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Top 10 Scary Game Moments

Top 10 Scary Game Moments

I’ve been a fan of horror games since I was a kid, playing Silent Hill in my friend’s dark basement or Resident Evil in my empty living room. Many games like these have numerous things programmed in to make us feel uneasy and even jump and scream like a little girl. For my Top 10 list, I tried to think of the biggest scare moments I’ve had in gaming. A few are well known and have been pointed out by other people, but there may be a couple here you haven’t heard of. In compiling this list, I thought of the moments that did more than simply scare me. What I’m trying to share are the moments when I sat there and felt a profound unease, anxiety, and in some cases, complete loneliness and helplessness. I think experiences like these are what make a horror game truly memorable. While they may not be my top 10 favorite horror games of all time overall (a lot of them are), the feelings I got from these scenes still chill me to think about today and I think that’s really neat. I hope you enjoy checking out my Top 10 Scary Game Moments.

Be warned, there may be some light spoilers in here, so if you haven’t played any of these games, read at your own risk.


10.

Friday_Box

Friday the 13th – NES – Jason

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but I think it’s a horror game experience that a lot of people leave out. If you’re familiar with this classic NES title, you’ll know that you play as 6 counselors at Camp Crystal Lake trying to save kids from Jason’s murderous rampage. Seems simple enough. The only problem is that you have to fight Jason on several different occasions and deplete his health completely 3 times to win the game. It takes place over 3 days, each ending when you take Jason’s health down all the way.

He may look silly in his purple jumpsuit, but he's a finely tuned killing machine.

He may look silly in his purple jumpsuit, but he’s a finely tuned killing machine.

The part of this game that makes it scary is that Jason is one of the hardest god damn game enemies ever! He gets faster each time he’s defeated and he can show up at random times just to screw with you. Each time he shows up, there is a pretty creepy sound that plays like in the horror movies and you just have to hope you have a strong enough weapon or character. I guess this would be considered more intense than scary for me because I know whenever I played this one, I would just be repeating “Holy crap holy crap holy crap” until I either beat Jason or he took me down, usually the latter. I still haven’t beaten this game and I have little hope it’ll ever happen.


9.

Resident_Evil_2_Cover

Resident Evil 2 – PlayStation – Mr. X

Resident Evil 2 is among my all time favorite games, period, let alone horror games. It had some scary moments, like the first licker encounter and zombie arms suddenly popping through boarded windows that were creepy, but I think the most memorable were the encounters with Mr. X.

In Scenario B, there is a cutscene early on in which Umbrella drops a big capsule through the roof of the RPD building out of which comes this big hulking dude in a trench coat. The first time you meet him, you’re in a narrow hallway with the doorway behind you blocked, so your only option is to try to run by, which is tough the first time because you don’t know his attacks. As if this in itself wasn’t terrifying enough, the music changes and really adds to the creep factor. He’s not quite the same as Nemesis in RE3 because he doesn’t show up as often, doesn’t have a huge rocket launcher, and doesn’t sprint toward you. He walks at a slow, but deliberate pace and that’s part of what makes him so terrifying. What doesn’t help is that almost all your encounters with him are in really close quarters so while it is possible to avoid him, you’re still freaking out because he’s coming and you have little time to prepare. You are able to deal enough damage to take him down temporarily, but with ammo conservation being one of the most important elements of the early Resident Evil games, I never really bothered.

There are a few encounters like this. They're all terrifying.

There are a few encounters like this. They’re all terrifying.

I think the most memorable encounter with Mr. X that really caused me to get that feeling of utter dread and horror was a scene later in the game when you have to go down a ladder into an L-shaped hallway to activate a panel to call the elevator. Well, there are security monitors here, and if you’re unfortunate enough to be curious like me, you gladly say yes when inspection asks if you want to have a look. What you’re greeted with is the scary music kicking in with a visual of Mr. X walking down the same hall you just did. He stops in front of the camera, reaches back and double hammer-fists it, breaking it. You then regain control and have about 6 seconds before he’s right up in your business.


8.

RE4_Box

Resident Evil 4 – GameCube – First Chainsaw Ganado Encounter

Click Here to read a full review for Resident Evil 4!

Resident Evil fans kind of knew what to expect when it came to the new look and play style when RE4 was released in 2005. As one might think, it doesn’t take long for the crap to hit the fan and creepy dudes start attacking. At first, it’s just a few at a time so you can get used to the controls and get a feel for the action, but the fear really kicks in when you reach a small village and you zoom in with binoculars to find a policeman impaled on a big hook being burned at the stake.

