"We exist together now. Two corpses in one grave..."
Everything Flood-related. Especially the oozing infected pustules which spewed enemies when shot, and getting to see living allies and enemies mutate into Flood on screen.
Not to mention that if you manage to shoot an infected soldier in a way that doesn't make it explode, and walk up to its body, you can see one clinging to the spine…
Perhaps the creepiest parts in Halo 3 are when the Flood start talking to you. Hearing the Gravemind cursing and taunting you as his minions swarm you from every direction is chilling.
Bungie recently had an article that talked about the creative origin of the Flood. Upon being shown a single still picture of just one Flood form, the ESRB demanded the game be given an M-Rating. And that's without the lovely things mentioned above.
The psychotic Marine in Halo: Combat Evolved, as well as the insane one considering suicide in Halo 3 add to the horrific atmosphere.
Same voice actor for both. That guy is disturbing in-character.
The first encounter with the Flood in the first Halo. The downed Pelican ("We're under attack by an unknown enemy! It isn't Covenant!"). The abandoned artillery pieces, all facing away from you. The grunts that used to flee at the mere sight of you run right into your kill zone in a panicked retreat from something even scarier, and that "something scarier" seems to follow you, as you hear strange noises and see strange shadows on the trees, who appear as "allies" on the HUD...which disappear one-two seconds later without any trace. You follow the trail of carnage into a vast, underground complex, all painted in Covenant blood and deserted save for one man; a wounded Marine so insane with terror that he can't tell friend from foe. You wander deeper and deeper into the ancient ruin, and finally find what's left of the rest of his unit. You download the feed from one unfortunate soldier's helmet camera, watch the entire squad get slaughtered... and then your radar goes wild.
Even Master Chief looked briefly disturbed after watching the video feed.
And the thing is, is that their introduction was a total surprise. There had been no signs in the instruction manual, or anything in the game that indicated that it was going to turn into a horror movie. Yes the grunts were running away, but that could have been from anything. Everyone remembers when they first walked into the last room, and suddenly a bunch of red dots appear on their radar, and then these jellyfish appear out of nowhere and start jumping at the screen.
One line that the Halo 3 a marine said gives a good description of an infected person: "I could see it... WRITHING UNDER THEIR SKIN!"
Fun fact: according Halopedia, the Flood are extragalactic. They've already destroyed at least one galaxy.
That's actually a bit in question with the revelations of the newest Halo -book (canonical status unconfirmed) - but it's no less nightmare fuel, as the Flood in this book is apparently a misplaced revenge from Ancient Aliens - precursors to even the Forerunner, possibly precursors to even the actual Precursor race of the series.
The Forerunner Trilogy is canon, and elements of it will be incorporated in Halo 4. The second book of the trilogy, which just came out recently, revealed that the above was in fact, a deliberate deception on the part of the Flood. The "last" Precursor is in fact a Gravemind. While there may be a link between the Precursors and the Flood, the second book a goes a long way in resolving the discrepancies between the Forerunner Trilogy and the video game trilogy.
In Halo 3, technology finally allowed for the real-time conversion of Elites, Brutes, and Marines into Flood forms. It's creepy enough when an infection form jams it's way into a corpse... but it's way worse when they manage to infect a still-living target.
And to cap everything else about the Flood... Meet ophoicordyceps unilateralis, or, if you prefer, the real-life Flood. Thankfully it only infects ants... so far.
Adding to the creepiness of Halo 3, nearly all of Cortana's transmissions are either outright skin-crawling in their delivery, if not outright terrifying, with some carrying threatening tones in her voice.
What's worse is that in "Cortana," as the level progresses, Cortana's transmissions become more and more frantic and confusing, eventually becoming incoherant screams of pain... before she suddenly starts speaking in a lifeless monotone, rattling off her serial number. Not only that, at that point, her graphics turn from blue to green.
"It was THE COIN'S FAULT! I wanted to KEEP YOU SAFE! Make you STRONG!" Made a thousand times creepier if you've read The Fall of Reach and know the significance of that transmission.
A collection of lies, that's all I am! Stolen thoughts and memories!
This is UNSC AI Serial Number CTN 0452-9. I am a monument to all your sins.
Cortana has been captured and tortured. She has something that the Gravemind wants, and he will take it by force. As an AI, Cortana can't be raped in the traditional sense, but the Unfortunate Implications are still very much there. I hope the gravemind suffered before he died for what he did to her.
The Flood music themes. Features Ominous Ethereal Choir, Psycho Strings, and Scare Chords. Especially the one during the level "The Oracle" that has distorted reversed voices (during the battle between the Heretics and the Flood in the lab).
