My mum was arrested for theft and murder the other day. Whilst sat in the prison, sighing and filling out the necessary paperwork before she could be let back out onto the streets, I couldn’t help but notice how clean and ‘up-to-code’ Merseyside’s local prison was.
So I got to thinking on the way home about some of the prisons I’ve seen in video games, and tried telling my mum about how dirty, scummy and downright frightening they can be. She didn’t hear my speech because she was busy pickpocketing and throwing chips at old people.
I reckon you guys will be polite enough to listen, though. So here are NAGF’s top five scaaaary prisons, all full of NSFW horror, SPOILERS and other creepy shit:
There’s a bloody horrible, awkward bit on Manhunt on the PS2 where you’ve got to traverse a decrepit prison, full of gangs and people to suffocate with little blue plastic bags. ‘Doing time’, it’s called. So what’s so spooky about it? Well, it’s your archetypal prison – but all the cell doors are open. Any old goon could be hiding in there. But whilst it’s all open plan, the long corridors effectively mean that, if spotted, there’s very little options for when you need to hide.
The kills also take a horrifying step up with you being granted a claw hammer early on. It’s scary because of your own actions. You’re isolated in a prison and are given license to club a hole into someone’s skull. Also quite unsettling are hanged men swinging from the roofs and walkways. Yikes…
Silent hill 2
There’s all sorts of prison levels in the Silent Hill series, but the one that sticks with us most is the Toluca Prison level in Silent Hill 2. The atmosphere is absolutely spot on, from the grubby mess hall with the fat gun-toting hick to the bizarre flesh monsters making your radio go bananas. More than the other prisons in this list, Toluca has incredibly narrow corridors to enhance that sense of claustrophobia, complemented with the usual weird Silent Hill stuff like biblical tablets from the Netherworld and a hell of a lot of locked doors.
The icing on the Silent Hill cake with Toluca though is the ‘invisible prisoner’. In one of the rows of cells you can hear something large and ferocious lumbering about, but can’t see it, making one pap one’s pants in fear. Also, after you put the tablets in the gallows, you jump out of your skin at the unexpected shriek. Everything goes silent, leaving you to work your way back through a dark, open area where anything could happen…
Poor old Torque is stuck on an island penitentiary with monster after monster wanting a piece of his flesh. The prison in The Suffering is the game, with monsters taking form of many barbaric forms of execution, and many violent prisoners, in-mates and staff all going gung-ho for poor Torque. Torque’s got his own problems though, as he struggles to cope with the memories of murdering his ex-wife and kids (or did he…?).
The good news? You can turn into a murderous demon yourself, giving you a greater chance of survival as you traverse your own personal hell. The bad news? Noises like screaming babies popping up here, there and everywhere. Luckily The Suffering didn’t just confine you to traditional prison walls and cells, giving you a depth of exploration over other areas of the prison grounds, as the below video shows.
Gardelle County Jail. Shadow Man was one of those games I always wanted as a kid but never got my sweaty little hands on. And if I get it then I never would have played it because it looks proper scary. Anyway, as Shadow Man, LeRoi, our eternal voodoo warrior, has to stop five serial killers from entering Liveside from Deadside, intent on bringing about leader Legion’s vision of the apocalypse.
But what has any of that guff got to do with prison levels? Well, one of our favourite levels sees Shadow Man navigating Gardelle County Jail where the ‘Lizard King’ awaits, taking on the dead and headless with his teddy bear, or whatever he stuffs full of ammo at the time. The atmosphere is pure prison riot as lockdown alarms sound and prisoners shout, helping to make Shadow Man’s jaunt all that more action-orientated.