||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (July 2013)|
The child version of Alma as seen at the cover of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
|First game||F.E.A.R. (2005)|
|Voiced by||Melissa Roberts (F.E.A.R.)
Alésia Glidewell (Project Origin and F.3.A.R.)
Alma Wade is a fictional character, the main antagonist, and a key figure in the F.E.A.R. first-person shooter horror video game series by Monolith Productions, introduced in F.E.A.R. in 2005. The mystery of Alma is the very core of the series.
In video games
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Relatively little is known for certain about Alma Wade, but her presence is felt constantly throughout the games. She initially appears to the player as an eight-year-old girl wearing a red dress and has a disturbingly blank, mask-like face almost completely obscured by long black hair. In the final part of the first game (and some preceding visions), her appearance changes to that of a naked, emaciated adult woman. As Alma is/was a powerful psychic, it is never completely clear if Alma is real, or if she only exists in the minds of the people seeing her. Bloody footprints can be found in some places where she walks, and she is briefly visible on a CCTV monitor in the treatment plant, in the same room where Bill Moody was interrogated.
Alma was born August 26, 1979, and was a severely troubled child, gifted with tremendous psychic powers, who suffered nightmares and apparently was attuned to the negative emotions of the people around her. Her father, Harlan Wade, noticed that Alma was a gifted child not long after birth, and introduced her to Armacham Technology Corporation's experiments when she was three years old. Armacham tested Alma for every type of psychic power imaginable, and she passed all tests. At the age of five, Alma began to purposefully fail Armacham's tests. She later set fire to a lab in the Project Origin facility and began to psychically attack the scientists experimenting on her. The scientists began to suffer delusions, sudden mood changes, and vivid nightmares. When Armacham realized that the only thing stopping Alma from doing much worse things to the scientists was her young age, they devised a plan to keep her alive, but unable to psychically attack anyone.
At the age of seven, Alma was recruited into ATC's "Project Origin" with the aim of creating psychic individuals from a psychic forbearer: two days before her eighth birthday, in 1987, she was put into an induced coma and locked in the Vault, a spherical structure located deep inside the secret Origin Facility. During the project, Alma was impregnated twice with prototypes created from her own DNA mixed with that of the Origin researchers. She gave birth to a first prototype, the F.E.A.R. Point Man, when she was only 15 years old, and then a second, Paxton Fettel, when she was 16. Life support was removed from the Vault when Alma was 26, leading ATC to believe she was dead. According to Harlan Wade, her physical body died six days after the removal of life support, but according to F.E.A.R 2 her psychic energy continued to linger long after her heart stopped, fueled by the hatred of her angry, rageful spirit.
Alma is seen repeatedly across the games, often only out of the corner of the player's eye, standing in the shadows, behind windows, or darting quickly out of sight. In the first game, her appearances are usually preceded by a static radio transmission, logged as "Unknown Origin". As her appearances are almost always accompanied by scenes of extreme violence, this rapidly becomes extremely unnerving. Sometimes all that is heard is her soft, giggling laugh, or indistinct words whispered as though in the player's ear. Though the non-canon expansion packs try to show the different versions of Alma as being separate beings, Project Origin shows that Alma is able to shift her appearance and that all three versions of Alma are all just different manifestations of one woman.
In F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Alma initially appears to Sergeant Michael Becket at the beginning of the game in a hallucination in her child form, and subsequently appears for most of the game in her adult form after the destruction of the Origin reactor. Alma targets Becket due to his part in Project Harbinger, whereby he is endowed with the same psychic abilities as the F.E.A.R. Point Man and thus is affected by her in similar ways. Alma herself is drawn to him, with Genevieve Aristide describing Becket as a "beacon" for her (an entry in a computer log establishes Becket's 100-percent compatibility score). An Armacham researcher going by the moniker "Snake Fist" theorizes that Alma is drawn to Becket by a desire to kill and "absorb" him. When Alma initially makes contact with Becket in the school, she pulls back and regards him with interest; then she manifests in her third form, a naked, shapely young woman (reflecting her newfound desire towards Becket). During the course of the game, Alma attacks the other candidates for Project Harbinger, killing two of them. She also psychically attacks Harold Keegan, enthralling him and causing him to wander into the abandoned Still Island nuclear power plant. She attacks Becket himself physically, often assaulting and grappling with him, which he constantly fends off. Other times, she pulls Becket into hallucinations, often centering around a grassy hill and a single tree, from which Alma plays with a swing set that can be found on the Still Island reactor. Ultimately, when Becket is poised to be killed by Alma, she instead spares his life, having clearly developed feelings for him. Becket and squadmate Keira Stokes attempt to use a telesthetic amplifier to amplify Becket's own psychic abilities to defeat Alma, but before they can try, Genevieve Aristide kills Stokes and sabotages the plan, intending to seal Alma away with Becket and use her as leverage. Alma arrives before Aristide seals the device, and turns her attention on Becket, allowing Aristide to seal them both away. Alma establishes a psychic bond with Becket, and sends his mind into a hallucination where he fights off distorted images of Keegan while trying to activate the chamber within the hallucination; all the while Alma is raping Becket in the real world. At the end of the battle, Becket is apparently still sealed within the device. The door to the chamber then opens, revealing a destroyed landscape indicating that Becket is seeing things from Alma's point of view. Alma appears before him, and is now pregnant after conceiving a child with him.
