The original Black & White begins like this with a couple desperately crying out for divine intervention after their child ran off into shark-infested waters. Black & White 2 begins with you saving a handful of villagers while their city is being invaded and burned, everyone they know is killed, and even the once-familiar landscape is rent asunder by "natural" disasters.
Planescape: Torment runs on nearly every dark trope ever, and this one is no exception. Listing every character that plays on an adult fear would take a page of its own, so sticking to party members:
In a very long fantasy metaphor for abusive personalities, the Nameless One destroys everything he touches and hurts everyone he cares about. No matter how much some of his incarnations might want to, he will never be able to stop. He finally does stop by committing suicide.
Dak'kon has sworn a vow of absolute obedience to someone who is frequently a complete monster, resulting in plentiful on-screen psychological abuse if the player has the stomach for it. And that's not even touching on lost faith or having lived through a genocide. Ignus and Vhailor have lost their basic humanity to traumatic experiences and zealotry. Annah's relationship with her father figure isn't exactly a healthy one, and she promptly finds herself drawn towards an equally unhealthy relationship with a much (much, much) older man. Fall-From-Grace was sold into slavery by her mother. Morte was physically abused but stuck around out of the conviction that it was somehow his fault and he deserved it, and Nordom is the very picture of childlike innocence lost.
Deionarra is a literal Love Martyr, but what sends this into Adult Fear territory is that her relationship isn't some Fantastic Aesop — she's simply so enthralled with romance she doesn't realize her lover's true nature until it's too late... rather like many real world people in abusive relationships.
Lady Kerri (Hubert and Asbel's mom) from Tales of Graces. Let's see: Your kids love you but are either afraid (Hubert) or slightly resentful (Asbel) of your husband. Your husband isn't helping matters any due to him generally being emotionally constipated mixed with a short temper triggered by Asbel almost daily, so in short she's the Only Sane Man. One day, you have to then ship of one of your children to another country and explain it to his older brother, but before you can, said oldest runs off somewhere. You then get news that both of your sons were almost killed but can only see one of them since the other has already been sent away. Your child then decides to run away from home and disappears for 7 years. Your husband then dies causing your sons to come back home. Only when they get back, they are at each other's throats, the youngest son hates you, and the oldest is exiled from the village. It's really surprising she didn't go into an Angst Coma.
In Heavy Rain, the very beginning of the game gives you the pleasure of playing as a parent who loses his child when he gets run over. The entire game focuses around catching a serial killer who drowns children in rainwater, and the worst part is nobody really has a clue who he or she is.
In Silent Hill 1, you get to play a parent who is desperately searching a dangerous city for his missing child. You get to spend a lot of time in the dark where monsters are lurking.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the (very liberal) remake of the original game, takes this even further, as the game actually focuses on a veritable cornucopia of Adult Fears - loss of family, social alienation, substance addiction, deterioration of love, sexual insecurities, death, the works - even more than monsters, and the occult theme is axed entirely from the plot.
Silent Hill 2 is about a man who has been deeply changed by his wife's early death. The fact that James killed her is another Adult Fear: the fear of failing a loved one and of selfishness. James's guilt is overwhelming, hence his punishment. Due to his wife's long sickness, James is also sexually frustrated, and angry and guilty enough about it that the town creates a physical manifestation of his dark impulses toward sexual violence.
Silent Hill: Downpour deals with Murphy Pendelton and the guilt he has over not being able to save his son from their neighbor, Napier, who kidnapped, raped, and murdered poor little Charlie.
Live A Live: One spoilered word:Oersted. By the end of the relevant chapter, everyone in the kingdom believes him to be an evil monster after he's manipulated into murdering his king, the only people who believed in him are dead, and he's killed his own childhood friend after finding out that said friend had masterminded the above manipulation, simply out of sheer jealousy of Oersted's fame and success. To cap it all off, the woman he loved had just declared her love for said dead friend and given Oersted a rather misplaced bitching out for not being a better friend to the poor unappreciated guy, and then offs herself. After such an emotional roller coaster, he snaps into Unstoppable Rage. The Adult Fear sets in when you sympathize with him through the whole thing, and then realize that, if you went through the experience of having everyone you care about either die for your sake, or viciously turn against you and declare you to be a murderous monster like that, you could very well end up in the same boat. His last words say it all: "With hatred, anyone can become a demon."
Gears of War has this in spades. All of the named characters have had family and friends, and some of them had children - and they all lost a great many of them on E-Day and during the war that followed. Dom's life, especially, after losing his brother and kids, the only thing that kept him going was the possibility of finding his missing wife, Maria. In 2, he does find her - after she had suffered years of torture, malnutrition, and lobotomization that drove her into irreversible insanity. The only way to save her is via Mercy Kill, which Dom has to personally deliver. Imagine crusading for years to find someone dear to you in the midst of a global warzone, only to be forced to kill them immediately afterward.
Metal Gear Solid 2's final act, if you get past the True Art Is Incomprehensible part. The US is controlled by AI programs and the point of the plot is revealed: They figured out they can make anyone into what they want, given the right set of circumstances. Oh, and the main character's love interest? Set up by them. It even makes you question whether she actually exists. Let's see: Fear of loved ones having ulterior motives? Check. Fear of not knowing what's actually real? Check. Fear of having no control in your life? Big check.
Likewise, Metal Gear Solid 4. First: Snake facing his declining health and dealing with a terminal illness. Part of Otacon's emotional arc is about coping with the long-term illness of his close friend and partner. There is also the question of children growing up — and possibly outgrowing you. ("It's okay if you want to live outside now.") Hideo Kojima said in interviews prior to the game's release that he hoped the story and emotions would resonate with older players, ones who had been following the series for some time, and did they ever.
