Top 5 Most Terrifying Non-Horror Games!

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I’ve enjoyed exploring virtual worlds for most of my life, and over the course of my now decades-long gaming career I’ve played what I would consider to be a mildly impressive number of horror games. Looking back, I can think of numerous times when I’ve been startled to full-on terrified of the game I was playing — some of these moments have even been immortalized on the Internet — but oddly enough, a surprising number of the memories I’ve accrued didn’t actually come from games that most people would consider horror.

That idea is what inspired me to write this, because I’m sure plenty of you can relate to this, perhaps even with one or more of the games on this list.

Spec Ops: The Line

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I don’t know about you, but somewhere between that one Call of Duty and that other Battlefield, I’ve lost most of my interest in shooters set in the modern day. They do nothing for me anymore, and because Spec Ops: The Line shares that theme, I almost skipped it. Good thing I didn’t, because this game is unforgettable.

It’s also disturbing, horrifying and forced me to make some decisions — more than once — that almost always made me feel like a truly awful human being.

The Line popped my Spec Ops cherry, though from what I’ve heard about its predecessors, it sounds like it’s nothing like them. The story is hands-down the bravest and grimmest tale of the horrors of war that I’ve ever been willing endure. You will make tough decisions, and you will also get to see the consequences. It’s a dark game that will stick with you and it’s absolutely worth playing, even though the game-y bits are lacking.

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  • GreigShelob

    I’ve only played one game on this list and it’s Spec Ops: The Line. I’d played 3 or 4 of the PS1 games and they’re almost completely different to this generation’s game. Worth checking out if you find them cheap though. I used to play the infrequently up until a few years ago when my PS1 died.

    The Line was fantastic. It’s been a while since I played it, but it’s certainly better than the CoD/Battlefield games. It’s horrific in places and it puts the player in the center of it all. There’s something about it that makes you more connected to the character and story than any other FPS game I’ve played. I was never scared or unsettled playing Silent Hill, Resident Evil or any other horror game, but this game made me feel uneasy in a lot of places.

    I only wish I hadn’t bought it pre-owned (I was in fairly big money difficulties). After seeing the first trailer with Rooster playing in it I was paying attention to the game, but with the way FPS games had been up to then I didn’t hold much hope for it. boy was I wrong to think that. Sure some set pieces are run of the mill stuff, but the connecting story and the fact it doesn’t shy away from anything more than make up for it.

    Does anyone know how well it did? I’m hoping it made a respectable profit for Yager/2K.

  • Jesus Christ Superstar

    Why is Gone Home on this list?

    • Adam Dodd

      I explain why in the article.

  • ThunderDragoon

    I really need to get my hands on Gone Home. I’ve heard so many good things about it.

    • Adam Dodd

      You must. It’s fantastic.

    • John Skinner

      Don’t waste your money Gone Home is a terrible game!

      • zeuanimals

        My money wasn’t wasted on it, because the game deserved it. Opinions and all that.

        • John Skinner

          The only reason Gone Home got any attention is because of its gay characters and themes. That’s why the critics ate it up they love that shit. I saw the game getting good reviews and thought it might be good until I found out it was a short game where you walk around a house and the only twist in the story is your sister is gay. The game is extremely short (can be beaten in about half an hour) has zero reply value and on top of that it was $20 bucks when it launched.

          About my view you do know that gays are generally frowned upon in Japan right? They only have gay stuff because girls find guy on guy action hot and guys find girl on girl action hot. I live in Canada where gays can get married but that hasn’t stopped them from shutting up and I have to but up with gay shit here all the time. The truth is I’m just sick of it.

          • Werewolf

            OT: Could you perhaps recommend a good, gory, seinen scifi anime or manga?

          • John Skinner

            Well most of the stuff I watch are comedies but a few good ones are:
            The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Good starter anime with a good story.

            Kil La Kill: Is hilarious and has lots of action

            Full Metal Alchemist Brother Hood: Amazing story, very fun to watch.

            Nichijou: This one is just weird and funny.

            Elfin Lied: If you want a gory anime with a good story then here you go.

            Higurashi: This ones weird as its part comedy and part bloody horror anime. Also the story is told in arcs.

            Death Note: Classic anime that is extreamly creative until the very end.

            Gintama: It starts off slow but turns into a very good action comedy.

          • Werewolf

            Have seen FMA and Death Note. Were awesome! If you like action you should try out Fist of the North Star 1986 (dub) or Hokuto no Ken if you prefer the original audio. Those things are ridiculous. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is also highly stylized and beautifully animated with a dystopian future setting. The original is also good if you like grittier hand drawn. Thanks very much for the directions, I’ll be sure to check them out :)

          • John Skinner

            No problem I’ll be sure to check out the ones you mentioned too.

