Nightmare Fuel / Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

As the darkest games of the Metal Gear franchise, both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain have some A-grade military terror.

Just to give you an inkling of how dark this game gets: We've changed that picture to your right at least four times since Ground Zeroes came out.
  • There's something extremely disquieting about the gameplay in this installment of the franchise that really highlights the War Is Hell theme going on in all the games. Actions that could be seen as comical in other games like this are absolutely chilling, do in part to the incredible animations, sound design and feedback. Shooting someone and watching them bleed out is very disturbing, and acts like slitting someones throat or shooting them in the chest with a shotgun can very easily unnerve some players.
  • The escape from the hospital is as creepy and disturbing as any early Silent Hill game.
    • Aside from the general terror of the Man On Fire relentlessly pursuing you, the hospital section offers up plenty of terror, from the silent, gas-masked child (presumably Psycho Mantis) who can suddenly appear right next to you, to Quiet's first appearance, silently garrotting a nurse to death and then leaving you unable to help as she murders the kindly doctor who has walked you through waking up, before turning her relentless attention to you. Special mention also goes to Skull Face's XOF troops and their casually butchering the hospital staff, including a horrific encounter where you're trapped between two squads of them in a hallway, like fish in a barrel.
    • The pure sadism the XOF troopers display in the prologue alone is unsettling. To put it lightly, they stretch out several of the executions by deliberately shooting patients in non vital areas multiple times to make them SCREAM before gruesomely killing them when they are clearly in a position for a clean kill.
  • Just the general concept of what Big Boss wakes up to is horrifying. Waking up unable to move, loss of limbs, being haunted by demons, and being hunted by people who want you dead are the subjects of nightmares. And Big Boss has the wonderful luck of waking up to all of them at the same time.
    • The Controllable Helplessness of the early hospital section is truly frightening without there being any real horror material in there; only able to loosely move your head, the controls sluggish and muted, they did a great job of simulating the inability to do anything.
    • Early on the doctor tending to Snake the same one Quiet garrotes to death informs him that among the 108 foreign bodies lodged from the explosion in Ground Zeroes are human bone and teeth. With the implications that those were from Paz, meaning he's been carrying pieces of her inside him this entire time. And that in a twisted, literal sense, she is always close to his heart.
    • At one point in the hospital sequence, Snake and Ishmael find themselves in a hallway full of innocent, terrified hospital staff and patients. And then the XOF soldiers appear on both sides of the hallway and massacres everyone around them in horrific, excruciating detail. Later, after hiding out in a room with a tense atmosphere as an XOF soldier patrols around, they resort to Faking the Dead to escape... except the XOF soldiers are shooting every corpse they come across, which creates tension as they approach Snake. But then the Man on Fire appears and prevents them from killing him... as if that's any better.
  • Miller mutilated by torture, with his right arm removed at the shoulder, his left foot cut off at the ankle, and his eyesight damaged to an unknown extent - a pathetic heap of the man he used to be. While torture sessions in past games were no cake walk it's horrifying to see torture taken to this extreme where the character's combat career, hell even just the ability to move under their own power anymore, is ruined by the extent of their wounds.
  • In the E3 trailer, the Child Soldiers look and act horribly realistic. Having patchwork dirty clothing, as well as their aim being wobbly, as if they were too small to carry the guns they are being forced to use.
  • Snake rubbing the ashes from one of the urns into his face. Let me re-iterate: Snake rubs the remains of a dead person onto his own face. When the game came out this scene turned out to be even more chilling in context, see below.
    • We then cut to his face covered in BLOOD and surrounded in flames. Men become Demons indeed.
    • And one more scene that manages to be this, Tear Jerker, and a dark Awesome Moment of Crowning: the trailer's end features an appearance by the sigils of the various factions in the two games. We start with MSF, then XOF, then Diamond Dogs. Then the last sigil appears, accompanied by the words "Venom Awakens". It's a picture of Big Boss's skull (with a hole for his horn) with wings on the side and lighting framing it in a circle. And above it is the name of the unit: Outer Heaven. "In Outer Heaven, men become demons" indeed.
  • From the final E3 trailer, the ghastly appearance of Those That Do Not Exist; Fiery hallucinations, mechanically-augmented corpses akin to the FRO Gs of the fourth game, and what appear to be actual zombies - eerie and unnaturally shambling figures who suddenly launch into the sky at the behest of who appears to be Psycho Mantis. The trailer also shows us men being ripped apart by helicopter blades, Big Boss rescuing a battered and bloody Quiet, gruesome experiments including what appears to be a Call Back to the headphone jack in Chico's chest in the form of an earphone piece set into a man's throat, something horribly wrong with the same man's lungs and what appears to be Paz.
    • Speaking of Paz, it gets even worse in the actual game. Given that one of her final hallucination scenes involves Paz opening herself up with her bare hands to find the "second" bomb. Which is shown before Venom Snake, and thus the player in all its graphic detail.
