I have a really strong sense of smell and it’s both a blessing and a curse.
The smell of a chlorinated pool will bring me back to my childhood while the smell of burnt bacon will bring me back to that one horrible oral surgery I had that one time as a teenager. The point being, smells bring about memories from somewhere deep in the olfactory centre of our brains that make these recollections seem more real.
And for whatever reason my brain likes to make video games, books, and movies more real by finding smells to match what I’m seeing on the screen. Sometimes it’s ok like if I’m in a really interesting place, but then you get into your average video game sewer or hell scape with bodies everywhere… then it gets a bit dicey.
So here are some of the potentially worst-smelling locations in video games.
Silent Hill 2 – Toluca Prison
Silent Hill 2 tells the story of a man as he journeys through a town filled with mist, memories, and merciless monsters. Kind of. It actually tells the story of James Sunderland, a guy who has been called to the town of Silent Hill by a letter he received from his dead wife. It goes places that few video games have since, but it also has some incredibly memorable locations including Toluca Prison.
Do you know what smells awful? Embalming chemicals. In high school, we had to dissect a little pig fetus and it smelt like a kind of organic plastic. It was so strong and so awful that I usually left the work to the other kids who had a stronger stomach. So you could imagine just how bad an actual dead body smells that we have to use some of the strongest chemicals around to just hide the smell.
Now imagine being surrounded by dead bodies in a prison somewhere beneath a lake and standing before a pit where the dead bodies have been shoved? that’s what James Sunderland encounters in Toluca Prison. It reminds me of the stories from the plague of the Black Death in Europe where people could tell their neighbour had died just by the smell. It would be awful and combined with the mould, the rust, and the blood I can only imagine how strong James’s stomach had to be just to stand in this room.
And yeah it just gets worse and worse. This pit magically leads James to a new area, but we can only imagine that the real thing is just completely filled with awful decaying bodies. The smell would just be overwhelming.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day – Domain of Great and Mighty Poo
Why am I even writing this? Anyway, Conker’s Bad Fur Day never really made any sense to me. On the one hand, I had a Conker’s Pocket Tales on my Gameboy Colour and on the other hand I had played Conker’s Bad Fur Day with my cousin. The change in tone just didn’t make any sense to me, but whatever video games I guess.
The Great and Mighty Poo is some kind of talking piece of shit that taunts you with his stupid song before you take out his teeth. I can’t even imagine what his little murky kingdom smells like, but it’s enough to make me want to gag just thinking about it. Seriously, our waste is made up mostly of undigested food, bacteria, and parasites, so you can imagine how vile of a substance poo can be.
Now imagine some thing ten times bigger than you made out of living farts singing in your face with really bad puns and rotten teeth. You’ve just met one of the worst smelling video game bosses of all time. It’s not even funny, which is the worst part. You might give me some shit for saying that, but I’d much rather play a game like Banjo-Tooie again than play this.
Demon’s Souls – Valley of Defilement
Demon’s Souls is the originator of what could be one of the best video game series of all time. Well, technically Shadow Tower and King’s Field were the originals, but From Software’s PS3 masterpiece brought next-gen player to a crazy new world filled with demons and death.
The worst location in the game is arguably the Valley of Defilement. Right from the get go at the top of the valley, we start to get a whiff of what’s ahead of us. The enemies look like they’re melting from decay and the world around you just looks like its rotting and filled with mould. Mouldy homes have a specific kind of smell kind of a musty ugh, but Demon’s Souls takes that to a ludicrous level.
At the bottom of the valley, we start to realize what this place is all about. The dark water is just filled with bodies and there are all kinds of things growing in the waters. Giant ticks that explode in a hail of blood, jelly that looks like the growths you’d see in a pot of coffee not changed over the weekend, horrid slugs, and plague babies roam the land. What’s worse is that the first boss in the area is just this disgusting mass made out of leeches.
Could you imagine how that thing up there smells? Oh god, kill it with fire and unsurprisingly that’s actually quite an effective strategy. The Dark Souls series is filled with areas similar to this one like Blight Town, but nothing compares to the original in grossing me out.
Resident Evil IV – Regenerador autopsy room
Ok, now this one you have to use your imagination a little. Resident Evil IV is perhaps one of the flash points in a huge change in video game design. Taking away the fixed camera angle the series was known for and replacing it with the best example of third-person action, RE4 was a game changing game, but it was also super gorey and super gross at times.
There are a number of moments where you can only imagine how terrible everything smells, but this regenerador autopsy lab is the place that I imagine smells the absolute worst save for Salazar’s spike trap pit. When Leon Kennedy walks into this freezing room, he finds a bunch of bodies hanging on hooks. These are test subjects of regeneradors, a horrid humanoid version of the Las Plagas virus. It’s freezing in the room, but after Leon turns down the temperature one of the bodies falls off the hook and attacks him.
Now imagine if Leon decided to just sit around the room for a day. Could you imagine how bad the entire place would start to smell? On the whole, the plaga is a pretty gross looking parasite and knowing that it feeds on decaying human bodies I can only guess that it would just smell like infection. This is something I spoke about in a previous post, but infections smell a very certain way. It’s a yellow, slimy kind of smell.
Regeneradors are awful enemies to fight and they explode violently when killed. I can only guess that they smell awful too.
Bloodborne – Pigs
Do you know what smells awful? Dead pigs. I have a friend who spent a short amount of time on a pig farm somewhere in northern Ontario. What she told me about the smell made me want to gag and I wasn’t even there! Pigs eating one another, piglets just up and dying, and bodies lying everywhere… it sounds awful.
Now imagine my surprise when recently playing Bloodborne and coming across these big pig enemies you have to fight. Sure these pigs probably smell awful with their horrid mutations and giant scale, but then in the Chalice Dungeons and in some areas in the games you come across these big piles of dead pigs. Why? Why are there dead pigs in the middle of this horrible town made to look gross?
Even in the dankest dungeon filled with terrible werewolves and horrible looking bosses, I can still say that the pigs probably smell the worst of all enemies. They’re just these huge stinky awful creatures.
Writing this whole thing makes me really grateful that the video game industry is developing immersion through virtual reality and not virtual smells. I can only imagine how terrible these games would be if I could smell anything these heroes trudge through for us.