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The Horror of the Flood


Sadly, the there’s no boat in Halo that will save anyone from this Flood

Not to be confused with the 2019 Drama film, the Flood I’m talking about is an ancient biological nightmare –a sentient, parasitic plague that is capable of infecting a whole planet in days. Worse, unlike most zombie-like outbreaks, a single individual is intelligent enough to wield a gun, strong enough to leap twice their height, agile enough to run towards you, and resilient enough to withstand a hail of bullets, regardless of where you shoot.

For those unfamiliar with these Flood creatures, they had first debuted in a Sci-fi First-Person Shooter called Halo: Combat Evolved (2001). Normally, games that specialize in the Action genre don’t incorporate Horror into their narratives, much less in enemy characters. Players may be disgusted and terrorized, but straight-up experiencing a lasting fear is not a factor when a monstrous enemy can be killed until it’s dead.

This is different with the Flood. In fact, I think of them as a terror-inducing blight made to specifically enact a genre shift by their introduction alone. Truly, the game went out of its way to build suspense through the first half of the level [titled ‘343 Guilty Spark’] through dialogue and environmental storytelling alone.

It is in the latter that Halo used visual details to gradually raise tension –similarly to what a Horror movie does. This includes the setting where the player is placed in a dark and ominous and foggy swamp. From the evidence of being watched by distant figures, to seeing terror in the otherwise fearless Covenant, to finding excessive blood splatters on walls and floors and ceilings, to witnessing a brief nod to Alien franchise via a dead Elite, to experiencing a mild jump scare, and to discovering grainy found footage, this Flood introduction had pinned down the spirit of what makes a suspenseful scene.

The Flood’s theme, which was preceded by a low and echoing ambience, is undoubtedly a factor to the lasting terror of players everywhere. The rising staccato of screeching violins, accompanied by high-toned drums in a repetitive and fast-paced tune which really doesn’t help when a player [specifically me] is panicking and deciding to run instead of shoot. Even then, the music isn’t the only reason that the Flood is terrifying.

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Out of everything, the distinct body horror that comes from the infection is the cherry on top of the gory sundae. Aside from the incredibly painful transformation sequence, a regular Flood form has fleshy tumorous growths, visibly dislocated heads, tendril-enforced limbs, red-tufted filaments, and a sickly green tinge. They didn’t look pretty when moving, and look utterly disgusting when dead, but their horribly recognizable figures are probably the true reason for the game’s M rating.

Considering the original premise of Halo, it’s fascinating to witness the transformation of a genre that typically gives players empowerment through their ability to fight and win against enemies. For the Flood to inflict helplessness, despite how the player is still able to fight back, the game had changed my understanding of how Horror works with different genres. In fact, I think of the Flood’s introduction as an absolutely incredible example of how non-Horror entertainment can be turned on its head and given a new flavor in originally-formulaic narratives.

Watch the Flood Complete History!

Source: Dead Talk Live

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