          • Werewolf

            Kind of caught me off guard with the comedy preference. I’m sorely lacking in that area. I can give you a list of violence, action, or drama three feet long though. I’ll hopefully see you around here or WZ after I’ve learned a little more and remedy that.

          • Adam Dodd

            I’ve never had so many issues with a comment on one of my articles, so I suppose I should congratulate you for that.

            I’m going to eschew the argument on homosexuality, since I’m sure that’ll get us nowhere, but I would like to comment on your idea that the reception Gone Home received was based entirely on the fact that it featured a gay character.

            I played Gone Home, and if I had reviewed it I wouldn’t have given the game a high score for its gay themes. I would have given it a glowing review because it had excellent writing, and because its developer was brave (and clever) in how they presented the narrative — and specifically in regards to how the story unfolds for the player, piece by piece.

            I would have also touched on its smart level design, which encouraged exploration by rewarding the player with more background on each member of Kaitlin’s family. I also would have mentioned its fantastic soundtrack, which was effective in elevating an already intense and emotional game.

            So no, the source of Gone Home’s many strengths isn’t it’s gay character.

          • John Skinner

            Critics always give gay stuff good reviews just for being gay all the time (just look at the various Hollywood movie awards that praise crappy gay films). Sorry but I don’t at all feel that the game deserves any of the praise it gets. Your free to your opinion but I feel the game play (which is barely existent) and story are extremely sub par. The rest of your article was good but I just don’t agree with you on Gone Home.

          • Discotrashmassacre

            Can I ask exactly what “gay shit” you have had to put up with that is so unbearable? Have they been knocking on your door day and night trying to get you to have a makeover? Trying to get you to listen to Liza Minelli constantly?
            Something tells me that gay people probably actually have zero bearing on your everyday life and reality.
            And I can tell you from living in Asia for 7 years and working in Japan three times a year that the Japanese view on homosexuality is not a clear cut as you would like to believe. Sure, homosexuality is not accepted as it is in the west but it is accepted as a reality. Part of human nature. In culture and entertainment it is not hidden and there are a number of hugely famous and successful trans artists and actors. It is an issue however, because of the focus on family and giving children to grandparents. Your idea that there is gay stuff only because people in Japan find it hot is a gross simplification of a complicated cultural issue.

          • John Skinner

            Gross simplification? My boy, you seem to be misinformed. Japan is a very conservative nation where every person is expected to carry out certain responsibilities. You’re expected to get an education, get a job, get married and have kids. Being gay kinda stops two of those things from happening. Gays in the media there are portrayed as a joke and are meant to be laughed at. Ever heard of hard gay? That’s what people in Japan think of gays. As for the “gay shit” I see everyday you’d be quiet surprised. Canadian TV shows often have graphic depiction of gay sex and affection, the Toronto gay pride parade has fat naked gay men humping each other and prancing around (and whats worse is school children are forced to attend) and gay people tend to shove their gayness in everyone face. Just last week a school got in trouble for having a poster of a man giving oral sex to another in the classroom of a bunch of 6th graders. Sorry but these people are incredibly gross and annoying.

          • Garbageface

            Man, you’re a real fucked up piece of shit.

          • John Skinner

            Thanks for the intelligent response. I guess some people can’t handle the truth eh?

          • Adam Dodd

            Okay, John Skinner, this has gone far enough. You’re certainly entitled to your own opinion, as awful as that opinion may be, but calling gay people “incredibly gross and annoying” is both hateful, offensive, and is in no way welcome on this site.

            Let’s keep the discussion on topic, please.

          • John Skinner

            Sorry if my comments were offensive I’m just frustrated with this topic (especially with the whole Tomagatchi thing). Like I said good list though I think you could of made it a bit longer. There are lots of Nintendo games that tend to be pretty creepy. I apologize for the drama in the comments and look forward to the content you post on your site.

          • Amnesiac Kid

            john skinner what an ugly ho you are. pls shut up

    • LordTantamount

      Gone Home is trash. Please don’t play it. I sincerely mean that.

  • Guest

    Pffft, Heavy Rain wasn’t terrifying one bit. Sorry.

    • Adam Dodd

      No need to apologize, we’re all entitled to our own opinions!

  • Operation Zero

    this list blows. where is majora’s mask?

  • The_7th_Seal

    Gone Home was pretty creepy. Then again, I had no idea what it was about going in. The atmosphere was just incredible and the story was really just incredibly well done, realistic, and moving. I can understand why some people were disappointing by it, due to it not being a traditional game, but going if you go in with an open mind it really is quite beautiful.

    In the same vein, I played Dear Ester around the same time and also found it pretty damn creepy and hauntingly beautiful.

  • dskzero

    I am going to assume that this list being crowned by Gone Home is for people who don’t really play horror games.