And here's this fun little message from the Gravemind if listen to the halo 3 flood theme backwards: "Side by side we march as one. Humans and elites will die. The earth will fall if we strike together. So forth shall all life."
Browsing the terminals in Halo 3; between the lack of noise in many areas you find them in, the odd "swooping" sounds as you interact with them, the random alarm prompts and the oddly incoherent messages based around the apocalypse of the Forerunners and talking about the death of millions in many cases, it all adds together into a Nothing Is Scarier form of creepiness.
"I SEE YOU RECLAIMER". Even more creepier than you realize that the one who sent those words was Mendicant Bias, the Forerunner A.I. who betrayed his masters for the Flood, which caused the first activation of the Halos. The final (Legendary) Terminal is almost a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, though.
The Gravemind is a particularly frightening being that truly lives up to being a Eldritch Abomination, thanks to Voice of the Legion and its creepy competency at delivering breaking speeches and corrupting people to evil. It's appearance, particularly it s graphically updated one pictured above, doesn't exactly help matters either. Plus, there's no telling where those awful tentacles will pop up next...
Captain Keyes' fate, getting turned into an immobile mass of flesh, only to get the sweet release of death when Master Chief burns him.
According to the second book, he was slowly losing all his memories as the parasite took over. Torwards the end he was struggling to remember his own name! Furthermore, if you'd been around five minutes quicker, you'd be able to save him.
Not only that, but in the game, at the start of that particular level, you start RIGHT OUTSIDE the room he's in, but of course you need to do the rest of the level first. Just take a peek through those grates to the right..
In Halo: Anniversary, under him there's a terminal containing his last moments from his point of view. He's repeating his serial number, and they're rifling though his memories...We see Miranda, and Dr. Halsey, and those memories are being stolen, and he knows it, and his voice keeps switching between normal and Flood-toned. And then at the end, he swears "You will not have me." And then the Flood speak again, and now it's the Gravemind: "We already do."
Possibly Gravemind's creepiest line in any game. After Truth dies and Gravemind betrays you, massive tentacles burst up from beneath the platform the Chief and the Arbiter are on. This is then followed by insane, diseased laughter, followed by this:
Gravemind: Now the gate has been unlatched, headstones pushed aside...corpses shift and offer room...a fate you must abide!.
This is not your grave...*incomprehensible gurgle*...but you are welcome in it.
Or the Grunts. Yes, you heard right. They look really vicious without their mask, and we've all had at least one time where a Grunt saw us without knowing it and shrieked, causing us to jump. Fiends.
Or when the Elites (especially camouflaged Zealots) roar, or when they're right next to you and you bump into them (in Halo 2 they give a shriek of surprise as well!). To be fair, all the aliens look pretty frightening in some way, whether they actually look scary like the Jackals, or are just scary to fight against, like the Hunters. It's made even worse in the first game by the fact that half the time you're in dim corridors and it's incredibly quiet, because of the suspense.
The Hunters have no actual limbs. They're comprised of a bunch of worm-like things (1.4 meters) called Lekgolo that come together under their armor. They also make up the Scarabs.
You haven't seen a Hunter in action until you've seen a pair use those damn Assault Cannons (essentially, semi-auto high-explosive rocket launchers with Bottomless Magazines) to wipe out more than 15 friendly Marines in less than 10 seconds during "Tip of the Spear" in Halo: Reachnote If you take out the AA gun before killing the hunters, they're still around when a Pelican airdrops reinforcements.. You duck behind a rock, reload your assault rifle, and when you come back into action, every last Marine which just got dropped from that Pelican is gone in a horrible subversion of The Cavalry.
Halo Reach is introducing a new piece of wildlife called the Gúta that could give the Flood a run for its money. For those not in the know, think a Deathclaw but with elongated features, and are actually capable of killing entire squads of Elites, which are still feared at this point. The kicker? You encounter these things at night.
The level Cortana in Halo 3. There's a reason that's the least-played level!
"We exist together now. Two corpses in one grave".
For those who don't know, this level is the one where you essentially break into the Flood's house in order to rescue Cortana. The "house" was originally a spaceship, but almost every wall, floor, and ceiling is covered in "Flood matter." Its kind of like the halls of an insect hive. The Flood will attack from all sides (including up), as you try to navigate this somewhat-nightmarish landscape. It doesn't help that the level is somewhat confusing; many players get turned around easily even after several playthroughs. As you fight through it, you get to listen to Cortana's tortured, disjointed rantings and Gravemind's apocalyptic proclamations.