You must quickly decide who gets shot first. It's usually the chainsaw guy.

You must quickly decide who gets shot first. It’s usually the chainsaw guy.

Trying to be stealthy while investigating the houses doesn’t work for long and soon, you’re being swarmed by a large group of Ganados. This in itself was bad enough, but there comes a point when a short cutscene plays and you see a guy with a burlap sack on his head wielding a goddamn chainsaw! In this early part of the game, ammo is scarce and if you aren’t careful, the guy will lop your head right off. By the time you encounter these guys a few more times during play, you’re a bit better equipped to take them out, but this first encounter was pretty intense.


7.

Clock_Tower_Art

Clock Tower – SNES – Encounters with Bobby

Clock Tower was an interesting game because it was a Survival Horror title that was a point and click with side-scrolling elements. Here, Jennifer is the main protagonist, an orphan who is adopted and brought to this super creepy mansion where clearly nothing could possibly go wrong. You soon discover that there is a maniac named Bobby with huge scissors roaming around hunting down you and your friends, all of whom can die, resulting in one of several different endings. Some of the deaths are pretty intense, despite the lack of blood in the SNES version.

Dude jumps out of crap like this A LOT.

Dude jumps out of crap like this A LOT.

What makes experiences with Bobby terrifying are that you don’t know where or when he’s going to appear combined with there being no real combat to defend yourself. There are parts of the environment you can interact with that allow hiding but if you aren’t quick enough, he’s gonna get you! Adding to the horror here is that Jennifer’s health is measured more by a kind of sanity meter and if you go into “panic” mode, you can run faster but there is a chance she will trip over her own feet, leaving you vulnerable to being caught.


 

6.

RE3_Box

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – PlayStation – Nemesis

I remember my first playthrough of RE3 and how excited I was for a new title after absolutely loving Resident Evil 2. I had done some reading about what to expect from the main enemy in this installment, but was not fully prepared for what was to come. The first encounter with Nemesis outside the police station was intense because he was introduced with a pretty badass cutscene, but it lacked the kind of fear that really gets to me because you can opt to run away and avoid him altogether.

Where Nemesis struck fear into me was when he really starts his pursuit of Jill. He straight up busts in through a window at the bottom of a staircase with a flippin’ rocket launcher. Oh, and did I mention that he also sprints at you full speed?! Now, when I was able to give him the slip in that hallway and enter the evidence room, I was feeling like a big shot, having escaped again. Or so I thought. The game had pre-rendered backgrounds, so I was fine, as long as I stood in front of the door. As soon as I moved forward a few feet and the screen transitioned, I was puzzled to hear a door open and close and almost crapped myself when I heard “STARS” and saw a hulking dude in a black coat come flying into frame taking me down with a clothesline that would have impressed most professional wrestlers.

Holy crap!! Hard not to utter those words when this happens for the first time.

Holy crap!! Hard not to utter those words when this happens for the first time.

This happens a lot throughout the game and not knowing when or where he’ll show up during your first time playing instilled a ton of fear in me, causing a lot of running and screaming.


 

5.

SH4_ Box

Silent Hill 4: The Room – Xbox – The Stuffed Bunny

Stay with me on this one. Silent Hill 4 spends a lot of time in the main protagonist’s apartment that eventually becomes more and more haunted/possessed as the game progresses. Some of the things that happen are the washing machine exploding, showing a bunch of blood and ghost dudes coming out of the walls. These were not what scared the crap out of me.

In the living room, there is a small hole in the wall. Upon inspection, you find that you can see into the bedroom of your female neighbor. On the bed, is a pink stuffed bunny rabbit, sitting with its back to you, slouching lifelessly. I know what you’re thinking. “It’s just a stuffed bunny, dude. What’s the big deal?”

Seems innocent enough, but you just KNOW he's gonna do something.

Seems innocent enough, but you just KNOW he’s gonna do something.

Bunny2

So F-ing creepy!!!!!

The big deal is that there comes a point later in the game where you look into the hole and the little guy is now not only facing you, but extending a paw toward you, head cocked slightly to the side with its big, cute, terrifying face looking right at you. What makes this so completely terrifying is the buildup. You keep looking into the hole, knowing full well that the bunny is eventually going to be looking you right in the face, but it takes what seems like most of the game to actually happen. When my friends and I finally saw it, we all just about crapped our pants and literally screamed. That is definitely the scariest moment I’ve had in gaming that involves a stuffed animal.


 

4.