  • The Paranoia Fuel behind the suggestion of Zero's scheme in the final E3 trailer; while it suggests a utopian ideal, mankind united under one banner with all their differences erased and skin colour, language, histories no longer mattering as we move forward into a brighter future. On the other hand, we already know that Zero's ideal leads to a world where our lives are governed and controlled by malevolent AI's who have no love for us, and while they are impartial to who a person is, that comes at the cost of their goals being the erasure of our identities, cultures and world if they consider it of no worth Perhaps what's more terrifying is that Skull Face wants to tear this goal down without knowing it's doomed to failure.
    • Zero's fall from slightly eccentric, highly professional snarky old chap who loves his tea, scones and James Bond movies, to nihilistic, manipulative, paranoid Control Freak willing to wipe out the entire army of his former best friend to reach his goals and threaten his adoptive daughter with a Fate Worse Than Death is very disturbing as well. As he puts it in said trailer:
    "This world will become one. I have found the way. Race, tribal affiliations, national borders... even our faces will be irrelevant. The world that the Boss envisioned will finally become a reality, and it will make mankind whole again."
  • Based on what we know about the character, the following line from the latest trailer is horrifying:
    • Similarly, assuming Kaz is referring to Skull Face here:
    "Unless we stop him, he'll go down in history a conquering victor! We can't let that happen!"
  • From the launch trailer, we see an extended version of the transition of Snake from his Ground Zeroes form to his "demon" form. It starts with his Metal Gear Solid 3 self, cuts to his Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker self, then to his Ground Zeroes, post-awakening and demon forms. The demon form is engulfed in flames and we see him with no skin (The current page image), much like he was post-Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. He is then replaced with Skull Face, implying that they're Not So Different.
  • Mother Base PvP element also have a bit of this. Imagine your precious base staff you're controlling gets knocked out by other players, not knowing what they might do next. Futon them back to their base, lay traps next to them, drop them off the water, proceed to kill other precious base staffs... All in your full view while you can't do a thing about it.
  • The first appearance of the Skulls. You try to fight, and they just take the hits. You try to run, and they can keep up with your horse. They seem to be able to generate some sort of concealing mist in the general area. In short, the game makes it absolutely clear that even Snake is completely outmatched, and will be for a good long time.
  • Occasional side-ops involve having to find strange, crazed soldiers to extract. They're former MSF, who didn't believe Big Boss died nine years previous and went batshit over the time as they survived on their own. While this will likely get most players to extract them willingly, they'll be hard-pressed to do so without getting the first drop; they're bat-shit insane, walking almost like the Skulls do until they're alerted. After which they sprint around awkwardly, faster than Snake can sprint, and scream and holler as they evade you before promptly slapping you down to the ground repeatedly if they get too close.
  • The Man on Fire, a literal demon that you are kindly introduced to just seconds into the game, and only getting worse from there. In a setting where nanomachines can make people into superhuman warriors, cyborg ninjas that can slice through vehicles like butter, and psychics that demolish the fourth wall... the Man on Fire quickly establishes itself as the most powerful character in the series, being Nigh Invulnerable thanks to his supernatural nature and his Energy Absorption abilities, which it uses to great effect to decimate anything in sight coupled it's trademark fire-based attacks, making a fight against the thing almost impossible. And while water momentarily halts it, it'll simply come back around the corner sooner or later to try again. Not to mention it's after YOU the entire time, annihilating everything that gets in it's way as it chases you down. Which is understandable, seeing as he's a revived Volgin from Snake Eater, who's been in a vegetative state thanks to the Sorrow, only leaving his rage (coupled with the help of Tretij) to build up after Big Boss ruined him, serving as the only reason why he's able to even walk, let alone be the unstoppable nightmare that he is.
    • Even the normally unflappable Ocelot, a man whose survived and walked among the more super powered beings of the Metal Gear Solid universe is terrified when he first sees the man on fire, because it's his late commanding officer's undead corpse, and is forced to flee with Venom Snake in a harrowing chase sequence where the monster basically starts a forest fire in an attempt to kill them both, with Ocelot barely managing to get away with Snake by the skin of his teeth.
  • Then we have the Man on Fire's "handler", Tretij Rebenok. In addition to possessing some truly devastating psychic powers, he loves showing up out of nowhere and leaving just as suddenly, is completely silent aside from his audible breathing, and is able to control Sahelanthropus alone with his mind. There's also the fact that he's not really allied to anyone, only fighting for those that possess the most hatred, which eventually leads to his betrayal of Skull Face for Eli. It's pretty safe to say that Rebenok is one of the most unnerving characters in the game. The implications that he grows up to be Psycho Mantis do NOT help matters.
  • As the game goes on, we get to see more and more of what kind of a person Huey really is. The short of it? He is nothing like his son, Otacon.
  • The first encounter with Sahelanthropus. You sprint away from this towering, invincible monstrosity that shrieks and screams at you and launches a huge amount of firepower at you. Hiding from it is the the only way to survive.
