Game Diary - August 5, 2008: Too Scared To Keep Playing

'Siren: Blood Curse'I keep asking friends who own PS3s if they've played "Siren: Blood Curse" yet, a game that is already a contender for best horror game of the year.

I keep hearing excuses, including an apparent prohibition by some girlfriends from letting their significant others play the creepy multi-character game in their presence.

(Could these excuses also explain why most of the major U.S. gaming outlets have yet to review this Sony-developed download-only game more than 10 days since its release? Or did this article I reported in May already explain why how a good game could get shunned?)

Whatever the case, I must confess the reason that I stopped playing the game on Monday night was that I got scared. A red-sky night in "Siren," during which I controlled multiple victimized characters in a town of Japanese zombies -- whose eyesight I could hijack -- had to be cut short. Too disturbing.

For the first time in my life as a gamer, I had to put a game down because it creeped me out. "Resident Evil" didn't do this to me. Nor did "Eternal Darkness" or "Silent Hill 2." The fright took hold at the end of the 12-part game's sixth episode. Let's call it the "church scene," for those in the know. Fellow "Siren: Blood Curse" players (do you exist???), are you with me?

Without spoiling the moment, I can at least explain that I was surprised at the kind of scare it took to make me stop playing a game for a night. The "Siren" moment wasn't an abrupt shocker, the dogs-jumping-through-windows kind of scene from the first "Resident Evil" or the person in the bathtub in "Eternal Darkness." It wasn't a gross-out moment. It was something creepier and subtler. It was 10 seconds of dawning realization that made me question what I had really been doing when I was controlling one of the characters earlier in the game. Had I really been innocently doing such-and-such, or had I actually been doing something else? I can say no more without spoiling it. Play episode six, and you may know what I mean.

I hope to have the courage to play more tonight.

And a note to Diary readers: Yesterday's entry provoked an e-mail from Microsoft public relations and a call from the company's service center, just to help me out. I asked for no special treatment. And, yes, my system is still spitting up green splotchy graphics. My second retail unit, one I brought home from work, does not.

Next: More "Siren" and more leaps through "PixelJunk Eden," while "Rhythm Tengoku Gold" remains affixed to my hands during all possible subway rides.