Burned By The Midnight Oil: One Late Night

By Adam Smith on June 3rd, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

I love horror and partake of it in all its forms – games, films, books, the news, my bank balance – but I usually find myself disappointed by what’s on offer. I’m very particular about how I want to be scared and precisely how much sadistic unpleasantness I’ll tolerate. I’m always more interested in spooky stuff that is happening in place that are at least slightly familiar and, having worked in an office, I immediately felt at home in One Late Night’s environs, haunted by the whirr of a photocopier and marked by a furrow ploughed between my desk and the coffee machine. Of course, this office is also haunted by a ghost. I hid under a table and pulled a sad face until it went away. You can do the same by downloading the game. It’s free!

I play a lot of these free frighteners and I’m convinced most of them exist mainly for Youtube people to scream at rather than for anybody to play and enjoy. One Late Night is beautifully put together though, straddling the line between memory and nightmare effectively, and with some clever use of audio and lighting.

Short-form experiences suit horror particularly well, I feel, because the urge to say or show too much is less likely to take over. Has anyone found any others that work particularly well?

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25 Comments »

  1. ResonanceCascade says:

    This game’s pretty good! Definitely a unique setting. It does a great job of emulating the feeling of being in a creepy, empty office during the wee hours.

  2. whexican says:

    My cousin is a nurse and once worked at an old hospital in Brownsville, Texas. The hospital is really old and use to be a medical convent run by nuns way back in the day. The nuns ate, lived, slept and worked in the medical convent for a couple of generations until it moved from a religious medical center to a local city medical hospital.

    Over years, there have been numerous reports of nun like ghosts wandering in the halls and interacting with patients. Doctors have claimed seeing an unknown person dressed as a nun wandering the halls at odd hours and then suddenly disappearing. Patients have even claimed being visited by a “strange nurse” at night who tucked them in gently or simply watched over them.

    The most frequent sightings came from the maternity ward where my cousin worked. Nurses often reported seeing strange woman in the nursery walking between the baby baskets with a mournful and sad look. It was well known that the baskets would often rock gently on their own and that crying babies would often break out into laughter and grasp at something in the air that wasn’t there.

    A few years after my cousin started working, the hospital went under renovation and an old abandoned cellar near an underground service tunnel was was found. It was used by the nuns to hold supplies and was forgotten over the years. During the excavation work, a couple of unmarked graves where found which turned out to be those of pregnant woman who died from childbirth. No one know who they were ,but rumor was it was most likely single pregnant woman who died during child birth and ho had no family to claim the body. Makes sense considering the time era (early 1900s) and the stigmata against unwed mothers.

    The bodies were moved and the area was redone to make way for some future expansion. According to my cousin, people still saw the nun ghosts from time to time but sighting became much less frequent especially in the nursery where they pretty much stopped.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      My wife and I stayed at a “haunted” hotel for our anniversary a few weeks back. Apparently, it was used during WWI as a crematorium or some equally gruesome thing.

      Anyway, it had REALLY loud pipes that sounded like someone running from end of the building to another banging all the walls with a hammer with preternatural speed. It scared the shit out of some of the other guests, and I’ll admit, when it first started I was a little unsettled myself.

      Anyway, there’s no such thing as ghosts. Old hospitals and hotels just tend to bring those fears and/or beliefs out in people.

    • Bhazor says:

      You missed the “Forward this to ten people or tomorrow a nun will fuck yo shit up” message.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Are we telling ghost stories? OK, here’s mine. It takes place in the mid-nineteen eighties. I was a young boy, playing computer games late into the night, on the family computer. I thought I heard a noise, and went to investigate, but then fell asleep instead.

      And in the morning the game had burnt itself into the monitor and whenever we used it from then on, we saw the game’s eery ghost.

    • tnzk says:

      Hah, I believe my old house was haunted itself. When I hear ghost stories, it seems as if people go somewhere, experience something unexplainable, and get away scot-free. I always thought if you were to experience something truly supernatural, there’s a potential to possibly change you for good. Something like a Lovecraft story.

