasn't shriveled up and died upon his body.
Not phased? Did we mention that the Witch now wanders around in some levels?
The end of Hard Rain is a freaking MONSOON. So much so that the waist-high water actually slows you down on Campaign Mode, and the weather actually reduces your visibility, covers up everything with thunder and howling wind, and the output level of your voice-chat. So you're wet, you're bogged down, nobody can hear you, you can't hear anybody else, you can't see more than a foot in any given direction, and oh yeah, there's infected itching to do you a serious unkindness. Isolation in Left 4 Dead-World is a Death Sentence.
To make it even worse, turn on realism mode. Now you don't even get the benefit of those outlines that tell you where your teammates are. If you get too far out of eyesight of your team you're as good as dead.
Dead Center, Hard Rain, and Swamp Fever all have large sections in the daylight. The Parish is the only one that STAYS daylight through the entirety of the campaign.
Also in the sequel, the classic special infected are now even more heavily mutated than before. The worst victim is the Smoker◊, who now has six tongues, poking out from all over his body (although he still only uses one).
There's evidence that the military is crumbling. Sure, some of its members are *ssholes, but the military is in charge of evacuating whoever is left out there.
And if all of this isn't bad enough, you can look at the infected and realize that these are HUMANS. They're not undead, they're humans who got sick, are still humans (albeit animal-like) and you're executing THOUSANDS of them. Not only that, but it makes you wonder whether you'll wind up immune, should this ever occur in reality... Because it's that, an unceremonial corpse on the street, or you got lucky. But you don't have too high a chance of getting lucky, looking at those hordes.
The thought of any of the special infected knowing what they were going through is terrifying. The Boomer finds themselves gaining weight and expanding uncontrollably, the Hunter's fingernails grow into claws and their skin is covered in boils, the Spitter can't stop vomiting as her mouth dissolves, the Smoker starts exhibiting all those growths and breathes out smoke, the Charger's left arm atrophies without reason as their right grows like a cancer, the Tank's muscles expand out of control and they slowly lose their ability to speak, the Witch's hands extend into claws and she loses control over her emotions... those were all regular, everyday people like us, who may well have been aware of their transformations and in terrible pain, and unless there's a cure out there, killing them is all the survivors can do. Death is the only mercy they can get from that...
All throughout the Parish, you find evidence that the military was killing PEOPLE. There's strong evidence that they weren't necessarily infected, too. And there's the quarantine zone in the Graveyard level... Ruined buildings, and some particularly chilling graffiti. "If you can read this, the army left us to DIE." It's possible that the military was in a panicked retreat that left no time to evacuate everyone or distinguish carriers from infected, but it's also possible that there was a unit of Sociopathic Soldiers.
The horror shifts to a more personal level in Versus, in which you actually play the things which blight your existence in Campaign Mode. Viewed in sepia, you await the Survivors to spring whatever trap you've laid for them. In the meantime you can consider the fact that whoever you were was just slightly less lucky than the people you are now hunting, and listen to the sounds of whatever you have become. And look at your hands. Probably the worst for this is the Jockey, who has completely normal hands...except they shake, endlessly.
A savvy player can predict where Tanks are likely to spawn and know when one will strike well before it does thanks to the music clues. So what happens when the music doesn't play and instead of coming after you, the Tank sits and waits quietly for you in a dark room? New pants happen, that's what.
Also, sometimes when you don't get the music cue, you can still tell if there's one nearby... because you can hear them breathing... Opening a door and finding a tank is there is bad, but standing in front of a closed door and hearing his panting clear as day is so. much. worse.
Even worse when the breathing noise doesn't even show up in the subtitles. You hear the breathing, but since the subtitles don't say anything, it may be just paranoia. You walk on, hear it again... now you're almost pissing yourself every time you walk around a corner, but again, no Tank, no music, no subtitles, but you hear the freaking noise. Eventually, you decide that it was just paranoia and move on, and wham, there it is, right in front of you.
Let's not forget about the campaigns themselves
No Mercy: The Abandoned Hospital in the last two stages is rather chilling. You'll see that the entire staff failed to find a cure for the infection and became infected themselves.
Crash Cource: A DLC campaign. The fact that the person piloting the helicopter became infected is already horrifying, but the fact that you crashed in the middle of nowhere is much, much scarier
Death Toll: This campaign features the infamous "Church Guy". A survivor who was bitten by an infected and has gone mad. Hearing him repeatedly say "Better safe than sorry" like a deranged psycho is horrifying. He even scribbled those words on the wall more than a hundred times.
Dead Air: So, you're heading to the airport for evacuation, easy, right? It isn't. From the bombed airport, the incredibly difficult crescendo event near the end inside said airport (assuming you're playing the Left 4 Dead 2 version.) to witnessing a plane crash barely missing you, this campaign has lots of things to worry about.
Blood Harvest: What's worse than going though the woods at night? Going though the woods with zombies at night. The dead cows near the farmhouse are also rather scary.