As you progress through that level, the Cortana moments get increasingly crazy, and horrfic, while the Gravemind moments get more and more "insane evil genocide monster."
"Gravemind: (intrigued) "And yet, perhaps a part of her...remains?" (maniacal laughter, fades into Cortana's'' maniacal laughter). Her laughter is really unsettling.
The background noise heard throughout the level. Especially considering that the noises being made aren't made by any flood forms you encounter, leaving what horrors could be found on High Charity up to one's imagination.
Pvt. Jenkins, who got overran by the Flood and remained conscious after transformation! In the second book, he made attempts to throw himself into harm's way, but as luck would have it, he ended up being the only flood form they captured alive for study. Throughout the book, his mind and the flood's mind are battling it out.
343 Guilty Spark having a complete mental breakdown at the last level of Halo 3 and goes through a rampancy. It's very scary to see such an affable, if slighty annoying, character completly turning 180 and becoming an extremly dangerous foe who has lost his mind. Before it, you don't expect him to be a harmful threat but then he proves you wrong big time by killing Johnson and burning of John 117 (read:you). When you fight him, nothing works. Grenades, pistol, machine-guns, sniper rifles, plasma guns, anti-tank weapons - none of them work. The only thing you can do is make him snap even further, and pretty soon you're start feeling your heart pumping from desperation alone. The red eye works too for the fear factor.
The encounter with Hunters in The Silent Cartographer. It starts with being dropped on to the beach by a pelican, surrounded by allies, as you storm through countless easy covenant enemies and enjoy the pretty scenery around you, you even get a warthog halfway through, making the level even easier than it already is. But wait, the trees up ahead look too dense to drive through, so you begrudginly leave your allies behind and head forward, figuring that if it was easy so far, what's the worse that could be up ahead? Suddenly you come upon a clearing, and in it are two, huge, lumbering, armor plated aliens making loud groaning and roaring sounds in the distance. Though intimidated slightly, you step forward, figuring that they probably can't be as tough as they look, only to have them shoot a series of explosive green blasts at you. You try to close the distance a bit and hope that melee will be a bit more effective, only to fly several feet forward, after realizing that one of them has hit you from behind. The next one then charges at you, like a roaring, alien freight train, and swings it's massive arm at you, killing you in an instant.
In Truth and Reconciliation, two of them drop down from the grav lift while ominous music plays. At night. It's arguably worse.
To make it worse, the encounter on Truth and Reconciliation makes them seem unstoppable if it's your first time playing through a Halo game. Anyone who played Halo: CE as their first Halo game knows the sheer terror that pair brought upon you, cutting through all of your troops like their were nothing, deflecting sniper rifle bullets straight off of them, and grenades only making them flinch.
Slightly deflated in horror when you eventually discover that a single pistol shot to their weak spot ( their back ) takes them out.
The hidden messages in the second and third game. In Halo 2's soundtrack, we have Mausoleum Suite, a song that plays during the intro cut-scene of the The Arbiter and during the confrontation with Tartarus in The Great Journey. In this track, a voice can be heard in the background. At first, it seems intelligible, but play the song in reverse and you get this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBdAAyXEmJg. Fans like to speculate that this is Mendicant Bias. In Halo 3, we have Dread Intrusion, played during the level Flood Gate. A voice similar to that of Gravemind's is heard. Play it in reverse and you get this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YspMcFfCmZA. In the level The Covenant, when the flood shows up, the song Black Tower is played. Again, a voice is heard. Play it backwards, and be treated to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH39l43pWGw. This appears to be a reference to T.S Elliot's poem The Hollow Men.
"Dread Intrusion" off the Halo 3 soundtrack. It starts off in the typical, already-creepy Flood themes, but soon adds backmasked speech from the Gravemind. The middle segment is an almost-heroic sounding drum but reminiscent of "Ghosts of Reach" from the Halo 2 soundtrack, but when it gets to the pause, instead of returning with doubled-up awesome, you hear a strange wailing screech come in and it returns to creepy ambiance music.
The soundtracks themselves offer many terrifying tunes:
The middle section (Infected) of "Mausoleum Suite" from the Halo 2 soundtrack. Starts out with slow jungle drums and spooky moaning voices (similar to the Shadow Temple music from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) , and then turns into a cacophony of synthesizer effects with guttural voices that seem to be reversed speech, but are really just gibberish.
Another scary one from 2 is "Ancient Machine", a Twilight Zone-like melody with organic Flood noises and vocals similar to the aformentioned "Infected".
On the original game's OST: "Suite Autumn", "Shadows", the ambient section of "Truth and Reconciliation Suite", and "Library Suite".
