The basic premise of the F.E.A.R. games, but one deserves special mention. In the second expansion, there are these things, called Scarecrows, that show up as dark puddles on the floor. When you walk on them, these massive claws come out and drag you into this dark watery void inside the floor, while a horrific spiky frail demon thing claws the crap out of you, killing you in seconds unless you unload massive amounts of ammunition in it. They're also placed in ways that mean you can't avoid them unless you take things slow and pay very close attention. It's their introduction, though, that's the worst. You watch your lieutenant walk over one, where his leg is first frozen in place, and then it gets worse. He's slowly dragged in, screaming and begging you for help, clawing fingermarks in the ground, as his lower half is shredded with blood flying everywhere. You can either leave him, and watch him die horribly and he pleads with you for help and screams in agony until he goes fully under and blood explodes out, or you can grab his hand and try to help, which ends up with his arm being ripped off as the rest of him is shredded anyway. This is, unsurprisingly, the point at which many gamers simply can't play the game any more.
Steve Chen: Uh, some..something's got my leg. SOMETHING'S GOT MY LEG! FUCK, HELP ME! (screams)
And if you're not careful about where you stand at that moment, the same Scarecrow will make you join your shredded lieutenant.
There's something much worse than that. For most of the game scarecrows are fairly easy to spot, and can be dealt with by emptying a clip of ammo into any black hole in the floor you can't walk around. Even the ones that try to disguise themselves as harmless blood splatters on the floor can be dealt with via the "better safe than sorry" approach. But during interval six you'll run into one scarecrow that is located under-fucking-water. Unless you're paying incredibly close attention to the floor there's no way that you're going to see it coming till it grabs you.
In first game, we have the infamous "ladder scene" from the third level. You approach a ladder, start to go down it and Alma is standing about 2 feet from where you were before you started going down, and the fact she gives her trademark giggle does not help. Oh, and what awaits you when you actually get off the ladder at the bottom? You turn towards the path and see Paxton Fettel approaching you, but vanishing when he's about a foot from your face. What gave this scene so much impact is how players never had a scare before on any single ladder in the game and also in how your character mounts ladders. Usually, the game backs off after a single glimpse of Alma to keep you wired, which made Fettel's appearance so much worse.
Also from the third level, was I the only one who got startled (and very very creeped out) when the slumped body of Fettel's latest victim suddenly lurches up, begging you to find Alma before Fettel does before finally dying?
Similarly, the Perseus Mandate expansion has a scene where you approach a ladder, turn around to get onto it, and then in the far corner you see some apparition poking its head out to look at you for a good five seconds before fading away.
Just the indication of a message from an "UNKNOWN ORIGIN" at the top right of the screen and the trademark radio feedback from Alma's presence is enough to bring up your heart rate. Even better is when nothing actually happens, proving Nothing Is Scarier.
Things to watch out for in the game: Mirrors, long hallways (especially with double doors at the end), dead ends with equipment (so you can turn around and get the crap scared around you), dead ends with switches to press, any sort of monitor you might be tempted to look at, ladders (dear god the ladders), windows to look through, blood trails, bathrooms of any kind or vents to crawl through.
Right at the start of the second stage, where the Delta Force sergeant orders you to open the gate- you do so, then hear radio chatter of them fighting an unseen enemy. You run back to them as your controller tries to raise them, seeing something odd through the fence, but you can't tell what, turn the corner and HOLY FRAKKING SHIT! They're just bloody skeletons!
One level in Interval 4, "Watchers", where you at first see security guards being killed by offscreen enemies, thrown through windows, or pulled into vents. Then, when you reach the second floor, you personally encounter the Assassins, who are equipped with cloaking devices and glowing night-vision goggles. They jump out of dark rooms and ventilation ducts, make almost no sound, can stick to walls, are fast and hard to hit, and can hack you to death in two seconds on the higher difficulty levels.
When they return in Project Origin they've been upgraded significantly, can punch you to death quickly, and cause an Interface Screw that lasts for a few seconds.
Sometime in the third level, turn a corner with the flashlight on and BAM! Alma crawling at you.
Project Origin follows up with massive amounts of Nightmare Fuel, pretty much from the get-go. Among the highlights:
The locker rooms of Wade Elementary. Or the majority of Wade Elementary, period.
The worst part is the bodies of the ATC commandos lying around. Most of them pinned to the walls by unseen forces. And they're apparently still alive and breathing. They're not. Which makes that all the more disturbing.
