Video games have introduced us to some extremely memorable scenes over the years. We’ve seen a creature with a giant metal tetrahedron helmet take time away from stalking us so he could rape a mannequin, then it was our turn to be violated by a crazed psychic woman. When video games aren’t treating us like pieces of meat, they’re exploring other paths to cause us even deeper psychological damage. Here are six games that managed just that.
Silent Hill 4 – Eileen’s Big Head
The Silent Hill series has been the source of a majority of the deep rooted psychological damage video games have caused me over the years, thanks to Team Silent’s miraculous ability to come up with some awful, nightmarish things. The Room may have initiated the gradual downfall of the series, but when it wasn’t busy being a mediocre survival horror game it was doing what the Silent Hill series does best: fucking with your mind.
Eileen is Henry’s neighbor. She loves long walks on the beach, creepy rabbit plush toys, and blocking hallways with her face and staring at you with big, googly eyes as freaky sex sounds play in the background.
Quake 4 – Partial Stroggification
I barely remember Quake 4. It was one of the first games I bought for my Xbox 360, alongside Dead Rising and Condemned, back when developers were still trying to figure out that new “achievements” thing. Play a thousand multiplayer matches for a 10g achievement? Why not?
It’s not a particularly memorable game, outside of the scene where you’re put through a brutal process to become a Strogg soldier. You’re tied down and forced to endure a torturous transformation process as limbs are sawed off and replaced with metal ones, needles are jabbed into various parts of your body, then you’re set free before you can be fully assimilated. Perhaps the worst part of it is the whole time you get to witness the next phase of your Stroggification as the unfortunate soul in front of you has it happen to them.
Condemned – The Mannequins
Condemned has an odd infatuation with mannequins, which have made frightening appearances in both games. Even before Condemned came along and turned them into things of nightmares, there’s always been something about mannequins that’s inherently unsettling. They’re soulless, plastic versions of ourselves that stare lifelessly at us, waiting for dark magic or demonic possession to bring them to life. They’re also terrifying proof that your character, Ethan Thomas, has an alarmingly weak grasp on his sanity.
Both Criminal Origins and its sequel have used them to provide some brilliant jump scares — like the people who dress like mannequins (that sounds weird) only to come to life so they can curb stomp your unsuspecting ass as you scream in terror — or Bloodshot’s more psychological use of them. I can tell you one thing, I’ve never looked at a mannequin the same way since.
BioShock – Break That Sweet Puppy’s Neck
As a whole, BioShock is a twisted masterpiece brimming with supremely disturbing scenes and ideas. It’s an example of science and human curiosity gone unchecked. The result is an underwater city filled with things that will make you wonder just how dark humanity can get. One example of this is an audio log you come across where a man, Yi Suchong, kindly asks a boy to kill his puppy. The idea of violence against animals, especially dogs, really gets under my skin, but hearing it happen makes it so much worse.
Silent Hill 3 – The Store Room
Yeah, I know, I already gave Silent Hill a mention. The problem is there are so many disturbing scenes to choose from that I could easily dedicate a few lists solely to this series. This scene in particular was mentioned a few times by some of you in my “Horrifying Moments” lists (links above), so I had no choice but to include it here.
Basically, you walk into a room with a giant mirror taking up one of the walls. In the reflection, the room is bleeding. Then the room clears up and your reflection begins to bleed. After that, the room you’re in starts bleeding and your reflection stops following you. Then you die, screaming and confused.
Dead Space 2 – Come To Mama
To me, Dead Space 2 is still one of the scariest games I’ve ever played. Sure, it was more action oriented than the original and probably relied a little too heavily on monster closets and jump scares, but it also had a masterful way of building up tension that really got to me the first time I played it. From the frantic, un-armed chase at the beginning of the game to returning to the USG Ishimura, the game had quite a few unforgettable moments. One of my favorites was exploring Titan Elementary, and specifically, the first time you see what the new Crawler enemy can do.
What’d I miss? Let me know how much you agree or disagree with my selections in the comments below, and feel free to provide your own!