      So anyway, back in ’03 my family and I moved into a house in a new suburb in Auckland, New Zealand. It was the first home we personally owned after renting the rest of our houses closer to the city. It was considered to be the best street in this western suburb, and one of the best houses. We were chuffed. Despite that, one of the earlier incidents was when we had a house warming party, and one of our Chinese family friends simply looked around, surveyed the topography, the design of the house, and how we decorated it, and said ‘Um, this Feng Shui is all sorts of fucked up” (or words to that effect). We really didn’t pay attention to it.

      One thing we actually installed was a brand new alarm system for our proudly owned house. I almost forgot about it because we didn’t use it after the first few months. The thing kept going off in the wee hours of the morning and no one could figure out why. No person or animal were in any of the alarmed rooms, and my parents just ended up frustrated with the experience and disconnected from the service early.

      I didn’t realize just how odd it felt walking around the rooms of that house until I moved into my new one that I live in today. There’s a hallway leading off to all the bedrooms, bathroom, and toilet, and at any time of the day, walking up and down that hallway was absolutely depressing, for no apparent reason. And the living room, full of large windows and bright sunlight, always felt eerily dead. Later on my brother and I would tell each other we both had dreams of a shadowy figure walking up and down this hallway.

      With all these rather odd experiences, it means nothing compared to what has actually happened to the dynamics of our family. While we had our faults, we were a family striving to be good people, in a way a supposedly devout Catholic family should. But between 2003 and 2007, while we were at that house, we stopped acting like ourselves. I will not go on to say what the other family members did, but we could put the best Hollywood stories to shame. I myself became so neurotic; the worst thing I remember was throwing my sister into the room and beating her viciously. Her face during that incident is something I haven’t yet forgotten.

      There were many other incidences, but for the sake of brevity, there came that one night which I think my family have blocked out, or simply don’t talk about. It’s the last time we ever prayed the Rosary together. My father and mother had a furiously heated argument, and out of anger, pride, or God knows what, he called us to say the Rosary. Heh, I remember waiting around for everyone coming into the living room, trying to make a novelty talking footbag (remember those?) do its laughing thing. It didn’t work. I threw it to the ground. The place was silent for about a minute. Then the thing started laughing. But not laughing like it should: it started cackling, higher pitched, and higher pitched, cackling like a maniac, as if it was egging us on, until the mechanism inside finally broke and it audibly exploded inside the footbag.

      A few prayers in, the phone started ringing. My parents generally don’t pick up the phone during the Rosary, but the phone didn’t let up, so my father went to answer it. But no one was on the other line. Then, there was a faint knocking downstairs, but not at the front door. Someone was knocking at the door of our rumpus room, but in order to get there, you had to inconveniently open our side gate, past our unkempt bushes (and through nasty spiders and spider webs), around the house all the way to the opposite corner of the house and knock on the glass door. They had to do all this in during the night in pitch black. My dad went to check out which idiot would do such a thing, but no one was there. He came back, and we continued. The phone started ringing again. Quicker this time, my father answered it. No one was there. He put the phone down, and the knocking on the glass door started once more, this time louder. My father went down, and no one was there. He returned yet again, and as he was about to sit down, the phone started ringing again. He answered it, ignoring the louder rapping on the glass door. He opened the second story back door and looked straight down to the rumpus room door, and the knocking stopped, because no one was there. I think he knew something was not right with all this, and looking absolutely dejected, he sat back down, in complete and utter silence, not even praying this time. The phone started ringing. The glass door started rapping. My mother held her head in her hands, and we children were pretty fearful at this point. My father then shouted “GET LOST!”, and right on cue, the most grotesque, blood-curdling, felinesque screech echoed throughout the house. I don’t know if blood can go cold, but that night would’ve been proof if it ever could.

