10 Creepiest Moments in Video Games
The faint of heart should calm their nerves, and the faint of bladder should throw on some Depends, as you’re about to witness the 10 most creepy moments ever in video game history.
Video games are built to toy with our emotions. There’s excitement, humor, heartbreak, and … fear. Horror has long been an element of the video game experience, and there are zillions of games out there which capitalize on humanity’s desire to crap their pants in a safe environment. We’ve scoured the terrifying depths of horror history so that you, dear reader, can educate yourself on the creepiest video game moments.
The Haunted Ship
Super Metroid just goes to show that you don't have to be an ill-equipped layman for a game to be scary. Even as armor-clad, gun-toting badass Samus Aran, there's a lot of scary stuff in Super Metroid. Haunting music, hostile aliens, and the relics of civilizations past all sit as stark reminders of your mortality. The Haunted Ship area, in particular, focuses the fear-inducing elements of the rest of the game into one claustrophobic experience, particularly when you first arrive and find the ship without power.
The First Zombie
While Alone in the Dark may have been the progenitor of the Survival Horror genre, Resident Evil popularized it. The mix of a creepy atmosphere, undead monstrosities, and B-movie acting made for a classic creepy experience, and no moment matches up to the sheer horror most gamers experienced the first time they stumbled across a zombie. It's hunched over, feasting on a corpse ... until it notices you.
Losing Your Mind
Health meters, magic meters, super meters— all common video game elements. But a sanity meter? That's new. The aptly named Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem takes a Lovecraftian approach to horror. Your sanity meter is a visual representation of just how well your hero is holding his or herself together. Subject your character to too much horror too quickly and things are going to take a turn for the bonkers. Rooms will flip upside down, monsters will appear and vanish, your head might fall off. Eternal Darkness is a damn creepy game, and modern horror games would do well to take notes from it. I wish this statue would stop staring...
The Silent Hill series is no stranger to mind-bending horror, and each of the early games managed to find ways of presenting fear differently. Most lean on psychological horror than outright gore, and one of the best instances of this is in what is commonly referred to as The Head Room. In it you'll find the giant, floating, disembodied, twitchy-eyed head of SH 4's deuteragonist, Eileen Galvin. Why's it there? What does it want? Why does it remain even after you reunite with the real Eileen? Like the secret to the number of licks to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie pop, the world may never know.
The Mysterious Lady
The NES point-and-click adventure The Uninvited seems to relish in slaying the player in a variety of creeptastic ways. You can burn to death, bleed out, get possessed. In a game full of creepy moments, however, none will leave its searing mark on your soul the way the Mysterious Lady will. When you first find her she's facing away from you— already a bad sign. She'll probably ignore you so long as you don't harass her or linger too long, but if you do, you'll be faced with what was probably the most horrifying death possible on an 8-bit system.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention Slender, the indie game which makes use of the internet-based urban legend to create a simple, yet finely-crafted, and altogether terrifying experience. In the game you'll trek around the woods, collecting notes, gathering information on a being known to most as Slenderman. You're safe, initially— the game doesn't put you in any danger until after the first note has been collected. But once it is, all bets are off. Slenderman will stalk you relentlessly, and you'll never know whether he's around the next corner, waiting for you, just hoping that he can rip that fresh, juicy soul from your body. Your only defense is to flee; your only warning the static around your screen. Though Slender knows how to deliver a few jump scares, it's the pervasive aura of creepiness you'll feel from the constant static that secures its place as one of the 10 Creepiest Video Game Moments. Watch how creeped out these players get in this video. Some adult language, but you'd be swearing too if you had this much creepy in one game.
The Mirror Room
We previously mentioned the Silent Hill series' penchant for getting inside the player's head, and never do they manage to do so more effectively than with The Mirror Room. At first, it seems like a typical Silent Hill room, complete with rust, dust, and crusted old blood. But soon a creeping darkness begins infecting the room's reflection, and then your reflection. Eventually your corrupted counterpart stops doing what you do and begins acting out plans of her own, all while your side of the mirror fills up with bloody tendrils. Linger too long and your fate is sealed.
What makes a ReDead so creepy? They have a chilling appearance, and can freeze the player with a look, but it's their sound design that's the nail in the coffin. Most young players cry out and drop their controller the first time a ReDead's paralyzing gaze falls on them, that tortured scream escaping its lips as it slowly lumbers towards poor Link. Later incarnations of the ReDead manage to keep that same element of tension, but none were as bone-chillingly scary as the original.
Take Your Pick
Can an entire game be a creepy moment? It can now. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is like the brainchild of a demented psychologist and some tortured game designer he locked in his basement. Near-unstoppable, often unseen foes? Check. Limited vision and mobility? Check. Creepy sound design? Check. A: DD is a scary experience, start to finish, so much so that it became common for people to post videos of themselves playing it so that other people could watch their fearful reactions and laugh ... and then buy the game for themselves so they, too, could cry out in terror and punch a hole in their computer screens. Congrats, Amnesia. You've managed to creep your way into the top spot of our 10 Creepiest Moments in Video Games.