The second section of "Librarian's Gift" from Halo 2: Anniversary, heard on The Oracle after the elevator ride (replacing the second half of the aforementioned "Infected"), will give you recurring Flood nightmares for a long time to come.
The Flood in the Forerunner novels. Apparently, before they were the twisted space zombies we all know and love, it was simply a dust which genetically altered certain animals and spread benignly via concumption. Eventually, it spread to humans, subtly altering their behaviour, until, when it became a widely known problem, it didn't bother concealing its nature. To quote a description of how it was spread:
"Infected individuals combined their resources to force other humans to become infected- usually by cannibalism of a sacrificial individual, induced to grow to prodigious size before being consumed while still alive."
What it did to some Forerunners was closer to the version seen in the games, thought more horrific. One variation was basically dozens of Forerunners mashed together into a huge snake... centipede-beast... thing, complete with scales grown over their skin, which moved using dozens of limbs stuck in its side. And the Forerunner (at least, the one whose head was melted into its chest) was fully conscious.
Think of Master Chief from the Covenant perspective. He's just one soldier, but he is perfectly capable of picking off entire squads one by one until every last fighter is dead. And then move on to repeat the process ad infinitum.
Type-33 Guided Munitions Launcher, more infamously known as the Needler, is basically a terror weapon incarnate. Homing crystalline spikes that not only embed themselves in your flesh, also explode, breaking bones displacing organs and tissue, further dispersing tiny crystal flechettes of crystal in and near the wound, and commonly to nearby people. If hit by multiple shards you are as good as dead, but just one is incredibly dangerous.
Flood maps in Halo Wars occasionally have what sounds very much like someone shrieking "HELP ME!" as a random background noise.
The Elite slicing the statue in half at the end of Episode 3.
In that same note, Cortana's Gollum -esque "arguments" with her rampant mind in the episode's teaser:
Cortana(shrill, demonic voice): I hate you!
(as glowing sphere flashes bright red and distorts, unusually high-pitched voice, shocked): Cortana!
(shrill, demonic voice): STOP IT!
(normal Cortana voice) I've made up my mind. (young girl's voice) If I'm going to die aboard this ship, then Chief will suffer the same fate as me!
(Elderly woman's voice): Cortana, control yourself!
(young woman's voice): I've sacrificed everything for him!
Unlike in the games, where Elite's cloaking has a semi-visible distortion effect a la the Predator, in FUD, it's completely invisible. J.J.'s death is a illustrates how terrifying this is, as he literally walks into an Elite without seeing it.
In Episode 4, the cadets ask why the Chief came to save them; he responds that they were the last people still alive. The cadets are surprised that they're the sole survivors of the Academy, but Chief corrects them; they're the last surviving people on the planet.
John-117, the Master Chief, a seven-foot tall cyborg and a striding force of death and destruction is only fifteen years old in 2526. Meaning he's barely old enough to have a driver's license. Meaning he's even younger than the frightened cadets he's saving from certain death at the hands of monstrous, alien zealots. The fact he does this all with an almost robotic calm makes the human cost of the Spartan-II project seem that much more horrible.
Reinforced in the end of episode 5. The surviving cadets are aboard a Pelican with John-117, Fred-104, and Kelly-087. Kelly and Fred take off their helmets (They look at the Chief, who keeps his on and looks away), leaving the cadet surprised at how young they look, leading to this exchange:
Sully: How old are all of you?
Kelly: That's classified.
Episode 4 shows just how messy a supercombine can be. Colonel Mehaffy was damn near liquified.
Some of Cortana's rampant screaming. For instance, this line scares people:
Cortana: I will NOT. ALLOW YOU. To LEAVE THIS PLANET!
This line may also give you chills.
Cortana: Do you know what that condescending bitch said to me after our first game of chess?!
To put it in perspective, she's talking about Halsey, her "mother". The words she said to her after the game were '"Quando il gioco è finito, il re e il pedone vanno nella stessa scatola. note Translated from Italian to English: When the game is over, the king and the pawn go in the same box.
One of Cortanas lines in the level "Composer": Why should we save them? It's like something out of Dead Space.
Promethean Knights, their helmets opens up to a glowing skull, which screams at you.
The Composer must be powered by Nightmare Fuel, because it is positively oozing horror:
Chief and Cortana are too late to stop the Didact from taking it, unable to keep him from firing it, and then get the horrifying image of the people around them disintegrating in ashes. And not instantaneously. WE SEE THEIR SKIN PEEL OFF THEIR BONES.
