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In honor of the holiday, I figured I’d write briefly about the scariest portion of a game I’ve ever played.

That game would be Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, developed by the now unfortunately defunct Troika Games (but note how they deftly handled the required double colon, double subtitle with the V:TM license via the dash).

In particular, I’m referring to the Ocean House Hotel level (which, uncoincidentally, won an award from Gamespot for level design of the year). The level is loosely a ode to The Shining (it involves an old California hotel – those are inherently creepy for some unknown reason – and mystery surrounding a murdered family).

I played through it in an hour. I wasn’t just on the edge of my seat playing it, I was one the edge of adrenaline shock. My heart was pounding so loudly I remembering needing to take a breather in the middle because I didn’t think I could actually survive without one. While I may have consciously debated the physiological risk, I couldn’t stop playing.

Nothing has ever quite scared me in that way, keeping me on edge, quite as much, whether it was a movie, book, or general appreciation for the horror of modern suburban living. Plus it has the most creative (well, narratively appropriate) use of a physics sim to date. If you have some time, check it out (the game’s available via Steam).