Am I the only one who associates Hospitals with the worst forms of horrific nightmares? When I got this challenge from my good friend Casper, terrifying images came to mind alongside with, “have I actually been to hospitals in video-games that often?” This list was definitely a challenge to make, especially since I know there might be even more facilities that are perhaps just as interesting as these I found. As for what I can include in this list according to my friend, he made a couple of rules. Firstly, It must be a hospital/asylum of any format. I can include stuff like medical tents in warzones at a stretch. Second, it must be developer-made and not something the player manages themselves or decides the function of, so no Two Point Hospital here. With that said, here are the most memorable hospitals I have experienced for better or worse.
#12 The Hospital of Dr. Richter Harris – D
So how about a facility where all the patients are killed off right from the start of the game? Dr. Richter Harris was a respected and loved doctor, who one day snaps and goes on a murderous rampage through his own hospital. Having locked himself in this facility with the dead bodies, his daughter Laura decides to investigate and see what drove such a nice man into madness. I will be honest and say that this might be cheating ever so slightly as this hospital turns into a haunted castle. However, similar to Silent Hill, this hospital is just another reality, making this an interesting contrast to traditional locations and the earlier parts hinting at what is to come. Throughout, Laura will piece together a story about herself and her legacy, with all being spoon-fed so perfectly. What seems like a normal hospital with a murder-mystery, turns into something bigger and more bizarre, showcasing more why D is such a unique title.
#11 Pokémon Center – Pokemon-series
Hey, animals need treatment too, and this is probably one of the most iconic hospitals ever. Not only is the Pokémon Center a place to heal your Pokémon to their fullest, but you can also gain info from the NPCs, trade or conduct battles with other players, and even check on your PC for info, contacts, and change out your selected roster. Best of all, Pokémon get free healthcare! You do not have to pay anything for fixing up your Pokémon, and the iconic theme is always a joy, signifying a joyful turn of events with a friendly staff. Probably the most pleasant hospital I have ever had the pleasure to visit, and my go-to joke for the American system.
#10 The Asylum – Painkiller
This is really like a short rollercoaster ride, as Painkiller’s Asylum is not really that long or expansive, but fills you with a great rush of horror and action once you enter it. Containing plenty of patients that have either been faced with shock-therapy or become monsters who can hang from the ceiling, the asylum is a place filled with horror and pentagrams, and where sources of light are scarce. It makes for one terrifying stage that will make you turn at every opportunity just to be sure nothing is going to spook you, and the horrifying screams just enhance the mood. Not to mention, the rooms are clearly constructed to be believable and stories they contain will remind you just why ignorance is bliss.
#9 The Hospital – Cat Lady
I will admit that this one is on the list for the pure presentation alone, as it exemplifies how uncomfortable I feel towards hospitals. Cat Lady deals with a woman committing suicide, which sends her to the hospital where everyone has a monotone voice that makes every unit hard to place. The tone is uneven, dark, and claustrophobic, making you easily become paranoid and frightened. Eventually, this dark place also makes your nightmares a reality, creating messed up imagery that is either disjointed sceneries or grotesque symbolism. Unfortunately, your worst fears, even if they are a product of your own imagination, have a terrible truth to them, making it all the more uncertain and terrifying.
#8 The Wards – Dementium 1 and 2
I put both on the list as it is hard to choose one over the other. Both titles deal with a protagonist suffering from amnesia who wakes up in a hospital, but in different forms. While the first title sets you up in a nightmare trip and gives you nothing to linger on except for cryptic messages, the second goes more surreal by having you wake up in a prison hospital with more characters to be terrified of. Both take you on horrific journeys with grotesque monsters and sceneries, with the first title making you feel more alone and frightened of what is to come, with the second one having a clearer, constant threat.
It is an interestingly different take on the horror genre, but both have one thing in common: they future intriguing hospitals filled with nightmares and cryptic puzzles, which you want to escape and where every step is terrifying. It is easy to see why this was pitched as a Silent Hill for the DS due to the uncomfortable lore, mystery surrounding the facilities and yourself, the bizarre puzzles, and mansion-like structure. Even if that was not meant to be, I am happy that the DS was graced with not just one, but two great horror FPS. Two I still can’t play before bedtime.
#7 The Beacon Mental Hospital – The Evil Within
When Detective Sebastian Castellanos answers a distress call at the Beacon Mental Hospital, and you know this title is made by Resident Evil’s Shinji Mikami, you know shit is going to hit the fan. This hospital is, of course, another terrifying location, but one with plenty of diverse locations, including a butcher’s counter. This is where you realize you are no longer in your safe environment and that this hospital is more than you can handle.
The concept of changing reality is actually well portrayed her and while the plot is honestly underdeveloped and sloppy, the concept of falling into madness or raw human fear is an interesting one and a constant part of this facility and the person who has taken it over. If the story still won’t grab you I can assure you its inhabitants will, as the enemies are just terrifying, yet you feel for these lost souls. Interestingly though, these are just something out of the madmen of Silent Hill, and not so much Resident Evil honestly, as the monsters are grotesque and piles of flesh or clever nods to other series. It is really like if Resident Evil wanted to make an homage to Silent Hill’s world, with this hospital being surreal, disgusting, and horrifying.