The adventure horror game Sanitarium has a strong theme running throughout it of child endangerment. One of the first chapters takes place in an abandoned town where all of the adults have disappeared and left the children alone, who are slowly being turned into deformed abominations. That same chapter features the story of a young girl who was killed by her abusive father while the townspeople turned a blind eye. Another chapter has you play as a young girl in a Circus of Fear, and other chapters feature things like alien babies being thrown into a furnace. As the game progresses and you learn more about the main character, you find out that he and his wife had been searching for a cure for their unborn child, who is suffering from a fatal disease. This is compounded by the fact that the protagonist was severely traumatized by the death of his little sister when he was a boy.
Killer7, already a pretty disturbing game, has this scene (warning: NSFW), the sum of all Adult Fears wrapped up into just under two pants-crappingly horrific minutes.
For those of you that can't watch it: Curtis Blackburn confronts his former partner Pedro (who has turned against him) and reveals that he killed (and probably raped) Pedro's wife - in front of his son - before killing his son as well. At the same time he mocks them, commenting on his wife's "unique" mole and calling his son a "sissy" for not trying to save his mother. When Pedro babbles his daughter's name, Curtis tosses him his daughter's head. Curtis then kills Pedro, but by that point the man probably welcomed it.
It's later shown that Curtis kidnaps and rapes young girls. And then makes hauntingly creepy taxidermy dolls out of them.
And Susie, who seemed to have had a decent life but killed her own mother just because she wanted her to go to school. A reminder than no matter how good a parent you are, sometimes your kid can turn into an Enfante Terrible.
In BioShock, You might find some audio diaries belonging to a Mrs. Lutz. Her daughter has been kidnapped and for the longest time she and her husband don’t know where she is. One day she finds her little Masha. Masha has been transformed into a little sister, harvesting the plasmid-strewn blood of a corpse. She neither recognizes nor acknowledges her parents. The Lutzes are later found in a hotel room, they committed suicide out of grief, their daughter’s picture is found near their bodies.
You can also find a family in Mercury Suites. A mother, father, and three little girls. All dead.
The introduction scene to BioShock 2. Super effective against anyone immersing themselves in the perspective. Double that for male parents.
When you set the Little Sister in your care down to gather ADAM from a corpse, you usually can concentrate fully on the hordes of crazy lunatics charging at you since there is only very little chance that she will take any real damage. But when she screams for help, you will stop whatever you are doing or dealing with and instantly charge back to smash a giant drill through someones brain.
Imagine you were given the task of taking care of a group of small children while they're on a trip to an amusement park for a sleepover, to give their parents a reprieve while they celebrate the New Year. Now imagine that suddenly you hear mass fighting and explosions that are happening throughout the city, so much so that you and your children are accidentally locked in the amusement park with dwindling food and water for longer and longer periods of time - long enough that you are faced with the very real prospect of watching those children die of starvation while you suffer the same fate. This is what befell Nina Carnegie, and you find her audio diaries in Ryan Amusements, which tell you that she starved herself to death so the kids she was looking after would have more food.
The mere existence of Ryan Amusements. It's pretty grim to be anyone of any age down in Rapture, just short of being Andrew Ryan himself, but the "entertainment" there invokes the shadow of real-world attempts to indoctrinate children with adult political ideologies — or to foster fear and mistrust of the outside world to quash any will to escape. Even if they were cruelly duped, many of the adults in Rapture chose to come there; the children of Rapture made no such choice. (The Journey to the Surface ride plays on adult fears itself in-game, as well as scaring children; the threats posed by the "parasite" include a nightmarish version of the draft where young children are torn from their parents and sent off to war.)
The excellent Daylight Horror level Sanctuary in Mass Effect 3 is one of the creepiest places in the whole series. There are no monsters, no jump scares and not even a lot of corpses. Just a huge and well lit reception terminal that appears way to fancy for a refugee camp that was opened just two months ago, and it's entirely deserted. However the PA is still working and there are lots of notes on the many receptionists' desks, informing newcomers that they have to hand over their personal possessions until they are cleared to move from the reception area to the main habitats, and security is heavily screening for any unallowed communication devices inside the compound. Also, refugees can gain better accomodations in the habitat complex if they volunteer as receptionist while they are waiting to be cleared. And the administration staff refers to it not as the reception area, but as Processing. It's either a cult center or a concentration camp, and the place is massive. The truth is that it is actually much worse than either of those, with the refugees being used as test subjects for Reaper technology by Cerberus.
You don't have to go much farther than the very first mission of the game, where Shepard tries to rescue a terrified young boy during the Reaper invasion of Earth. At the very end of the mission, Shepard sees the boy climbing onto an evacuation shuttle which is then blown to pieces by a Reaper.
From Mass Effect 2, Morinth. She's a mutant asari called an Ardat-Yakshi that experiences an extreme high whenever she takes part in sexual intercourse with another being, and anyone taking part in it with her experiences a brain hemorrhage and dies. She is very crafty, having been alive for centuries, very good at avoiding capture and detection. She targets individuals that have some form of creativity that intrigues her, feigns becoming their friend before eventually bringing them into wherever she's residing in, and then murders them. In short, she's a space-born serial killer. To add to this, on Omega, you meet the mother of one of her victims, who just one day found her daughter dead from Morinth's handiwork. The bitch is creepy.
