We here at Starburst are all about giving you the best content possible for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. While sadly there are no holidays specifically geared towards those first two genres, Halloween does allow us to get our fair share of fright and celebrate the macabre. Now since we give you the best content possible, we’re not going to bringing you a boring and typical list of the top 10 scariest video games; we’re just not that clichéd.
Instead, we’re bringing you a slightly less boring and typical list of the top 10 scariest moments in video games (we never said we weren’t a little clichéd). It’s a list that’s going to be full of gore, blood, and psychological trauma—exactly what you love the most!
Oh, and consider this your official general spoiler warning.
PARASITE EVE – A Night at the Opera
PARASITE EVE, based on the novel of the same name by Hideaki Sena, is an odd little game by Square Enix. It’s part survival horror, part RPG. Think RESIDENT EVIL 2 meets VAGRANT STORY. It follows NYPD rookie Aya Brea over six days in New York City as she attempts to destroy the deadly Eve. Also, everything is caused by mitochondria or something—look, it’s a very convoluted plot, okay?
That said, PARASITE EVE is an underappreciated game, and this FMV sequence is one of gaming’s most frightening moments. During an opera performance, the performers and audience members begin to spontaneously combust, causing the theatere to catch fire and create panic as people are charred alive, fall from the balconies, and screams pierce through the air. Meanwhile, the main performer keeps performing her solo.
SILENT HILL 3 – Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall
Save for SHATTERED MEMORIES, SILENT HILL 3 is probably the most underrated title in the franchise. A shame, as it contains one of the creepiest moments in the entire series. A direct sequel to the original SILENT HILL, Heather Morris, daughter of the protagonist of the original, Harry Mason, takes a trip to the dreaded town in order to resolve a conflict with one of its residents. We suppose that’s fair, since she did murder Heather’s dad and everything. Along the way, Heather stops by the infamous hospital and walks into a very odd room.
There’s just something about mirrors that seem to make them great for horror. While it’s spooky to see a reflection of something that isn’t actually there, it gets taken to the next level when suddenly the tendrils from the mirror are brought over to Heather’s side and slowly engulf the room, all the while her reflection slowly changing to show her covered by them.
RESIDENT EVIL 2 – The Licker
RESIDENT EVIL 2 is a great game, serving as an introduction to series staples Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they attempt to make it out of the now zombie infested Raccoon City. It’s inside the police department that they encounter a foe much more terrifying than those brain-hungry bastards.
You have no idea what exactly a Licker is when you first encounter it, because there’s nothing to indicate that you will. You’ll likely run into this thing within 10 minutes of playing the game. All you know is that it seems to be inside out, sports razor sharp fangs, wants to kill you with claws that would make Freddie Krueger green with envy and a tongue which puts even Gene Simmons to shame. For these reasons, it needs to die ASAP. The FMV sequence was great by 1998 standards, and it actually still holds up pretty well; we still grimace when we see that strand of saliva from its evil little mouth fall to the floor.
LIMBO – The Not So Itsy Bitsy Spider
LIMBO is a gorgeous indie game, and its black and white style and minimal use of sound creates an eerie atmosphere from beginning to end. We won’t discuss the story, as that’s something you’ll have to experience for yourself, but we will discuss that spider. That awful, terrifying spider.
While you’ll encounter the spider throughout the first few chapters of the game as it seems to stalk you, it isn’t until this chase scene that things really get tense with the giant creature that’s sure to make arachnophobes need a new pair of trousers upon viewing. It slowly comes after you, creeping along with its long legs, as you attempt to escape it. Eventually, you’re able to kill at… after which, you have to pull off one of its legs in order to solve the next puzzle. Excuse us while we vomit.
CONDEMNED – The Photogenic Mr. Tibbits
What separates CONDEMNED from most first person shooters is its crime scene investigation mechanic. Since the protagonist, Ethan Thomas, is a member of the FBI’s Serial Crime Unit, he has tools at his disposal to conduct forensic investigations on his journey to track down the game’s antagonist, Serial Killer X, while trying to clear his name for murders he didn’t commit in the process. Late in the game, Ethan needs to get crucial information from Samuel Tibbits, who’s unfortunately gone missing. And even more unfortunately, Ethan ends up finding his dead body in a locker.
After snapping a photo of the corpse to be analyzed, Ethan’s told that he needs a clearer picture because his original didn’t come through properly. It turns out that Mr. Tibbits is not ready for his close up, as he suddenly springs to life for a few short moments right when you zoom in the view on your camera, and briefly shows off his gross mutilated body before falling to the floor and dying for good. Ah, you just have to love a good old fashioned jump scare.
