Examples from Manhunt:
- The minute-to-minute gameplay is remarkably tense and terrifying. The sudden blaring of retro synths when a hunter spots Cash will reliably scare the bejesus out of you. Even worse is when several hunters give chase and corner you, and you are quickly reminded just how vulnerable Cash really is.
- Just about all of the executions successfully manage to be viciously Gorn-y without crossing over into over-the-top splatter fare. For some players it'll get to the point where they'll prefer to dispatch enemies with guns or Hasty executions just to avoid watching some of the more horrific executions again.
- Even though the usual supernatural threats are gone, both Manhunt games put the HORROR into Survival Horror. Hell, these games are probably scarier BECAUSE the horror isn't supernatural. We may not believe in monsters, but we're all scared of being stalked by some nutjobs in the shadows, who are perfectly willing (and capable) to brutally butcher us for survival, money, racial hatred, perverted sexual desires, raving insanity or simply because they just love to kill.
- The Innocentz is where the game really takes the bloody gloves off - before that point, the gangs were intimidating, but nothing special: the Joisey-accented Hoodz, who are essentially the Generic Guy of the gangs, the southern-fried Skinz, who are still mostly Too Dumb to Live by constantly calling out Cash with ethnic slurs, and the Wardogs, who are more composed of wannabe-Rambos than actual soldiers. But the Innocentz - well, the whole lot of them are Ax-Crazy, Always Chaotic Evil gangsters dressed up as Grim Reapers and Skeletons, and whose taunts seem to combine the worst aspects of Holier Than Thou, and EVILER Than Thou!
- And the first level with them ends with a mortifying combo of Adult Fear, Tear Jerker, Player Punch, and a flat-out Moral Event Horizon for both the Innocentz gang, and Lionel Starkweather himself: Remember Cash's family? The father, mother, brother and sister who were tied up by the Wardogs, and were used as live bait for Cash? The family members that were all freed, but seemed to vanish without a trace? Well, Starkweather has a videotape showing the answer - they were caught by the Innocentz, and butchered on camera destroying Cash's one remaining trace of humanity.
- We don't get to see the whole video, but we do see enough - a randomly selected member of Cash's family is hog-tied to a pillar of the abandoned mall, stripped to their underwear and gagged over the mouth with duct tape. A Babyface member of the Innocentz - oh, did I forgot to mention these guys? The Fat Bastard, possibly pedophiliac guys in Hawaii shirts, and absolutely creepy baby doll masks? - walks up to Cash's relative, and raises his machete to strike. The camera quickly switches to Cash's unblinking face, but the horrified, heartrending scream makes the result obvious. This is made all the worse by Starkweather gloating to Cash that HE was all the family he needed now.
- The sound design is remarkably detailed and suitably nasty. During the "Violent" execution for the machete/cleaver (available here), enemies make some particularly horrific noises as they are decapitated.
- The soundtrack is pure horror. It's not your usual spooky piano or Scare Chord, it's drones that are really going to leave the feeling that something or someone is going to attack you at any moment.
- And holy shit, the track for Deliverance is absolutely panic fuel.
- The Smileys. The fact that the "scene" was meant to be Cash's last one. Yep, when Starkweather wanted Cash dead as a doorknob, he didn't send in the Hoodz, the Skinz, the Wardogs, or even the Innocentz - nope, to kill a man that had served three years on death row for an unknown crime, he drops him into an asylum overrun by the inmates. Which makes Cash's escape from the Smileys, and his hacking through the corrupt CCPD officers and and ruthless Cerebus Unit mercenaries getting between him and vengeance on Starkweather all the more awesome.
- Starkweather showing Cash the tape in which his family members are brutally murdered manages to be a fairly effective Player Punch in spite of how little characterization they receive, chiefly because of the deeply chilling way Starkweather attempts to ingratiate himself to Cash:
Where were your family when you were facing your final moments in the chamber anyway? You've left your old life, your old self behind. I'm all the family you need now.
- Piggsy is a real Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant. A naked, huge, insane Psychopathic Manchild who believes he's a pig, wields a gigantic chainsaw, and feeds on the remains of dead Starkweather "extras". The boss "fight" against him is particularly unsettling, as you try to sneak around the decrepit, corpse filled attic of Starkweather's mansion, trying to find a weapon you can use when, without warning, you hear a LOUD squeal, a chainsaw revving up, and desperately try to run and hide if you don't want to be chopped into pieces.
Examples from Manhunt 2:
- The new "Violent" and "Gruesome" executions end up even more nauseating and horrifying than the ones in the original, as they involve sadistically inflicting as much pain on the victim as possible before doing them in. Some of the more Squick-ier examples feature gouging/ripping out eyes, chopping off limbs, decapitation/blasting the head into bloody chunks, sawing through/ripping off the groin, or simply bludgeoning/impaling the victim to no end, all while they shriek in agony, or disgustingly gurgle and choke on their own blood!
- The justification as to why Daniel Lamb does this, while James Earl Cash keeps even his worst kills somewhat quick and clean, probably makes them even worse: Danny is driven to murder by Leo, who wants nothing more than to be the worst Ax-Crazy Serial Killer in history, and is wiping out any trace of the original Danny to dive him insane, so that Leo can perform a Split-Personality Takeover. And even worse, in the Bonus Level Alternate Ending (which is unlocked by performing enough Violent and Gruesome kills in all the levels), Leo wins!
- Sexual Deviants, which takes place in a BDSM Club, complete with a "dungeon" that has torture and murder machines ripped straight out of Hostel.
- It's also home to possibly the most gruesome and over-the-top gory environmental execution in the game: the dentist chair. Trust us, it's not easy to watch.
- The music that plays in the dungeon is just plain unsettling.
- A later level, Broadcast Interrupted, finds Daniel venturing through the Project-run television studio, and in the process encounters several different sets. One of them is a macabre kids show called "Frankie and the Freaks", and on the set you'll find the White Rabbit from Manhunt hanging from the ceiling, and behind him severed heads on sticks. Not to mention that you can also hear children screaming and, of all things, a woman moaning in the background.
- The official trailer is pretty creepy.
- In more of a meta-sense, a good amount of the horror from the executions comes from the sound design, as mentioned earlier. It comes to the point where some gamers are horrified more from the sounds that enemies make than the actual executions themselves. Looking through the second game's files, some gamers had started putting out information on What Could Have Been, and it was revealed that there was some executions and weapons not found on disc. Most of them were never animated, though the audio had been uncovered. This is Nothing Is Scarier personified!
- Much like in Manhunt, Manhunt 2's soundtrack is going to give you nightmares, as it tries to match with the protagonist's insanity.