It goes the other way as well. With Morinth, Samara goes through two of the worst nightmares a parent can face; her daughter is a vicious sociopathic killer and developed an incurable genetic condition passed down from her parents. Both can often leave a parent feeling that they failed in their duties as such, even though it is through no fault of their own. As if that was not enough, she dedicated her life (which for an asari is hundreds of years) to killing her. Bad enough that your kid is a serial killer... now imagine you have to be the one to execute them.
For those who are lonely and/or prone to depression, there's probably nothing scarier than the ending of Yume Nikki. In a nutshell, Madotsuki finally kills herself, and the only ones who mourn her are the monsters from her dreams.
"No Russian", where the squad you're with commences a terrorist attack on an airport. That airport may very well be your local airport.
Also, Modern Warfare had a wonderful Fridge Horror scene that qualifies as Adult Fear: "Death From Above". You play as an AC-130 gunner, and it becomes terrifying as you begin to feel the detachment from killing that such a one-sided conflict presents.
Modern Warfare 3 had the level where you played a father on vacation in London with his family, videotaping his daughter running around enjoying herself right before a truck bomb blows up next to her.
A trailer for the game Dead Island, has a man desperately trying to save his wife and young daughter from the zombies. None of them survive. Watch it here.
During the Church missions, Sinnamoi radioes to the player that there is an unseen 10-year old at the lifeguard tower who is delirious and possibly infected. Some of the survivors want to isolate and/or kill her. After a few more missions, the update is that she died. HOW she died is not said...
Ryder White's campaign plays an even harder fear, especially for those that serve in the military. It's bad enough that your wife is caught in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse, but what if you're ordered by a superior to eliminate her?
Persona 4: The last victim of the kidnapper is your little cousin Nanako. Her father Ryotaro Dojima goes through absolute hell, alongside you.
You know how in Real Life, serial killers tend to be people the victims know, right? Well, the guy pulling the strings here is none other than Tooru Adachi, Dojima's partner. He's visited the Dojima residence on at least two occasions as a seemingly-trustworthy guy, and knows Nanako very well...
If you want to give in and punish her kidnapper? You will get the Bad Ending and Nanako will die. It's a really easy option and one that many newbies are likely to take, and then BAM. Kid is 100% dead, and you'll lose the chance to get her "fixed". And this is amped up in Persona 4 The Golden: Adachi is actually one of your Social Links. So make the wrong decisions while following said link — and Adachi not only gets a Karma Houdini, but he mocks you over it even when you're leaving Inaba.
Know how many people easily kill Namatame believing that he was the culprit? To this day, many innocent people are easily accused of crimes they never committed and sometimes get the death sentence.
Namatame also had it very rough. Not only his whole life was destroyed because of his affair, he also had to sit and watch two people, including his lover, dying right in front of him, helpless to do anything. And then, right after that, he was tricked into almost murdering several innocent people. No wonder everyone thought he was mentally unstable at the end of the game.
Rule of Rose does a reversal of this trope, showing how serious and poignant child's fears can be: abandonment, loss of parents, rejection, bullying, betrayal... Notably the game only implies, but refuses to show the genuine adult fears, like child abuse and murder.
The Ace Attorney games can raise fears about, "what if the person you either love or are starting to love is actually a much worse person than you think they are?" It obviously gets taken to ridiculous extremes in a series of murder mysteries.
In Ace Attorney Investigations, Lauren's father gets killed by her boyfriend. It's further implied that the boyfriend had figured out the father's identity, and was blackmailing him into helping with his staged kidnapping by threatening her safety.
In Justice for All, Celeste Inpax gets burned by two different people because of this and kills herself over it, and Juan would have found out that Adrian was just using him if he hadn't gotten killed (though plenty would argue that he was worse than her.
It's sort of averted when you find out that Regina getting Bat "killed" was an accident.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All, Case 4. Here you're defending a client who is clearly evil and having your dear friend and assistant's life depend on his acquittal.
Just ask real attorneys, who will most likely find themselves defending a guy like Matt. The scary and sad part comes when the miracle most likely won't ever happen for them.
In the first game, there's the set-up for the DL-6 Incident. Gregory Edgeworth and his son Miles, who at the time was nine, are trapped in an elevator, in the dark, and with the oxygen supply running out. And then the other person in the elevator, who has a gun in his possession, starts panicking and acting violently.
The first game has Dee Vasquez, who has ties to The Mafia. Towards the end of the last investigation day, when Phoenix and Maya uncover some critical evidence, Vasquez summons her Mafia goons and orders them "erased"—a cruel reminder of how terrifying organized crime can be. Only a Big Damn Heroes moment by Gumshoe prevents a premature end to Phoenix's and Maya's lives.
The third game has Furio Tigre who is also a gangster and also, almost erased Phoenix (again saved only by an opportunistic entrance of Gumshoe).
In Trials and Tribulations, Doug, Phoenix, and Terryall suffer when they fail to spot the major Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. Viola is far from a saint, but she also has to go through the pain of realizing that all the bad things done to help Furio Tigre were for a very sincere, yet fully unrequited love. Desiree has to find out that her husband Ron, who saved her from criminals, is a criminal himself, something she generally despises. Family members of Dahlia and Morgan also have to go through this for a different sort of love, with the biggest example being Dahlia's twin sister Iris and Morgan's youngest daughter/Dahlia and Iris's baby half-sister Pearlie.
