Have you ever been playing a video game that suddenly takes your adventure in an entirely unexpected direction? Every now and then a game manages to do something unpredictable, whether that thing is a major plot twist, a main character’s death, a startling reveal or a terrifying new foe, it’s always something no one could’ve seen coming. The horror genre is filled with games that managed just that; they did something we never saw coming or put us in an unforgettable situation.
Not enough games do this these days. This list is all about the moments many gamers won’t soon forget; the moment they realized nothing is certain, and anything could happen next. Here’s our list of the most startling twists and reveals the horror genre has thrown us so far.
The Fatal Frame series has a fair share of terrifying moments, mainly caused by the fact that you have to get pretty damn close to your enemies in order to vanquish them. But it wasn’t until Fatal Frame 2 when I had the pleasure of meeting the Broken Neck Woman when I realized just how crazy disturbing the game would get. The simple fact that she comes at you with her head hanging limply across one shoulder is scary enough but her introduction really took it to the next level. You see, I was just minding my own business, walking down a stairwell singing show tunes (as I always do) when my gleeful exploration was tragically cut short by an ear-piercing scream and a sickening thud. The woman’s ghost fell almost on top of me before quickly getting up and coming to tear my shit up. Yes, I screamed like a little girl.
Condemned has always been a very scary series of games but the second game was the one that casually took my hand and tossed me into one horrible place after another. This was a tough call because there are actually two fantastically scary sections in Bloodshot, but the winner goes to the cabin in the woods. I choose this because it had the best build up. You crash land in a snowy forest, finding clues and sending them to the smart chick who lets you know there’s might be a rabid animal on the loose somewhere nearby. It turns out the rabid animal happens to be a fucking massive grizzly bear intent on absolutely ruining your day. The second area is the Baby Factory. No, not the place where babies are made, everyone knows that’s what Storks are for, I’m talking about the broken down factory filled with explosive living dolls.
The last two Resident Evil games have treaded the fine line between action movie and horror game, with Resident Evil 5 sitting firmly in the former category. Resident Evil 4 however, showed it had a few tricks up its sleeve when at the very beginning it threw a chainsaw-wielding Ganado at you. I can’t tell you how many times I shrieked as I watched Leon get decapitated by a chainsaw I didn’t see coming. A close second from the same game would be the creeptastic Regenerators. I remember blowing off each of their limbs and feeling content with myself I turned around to do whatever it was I supposed to be doing at the time. Then, seemingly out of nowhere the same frakking Regenerator starts full-body pouncing at me, limbless I might add, until it tore out my throat. Good times.
DinoCrisis is one of those series that really deserves a comeback. Sure, the most recent Turok was pretty similar but it didn’t have zombie dinosaurs now did it? I’ll admit I wasn’t actually playing the game when I saw this, instead I was watching someone else play it, but seeing the T-Rex’s head break through the window scared the ever living hell out of me. Somehow, every other time the T-Rex made its debut manage to freak me out almost as much as the first.
This has to be one of the best reveals in video games history, because it’s just so perfectly executed. The way the camera zooms out just enough to show you what it is you’re about to go up against. Then, just when you think it’s about to break through the door it fakes you out and rams its heavy pink ass through the window. That was one tough crippled monster, but it’s also one of the best things about Doom 3. Now… where’s Doom 4?
Slowly going insane in Eternal Darkness is definitely not a good thing. This is one of the first games to break the fourth wall so it can mess with the player playing the game, including making us think our TV is broke or our save files have been deleted. It didn’t just limit itself to those tricks, the game also turned levels inside out and gave you some pretty nasty hallucinations.
I could talk about how amazing and revolutionary BioShock was but for a game with a lot of strengths, its story remains as one of the best told yet. It’s been out a few years now so I hope this spoiler doesn’t ruin anything for you, but remember all those suggestions you were given throughout the game that began with would you kindly? Yeah, that was a programmed trigger to get you to do whatever they wanted you to do. This was the Bruce Willis was dead the entire movie plot twist of the video game world. Oh, and our first encounter with a Big Daddy ranks in at a close second. Those dudes were tough.
When you think of one of the most terrifying, most unexpected moments in a horror game the zombie dog jumping through the window in the original Resident Evil should be one of the first things to come to mind. The fact that anyone could still be talking/writing about it a decade and a half after the game’s release showcases just how great it was. Sure, cheap scares have become a staple of many horror games nowadays but this might just be the grandaddy of them all.
If the Fog World is the fun, easygoing uncle everybody loves than the Otherworld is that uncle’s evil twin brother with the misshaped nose and crazy eyes. Silent Hill might be known for its foggy town but the Otherworld is the unsung hero of the series, the more twisted and dangerous part of the game where anything goes. It’s also where we get to see Pyramid get his freak on with one of those mannequins in the second game. Even the music, scored by composer Akira Yamaoka, changes into something far more menacing when you enter this world.
When Dead Space 2 opened with something as fucked up as a man being painfully transformed into a Necromorph, I knew it was going to be a worthy followup. Seeing him stiffen up as the creature injected him with its Necrojuices, his hands clenching Isaac’s bonded arms as his skin tore and his eyeballs fell out of their sockets was, for lack of a better word, amazing.
If you didn’t think a game could beat BioShock’s plot twist or Eternal Darkness’ bleeding walls then think again because System Shock 2 did just that. This is a twist no one could’ve seen coming. You awaken on a labyrinthine spaceship, alone and hunted by hungry creatures. Your only lifeline is one other survivor, Janice Polito. For much of the game you’re trying to survive until you reach her office, the light at the end of this long and dangerous tunnel and the only safe place on the ship. But as soon as you enter her office the walls break apart to reveal SHODAN, the rogue AI from the first game that’s been your guide all along. This was unforgettable and I’ve never felt so betrayed and bewildered in a game before.