CoC_Xbox

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth – Xbox – The Chase Through Innsmouth

This is actually a game I picked up simply because I had seen a video of this intense sequence, not really knowing much else about it. I knew that it was a first person shooter (though about the first half of the game contains zero combat) and that Cthulhu is a creepy squid face monster.

In Call of Cthulhu: DCotE, you play as Jack Walters, a private detective from Massachusetts, who is sent to investigate a missing person case in a creepy old town called Innsmouth. Long story short, the townsfolk don’t take kindly to strangers coming around asking too many questions. After you check into your hotel room and turn in for the night, so begins one of the most intense gaming sequences I’ve ever played.

You have a sort of dream that shows guys coming up to your room, ready to break in and suddenly awaken to find it’s happening, leaving you little time to react. At this point of the game, Jack has no way to defend himself so your only option is to run like hell. As you move through the adjoining hotel rooms, you need to quickly bolt the doors, move bookcases out of the way and stealthily make your way around the town while being hunted down by burly dudes with guns. Eventually, you reach the police station and get some weapons, but knowing that the slightest mistake will get you shot makes for a really scary experience.

Just imagine a half dozen of dudes after you who look like this.

Just imagine a half dozen of dudes after you who look like this.

I’ve seen this sequence on other top 10 scary moment lists and for good reason. It’s an intense one. The game is pretty creepy overall and has a few other notable scares, but this one caught me way off guard and it stands apart from any others I’ve experienced.


 

3.

resident_evil1(1)

Resident Evil – PlayStation – First person Hunter Cutscene

Click here to read the full review on the original Resident Evil game for PlayStation!

Most people think of scare moments in the original Resident Evil and think of the dogs breaking through the windows in the hallway. While this was an iconic game scare, I have another one from the same game that instilled a much deeper feeling of anxiety and fear. I’m referring to the cutscene that shows the first hunter you encounter, dashing from the second mansion, through the garden, opening doors leading right to where you are.

Out of nowhere! So many severed heads.

Out of nowhere! So many severed heads.

When I first saw it, I had absolutely no idea what the hell was after me, but it had a lizard-y hand, it was fast as shit, it could jump and open doors. That was good enough to cause a great unease in my stomach and honestly didn’t do much to prepare me for the first encounter, which resulted in me just standing there like a boob while the hunter lunged through the air and lopped my head right off. Game Over. Even now that I know it’s coming, that scene still creeps me out.


 

2.

Condemned_Box

Condemned: Criminal Origins – Xbox 360 – Mannequins

Ok, this one is right out of some F-ed up horror movie. Condemned is a pretty freaky game on its own. You’re constantly in dark environments, using a lot of weapons that degrade over time, and fighting off hordes of insane dudes, which we horror movie buffs are pretty well adjusted to. What we’re not used to, is one of the creepiest moments in gaming that doesn’t involve something trying to kill you.

There is a level where you end up in an abandoned store. Aside from the psychopaths the need to be dispatched, there is one area in particular where you come across a creepy looking mannequin in a gray suit. It’s creepy, but looks innocent enough, until you realize it’s a dude who is about to try to kill you. It was a jump scare, but there are a lot of those, so no big deal.

Where the real scare comes in is a little later when you see another couple of these same mannequins, but we’re ready this time and run up and start clubbing the hell out of them like creepy little baby seals. Nothing happens.

“Ok, so these are actually just mannequins. We’ll just keep moving. Doo dee doo dee doo. Better check behind me to see if I missed anything. Wait a second. I thought those mannequins were further behind me a second ago. Hm. Ah well, I must not have gone as far as I thought. Doo dee doo dee doo. Better check again. HOLY BALLS!!! They are all right F-ing behind me!!!”

Mannequins

Yeah. Totally weren’t there a second ago. Gonna go cry in the corner now.

Yeah, that’s pretty much how it happens and it’s god damn terrifying! They don’t attack, but just keep appearing right behind you in increasingly creepy formations until you get to a hole you need to drop through, after which you can look up and see them ominously staring down at you. You know it’s coming on subsequent playthroughs, but holy hell, that first time is incredibly scary.


 

1.

SilentHill_Box

Silent Hill – PlayStation – Opening Sequence

I originally played the demo for Silent Hill at a friend’s house before its release. It came on one of those demo CDs that had a bunch of other demos on it. When we discovered it was a horror game, we killed the lights and loaded it up.