Apollo Justice has Kristoph Gavin trying to kill a 12-year-old girl, Vera. The method? So utterly sneaky and "innocent": since the girl has the bad habit of biting on her nails, he'll just put poison in her nail polish bottles, so she'll ingest it while seeking solace for her Shrinking Violet nature. Not only it's sneaky, but like a punch in the gut since it involves attacking a shy little girl when she's at her most vulnerable - and not exactly easy to discover.
It also invokes the fear of losing your career and reputation over something you didn't even do which is what happened to Phoenix.
In the last trial, Klavier Gavin has to face that his older brother Kristoph, who he seems to respect very much, is a psychopath who murdered someone, tried to murder another person, and used Klavier himself as an Unwitting Pawn to get Phoenix disbarred. It's obvious the idea that he wrongly accused Phoenix has been tormenting him for years, and his own brother was behind it.
The first case of Dual Destinies has a bomb go off in a crowded court room. The culprit is a police officer who sold bombs on the black market. While Fleur Le'Belle is more flamboyant than frightening, if you press one of his statements, it's heavily implied that he threatened to take the victim's wife off of life support if he wasn't given information he wanted. The third case reveals that some of the teachers at a prominent lawyer school have been teaching their children Amoral Attorney philosophies like "the ends justify the means", and that not only does one of those teachers frame an innocent student for a murder he committed, but later tries to claim that she's just as cold and ruthless as he is. The fourth case centers around another explosion, and the reveal that the head of the Space Center knew it was coming and was terrified for the safety of his employees. Even worse, the case is resolved with Athena, someone Phoenix knows and trusts deeply, being accused of the crime. Tying it all up nicely is the Big Badwho turns out to be an emotionless killer who can perfectly impersonate anyone, had been quietly posing as a police officer for quite some time, and who murdered a woman, tried to kill her daughter, sabotaged a space flight which nearly killed the astronaut and permanently traumatized him, and then blew up two more buildings just to protect his identity.
Mother 3. Imagine your spouse being killed by a creature acting against its own will. Frightening enough. Now imagine your child, only about 7-9 years old, going to avenge their parent's death, and going missing. Imagine never finding him. Then, imagine said child getting captured and reconstructed into a soulless fighting machine, being used to help destroy the world. Not done yet, the shock is so terrible that you spend years trying to find him, and become withdrawn and distant from the twin who is still with you. Finally, as you have to witness said child attempt to kill you and your other child, eventually coming out of the haze only to decide to commit suicide in front of the other child. They don't call it "heartrending" for nothing.
It's prequel, EarthBound, gave us an interesting case with its final boss, Giygas. He's meant to represent the moment that Ness loses his childhood innocence, and does so by being very, very... different from the other game's bosses, or the rest of the game in general for that matter. To elaborate: Every other evil creature Ness has to defeat in order to find the strength to defeat Giygas, are all things little kids are afraid of: giant rats, zombies, ghosts, human-sized bugs, angry dogs, stereotypical aliens, and the like. Once he has done so, he enters his Magicant, where he has a one-on-one fight with his inner demons, which, to him, looks like one of the Mani Mani statues Giygas has been using to rally all those creatures to fight him. Once he wins, him and his friends confront Giygas, after going back in time, knowing full well they may never come back. Giygas's lair, called "the devil machine", looks like something H.R Geiger would come up with during a really bad fever dream, already a massive contrast to the rest of the game, then we meet Giygas. He's a horrifying, indescribable, ethereal Eldritch Abomination, babbling out things like "It hurts, it hurts!" and "I feel...G O O D...", and he attacks Ness in ways that aren't understandable to the human brain. Oh, and did we mention that he symbolizes murder and rape?note Some fans believe he's literally an abortion Yeah, we're definitely not fighting monsters under our beds anymore. This idea is further strengthened when you read where the creator got the idea for him.
Lots of the NPCs are dealing with very adult issues, and Link gets to see both sides of these things from different NPCs. A father is grieving for the loss of a son who is missing and presumed dead, while a toddler is raging because of the death of his father. A newlywed is about to die and laments that he will never be able to see the his children born, while a child is about to lose her father to a illness. One man can't show his face to his fiancee because he broke a promise, while another has been imprisoned because his lover's family thinks he is responsible for her disappearance. A woman about to be wed fears that her fiancee left because he no longer loves her, while a wife can't work and can barely function because of her husband's disappearance and the deteriorating health of her children (and there is nothing she can do about it.) Guards are torn between doing their job and fleeing for their lives, while soldiers obey orders for a war that has already ended.
The soldier who is wounded and invisible to everyone, so that no one rescues him; another adult lost and injured while her sibling, who has the power to help her, is unaware of her sister's predicament. There's also the robbery of an elderly woman and a young woman forced to grow up too soon by the death of her father, who must run the family business that's being threatened by a rival business, who THEN has her little sister and the family's source of income both disappear one night—an event about which the little sister warned her, but the older sister did not believe—followed by the little sister's return: completely traumatized to the point of being catatonic.
Wind Waker and Twilight Princess have this too. In the former, Ganondorf has various young girls kidnapped because they share a couple physical similarities to Princess Zelda, among these is Link's child sister. The parents of these lost kids are appropriately freaked out. In the latter, the children of Link's hometown are stolen by Bulblins and much of the first half of the game is about Link tracking down and rescuing all of them.
In Skyward Sword, Link has to deal with the kidnapping of his best friend, as well as a number of instances where she was helpless and would have been brutally killed by a demon if he hadn't intervened. Also, at one point in the game, Link has to outright tell Zelda's father that his daughter is not coming back. Also, Kukiel's mom is shown to be completely terrified when Kukiel suddenly disappeared. She went out to play and never came home. When you ask around, all people can tell you was that she was last seen playing with a strange man. And from all evidence, he took her to his house. Turns out the guy is harmless and sends her home the next morning, but still!