The Sacrifice: This is it. You've made it past a hospital full of infected patients, crashing your helicopter, met a infected psycho, went though a bombed airport and got though the zombie-filled woods, surely this will not be difficult. It won't be. The wrecked boats near the stating point are bad, but the end has you sacrifice one of your teammates to restart the generator. What's worse, the sacrifice is considered canon, as shown by Bill's dead corpse in The Passing
Dead Center: From the moment you walk out of the safe area and begin making your way down a burning building filled with fireproof zombies you know that this game is gonna be a lot more intense then the last one. If you're lucky you may even run into Ellis's hero turned zombie, Jimmy Gibbs Jr. in the abandoned mall at the end.
The Passing: A new DLC campaign. Pairs you up with the original survivors from the first game at the beginning and end. That doesn't stop this campiagn from being freaky! From along stormy streets above and to the extremely dark sewers below you'll encounter some really creepy stuff. Survivors that went out into the world fully armed... but not immune! The Witch's wedding which even the survivors agree is frighteningly weird and when you've met up with the survivors and been given your task you may decide to that room just to the right of the lift when you exit. What's Inside? The dead body of Bill! Making this campaign not only horrifying but a Tear Jerker as well!
Dark Carnival: A Circus of Fear type place filled with Monster Clowns. The clowns are made even scarier by the fact that they're zombies, and they draw other infected closer to you. Oh yeah, the whole campaign takes place entirely at night, too...
Swamp Fever: What's scarier than making your way through a swamp in the middle of the night? Making your way through a swamp filled with zombies in the middle of the night. What's worse then making your way through a swamp filled with zombies in the middle of the night? Making your way through a swamp filled with ZOMBIE MUDMEN in the middle of the night..
Worse than that: the swamps are deep enough to fully conceal witches. Have fun.
Even worse, at one point during the finale, you have to face TWO tanks at the same time.
Hard Rain: This campaign starts off fairly normal, make your way through a town and get some gas, easy right? It is...until you get to the sugar mill that's full of witches. And then it starts raining. On your way BACK THROUGH THE SUGAR MILL you run into just as many witches as before...except it's raining so hard you move twice as slow and can barely see or hear your teammates.
The Parish: This is it, you made it down a burning building, under a river through sewers, through a carnival from hell, past the swamp filled with animalistic mud people, and across a sugar mill that was home to the local witch population, this HAS to be easier. It isn't. From bullet proof zombies in riot gear to the hundreds of corpses laying everywhere, there are way too many things that are scary and difficult about this campaign to list them all here. Have fun.
In a new Mutation, you get to play as the only survivor alive - the other 3 don't exist. To balance things out, there are no common infected, but you still have to fight Special Infected all by yourself - it's scarier than it sounds. Even worse, the survivor's dialog will still be as if the other survivors are there, giving the impression he/she is going crazy.
The latest mutation, Lone Gunman, is even scarier. There are no Special Infected other than Boomers, Witches, and Tanks. Yes. Tanks. However, the only weapon you have is a Magnum and the Common Infected swipes do 25 damage... it's not really about how you'll get to the safe room, it's about how long you'll survive.
The TAAAAANK mutations were either horrifying or a CMOA depending on your perspective. It's a versus game where all the infected team spawn as tanks. And if they die they respawn as more tanks. For the survivor team it's basically don't stop running for a second or you're going to die incredibly quickly.
Headshot! is pretty bad too. You'll see zombies missing limbs, huge sections of their backs, bleeding profusely and still coming at you. Worst of all is the hitbox problems that mean they sometimes lose their head and keep coming.
The actual nature of the zombification. The effect of the rabies is massive pain and sensitivity, like an eternal hangover. That makes the zombies irritated, as well as attacking all sources of bright lights and loud noises. So the common infected are completely conscious, and attack you out of their own never-ending pain. In fact, their motivation could even be suicidal.
That could make the special infected all the more scary. They're capable of high-level thought, but attack you out of their own hatred.
For something a little more common, sensitivity to light and sound along with massive pain are also symptoms of a severe migraine. Nausea and vomit can occur as well.
If the transformation of Lt Mora was any indication, all of the infected sees normal humans as "monsters", thinking they're still normal while everyone else has turned into zombies. Now think how they see you, the player, wielding a shotgun can can completely dismember them in a few shots, coming straight at you, almost unstoppable...
The Spitter...not because of her attacks, or her concept art that made her look pregnant- it's the way she dresses. Look at her. A cute little top and some capri pants, a pink thong...this was a normal girl. This was a teenager, a preppy girl that suffered from bulimia. The infection turned her into...into THAT. That is what the infection could do to you!
It's get worse. If you kill a spitter,you can clearly see on her hand that she has a ring on her ringfinger. That means she was married. What do you think happend to her husband?
Until around 2004 there were in the entire recorded history of the Rabies virus (which the infection is a strain of)exactly TWO survivors, one of which was a Greek man several thousand years ago. Now thanks to modern medical science (and a quick google search) the number has increased to a whopping SIX with there being no verification for all but one of the latest batch of survivors actually having the virus in the first place.