Even worse: essentially, the Composer fatally digitizes people. Cortana is a digital lifeform. She's in shock afterward because she could hear the digitally fragmented minds/souls of the people, screaming in pain and terror. No wonder she was blue-screening when the Chief came to.
Cortana: "I was monitoring the data feeds. ...I could hear them... What was left of them..."
The Chief and Cortana are unable to prevent Didact from firing it twice. The second time, it's on Earth, and the affect area in New Phoenix is still quarantined six months later. Holy Shit.
A throw away line in Halo: Silentium will leave you with endless horror once you realize the implications: When taking the personalities of humans defeated at Charum Hakkor, the Ecumene Council gave the Warrior-Servants and Lifeworkers "Composers". As in plural. That's right folks: the Forerunners built more than one Composer! Every horrific thing you just read about the Composer? It could all happen again...
Confirmed to be true in Halo: Escalation issue 9: The Didact is alive and operating from the Composer's Forge, where the Composers were built. He has six fully operational Composers. Fortunately, he seems to no longer want to Compose humanity. Unfortunately, he has since decided he would rather use a Halo on Earth.
The cutscene for Spartan Ops Episode 2 has Dr. Glassman being sucked up by a Forerunner artifact, complete with Capt. Lasky futilely trying to save him. With how his body breaks into glowing orangle particles just before he gets pulled in, it looks disturbingly like he's being Composed.
Episode 3 reveals Glassman's fate. On the plus side, he hasn't been composed. On the minus side, he's been captured by the Covenant, and apparently is offering to trade information for his life; with Jul 'Mdama suggesting he'll end up Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves after helping them. Also, the Artifact is apparently accessing systems aboard the Infinity, gathering information and transmittin it to Requiem.
Episode 5 shows that the Prometheans Majestic Squad are fighting are not ancient humans, but the victims from the New Phoenix incident six months before. Thorne said he knew people there. He would have been "killing" his friends and family... again and again and again.
I'm pretty sure its just once per person. Its kind of hard to restore data after its contain has been blown apart by a half dozen 8-gauge shotgun shells. Still quite disturbing, though.
It's not only entirely possible for Knights to come back after their body is destroyed, it's the entire purpose of the Promethean Watchers. Which adds an entirely new urgency to killing Watchers in gameplay: not only do they bring enemies back, they're bringing back those same people who composed again and again and again...
Episode 6, Chapter 5 has Crimson sent in after another Spartan team, Switchback, needed help taking down a Harvester guarded by Covenant and Prometheans. When Crimson arrives, all that is found are Switchback's removed IFF tags, nothing else. No clues are given to what exactly happened to them. The fact that the IFF tags were removed seem to indicate that they were captured. For what purpose? Likely nothing good.
Becomes Nightmare Retardant when it's shown that they were just captured, and only the leader was killed.
The Precursors. Once driven by an obsession to create life, they were nearly wiped out by one of their creations, the Forerunners. They are not happy about it, and deliver a terrifying message to the Forerunners:
The Librarian, leading an expedition to a nearby galaxy, finds a primitive society of Forerunners seeded on a planet millions of years ago. A recognizable Forerunner race inhabits the planet, but at close examination, it turns out that everything on the planet was once Forerunner. Every animal and plant. The team observes a herd of cattle with many recognizable Forerunner features. Imagine living on a planet where everything, from the grass you stand on to the animals you eat, is descended from people no different from you.
The Flood gains new levels of nightmare in this trilogy. The first incarnations that encountered humanity spread by forcing uninfected humans to consume infected humans forced to grow to horrendous sizes. Infected Forerunners were molded into horrific beasts: blobs of flesh with faces and limbs protruding, some still conscious, centipedes of mashed together Forerunners with scaled skin, arms and legs protruding from the sides, a twisted face melted into the thing's chest.
A new classification of Flood was identified in the later years of the Forerunner-Flood War: the Key Mind. In short, a Gravemind created from an entire planet's ecosystem.
The Ur-Didact's fate. He was trapped in that Cryptum of his for 100,000 years, and because the Domain was destroyed (something which ruined the Librarian's plan when she put him in stasis), he was left all alone, with only his madness for company. No wonder he's ruthless and genocidal by the time John frees him.
The true relationship between the the Forerunner, Humans, and Precursors. They did indeed reject Forerunners for the Mantle and intended for humans to hold it. The Forerunners did not accept this and drove the Precursors from the galaxy and beyond. Some Precursors survived by going dormant, others became powder that could regenerate their old selves in time, but time rendered it defective and it only created sickness and disease. The Precursors vowed that none of their creations would rise against them again and that all life would suffer and be in perpetual agony, through their new form as the Flood.