A primary theme in NieR. The world around you is dying, and your daughter/little sister is terminally ill. Then some monster steals her from you. Are you prepared to get her back, regardless of the horrible, irreparable consequences?
New Game+ flips this on its head. You're on the verge of saving the world. You've waited an eternity, but you've finally been reunited with your daughter/little sister. Then some monster starts slaughtering his way through your friends and allies, the innocent and the guilty, to try and take her away from you again. What are you prepared to do to keep your loved one?
An old one for video games, but has to be said. King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human has Graham paralyzed by grief. His son was kidnapped from his cradle and enslaved by his enemies somewhere, his kingdom has been burnt to cinders by a dragon that his best efforts cannot defeat with innocents suffering and dying on his watch...and then his only remaining child offers herself up as a Human Sacrifice. The canonical game doesn't play it up, but the Fan Remake games and Fan SequelThe Silver Lining don't make an attempt to downplay it. It's bad enough that Graham's falling deathly ill at the start of King's Quest IV is perfectly understandable after years and years of extreme stress.
Fire Emblem Akaneia has a main villain, Lang, who not only massacres whole villages if one person rebels, but kills boys and rapes girls. You can imagine how well that was taken by Marth and his group. It's also invoked in the backstory of Lena's pupil Maillesia (which involved her going into hiding and having to pretend she's much younger than she truly is to avoid him or his troops) and in Yubello and Yumina's (as the fallen heirs of Ludvick, Lang and others kill their guardian and then use them as pawns)
There's also Princess Maria, whose own brother Michalis uses as a hostage to force their sister Minerva to fight for him. As a result, Maria spends a long part of her life as a hostage, and Minerva can't do anything but fight on the evil Michalis's orders to ensure she won't die.
The Fire Emblem Jugdral games bring up the "child hunts". A horrifying project in which boys and girls from all the Jugdral continent are kidnapped, brought to different cities, and then are forced to fight until they die. The few who survive will end up as nobles of the empire, which will be few more that puppets for the Lopto Sect. The parents are more often than not killed when they try to oppose to this. The heroes, several of them being very young teenagers not much older than these kids, have to fight themselves to save these poor kids (and in Thracia, more than one chara who joins the troupe actually does so specifically either to thanks them for saving the children, or to make up for having been in the side of the Empire); meanwhile, more than one villain in the game is troubled by the existence of such deals, and those who aren't are very cruel.
Even worse for Emperor Alvis, whose teenaged son Julius is the leader of the child hunts. In fact, the boy is actually the vessel for the Lopto God, and has stripped Alvis of his authority so he can't do almost anything about it.
Mareeta's backstory involves a lot of these. She was an innocent girl living in hiding with her fallen prince father, who did what he could to keep her safe and next to him. They were doing fine as travellers, but once Galzus was distracted for a mere second - BAM! Young Mareeta was kidnapped by slave traders and taken into a slave market. Thank God Eyvel was there for her, but if she didn't... This is invoked again at the beginning, when Mareeta and Eyvel's other daughter Nanna get caught by the enemy, and you have to fight a Brainwashed and Crazy Mareeta who's under the influence of an Evil Weapon...
King Trabant is Genre Savvy enough to exploit adult fears, and does so twice. In the first part, the whole Yied Massacre happens when Trabant attacks Ethlyn, Quan and their troops and, after killing Ethlyn, he stages a cruel Sadistic Choice to Quan: either he drops his powerful Gaebolg lance or his three year old daughter and heiress Altena dies; as a result, Cuan drops the Gaebolg... only for Travant to kill him anyway and take both little girl and sacred weapon to his kingdom. In the second part he forces a powerful general named Hannibal to fight Seliph's group via taking his adoptive son (Sylvia's son Corple, or his expy Sharlow if she died childless) as a hostage; either Hannibal wipes out the rebels, or his child dies. So you first have to find and release the kid, then send him out to talk to Hannibal so he can join Seliph's troops too. Otherwise, you lose two recruitable characters. (And if Corple's dad is either Lewyn or Claud, you will also lose a valious Sacred Weapon: either the Holsety tome or the Valkyrie Staff)
Ares is also brutally slapped to the face with one of these, when his prospect love interest and companion Leen (or her expy Laylea) is incarcerated by their boss Bramsel, who is a known Dirty Old Man. As Ares finds out, he LOSES it and rushes back to the castle, despite his leader Jabarro's warnings. It's strongly implied that, while he finds Leen/Laylea mostly unharmed, she has already been molested or downright raped by Bramsel.
In Fire Emblem Awakening. You're an amnesiac young man/woman taken in by a kind Prince's troops. You're rebuilding your life, fighting by your companions, making friends, and maybe even getting a girlfriend/boyfriend of your own if you're lucky. And then you and your True Companions find out that you are not just the son/daughter of a Evil Sorceror, but you are to become the Soul Jar to an Evil God. And kill your Prince (who may or may not be your female self's husband). And doom your world to a Bad Future, where all your newfound friends are dead and their children (including your kid/kids, if you're married) are fighting a hopeless war. Also, said Evil Sorceror had another daughter, the local Dark Action Girl. A woman who believes him to be her savior, who took her into after saving her life. And then it turns out that she was kidnapped, experimented on, and brainwashed by him... therefore her whole adult life has been a massive lie. Discovering such shit must be devastating for anyone, and it does hit her hard.
