‘Tis the season to be unjolly while hiding under the bedsheets or behind the couch, so I thought it would be a good idea to share a little mod that’s been darkening my nights this week. By some measures, it’s a very simple mod indeed, but it’s one I’ve found myself hopelessly enthralled by. Minecraft, meet Weeping Angels.
Let me admit something. I’m a fairly hardened individual – not in a fist fight, wherein I'm undone by my habit of crumpling to the ground at the very sight of an actual fist approaching me – but when it comes to horror, I’ve seen it all. From the ultra-gory to the sleep-troubling and potentially psychologically damaging, I love the stuff.
Being scared, while actually as safe as can be, is one of my life’s great pleasures. So when it comes to horror games, I’ve braved the lot: the corridors of Resident Evil, the streets of Silent Hill, the prison of Amnesia. Haunted cathedrals and hotels are my playgrounds, and I have tackled everything from The Cradle to many a grave.
But here’s the rub. I’m not claiming that I’m immune to the effects these things are trying to have on me. They scare the living daylights out of me, and for all my experience and training, even a bump in the early afternoon sometimes sends shivers up my spine. I’m not one of these horror fans who can’t wait to loudly tell everyone how unfrightenable he is and I strongly suspect that if horror media didn’t terrify me, like those proud souls, I’d find it all a bit boring and do something else instead.
Now that admission. Minecraft sometimes gets right under my skin. Less so in recent times because the more busy it becomes the more I walk around going ‘cor’ and ‘oooohhh’ with a quizzical inflection, rather than ‘argh’ and ‘oooohhh’ with an unnerved inflection. But when night falls in the blockular world, I run for bloody cover as if I were stuck in no man’s land and the shells were about to start falling. It can be a horrifyingly vast and empty world, and knowing that I have to rely on myself to build the walls that keep the horrors at bay is sometimes too much responsibility.
Don’t even get me started on my forays into the underground, which invariably end with darkness, panicked and ineffective upward scrambling and death. As much as anything else, I’m useless at actually building anything of worth in the game, so it tends to be a case of slogging from one miserable shack to the next. I’m a pioneer of pixelated peril, a frontiersman of fabricated fear.
So, with my weak constitution, I definitely shouldn’t be trying to make Minecraft even more petrifying. That would be silly. Why, then, have I spent so much time this week playing with the Weeping Angels mod? Is it because Halloween is on the horizon and I was looking for something scary to share with the world? Partly. Is it because I find the idea of being aghast at such simple visuals incredibly fascinating? Definitely.
But it’s mostly because nothing else has made me laugh and shudder quite so much in a long time.
For those who don’t know the Weeping Angels, they were introduced to the impressionable children of the world in an episode of Doctor Who, which I’ve never really been a big fan of. But this episode, Blink, is a great bit of television.
If you look at them, they stop moving, turn your back and they come for you. Blink once too often and you're dead. It's great, because it means you can avoid showing a monster move, which often takes away its power, and it makes hiding very difficult indeed. It’s a concept so simple and devious that I’m sure it’s been done before, although I can’t think where right now and that probably means if I have seen it, it wasn’t as effective. Either that or my brain is being a sieve again. It happens.
The Endermen, as people will quickly point out, are in many ways the opposite of this idea. But it’s the angels who get my vote for most ‘orrible thing that’s killed me in a game for a long time. Probably since old flappy jaw in Amnesia actually, although with that I was just as likely to quit the game before I actually died, as soon as something pounded on a door or started snuffling around a room, because that’s how much of a coward I am.
Here’s a video which demonstrates how the angels work (and sometimes don’t), while highlighting both the comedy and the horror of the mod.
I was hoping to find more ways to convert mine and your subterranean adventures into trouser-wetting voyages of anxiety, but am alarmed by the lack of quality stuff out there. A more conventional Halloween mod is progressing at a steady rate and should be ready by the time we’ve all forgotten about Halloween. There’s also the generally agreeable daftness of the Horror Mod, which adds celebrity monsters to the world, along with haunted houses for them to live in. This is the one to watch though, I reckon. Not a lot to see yet but it's singing from the right hymn sheet.
But I haven’t found anything currently released that matches up to the delights of those sliding angels, sometimes speeding past me at a rate of knots as I turn a corner unaware of their presence, other times blocking me inside my own home and forcing me to back into a corner, my eyelids pinned to my face.
Also worth mentioning as we head toward this haunted weekend is the fact that I’ve finished my playthrough of White Night, the Amnesia mod I talked about a little last week. It’s hardly an original premise – mental asylum, memory loss – but it’s definitely worth a look, if only for a little more of that Dark Descent feeling.
Enjoy and, as always, the comments are the place to tell me about fantastically terrifying Minecraft mods I may have missed while peeking at the internet from between my fingers. And, yes, I know about Herobrine.