Over the many, many, many hours I’ve spent playing video games, I’ve seen some horrifying things. I’m not talking about a monster jumping out of a dark corner of the room scare that’s all too prevalent in many video games. No sir, I’m talking about the moments that stick with you. The moments that threaten to seep into your everyday life as the only thing you can think about, because they’re so twisted and depraved that your mind cannot possibly comprehend what it just witnessed. Here’s six of the most horrifying moments in gaming that my fragile psyche has ever had to endure. If you can handle it, join me after the break.
Buried In Bodies – Far Cry 3
Did I hype this up enough? I hope so. One of the most horrifying moments I’ve seen happened only a few weeks ago while I was continuing my borderline obsessive playthrough of Far Cry 3. Seriously, if you haven’t played that game yet, you owe it to yourself to do so. It even inspired a list of things I’d like to see in the next Dead island.
The scene I’m talking about happens about halfway through, after you’ve been shot by Vaas, the game’s resident psycho. He shoots you, and you pass out. Now, they think you’re dead, but what they failed to remember is you’re Jason Fucking Brody, and if the horror movies have taught us anything it’s that guys named Jason are really hard to kill. After passing out, you wake up under a pile of corpses, then, instead of showing your brave escape in a cinematic, the game forces you to climb out of the bodies. It’s a very short scene, but easily one of the most terrifying I’ve seen in some time.
The Zombie Head Swivel – Resident Evil
Ah, the classic. Resident Evil broke lots of ground — it was a veritable bulldozer in its groundbreaking prowess — when it released back in 1996. It took horror mainstream, coined the term “survival horror,” and quickly became the biggest horror game franchise of all time. Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.
For anyone who played the original game (if you didn’t you have no excuse — I was eight when it released and I still found the time to squeeze it in between my LEGO sessions and The Secret World of Alex Mack marathons) there are a few things that probably stuck with you. There’s the dog jumping through the window jump-scare, the laughably awful dialogue (“you were almost a Jill sandwich!”), and the first time you saw a zombie. This moment took up only a few short seconds, but they’re possibly the most important handful of seconds ever, because they pretty much summed up the game: there are zombies, the team you came to rescue is most likely dead and/or eaten, and there’s a very good chance you’re going to be next.
Pyramid Head Rapes A Mannequin – Silent Hill 2
Fuck this scene. Really. This is one of those scenes that you don’t really know what’s going on, all you really know is you want it to stop. Every fiber of your being wants what’s happening to stop, and eventually, it does, but only after it feels as if a lifetime has passed by. Watching Pyramid Head go to town on some mannequins took the horrors of Silent Hill to a whole new level. It showed us that anything is possible and nothing was off limits, even the non-consentual deflowering of helpless monstrosities by other terrifying monstrosities.
The Cabin in the Woods – Condemned 2: Bloodshot
Condemned 2 had a lot to live up to after Criminal Origins set the bar so high, and as a launch title no less. Thankfully, Bloodshot did live up to the standards set by its predecessor, providing plenty of creepy atmosphere, visceral combat, and intense scares along the way. The doll factory is pretty terrifying (and possibly deserves an honorable mention here), but the cabin in the woods stands out. The sole responsibility of the first ten minutes of the chapter is to set up what’s going to happen in the cabin.
In case you haven’t played the game, let me set the scene for you: your plane crashed in a snowy forest. You decide a violent plane crash isn’t enough to stop you, so you start to make your way to a nearby cabin. Along the way, you find disturbing clues that a woodland creature has contracted rabies, causing it to mangle the enemy soldiers in the area. You make it to the cabin, stumbling over an alarming number of bodies and body parts until you make it to the main room of the cabin. Then, a massive rabid bear crashes down the far wall and comes at you. Your only move is to outrun it, but if you’re not faster than the bear you can be sure you’ll meet a gruesome death.
They’re Eating PEOPLE! – The Walking Dead: The Game, Episode 2
Other, possibly more terrifying things have happened in later episodes of Telltale Games’ fantastic The Walking Dead, but I went with this in effort to anger less people who haven’t finished the games yet. In episode 2, aptly titled Starved for Help, Lee and his survival posse are having domestic issues. Tensions are running high, and that’s distracting the group from noticing something far more insidious that’s taking place.
The entire episode is an anxious build-up that eventually climaxes at the end of the episode with a big reveal that shines light on exactly how the survivors that Lee and his group had just befriended had managed to survive so long. The answer: they were eating people. The ending is great, especially Lee’s frantic attempt at keeping Clementine from chomping down on a bite-sized morsel of broiled human flesh, but really, the entire episode does a stunning job of building up the tension before releasing it just when you can’t take it anymore.
Slenderman Catches Up To You – Slender: The Eight Pages
Oh yes, what type of list would this be if I didn’t include a moment many of us shared in one of the scariest games of 2012? Slender: The Eight Pages surprised everyone not just by being incredibly scary, but also with the crazy success it achieved, eventually spawning a Slenderman renaissance that’s seen the inception of games like Huntsman: The Orphanage, Slenderman’s Shadow, Faceless, and Haunt, among others.
It’s beauty of this game is how simple it is: you roam around a seemingly empty forest collecting foreboding pages from someone’s diary. Each page you collect brings you one step closer to solving the mystery, but it also brings Slenderman closer to catching up with you. The music gets louder, the Slenderman sightings become more numerous, and many times I found myself having to wipe off my controller, which was slick with sweat. If you’re not quick enough, Slenderman eventually catches up to you, and the first time it happens, it’s terrifying.
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