Rabies can take up to 2 years before it progresses to the first stage despite it normally taking 2~12 weeks? To top all of it off the symptoms listed for rabies include anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior, paranoia, terror, hallucinations, progressing to delirium, etc so the infected are probably fully aware of what's going on with the virus actively amping up their emotional state to 11 which (judging from the descriptions I've been seeing of the special infected) correlates to the behavior. Witch is Anxiety and possibly terror. Hunter is paranoia so it's trying to get you first possibly because it thinks YOU are the infected one. Tanks are obviously agression. Jockeys are hallucinations and general delirium. So on and so forth with the rest being a mixture.
The virus in Left 4 Dead is a mutated strain of Rabies. As in it can effect animals too. We've seen what it can do to humans now think about what the animals will look like. Zoo DLC anyone?
Actually, that might be a possibility. Inside the sound fills for the game are sounds for a zombie dog. Maybe its gonna be used for a new DLC?
Sorry. The zombie dog was a scrapped zombie that was replaced with the Hunter.
To celebrate two years since the release of the first game, and one year since the second, Valve posted some of its concept art for the new Special Infected. The Charger's art isn't all that bad, but the art for the Jockey and the Spitter are absolutely horrifying.
You might not ordinarily expect the developer commentary to be that scary, but one of the sequel's nodes is particularly nasty - the art department had a folder full of photos of various real-world skin conditions caused by diseases to use as reference for how to design the Infected mutations. You know, the Infected whose appearances have already spawned several entries on this page. They ended up not using any of the photo material, because it was too unpleasant to look at. Just look at a screenshot ***of one of the Infected and imagine catching a real disease that looks worse.
The Witch's musical cue in the first game. For the curious, it's this constant creepy female chorus ululating a "Do do do do DO DO DO do do do" noise and it is MUCH creepier than it looks on here.
Because some people have talked about mods... "One 4 Nine" takes place in the Nevada Desert, in and around Area 51. What's disturbing about it is that multiple saferooms are destroyed, however, one specific one in the first chapter has a blood pool with bones and human body parts surrounding it. Later on, you find almost the same thing, but with one difference. It has parts of human faces in it. Also, the finale has you activate a huge black thing to get out. However, after you activate it, it causes the screen to switch colors, albeit very slowly.
Said blood pool with human parts also appears in one part of the "Dead Before Dawn: Director's Cut" campaign
A part of the forth chapter of "Vienna Calling 1" has you navigating a river with toxic waste that can drain your health. Good luck playing this potion with bots.
A scene in The Passing. You run upon a park littered with chairs and nice decorations. Then you see a witch at the very end of the chairs wearing a wedding dress. You can assume that this woman, and possibly every other person nearby at the time, almost instantly became zombified during her wedding.
Every so often, you'll see one of the Normal Infected standing over to the side, vomiting blood. You realize these used to be normal, living people, and how much pain they must be in even if you're not shooting them.
How about turning a corner and finding yourself face-to-face with a tank. No musical cues to speak of, just suddenly finding yourself staring down something that can kill you in three hits on easy.
Imagine this: You are playing with friends when you hear something. Your friends quite down and you realize it's a tank. Now you all know what's coming and that's it is unavoidable. The worse part is picking someone to find it and draw it back to the group.
The Finale is plenty hard enough to worry about. After all, fighting off waves of zombies until rescue arrives could rattle anyone's nerves. But how about when rescue does arrive? Your indication is a sharp change in music, a warning on the screen that basically says "Rescue has arrived! Run like hell!" (which most, if not all, players do) and a nice, fresh wave of zombies trying to keep you from getting away. In that short time, the AI seems to go all out to prevent you from escaping, sending a crapload of specials after you. The whole thing can make your adrenaline shoot through the roof, make you heave a huge relieved sigh when you make it or give you a nice bitter feeling if you fail to make it.
Two of the options for your menu theme are absolutely blood-curdling: You could either go for the campy, yet creepy theme based on the Dark Carnival campaign or the fucking terrifying fiddle theme based on the Swamp Fever campaign. Regardless of what you choose, good luck sleeping tonight.
The 'Last Man on Earth' mutation is probably the scariest this game gets. The player is absolutely alone and only special infected spawn. This means that there can be long gaps of the player just wandering about completely alone until a special infected feels like showing its ugly face. And even then they like to stay hidden meaning that you'll only have the gurgles and music queuing you into the presence of a special infected. This can actually set up some genuinely startling jump scares and atmospheric tension more in line with classic Resident Evil than Left 4 Dead. Oh, and on top of that the PC will constantly call out in desperate search of non-infected life.
From The Sacrifice: All the dead bodies that are being bulldozed into a burning pit.
Zoey: "And if we pass the test?"
In Dark Carnival, when powering up a Merry-Go-Round (and alerting a horde of zombies) to get through to the other side of the carousel, the song that it starts playing is creepy carnival music that's very slow-paced and ominous-sounding. Makes you question how well it did back when the carnival was still actually in operation.