      I’m reading this back and it almost sounds like a story that the aforementioned Lovecraft or Edgar Allan Poe might’ve written, except without delving into personal details which would’ve made a more excellent retelling. After that event, we continued to stay in that house for several more years until moving into the house we live in today. Like I said, I didn’t realize how strangely suffocating that house was until I started living here. Even without a northern-facing design it’s brighter and more cheerful. Unfortunately, it’s taken a long time for my family to recuperate from our most destructive years; it even continued somewhat until 2009.

      No one really talks about what happened, and my family are all strangers to one another. Our friends and relatives have noticed a stark difference into how we are; some don’t even talk to us anymore. It’s a very bizarre situation we live in. I can see traces of hope with my siblings immediate futures, but the lingering effects are too much for me to consider staying around my family for much longer.

      I also believe I am the only one who’s given considerable thought to exactly what was happening in that house (mind you, such such events only seem incidental to the greater problem of the state of my family). Anyway, while I fully believe our actions were our own, I have tried so very hard to explain some of the events through natural incidents. But there is a point where the desire for natural explanations exceeds rationality.

      Some of you may be disappointed that my ‘ghost story’ climaxed with dead phone calls and unexplained knockings. Maybe you wanted a forty-eyed monster to murder us in our sleep, or irrevocable proof that ghosts or otherworldly entities exist. While I can’t offer you that, I can say that should you ever experience anything as intimate (and authentic) as I have, you don’t automatically become a believer; you don’t become some sort of paranormal evangelist, nor do you desire to retell the events to anyone and everyone who would listen (this might be the third time I’m telling this seven years after my experiences, the first two times only to personal friends). Rather, you do question whether it was all some grand illusion, or vivid dream; you become your own biggest skeptic. And from that experience onwards, you hold in your hand a very, very bitter pill just waiting to be swallowed.
      -
      To add a relevant comment, it’s why I’m sometimes dissatisfied with many horror/supernatural games, movies, and written works. Some have said the best scares are not jump-scares, but cerebral ones. I want to go one step further and say the best scares are not simply cerebral, but personally affecting. This game ever so slightly touches upon it as the setting takes place at an office. But think Silent Hill 1 & 2, or The Exorcist, or Rosemary’s Baby, or Stephen King’s novels. It’s when you marry a real character, with a real event, which actually turns their world upside down and asks them to pick up the pieces, is when the true dread appears.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Hang on, if the dead bodies were of patients, why were the ghosts dressed as nuns?

      Also “crying babies would often break out into laughter and grasp at something in the air that wasn’t there.” Yeah, they do that.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Stigma.

      “Stigmata” is something else entirely, and isn’t at all what you meant.

      Just thought you should know.

  3. Smoof says:

    Robbaz has a pretty amusing 15-minute playthrough of this.

    I’m not strong willed enough to actually play through the game myself, so this was enough to give me a peek into something that looks pretty interesting!

    Robbaz, hope my HTML works!

    • hangphyr says:

      I can usually only stand watching “lets plays” if there is no webcam and no voice overs..

  4. Bhazor says:

    Well that looked spectacularly lame even for a Slender knock off.
    Did like the “Magic pen that fucks up chairs” though. That would be my super power.

  5. CommanderJ says:

    There’s also the fact that VT-d etc etc has been disabled on the K chips so they won’t be nicer than the server parts they’re selling overpriced to business-users. The cheaper, non-overclockable non-K parts? Yup, they have VT-d and TSX. Artificially segmenting the market to milk more money.

    Also, according to anandtech, the haswell managed a 13% increase in a test by using 11% more power than ivy. Yes, that’s almost exactly 1-1 performance per watt compared to Ivy. ‘They’ve focused on idle power this time, not load power’, you might say. Yes, indeed. But the desktop parts get virtually none of those idle power benefits. Combine all of this with the fact that you’re paying for 33-50% die area dedicated to a GPU you will never use…..yes, it is absolute piss. Qualcomm, ARM and Samsung really must have Intel running scared, for them to take such a giant shit on the desktop users just to be competitive in mobile.