F.E.A.R.: FIRST ENCOUNTER ASSAULT RECON – Hallway of Blood
F.E.A.R. is weird. The game puts you in the shoes of “Point Man,” a new member of the eponymous F.E.A.R. squad, a covert branch of the U.S. Army which deals with paranormal and supernatural threats. As you slowly unravel the story of the game, you encounter a strange little girl named Alma, who just seems to screw with your mind whenever you see her.
Case in point, you can’t even walk down a simple hallway without this creepy little kid making it difficult. Suddenly the door shuts, she appears out of nowhere and everything goes white before a river of blood flows overhead which she promptly walks across like some sort of J-horror Jesus, all while a baby is heard screaming in the background.
Like we said, F.E.A.R. is weird.
ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITY’S REQUIEM – A Literal Blood Bath
ETERNAL DARKNESS could really be on this list for a completely different reason, as its “sanity meter” mechanic was extremely innovative and scary; if your player’s sanity level decreased, soon the game would start to mess with you as the player, with effects ranging from creepy crawlies running up your screen to tricking you into believing your save file has been deleted.
But the scariest moment in ETERNAL DARKNESS, which follows Alexandra Rovias as she investigates the murder of her grandfather and winds up reading a book called The Tome of Eternal Darkness which lets her experience the lives of a large cast of characters throughout different time periods that have come in contact with the book, is a very simple scene.
While doing standard survival horror exploration of a new area you’ve unlocked, you stumble into a bathroom. Examining the bathtub immediately causes an image of Alexandra to appear dead in the blood filled tub, accompanied by a high pitched scream. Like with CONDEMN’s “Mr. Tibbits” scene, this shows how effective a jump scare can be when it’s done properly.
DEAD SPACE 2 – Eye Scream, You Scream
There’s three things you do as protagonist Isaac Clarke during the majority of DEAD SPACE 2: slice the limbs off of horrifying mutated corpses known as Necromorphs, watch him hallucinate that his dead girlfriend Nicole is speaking to him, and try to uncover more information about the mysterious “Marker,” the cause for the Necromorph outbreak. As it turns out, Isaac holds important information about the “Marker” that’s locked away in his brain. Since the end is neigh, there’s no time for him to consult a psychologist and try to work through what he’s repressing, so he does the next best thing….
The machine he comes across is able to unlock the information stored away in his brain, and it does so by jamming a needle into his eye. Did we mention that you control the needle? Because you control the needle. The entire scene is anxiety inducing, but what really pushes it into squirm inducing territory is the awful sound it makes when it pierces through his eye. And if you fail to properly guide the needle into his pupil, well… you’ll see. Isaac sure won’t, though. (Okay, okay, no more eye puns! They’re completely cornea - iris my case).
RESIDENT EVIL 4 – Off With His Head
Towards the beginning of RESIDENT EVIL 4, which stars RE2’s Leon Kennedy as he encounters a strange cult on his search for the kidnapped daughter of the United States President in Spain, you encounter a wonderful villager named Dr. Salvador.
Dr. Salvador looks frightening enough and is obviously a TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACARE fanboy who wears a burlap sack over his face and revs up his chainsaw in an homage to the film (it’s entirely possible the poor guy is just a misunderstand, frustrated Leatherface cosplayer with a cheap costume due to the village economy). The first time you hear that chainsaw out of nowhere and get a glimpse of the good Doctor, it’s enough to send a chill down your spine. But the truly shocking and scary moment is what happens when Salvador manages to kill you; Leon’s head is sliced clean off as a fountain of blood spurts from his neck and pools around his body that limply falls to the ground, which is still just as shocking to witness now as it was back in 2005.
SILENT HILL 2 – Mannequin Rape
You knew this was coming. You knew this was taking the top spot. SILENT HILL 2, which follows James Sunderland in his journey into the town after receiving a letter from his deceased wife telling him to meet her there, has plenty of disturbing moments with deep symbolism. But nothing in any game has ever been as disturbing or scary as this scene.
It’s the moment you first encounter the monster Pyramid Head, and he’s introduced by raping two other types of monsters from the game known as Mannequins. Hiding in a nearby closet, James (and you) watch in horror as Pyramid Head finishes up, dragging the body of one of the monster’s by you before it ends up dying. James then finds ammunition in the closet and shoots Pyramid Head until he leaves, and from that moment on, you know that SILENT HILL 2 will be an unforgettable experience.
And there you have it, folks. Our top 10 list of the scariest gaming moments. Sound off in the comment section below and let us know what you would have added to the list and why. Happy Halloween!