But they still choke. And moan. Even when they've been fixed to a ceiling. You can't even put them out of their misery.
And in the locker rooms you are attacked by ghosts that are hard to see and they make this horrific noise.
Plus the horrible rapid-fire slamming sounds of the double doors, making it hard to hear anything coming at you, and they steadily grow louder and louder as you get closer. The noise itself is just plain disturbing.
The classroom projectors. Sweet jeebus, the fucking classroom projectors.
Also, the locker room is one of the few places in the game where your flashlight doesn't work, so all you can see are the flickering lights, showing flashes of bloodstained walls, corpses hanging from the ceiling, flickering ghosts, and from time to time, Alma herself.
Wade Elementary is full of cute/silly posters, which actually serve to enhance the disturbing mood when you find out the fate of the schoolchildren. In particular, the 'Welcome back to school' poster depicts an anthropomorphic raccoon with an eerily knowing, dead-eyed, cynical look about it that just screams "You poor bastards."
The Remnants. There's only three of them (Thank God) but all three of them are absolutely terrifying, especially the dead music teacher playing piano in Wade Elementary.
That one is playing the music box theme. It is horrifying.
What about the principal? You pick up the keycard, and OMIGODHESRIGHTINFRONTOFMEAAAAAAAGHHHH. As far as the Jump Scare goes, it was pretty damn freaky.
The soldiers the Remnants reanimate. They're basically zombies, but they just make the Remnant fights scarier, especially when you get too close to a Remnant and get the Interface Screw effect.
Once again, Alma. As if being a creepy little girl who wreaks unholy havoc on anything and everything wasn't bad enough, in Project Origin, she turns into a Personal Space Invader, and to make things even worse, her attacks on you turn out to be attempts to rape you.
Right before then, you're forced to watch while strapped down into the chair as Alma slowly steps toward you, like a cat approaching a mouse, with this implied "you can't get away from me now" in her body language, and then she slowly leans in very, very close to kiss you.
The final cutscene with Alma, where she rubs her belly, and then puts Becket's hand on it, and he can hear the baby inside crying. And then she smiles.
And right before then, fighting a horribly disfigured Keegan, and you're forced to struggle with him hand-to-hand and point your pistol at his head.
Keegan: "Becket...help me!"
I found the section where you pursue the dazed Sgt. Keegan through the underground tunnels leading to Still Island much more unsettling. That weird, deep, buzzing voice in which he started singing is highly unnerving.
The really creepy part about that? He's singing the exact same song that you've been hearing Alma singing, or coming from the music boxes.
Assassins (especially the one that kills Terry Halford). When you can't see their mouths, they're almost The Blank, but when you can see their mouths, they're permanently locked into big scary-as-fuck evil grins like the Chryssalids from X-COM.
This might be just a glitch, but when I was playing through the elementary school, I came across two ATC mercenaries fleeing from Alma, their flesh being boiled away as they ran. I was pretty startled to see them, so I open fire, dropping one of them right as the flesh was melted off his skin. He fell to the ground, and then the skeleton got up, pointed its rifle at me, and started firing. Cue ruined underwear.
Walking along at Still Island, just recovering from another hallucination. You stop, seeing the swing-set. Beneath it, you see the doll. You pause, bend down to look at it. Suddenly, you hear Alma whisper in your ear. Everything is still and silent afterwards. You turn toward the door to get to the next section of the area, and while doing so, you pause to slowly turn, to look at the sky-painted murals on the walls around the swing. You keep turning, and JESUS SHE'S BEEN TWO FEET BEHIND YOU STARING AT YOU THE WHOLE TIME. Pure, 100%, Grade-A Paranoia Fuel.
The Replica soldiers as a whole are pretty goddamned scary, too. Not simply for what they are, as military clones are nothing new to science fiction, but rather, what they do and how they do it. They are completely and absolutely loyal to whatever task their commander sets them to, and will carry it out without hesitation or question, and are willing to give their own lives without a second's thought to carry it out. Plus, they are heavily armed, well-trained, and relentless, making for a frighteningly efficient, faceless, remorseless enemy who will stop at nothing to kill you.
The Still Island facility, where you see the Type VII Replicas, who haven't been issued with helmets yet. And you see how imperfect Armacham are with their cloning technology.
Perhaps the most terrifying thing about the Replica soldiers is how "human" they are in battle. These are not mindless Mooks who just grunt and die randomly. They truly act like real people in battle, both in terms of professionalism but also in that they can be Not So Stoic and curse, get angry at each other, and feel fear. And yet, all their humanity only exists when they are in battle. The moment they lose their connection to their psychic commander, they immediately become nothing more than flesh-and-blood robots waiting for a command. It's also a bit sad to see that they are only alive on the battlefield... quite literally.