Pokémon Black and White has N's upbringing by Ghetsis, locked in a room with meaningless toys, socially isolated, and emotionally abused, so that he will become a Tykebomb for Ghetsis to take over Unova. Implications are strong that when this is done, Ghetsis plans to dispose of N. To rub salt in that, one of the Plasma agents mentions that N might not actually be Ghetsis's son, and might have been kidnapped from another family to be raised in a psychologically-abusive, socially-maladjusted environment as a disposable figurehead for Team Plasma.
Happens in Pokemon Platinum with an elderly man who laments that he knew his grandson was living in an emotionally unhealthy home (whether it was abusive or just that severely neglectful is left to speculation), but didn't do anything to help until it was already too late to save him. It's heavily implied that his grandson is Cyrus, the Big Bad of the game. Imagine living with the guilt of knowing you could have prevented that and didn't.
In Deus Ex the player has the option to read the emails of a cyborg government agent. In one email he expresses fears about new innovation's in cybernetics that will render him obsolete and useless thus forcing the government to fire him and leaving him without specialist care he requires to function.
One of the central conflicts in Deus Ex: Human Revolution are the consequences of augmenting. Those who do augment get better paying jobs and an edge on their non-augmented competition, but also face scorn and discrimination in their communities, face feelings of disconnection with the rest of the human race and have to pay for an insanely expensive drug for the rest of their lives. Those who don't meanwhile are getting gradually rendered obsolete, largely in their chosen careers and being forced to accept degrading and often dangerous alternatives.
Milla Vodello from Psychonauts isn't just a bubbly party animal. Before becoming a psychonaut she worked at an orphanage and formed very close bonds with the children there. The orphanage started burning while she was getting groceries, and she returned just in time to telepathically hear their last agonising screams The memory can be found in a hidden room that also locks nightmares away from the rest of Milla's mind.
Another example concerning Raz's father: Trying to protect your son by training him only to find out he's run away because you pushed him too hard. Though at the very least that training has helped save Raz's life and by extension, the world.
On day 3, Vincent unexpectedly finding out that Katherine is pregnant. This sort of revelation hits him like a truck, and it would with any other couple if they weren't planning on having kids (just yet).
Picture this: You've been going out with your girlfriend for the past five years, and she's been talking about getting married and making things permanent. It hasn't been the most exciting of relationships, but for the most part you're content with it. One day, you hit up the local bar, and the next thing you remember, aside from a nightmare that you barely even remember, is that you've woken up next to a random beautiful woman, and it's implied that the two of you did...things the night before. Still not freaking out? Not only does this woman not know you already have a girlfriend, but she threatens to kill you if she finds out you're seeing someone else. It certainly doesn't help that this Yandere girl does have everything you could ever want in a girlfriend, which now throws you into deciding between your longtime lover and this new girl. And just when you're contemplating how to get yourself out of this mess, you find yourself in several situations where these two women nearly find out about each other.
Katherine ends up accidentally murdering Catherine during a struggle. She reacts accordingly when she sees what happened. It's quickly revealed to just be a dream, but still.
The entire premise of the Max Payne series, which not only has his wife and baby daughter killed, but later leads to him being framed for getting too close to the truth, leaving him all alone in a Crapsack World with no-one to trust. Despite seemingly tying up all loose ends in the first game, it gets worse (hence the sequel).
For all the Narm you might expect in a JRPG, Final Fantasy XIII does explore the feelings of a single father whose only son is taken away from him by The Government, as well as those of a woman who loses her younger sister and of a man who loses his fiancée (same person) to a fate even worse.
What about Hope's father? His wife and son go away together for a nice little holiday, then suddenly they've been boarded on a train to Pulse (hell on earth or so the Fal'Cie would have you think); the train has crashed, and all escapees are being killed/rounded up for execution. Think about how he must have felt when he found all of this out. Oh - and when you do finally go see him, he has about two minutes to digest the fact that his wife's dead before the army attacks and his son is forced to flee.
For a series known for its young and unrealistically pretty boys, Final Fantasy franchise has its share of Adult Fear:
Final Fantasy VI: Cyan losing his family when Doma is poisoned. Imagine, you, one of the finest knight in the realm, having no power to save your beloved ones. It gets so bad that later in the World of Ruins, an evil spirit grow powerful by feeding on his agony.
Strago completely lost his mind after the world come to its end and he become separated from his only family, his grand-daughter Relm. Shadow probably is like this too, if the WMG that he's Relm's father is proven true.
Final Fantasy VII: Barrett's adoptive daughter Marlene is taken hostage by Reeve and is held captive in Shinra HQ. He was led to believe that she hadn't gotten out of Sector 7 when the plate came down on it.
Final Fantasy VIII: Edea is the adoptive mother of all of player characters except Rinoa. Imagine, you're possessed by an all-powerful Sorceress from the future who force you to kill your children and unravel all that you built. The trauma is so bad that Edea can no longer act like a mother toward Squall and co.
Katawa Shoujo. Think about this... how horrifying would it be if you can hear one of your friends in distress... but you can't see them, have no way of finding them, and don't know how serious the problem is? Congratulations, you now know what Lilly Satou (who is blind) feels when Hisao suffers a heart attack during their holiday vacation and their other companion Hanako panics, so she can't tell her what's happening. And it happens in Lilly's own route, so it takes place when she is developing feelings for Hisao.