  6. matrixdll says:

    So, basically that’s F.E.A.R. with bombastic super-action fights being replaced by more Slender’esque pacing..
    Can it possibly become any more boring?

    • frightlever says:

      Things will get better for you. They’ll never be good, but they will get better.

      • matrixdll says:

        Sure.
        I’ll just have to wait until someone will tell David Cage to reboot Silent Hill series by creating PS4 exclusive, based on SH Revelations 3D.

        Yeah, these will be the good times.

  7. Dervish says:

    Getting pretty sick of tunnel-vision torches in these games. It’s like playing at a sub-console FOV.

  8. Astartes says:

    D+W and A+W does not work.
    You can only walk forwards and backwards, or strafe side-to-side.
    D+W AND A+W DOES NOT WORK.

    I need to go throw up in someones mouth.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      I can’t think of the last time I’ve ever even bothered to *try* and press D+W in a game, that’s how unessential it is.

  9. Wedge says:

    This was almost interesting until I saw the “ghost”. Also the notion of “hiding” from some supernatural spectral being has to be one of the most fucking absurd things ever.

    • brulleks says:

      ..and unfortunately the ghost is the first thing you see on their website, in the Youtube video’s default screenshot. So their own marketing is pretty much ruining any mystery for the player.

  10. frightlever says:

    Can we have a “You must be this cynical or less to post” sign, please?

    I do get it, there’s a bell curve of cynicism that peaks round the mid-twenties and then you realise that the grass can be greener, the sky bluer, that truth and honesty are possible, love available and success achievable and all you have to do is stop wallowing in self-pity and doubt. It’s that which keeps me going, knowing that tomorrow might be the day.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Yep, there’s a bell curve of delusion that peaks around the mid 30s.

    • Soldancer says:

      I’m in agreement on the cynicism, too. Life’s too short for curmudgeonliness!

      On topic: I actually played this and somewhat enjoyed its take on the genre. It doesn’t rely on simple jump-scares or wandering aimlessly through an huge environment of similar objects (trees, graves, etc.) My biggest beef with the game was that sometimes objectives weren’t clear and event flags were occasionally hard to find. It’s tough to know that you have to go into room X for the third time in order for something to trigger elsewhere and advance the game. Still, I liked it a fair bit – it’s free so try it!

      Also, because I’m somewhat passionate about ghosts and ghostlore:
      I have never personally seen a ghost or experienced something I can definitely say is paranormal. However, I also believe that the huge amount of personal experiences and ever-increasing amout of physical evidence indicates that people do and can experience things for which we currently have no satisfactory scientific explanation. And I believe it’s possible to be a skeptic and a believer at the same time.

      I’ll leave it at that, with a terrific reading recommendation that sums up my take pretty nicely:

      http://www.amazon.com/Your-Neighborhood-Gives-Creeps-Accidental/dp/0738715573

      • thebigJ_A says:

        Of course you can be a skeptic and a believer, it’s called believing only in things for which we have sufficient evidence. In fact, that’s *required* to be a skeptic.

        “Paranormal” just ain’t in it though, I’m afraid. Personal experience is the worst sort of evidence, and your “ever-increasing” physical evidence doesn’t exist. Or at least “citation needed” times 1,000,000.

        You know what they call paranormal things for which there’s enough evidence to justify belief? Normal.

        • Tatourmi says:

          It actually is not required to be a skeptic to believe in evidence. Actually, if you want to be serious about it, you kind of have to put the whole concept of evidence into perspective, because, well, nothing is proven, everything is a perception, and logic apparently doesn’t work. Extreme skeptical arguments are some of the most powerful arguments ever devised by philosophers in my opinion, logic to break down logic, concepts to go against concepts. Nobody can “believe” in them, but they are there, like the permanent black spot of knowledge. Scientism is not skepticism in my opinion, my use of the word, nor is empirism. Then again, these words may have a slightly different meaning in English, and skepticism might be a synonym of empirism there, but in french they are completely different, kind of opposed even.