No one's home, kupo!
There's a recurring element to action/RPG videogames that's always disturbed me, and I'm not quite sure why. It's bothered me ever since I played — and sucked at — Dragon Warrior as a kid. I ventured farther than perhaps I should have at such a low level, mostly because I never made it to a high level, very glad to see a town in the distance. I stroll in, look around for an inn to keep myself from dying, and a goddamn werewolf jumps on me. "Oh, man," I probably thought. "That's just not right. I should be safe here!" And ever since then, abandoned towns have given me the willies.
Final Fantasy III — second only to Chrono Trigger in the Best RPG's Mark Has Ever Played List — took the "abandoned town" concept a bit further when batshit insane Lieutenant Kefka became Batshit Insane All-Powerful Kefka, charred the entire planet, and scattered all the game's characters across the globe. I still hate Kefka to this day. (Final Fantasy V, unreleased in the US except on a Playstation compilation, had its own Creepy Town Stuck in Time, complete with unmoving, unresponsive townspeople. It's even creepier when you go through a dimensional warp and find them all alive and well and moving around.)
Going into the future in Chrono Trigger only creeped me out a bit. The complete desolation of it all left me sort of numb to the whole thing. Plus there were robots. Well, one robot, anyhow, who didn't try to kill you. The rest was rats and mutants.
Some of the worst I've seen was in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Link travels into the future to find Hyrule fairly destroyed, the worst of it centered on the castle and its immediate surroundings. Hanging out in the town square with those screaming, grabby, lanky guys was not my idea of fun. Neither was, as young Link, climbing down into a well to find an dungeon covered in slime and blood. What the hell, Nintendo?
Most recently I've picked up Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, which hews a bit closer to Secret of Mana than to the earlier Final Fantasy games I'm used to. There's a town in this game which, much like in Dragon Warrior, I was unaware lay in ruins before entering. It's dark, covered in massive cobwebs, and absolutely crawling with monsters. Little goblin guys and skeleton guys, floating Bombs that explode when ya kill 'em, and GINORMOUS worm-things with big flailing antenna. The creatures complement the run-down houses nicely. And all because the lazy townsfolk couldn't keep their crystal greased up. Tsk.
All of this so I can say: I want to play Resident Evil 4, but I'm a huge wimpy wuss and I'm a-scairt. That whole thing looks like an abandoned town. But I hear blowing zombies' heads off has never been more fun. Or scary.
I guess I'm just gonna be a big sissy and play Harvest Moon for a while. Nice cow... gooood cow...