Kingdom Hearts. Imagine this: It's stormy outside - really stormy. Your child has been in his room all evening. You go upstairs to call him in for dinner... the window's open, he's gone, and so are his two friends and their boats. He doesn't come back for years - during which you have no idea where he is, or if he's safe, or if he can ever come back. (The parents of the main characters never get more than a shadow in a doorway...) On the other hand, Word of God states that a world remains frozen in time once it is swallowed by the darkness. Also, due to events of Chain of Memories, the parents forget about their son until Namine restored Sora's memories, which means that they only started worrying at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II. Which might make it worse for them once they realise they completely forgot of their missing son's existence.
Very little of World of Warcraft is particularly scary for most people, because it's not that kind of game, but amidst all the Money Spiders and Eldritch AbominationLoot Pinatas, there's at least one storyline where one questgiver is the ghost of a little girl who doesn't understand that she's dead and her hometown is in ruins. You wind up helping her find her doll, among other things, because she's lonely. Not many quests get their own song.
Along the same lines, Guild Wars 2 has a cemetery near the human capital of Divinity's Reach. Some of the inscriptions are hilarious, but there are some very sad ones, mainly any of the children burried there. (The youngest apparently died at the age of one.)
In the Dead Rising series, survivors will not hesitate to mention when loved ones have been brutally, savagely killed. In the first game alone, one of the very first encounters is a distraught mother who is distraught to the point of near-suicide, because she had to listen as her young daughter was eaten alive. One of the Psychopaths is a war veteran who is suffering a war flashback from the trauma of seeing his entire family getting eaten by zombies. The sequel, Dead Rising 2 gives players their own little bundle of adorable Adult Fear to worry over; Chuck Greene's daughter Katey. If she does not get her daily dose of medication, she not only dies, but turns into a zombie.
In Team Fortress 2 we learn of their world’s version of Santa, “Old Nick” an old Australian who kidnaps bad children and forces them to work in his munitions factory. Given the nature of this game, it’s considered humorous. Fast foreword one year after he was introduced. BLU Spy, Scout and Soldier are forced to work as shopping mall santas when Old nick shows up to steal the kids. These three spring into action to save the children of Tuefort, even if the only weapons they have available are an icicle, a roll of wrapping paper and some christmas ornaments.
The Indie Steam game Home is based entirely around Adult Fears, with no supernatural elements.
You have found a way to fix the world, only to see the means to do so undone. Twice.
You find three other survivors of the Calamity. One has to go and take on the entire world alone alone, one attempts to kill you and destroys all rebuilding efforts and one is seemingly kidnapped by your mortal enemies.
The "Kid" note who is between 14 and 24 :
A school dropout who worked as a soldier on more than one five-year tour of duty in a position so emotionally exhausting that no-one has ever done more that a single tour of duty.
Returning from that tour to find that your mother is dead and all the money that you sent back home to her for the past five years has been stolen.
Waking up to discover that the whole world as you knew it is gone, and you have nothing left of the world as it was than the clothes on your back and your hammer.
For the Ura: After years of peace, you wake up one day to find that your entire civilization has been uprooted and thrown into the sky, as part of a plan to wipe you out. Worse, one of the leading members of the project that caused that disaster is still alive, and gathering power sources for some other mysterious super-weapon, and there's nothing that you can do to stop his followers. He has two of your people, possibly kidnapped, and another of his people seems determined to invade your home and kill you all.
For Ven: Your daughter brings a young man into your home with a man who insults you and belittles your culture; she then runs off with that man, who sets her up to be executed for treason for selling secrets, entirely based on her race. You are able to get them to spare her, but only in return for building a doomsday weapon that is designed for genocide against your people.
Having your home and everything you built over last 10 years destroyed and then watch one of your children die protecting you.
It's clear that one of Leandra's biggest fears is to have her children and husband taken away because they are mages. She has already seen her cousin going through the same thing and then Bethany is taken by Cullen, specifically because she insisted on leaving her out of the Deep Roads Expedition. And this happens after she already lost one of her children.
Situation when Leandra is kidnapped is bone-chilling, mostly because how it's played out. You first find out she is missing from panicked Gamlen and go looking for her following a trail of fresh blood. When you finally find her she is not quit dead, turn into a zombie.
In Virtue's Last Reward, Quark, a boy ten or so years old, tries to kill himself in practically every timeline thanks to the mind-altering disease Radical-6, a scene many players find difficult to watch.
In a flashback, Quark and Tenmyouji once got into a fight causing the former to run away. Tenmyouji went to search for him and nearly got himself killed due to a fever; had he died, Quark would become an orphan again.
Here is the plot of the first Art of Fighting game. A talented martial artist and dojo owner has a young adult son (whom he has trained in martial arts) and a teenage daughter. A high-class crime lord takes an interest in him, forces him to work with him, and ultimately stages a cruel Hostage Situation in which he must kidnap his own daughter, lock her away, lead a group of goons keeping the girl hostage, and then fight to the death against either his own young adult son or his equally young adult best friend, who don't know his true identity. Thank God the daughter managed to escape, explained the whole situation to her brother and friend, and things got better from then on.
It's even worse if you believe/apply the once very spread fanon belief that the death of the martial artist's wife, which took place quite a while before the story started, may have not been an accident.
One of the darker zones in Kingdom of Loathing comes from using a psychoanalytic jar to explore the psychoses of the Crackpot Mystic, an old man who lives in a shack and gives players access to the 8-Bit Realm, a low-level zone full of references to old-school video games. The game's trademark Hurricane of Puns and smarmy pop-culture references largely goes out the window in favor of a sidequest to fight embodiments of the Mystic's Anger, Fear, Doubt, and Regret, which have apparently overwhelmed him. Said embodiments take the form of pixellated monsters and power-ups which will taunt you repeatedly as you fight them.