It begins innocently enough. You’re a guy whose car wrecks in this ridiculously foggy town. Upon waking, he notices that his daughter is gone. Naturally, it’s up and at ‘em and off to find her. You start to get a little suspicious when you see her kind of leading you down alleys and through the city streets. Eventually, you head down some stairs and down a long alley that gets a bit more narrow and lined with chain link fence. It gets a bit darker and you start to notice an odd substance on the walls. You reach the end and find a bloody body that appears to have been a person killed in some sort of ritual, at which point you think, “Well, this is creepy. Better head back now.”

It's about to get way worse really quick!

It’s about to get way worse really quick!

The only problem here, is that when you turn around, you’re suddenly being surrounded by horrifying little zombie kids holding kitchen knives! They start knifing the crap out of you and you’ve got nowhere to go and nothing with which to defend yourself. After a brief, horrifying moment, you’re killed and wake up in a diner. Oh, the shrieking the adults upstairs must have heard that day as we discovered this scene for the first time. The rest of the game had its scary moments too, but this one happens right out of the gate, and it’s not easily forgotten. I haven’t forgotten it. At all.


 

Honorable Mentions

DeadSpace_Box

Dead Space – Xbox 360 – Tentacle Scare

Click Here to read the full review for Dead Space for PC!

Anyone who knows about the Dead Space series knows that they do a great job of setting a really creepy stage for horror. You’re in a derelict ship full of former crew possessed by horrifying aliens who have nothing better to do than hunt you down and turn you to one of them. They pop out of vents, chase you around, and try to outnumber you, which makes for some intense moments. The environments are also set up really well to give you that feeling of dread. Many rooms have lost power so you need to rely on your flashlight to see and we all know that creepy things love to hide in the dark.

The scare moment that got me the most terrified in Dead Space was a very brief one. There is a point where you’re just walking through an innocent looking hallway. It’s pretty well lit and there don’t appear to be any baddies around. Right when you start to feel just a small hint of safety, this huge god damn tentacle thing busts through the wall, grabs your leg, and starts pulling you toward the vent it came from.

It happens so quick and completely out of nowhere!

It happens so quick and completely out of nowhere!

Getting out of that pickle isn’t super high on the difficulty scale, but the sheer shock accompanied by the temporary feeling of complete helplessness before you realize you can get yourself out with some well placed shooting really terrified me and I’d say it’s the most memorable scare from the game.


 

Walking_Dead_Art

The Walking Dead: Seasons 1 & 2 – Xbox 360 – Quick Decision Making

Click Here to read the full review on The Walking Dead Season One for PC!

Quick decision making may not sound scary or intense at first, but upon playing through, you’ll quickly understand what I mean. One of the most interesting parts of The Walking Dead is that there are often situations you find yourself in that involve making a very important, game outcome affecting decision, usually involving life or death of a character being a direct result. The problem is, there is usually no “right” decision. You’ll find yourself quickly having to weigh the pros and cons of 2 characters, deciding which would be more beneficial to save, and having to leave the other one to die some unpleasant death all within a few seconds.

Here, you get to make one of your first decisions. Save the nerd or the hot chick. Sorry nerd boy.

Here, you get to make one of your first decisions. Save the nerd or the hot chick. Sorry nerd boy.

I like this game element. It’s intense and like many of the others I mentioned, leave you with a sense of dread before pressing the button. I can imagine being part of a zombie apocalypse and having to make these kinds of decisions and the thought of it is terrifying. The Walking Dead does a great job of leaving you unable to rest long before the crap hits the fan again and there are several moments that will leave you questioning your decision making afterward.

Written by InfiniteKnife

InfiniteKnife

My personal favorite games are those in the Survival Horror and Sports (baseball) genres, but I can find at least a game or 2 in just about any category that I love to play.

I grew up on Nintendo consoles (NES and SNES) and have been an Xbox guy since the first one was released in the early 2000s. It’s hard to stay away from the classics as the 16-bit era is probably still my favorite overall.

 
 

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2 Comments

  1. Oh man, the opening to Silent Hill. Already unsettled from wrecking your car and losing your daughter, you walk into that alleyway and the sounds start, and the blood trails begin, and the camera angles start getting all fucked up. Love at first play.

     
  2. Steroid Gamer
    Steroid Gamer says:

    Some good scares in there! I’ve experienced the Resident Evil ones and I remember my first encounter with Mr. X. That guy scared the crap out of me when he came blasting through the wall! I didn’t even know that was possible!!

    Dr. Salvador (I believe) was the first chainsaw ganado in Resident Evil 4. Back then chainsaw enemies weren’t such a cliche. He definitely added some tension in that first encounter.

     

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