The music box. That goddamned music box. That horrible, sad, upbeat, painful, tear-inducing, pants-browningly chilling tune. Its like someone scientifically formulated the perfect theme song to emphasize every single aspect of Alma, and then used it in the most disturbing manner imaginable.
When Becket has the Harbinger surgery, not just the horrific Alma visions he has every time he flatlines, but also the part when you realize there is nothing you can do to stop it. From the fact that he keeps waking up and screaming, they're also apparently not using anesthetic.
In Project Origin, the flashback where Harlan wade orders his men to carry Alma away to the Vault. Combination of both Tear Jerker and sheer horror that he's doing that to his own daughter.
How about the fucking basement of the elementary school? That part of the game creeps me out every time I play it. Hell the only way I can convince myself to go through there is if I have the flashlight on.
Just as you finally fix the elevator in Interval 3(?), you look up and see Alma -in the elevator- stalking the CEO's daughter as the doors close. I charged the corner just in time to look down and see a bloody Alma rushing me. I emptied my shotgun, threw three grenades, reloaded, and stood with the avatar's back in the corner, still shaking and screaming my head off.
The Project Origin glitch in Aristide's apartment. Alma's supposed to do one of her appear-and-disappear-pants-wetting scares, but since the game can't predict where you're going to end up in the pool room, she'll appear 'and then follow you slowly wherever you go' until you leave. Better have a change of underwear handy.
The pool room of Genevieve Aristide's penthouse. You step into the room with blood-red, back-lit water, and you think you hear someone moving around. Something runs in front of you and you stop, tracking the movement. Then, you hear a whisper behind you, and turn around, and child Alma is right there staring up at you. There's a better than even chance that you'll flinch away from her and fall into the pool, where emaciated adult Alma will hurl herself at you.
Even worse if you realize where you are when you fall in the pool. It's the chamber she was sealed in when she was a child.
Once you get past that bit, you'll spot some ammo and armor up on a balcony overlooking the pool area. Going after it results in glass shattering behind you, and Alma appearing again. The first time that happened, I walked right past her without noticing her for a second. Then I realized what I'djust walked by, and promptly panicked and ran into the nearest in-game closet lest she was chasing me.
What about in the first game where some Replica randomly jumps into the shallow water and never comes out? I was thinking it would jump out of the water or something but that kind of Replica doesn't appear again until you are in the ATC building where they jump out of the walls.
If you watch closely, you can see the Assassin run out of the water and dive through the bars of the grating around the corner on the right side.
What's really creepy is this implies they were following you the whole time. AND YOU NEVER NOTICED.
And if you're really fast, you can bullet-time and kill the assassin before it escapes.
There is actually a tonne of hints they've been lurking about the entire game. Most of the events where a corpse would drop from somewhere above you will be accompanied by the telltale buzz and arcing electricity of an Assassin, and many of the incidents of random crap getting knocked over are from Assassins, which you immediately blame on Alma.
Extremesquick-horror via Fridge Logic: The Replica in Project Origin are under Alma' vague control, right? They're essentially following Alma's desires when they're attacking you. Except that Alma doesn't want to kill you. She wants to rape you. So, what happens to your corpse if the Replica kill you is best not dwelt on.
The hospital level in Origin is pretty creepy too. You're walking through it and see Armacham guys walking around cleaning up. You get a scare from a woman hurling herself at a window trying to get out as Colonel Vanek shoots her. Then you see a man attempting to give a woman CPR before an Armacham commando comes over and shoots his head off with a shotgun. Next, as you come around a corner you see an Armacham guy get pulled into a mostly-barricaded room. He's screaming and pleading for help from the guy he's with, who shoots at the gap. It doesn't do anything as his buddy is pulled inside. Then there's a glimpse of an Abomination, climbing along the walls and ripping a group of Armacham soldiers to shreds. Then there's the other Abomination who's controlling the Replicas. You find it in a chair, frenziedly struggling and roaring as images on screens across from it flash by randomly. Then there's the death scene of one of your team. Sergeant Jankowski was undergoing the same procedure you already went through, but his team was killed mid-procedure. You come across him, dying, on a hospital bed, with several needles jabbing him repeatedly. You also get your first glimpse of Alma really close to the beginning of the game. After you come out of a dream, you're woken by one of your squad, but instead it's Alma, directly in front of you before it switches to reality.