#6 Trauma Center series
It might not be so much the hospitals that matter in this regard, but who is actually working at them. This is never showcased as much as in the drama-series Trauma Center. I have honestly a mixed approach to hospital-based series. Either they are a whiny mess such as Grey’s Anatomy, keep it safe like House, or just humorous like earlier seasons of Scrubs. How about we turn this concept into a game with an anime-style approach and mix in microgames and an Ace Attorney-style of gameplay?
This is the Trauma-series in a nutshell, as it is a delightful series that contains different takes on the concept of healing their patients. All the characters are likable with strong and bizarre powers, making them all have just the right amount of charm and silliness needed. With colorful designs, and making surgery and diagnostic procedures actually seem fun, it is hard to say that I would not be delighted to have any of these doctors help me again, or just hold a conversation with them. The Healing Touch is more than just a phrase in these titles.
#5 The Sanitarium – Sanitarium
This was my very first introduction to what a sanitarium was and even the concept of mental health. Playing as the man known as “Max”, you suffer from amnesia and for some reason are stuck in this mental facility. Through your stay at this place, you are transported multiple times to other locations that you are never sure if they are even real, giving a clear symbolic twist to Max’ mind, his memories, and this facility. What I love about this place is that you get to experience it from a patient’s perspective. You want to be calm and try to make sense of what is going on, but the visuals and thoughts are too much to handle. Is your mind playing tricks or are you actually sane and others just don’t believe you? Perhaps there is a combination?
Because of this, Sanitarium portrays an interesting setup incredibly well and never makes you certain on what truly is and isn’t. While the facility is uncomfortable and unnerving, it is all made stronger from the perspective you are witnessing it all from, making it among the best character-studies there is. And what better to do so than in a place where mental health is a subject?
#4 The Oswald Asylum – Fran Bow
So this is in many ways similar to Sanitarium, in the way that we are dealing with reality-shifting and witnessing horror and uncertainty from a patient’s perspective. However, this is far worse as we are dealing with a little girl getting experimental drugs that makes her see things that are not just bizarre, but more grotesque than I ever could have imagined. Fran is a struggling child who suffers from mental illness after witnessing her parents’ death, and all she wants is to escape.
What also makes this severely uncomfortable is what the story and facility are based on. I do not want to spoil this in fear of making the ending more obvious, but with how much historical value it contains and how far her imagery goes with symbolism, similar to Alice in Wonderland, this is probably one place where I do not want to be, with or without hallucinatory drugs. Here, no one will even care for your screams of help.
#3 Arkham Asylum – Batman: Arkham Asylum
Now, this is a place of madness and horror. Batman is no stranger to fighting against insane criminals and madmen, but this is probably the best adaptation of the institution they end up in. In this title, you are trapped inside the asylum as the Dark Knight himself, with Harley Quinn overriding the system and the facility being taken over by Joker. This place holds some of Batman’s worst enemies, such as Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Bane, and more, providing threats on different levels.
I love how this all is created to give you one of the best experiences as the Dark Knight against the hordes of mad enemies, and how you can even find records of their interviews and get insight on them and their time at this facility. Not only this, but stealth will be your best friend as this is a deadly place thanks to the lunatics being fierce and having acquired weapons, making everything even more intense. If that was not enough, the facility is just terrifying in its own right with different locations that make this feel like a sprawling castle with surreal and dark areas, where you are simply an intruder on their world of insanity.
#2: Brookhaven Hospital – Silent Hill 2
From the series whose terrifying nurses became horror icons, of course, I had to put an entry from Silent Hill on this list. However, there are plenty of options, with the most known one being Alchemilla Hospital. It is either for the disturbing, rusty look in the first title, the third’s brief moment where you see Alessa’s room, or even Shattered Memories’ cold take on it.
However, I decided to go with Brookhaven Hospital from Silent Hill 2, as its symbols harken back to the protagonist on so many levels. Some of these references allude heavily to the ending of the game, and because of that, I can’t sadly spoil them. I can say, though, that there are so many details relating to James’ thoughts, experiences, and take on both mental and physical health through this institution alone, making it an interesting study both as a facility in concept and to see how it reflects James himself. Because of this, it is probably the most terrifying place simply from how fascinating it is. It also appears in Silent Hill 3 and is definitely an interesting symbolic trip here as well, just not as heavy as the second title.
#1 Dr. Moroboshi’s Sewer Camp – Judgment
This is far from the strongest facility, the most interesting one, or even run by a unique doctor. It is simply a small medic-camp in the sewers, run by a man who wants to help the homeless. So why is this so high? Simply put, this is a humble story and often the biggest hearts come from the smallest packages. Dr. Moroboshi started doing this medcamp after being neglected to become a professor at the facility he worked for before, as a change of heart.
This is what makes him severely interesting: going from a rich doctor focused on high standards, to simply helping those in need. It is lovely to see him be stern and at times annoyed with his patients, but helps anyone in need whenever he can for nothing. The Yakuza-series is known for having strong side-characters that are easy to relate to and care for, with just slight bizarreness added in, and this one is no exception in this side-title. Sometimes, the strongest stories and hearts, come from those who do literally whatever they can with the bare minimum they have, and that is why Dr. Moroboshi’s camp in the sewers, is my favorite one.
It is never wrong to ask for help, and while some of these choices might do more damage than good, you can always depend on a good friend to help you out, right? And what better way to celebrate friendships than going on a journey together! So, neglecting the easy choice of any MMORPGs, what are the best co-op games out there in your humble opinion Casper?