She gives birth in F.E.A.R. 3. The gender and abilities of the child are not shown in the video game.
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In the last stages of the first game, Alma is shown to have the ability to summon ghostly apparitions, called Nightmares. These creatures have the form of dark shadows and appear only as an upper torso, attacking the protagonist with a simple mêlée attack, destroying themselves in the process. They also tend to attack in large numbers.
In Project Origin, Nightmares still appear but with a distinctly new appearance. They appear as a shade of a human body, glowing brightly with energy. Two types appear: one is just a spook that disappears when the player comes close, and another that will attack the player. They have no true body, as they are seen moving through solid objects to attack the player by diving into them, damaging them. While extremely weak, they can move very fast and can easily kill the player in a few instances.
In F.E.A.R. Extraction Point more creatures are introduced. One is a wall-crawling spider-like entity whose abilities are currently unknown, since they never attack the player; another is a nearly invisible humanoid phantom with glowing red eyes that relies on mêlée attacks and are occasionally seen killing Replica soldiers. These phantoms also appear as an emaciated corpse-like apparition which appears during the deaths of Douglas Holiday and Jin Sun-Kwon. In one part of Auburn Memorial Hospital, one of these corpses can be seen turning into one of the invisible phantoms mid-jump against some double doors, making the doors unable to open and blocking the player from that entrance.
Design and promotion
Alma ("Soul" in Spanish and Portuguese) is named after the character Alma Mobley in Peter Straub's novel Ghost Story. F.E.A.R. lead designer Craig Hubbard said he wanted to give players, "enough clues so that [they] can form [their] own theories about what's going on, but ideally [they will] be left with some uncertainty." Hubbard said his most direct influence for the child Alma was Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Seance, but he was also inspired by Sadako Yamamura and the twins in The Shining. The developers chose to make Alma's dress red for "a variety of reasons." Her signature outfit and appearance are altered significantly in F.E.A.R. 3. A glow-in-the-dark statue of pregnant Alma was bundled with the Collectors Edition set of F.E.A.R. 3.
In 2008, The Age ranked Alma as the 34th greatest Xbox character of all time for being "a genuinely memorable and haunting character from a horror game", adding that "it’s really thanks to her and her alone" that Project Origin has been "one of our most anticipated games." That same year, GameDaily ranked her as seventh on the list of most horrific video game bosses, while PC Games Hardware listed her as one of the 112 most important female characters in games. In 2010, Alma was one of the 64 characters chosen by GameSpot for the poll "All-Time Greatest Game Villain", but lost in the first round to the Joker. In 2011, UGO.com ranked her as ninth on the list of the scariest characters in video games and seventh on the list of "the absolute greatest" psychic characters in video game history, while PlayStation Official Magazine listed her among the "PlayStation’s meanest mothers". That same year, IGN ranked the "terrifying" Alma as the 73rd top video game villain, praising the developers' "wonderful job of crafting all sorts of horrific effects using low-tech solutions" and adding: "no matter how similar Alma might seem to Samara and other horror characters, any gamer worth their weight in blood will tell you that she' a villain in a league all on her own." In 2011, Complex ranked her as fifteenth on the list of "most diabolical video game she-villains", and in 2012, they ranked her as the seventh most evil woman in video games, as well as the 50th "coolest" video game villain. That same year, FHM included her on their list of ten scariest game characters ever. GamesRadar too praised Alma's role as an antagonist, putting her in their 2013 list of the best villains in video game history at number 18.
She was ranked #1 in Screwattack's Top 10 Ghosts in Video Game History. In 2013, Liz Lanier of Game Informer included Alma among top ten female villains in video games, stating that "each of one of Alma's three forms has more disturbing implications then the last. Whether she looks like Sadako as a child, appears in her emaciated state as a women, it doesn't bode well for the player. Even her more attractive form is terrifying considering she only uses it as a lure."
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