Some video games are straight forward with what kind of experience you can expect, as they won’t shift or alter in their tones at all. Titles like Call of Duty and Battlefield rarely change from the blockbuster style action that they’re known for. However, there are some games that throw a curveball at the players, shifting not only the tone of the game but the genre itself. Some of the most terrifying moments in gaming don’t come from traditional horror titles, but ones that at first glance shouldn’t have horror elements.
Now we when are talking horror elements, we are not just relegating it to a game that includes ghosts, zombies, or terrifying monsters. Horror is built around the concept of pure tension and fear that you will die or be hurt, which can be translated to a number of different scenarios in gaming. Now obviously fear is subjective and not everyone will be afraid of the exact same moment, so we will take this into account. However, these are 10 horror moments in games that make us jump out of our skin.
Banjo Kazooie – Clanker’s Cavern
Up until this point, Banjo Kazooie was a quirky, charming platformer that was full of life and color. Enter Clanker’s Cavern, a place full of dirty water, monsters hiding int he walls, and as giant metal shark staring you down. Not to mention it’s very easy to drown when going after certain Jiggys or collectibles, which is always traumatic.
Batman Arkham Asylum – Scarecrow Sequences
Scarecrow is a legendary Batman villain that feeds off of the fear of his opponents, so naturally when he uses his toxin on Batman we are thrust into a horror-esc setting. The Scarecrow sequences bend and twist the mind of the player, subverting expectations and even faking as if your game crashed. Which is always terrifying, especially if you haven’t recently saved your game.
Fallout 4 – Death Maze
When exploring a post-apocalyptic wasteland you are bound to come across some weird and unusual things, though rarely are those things in Fallout 4 so utterly terrifying. Enter the death maze, a Saw inspired gambit that is full of traps, ghouls, creepy monkey dolls, and headless manikins. Thanks, but I think we will just go back to shooting diseased molerats and listening to some jazzy tunes.
Dark Souls – First Mimic Encounter
Anyone who’s played a game in the Souls series can relate to the feeling of success that washes over you when you reach a chest after a hard battle. However, developer From Software decided to throw us a curveball and have some of those treasure chest sprout arms and eat us. I’m not sure if anything is more swear inducing than thinking you’ve won a new set of armor, only to be instantly killed and sent back to the start.
Sonic the Hedgehog – Drowning
Drowning in video games has always been panic inducing, but the way Sonic the Hedgehog goes about it is just horrific. Not only does Sonic move at a snails pace under water, but when he’s about to drown the music builds up faster and faster. This all culminates in you getting to watch Sonic drown right in front of you regardless of how many rings you currently own.
Metal Gear Solid – Getting Caught
There’s nothing worse in a stealth game than being caught and Metal Gear Solid decided to accent this horrific moment with a giant exclamation point over the enemies head. What’s worse is that once you get caught it’s pretty much over for Snake’s journey unless you can react very quickly.
Echo the Dolphin – Monster Boss Fight
Echo the Dolphin is a relaxing video game where you play a friendly dolphin fighting a variety of colorful sea creatures. Then the game decides to take a hard right turn into Terror Town as you are suddenly fighting a giant monster head. Now, obviously, no one is expecting this jarring shift and it can be a horrific experience for anyone playing the game for the first time.
Gone Home – Opening the Front Door
Gone Home is an interesting game in that there is no way to die or even anything that you need to fight again. Yet, when you approach this empty house an uneasy feeling seems to wash over players. This is a great example for how Gone Home subverts our expectations because most games would have a monster or jump-scare behind that door. Instead, there is nothing not only behind the door but in the entire house itself. Though that doesn’t shake the feeling of being watched while you uncover the story in Gone Home.
No Man’s Sky – Being All Alone
Hello Games’ newest title is breathtaking, but an incredibly solemn affair. Exploring the universe and new life forms can truly be thrilling, but it comes at the cost of feeling all alone. You will almost never see another sentient being, let alone a different player discovering the universe. You don’t need to worry about being heard if you scream in No Man’s Sky, you’re all alone anyway.
Overwatch – “It’s High Noon”
Every ultimate is terrifying in Overwatch, but when you hear the gunslinger McCree belt out “It’s High Noon” everyone stops what they’re doing and runs for cover. This is because McCree’s ultimate requires Line of Sight to hit people, so if you can hide from him you will be safe. However, it becomes terrifying when you hear this declaration, but have literally no idea where he is. Normally this results in players hiding behind scenery, hoping that McCree doesn’t have them in their sights.