An absolutely horrific notion posited in the JBM page: when Alma is raping Beckett, it is possible she was using Stokes' dying/dead body to do the physical part of the deed.SHUDDER.
I'm shocked no one's mentioned the second-to-last level in the first game, right after Harlan releases Alma from the Vault. She's stepping towards you in hallucination, her body flickering from old to young and back again, slowly walking towards you, so slow HOLY CRAP SHE'S CRAWLING AT YOU SO FAST SHE'S IN YOUR FACE AHHHHHHHHHHH!!! End hallucination, leaving you beside Harlan's corpse and Alma's bloody footprints leading away. Then come the Nightmares.
Paranoia Fuel at its finest when you first enter the Armacham building. Your escort gets taken out by Replicas, you have a firefight on the helipad, and then nothing. For about two minutes there's nothing worth shooting, you start seeing signs that Assassins are watching you, and then for another five minutes there's still nothing. It got so tense that I ended up wasting two shotgun shells on a dead body when it was flung through a glass wall after a few minutes of things darting around in the shadows instead of attacking me.
Imagine you are an Armacham soldier, new on the job.For the few days week not much happens, you guard the scientists and look scary when required.But one day all hell breaks loose, cloned soldiers have gone nuts and tearing though your colleges. You head out with the others, terror and adrenaline pumping though you in equal measure. You engage the enemy, and then everything falls apart. The cloned soldiers tear though your team with ease, one of them finds you and introduces you to his rifle butt. Darkness swallows you as you dead colleges screams and empty faces fill your mind. You wake up hours later surrounded by bodies and stagger away. Something is wrong, the air is thick with dust and you feel a strange prickling on your skin. You find some more Armacham soldiers, they are still fighting the clones. You join them, but moments later a third part appears, wearing a emotionless mask he starts killing Armacham and clones alike, moving with impossible speed he makes his way towards you. You run but there are things coming after you, with tattered clothes and bandaged faces they rip apart anyone they can find. You barely get away but find you are bleeding badly, as blood blurís you vision you stagger outside and into a war zone, filled with clones, burning rubble and bloody bodies of the fallen. Running blind you trip over charred skeletons and fall. Mad with fear you stagger on, you fall over some rubble, rolling down, losing all sense of direction. Pulling you self up you see a woman, but somethingís wrong with her, she smiles a crooked smile and you soul is ripped away.
In the first game, the hallway of waist-high blood. Creepy enough, right? And when you get to the end of the hallway, that bloody skeleton looms up and grabs you, which is wet-your-pants freaky. But the real kicker? Pay close attention to Alma as you reach the end of the hallway. She's staring at the doctor taking away her child, right? Right before the skeleton pops up, she turns to look at you.
Paranoia Fuel: Ever wonder how the Replica are always able to keep tabs on you enough to constantly put troops in your way and set ambushes? They've got Assassins. Watching. Your. Every. Move. Including right now.
Beckett's dream at the beginning of Project: Origin. It takes place in a destroyed city and he's following Alma. Then when he wakes up, she pops up right in front of him. It's actually his teammate, but it still gave me a shock.
The environments as a whole, really. I had a distinct memory of suddenly seizing up in front of a random, not-particularly-scary desk in the middle of the first game, just overwhelmed by the truly oppressive atmosphere.
In the Reborn DLC, there's an area right after Foxtrot 813 goes rogue where the replica send the Heavy Armor troops after you. It's in an area in an under-construction office building, made mostly of plywood boards. The Heavy Armor troops are able to smash through any of these walls. And the do so with a gusto, and where you least expect it. Nothing quite as scary as ducking around a corner to reload only to have the massive, faceless supersoldier slam straight through the wall in front of you without slowing down.
Later in Reborn, there's a boss battle with a Powered Armor unit, right after fighting a couple of Assassins. The terrifying part is a double-whammy: first, while fighting the powered armor unit, Assassins will periodically spawn in upper levels of the room and attack you, so not only do you have to dodge the armor's massive machineguns, you also have to keep spinning around, because you never know when an Assassin will hit you. The second whammy comes from the fact that the area is a multi-level lobby, with the armor starting on the lower floor and the only way up being a thin escalator the armor can't hope to climb. It looks like it might be an easy fight where you can use the elevation to avoid enemy first and whittle the armor down, right? Until the powered armorjumps fifteen feet straight up to your level.