Asura's Wrath, despite its fantastic, over-the-top combat and larger-than-life Buddhist Cyborg Warriors, has a very mundane and terrifyingly legitimate reason for Asura's titular wrath: He is betrayed by his comrades-in-arms, unable to protect his wife from being murdered while he was out defending civilization, and framed for the murder of his king. Furthermore, his daughter is taken from him and made to suffer. You'd be really upset too, if it happened to you.
Devil Survivor shows what happens when a block of a major metropolitan area is sealed off by military forces and forced to tough it out with no electricity or means of communicating with the outside world and food and other vital supplies arriving at a very limited basis. People go mad and fight over food rations, and some of the police show themselves for who they really are; granted, they use demons, but using guns wouldn't have made their cruelty any less worse.
For a more specific example, salaryman Honda wants to see his critically-wounded son undergo surgery, but said son is on the other side of the Yamanote loop, leaving Honda unable to stand by his son's side for the operation. In Yuzu's ending, Honda's son dies, plunging him past the Despair Event Horizon.
Fallout 3 has the massive unmarked quest dubbed "The Keller Family Refuge." It tells the story of a family of six before the Great War who had a somewhat strained relationship. Their son, Alex, was a member of the US Army National Guardsmen, and smuggled them a code for safe access to the National Guard bunker outside of DC, giving each of them a single digit of the code so that they would have to work together. He was caught, and arrested, meaning that he never joined his family. His brother, Ralph, elected to "walk into a mushroom cloud," rather than spend the rest of his life in close proximity to his family, particularly his father. The other four members of the family successfully entered the bunker—where their food supply began to dwindle. The father made several trips to the outside world, risking radiation saturation to find more food for his family. If you can manage to open the open the bunker, you find three skeletons—along with a Glowing One, a type of immortal mutant that only occurs from extreme radiation exposure—presumably, the Glowing One is the father, while the corpses are his wife and two remaining children, showing that the bunker was no oasis.
Fan theory has taken this tragedy even further. All Glowing Ones first go "feral," losing their rationality. It is unclear whether Father simply watched his family starve, or killed them himself in a thoughtless rage.
SonicLostWorld has the sudden kidnapping of Tails, whom Sonic saw as a little brother, and his (fake) transformation into a cyborg commanded to kill his own hero.
The plight of the father in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. He's a widower who falls ill, and his sons volunteer to go on a dangerous journey to find a cure. His older son doesn't make it back home. Considering the sheer guilt and sadness that must be eating away at the man, it's small wonder that he collapses to his hands and knees sobbing in the end as he faces his wife and his son's graves (even worse considering his son's grave is purely symbolic since his younger son had already buried him somewhere else far away).
The entire Auditore family is subjected to this near the beginning of Assassin's Creed II. Giovanni is arrested, along with his oldest and youngest sons, on trumped-up charges on the order of a man he trusted. Maria has the guards do...something...to her when she resists, and spends the rest of the game catatonic as a result. And when Ezio tries to prove their innocence, he is unable to fight through the crowd and ends up seeing his father and brothers publicly executed.
Trauma Center. In each game, over half of your operations will be on patients whose lives are in grave danger; "The patient's life is in your hands!" indeed. In Under the Knife / Second Opinion and Under the Knife 2, at least one patient in each of these games does perish before your very eyes despite your hardest efforts.
Under the Knife brings us Linda Reid, an Emo Teen that Derek operates on, only for her to retaliate at Derek for saving her life because she's been wanting to kill herself. While the source of her self-destructive expressions turn out to be GUILT, it's still a grim reminder that there are doctors throughout the world that have to deal with suicidal patients. Fortunately, she gets better in the next episode.
Captain Rush: "If we don't stop them, the entire country will go down in flames! We cannot let that happen!"
In the flash game Monster Basement, the protagonist was kidnapped after hearing his friend scream for help. He has no idea where he is, but knows that if he doesn't get out soon, his kidnapper will come back to kill him. The end of the game also reveals that the dead monster in the cage is the protagonist's friend, which means that the protagonist spent the last part of the game with his friend's corpse in the room with him. Yes the friend is revived, but still!
In Dead Case, the backstories of the ghosts all deal with this. The school ghost committed suicide after losing her husband and her daughter, the hospital ghost was injured while on his motorcycle and died in the hospital because of a mistake by the staff, and the church ghost found out her husband was a serial killer and ended up dying when he set the house on fire to hide his crimes. As for the protagonist, he was shot by the serial killer because his fiance was the killer's next target and he was in the way. Stopping the killer from shooting the fiance ends up being the game's climax.
Children Are Cruel: A group of children are seen constantly teasing and bullying a young girl. The school ghost finds peace by chasing them away and befriending the girl.
Imagine the love of your life slowly dying, and despite all your skill, no matter how hard you try, you can't stop it. You can't even seem to slow it down. You're broke. You're desperate. You turn to embezzling just to have the slightest, the most minuscule one-in-a-million chance to save her. You get so obsessed that you start to drift away from her. You stop eating. You stop sleeping. You're worse off than before, because you can't even think straight anymore. Finally, you do one last, desperate thing, just to buy her a little time, knowing that she might not forgive you. Yet just as soon as you can finally rest—everything comes crashing down upon you. You're discovered. You're maimed. Both of you barely escape with your lives, and now you're even more broke and desperate than before—and you can feel yourself start to deaden inside. It's a miracle Mister Freeze took so long to lose it.