Some memorable scenes from Extraction Point:
The church. First, Fettel returns. Then in catacombs, random replicas get slaughtered and something keeps moving inside the catacombs. When you finally get out, Fettel appears again and says he is leaving you with Alma. Cue Alma appearing in hallway you just came, destroying scenery as she slowly walks towards you and summoning Nightmares to kill you.
"I know it doesn't make sense. Not much does anymore. You killed me; I didn't like that."
Your first battle with the Shades. They are creepy enough on their own, but having to fight them in a blood-splattered room filled with empty paint-buckets that make horribly disturbing noise when kicked, combining with the unnerving music definitely doesn't help.
In the hospital, you move through a short hallway with dark windows looking into a single room. Inside, you see a single body. Not too scary, right? If you decide to walk up to the windows to get a better look, the body slams into the window right at your face. Cue heart attack.
Holiday's horrific death and the subsequent desecration of his corpse.
The TV room in F.3.A.R. Made even worse by the fact that you can hear the insane cultists lurking around behind them, and there's the silhouettes of deformed, humanlike things periodically leaping around in front of them. And there's Fettel's chilling line:
"Make no mistake. We are being hunted."
The suicide bomber variations of them are even worse. You can hear them beeping, yet you can't see them, mainly because you're being swarmed by the maddened enemies. And then when you finally see them, they leap at you kamikaze style.
Let's put it this way, you'll be much happier when you finally run back into the soldiers.'
Towards the end of the store level of F.3.A.R, you're climbing up a ladder. Simple enough, then BAM, Alma's right in front of you.
The Creep. It's that thing that looks like an overgrown Abomination that keeps popping up throughout F.3.A.R. It generally attacks from behind, and has a really unsettling three-part mouth. The worst part? Alma is afraid of it. ALMA IS AFRAID OF IT. Anything that makes Alma scared cannot be good news.
Also, the second time it appears (in the airport) when it attacks you, your health doesn't regen until you get clear of the room. Talk about a freaky Interface Screw.
The Stinger for F.E.A.R. 3. We see Paxton Fettel's Synchronicity Event. He quite literally explodes about a dozen ATC troops one at a time while they try to subdue him with tranquilizers. The ATC troops just keep pushing into the room, trying to take him out, and one by one their bodies are blown to pieces until they finally knock him out, leaving him alone in a room that is almost literally painted in blood and littered with a dozen corpses.
One of the more brilliant things about F.E.A.R. 3, and a true shame since the game has a lot less scary areas than the other ones, is that the scares are randomized. So maybe you'll be expecting something to jump out at you, only it doesn't, or something else will pop up where before there was nothing. Nothing Is Scarier by design!
Towards the end of Interval 7, there's is a section where you have to wait for a door to open enough to let you in. Sounds easy enough, but you have swarms of Almaverse Resident Evil like lickers lunging at you. Whats' worse is you have to close the door once you get inside and fend them off long enough till the door closes.
The houses in the suburbs that have been taken over by the cultists. The walls are covered in "artwork" made from blood, with piled up altars of candles and teddy bears everywhere. Some of the blood artwork is made up of spirals, and for a few of these spirals, fleshy growths emerge and spread outwards from the center, before retracting back into the painting and disappearing. I can't sleep now.
In Fettel's ending He possesses Point Man and then devours Alma. Simple enough, but I has a very soft spot for Alma (who is arguably my favorite character) since the second game and to see the look of fear in her eyes before Fettel leaps upon her is jarring.
One of the (possible) events that occurs in Interval 3 of ''F.E.A.R. 3" is an Offscreen Reality Warp in an employee break room. As you approach the other side of the room, you may see a human shadow run quickly past behind you; if you do, and you turn around, suddenly there are bodies hanging from the ceiling! How the hell did they get there?! The first time this happens to you you'll be wondering if you're going crazy.
Less out-and-out scary and more "generally creepy" pops up in the airport level, when you enter an otherwise empty concourse with some escalators in the middle of the room. Teenage Alma appears on one of the escalators and just slides past you, staring at you the whole time. Might also count as a CMOF depending on your mood at the time.
The climax of Interval 6. Alma's contractions cause the Armacham Tower to catch fire and slowly begin to crumble, and you get to see the remaining Armacham soldiers panic and die as debris falls and pitfalls into hell open at their feet. One instance that stands out is a group of burning soldiers uselessly trying to escape a crashed and burning helicopter, screaming all the while. The Phase Commander's callous disregard for his men's lives does not help.