    • The kicker is when you're being airlifted out; after taking out some of it's drones, you use the Gatling gun on the Metal Gear itself - hitting it in an appropriate spot will cause it to explode; it's only after the slow-down has passed and the explosions have cleared that you see Sahelanthrophus falling to the ground. The biggest Metal Gear in the series just jumped at you.
  • If you opt to kill Quiet instead of capturing her, Big Boss will coldly shoot her in the chest while she lies unconscious on the ground. Her body will spasm once, and then a single bloody tear will roll down her cheek before her body disintegrates into nothingness. Also doubles as a tearjerker.
  • In Mission 20 you visit the Ngumba Industrial Zone, also known as "The Devil's House". It's straight out of a horror movie. First off, there are no guards. Then you actually enter the building and discover that something horrible is going on here because the floor is covered in blood, scraps of flesh, and (in one case) a coil of intestines. The place has been converted into a facility used by Cypher to test biological weapons on live human subjects. Soon enough you find dozens of barely-alive children strapped to beds with audio cables inserted into their throats. The conditions are horrible and rats run across the floor. When you find the child you were sent to rescue, he begs you to kill him and end his suffering. And, just to set the scene, there's a green tent just outside the Ngumba Industrial Zone with a radio in it. The radio plays the famou204863s radio conversations from the P.T. trailer that's since been remolook behind you. I SAID, LOOK BEHIND YOU.
    • When the radio says that, Snake looks behind him. And despite the fact that you can rotate the 3rd-person camera so that you can see that there's nothing in the tent with you, you're still half-convinced that something is about to noclip through the tent wall. And maybe the television.
  • In the second interrogation with Huey, Ocelot breaks out highly potent solution of metallic archaea which is able to burn through metal in seconds. While it's not entirely undeserved, the casual tranquil sadism he displays as he begins trying to terrify Huey into spilling his guts about Skull Face's plan is highly disconcerting, especially when he melts the man's glasses and the steel chair leg of the chair Huey is sitting on. The music also contributes in making this scene surprisingly disturbing despite a lack of overt violence. This scene is made more terrifying in retrospect when one learns Huey's mechanical legs that enable him to walk are directly connected to his bones, and the archaea would've melted through all of the metal bolts in his femurs had it touched him.
    • And how does this interrogation end? Ocelot leaves the syringe with the archaea right underneath Huey's leg and leaves it there. The needle pierces Huey's skin, leaving him to force his legs to stay up so he doesn't force the plunger to inject it.
    • The initial interrogation following the escape from Sahelanthropus is equally terrifying; Unable to extract any information from Huey in a conventional manner and facing accusations that he is a traitor, Kaz picks up the control wired to Huey's leg brace and holds down the trigger so the leg begins to move in the opposite direction to a conventional walking pattern, viciously coming close to bending the leg the wrong way, all while Huey cries in anguish.
  • After how increasingly dark that Skull Face's antics got, the way he bites it arguably is one of the most brutal sequences in the entire series. While he lies trapped beneath a collapsed radio tower, both Miller and Venom Snake take their time hanging over him before taking his trademark weapon and making him feel as they do. Between the sickening noises of bone snapping and being pulverized 'til the point of being blown completely off, Skull Face's own agony as he squirms around, and the calmness that Venom Snake oozes as he and Miller take their vengeance is unsettling. Then, rather than offer him any mercy, they simply leave him to slowly die, an act that causes his infallible attitude to succumb and leaves him begging to die instead. At which point, Huey winds up putting him out of his misery.
  • The game's Applied Phlebotinum are vocal cord parasites. You can die just from talking. Good thing they're only attuned to one language... oh wait, the Big Bad has ones that react to English.
  • Mission 43, "Shining Lights, Even in Death". Taking place in the post-game, it is possibly one of the most horrifying missions in the game. An outbreak of the vocal cord parasite causes a section of Mother Base to be sealed off. You investigate the quarantine zone, which is appropriately scary. One soldier seems to be running away from something. Other staff members are lying down dead or wounded. You wonder if zombie soldiers will start attacking you at any moment. Then you learn that you have to kill all the infected to prevent the parasites from escaping the quarantine zone. You get special googles that let you see the infection, and you retrace your steps through the zone, looking at the people you passed. All of them are infected. So you're forced to shoot each one. Some beg you to save them, while others feel betrayed. The scariest are the ones who understand what's happening and are willing to let you kill them, even saluting as you do so. Finally, you find one soldier who isn't infected. You take him to the exit...and then the soldier says that nope, he was infected himself. You put him down on the ground and check with the googles to see that yes, he is infected. The soldier then begs you to kill him, even raising his arms to invite the fatal bullet. You do so. Afterwards, Snake goes into a full Heroic B.S.O.D. where it's implied he's screaming in anguish. And then you get the aforementioned ashes scene.
  • When Huey is finally made to face judgement for his crimes we learn that his wife's rotting corpse has been trapped inside the A.I pod all this time. We then get to hear her last, terrified words, and to top things off, Huey makes a utterly callous attempt at claiming she committed suicide.
    • Really, Huey's entire interrogation reveals just what a foil he is to his own son: Hal might have been a colossal nerd and showed frequent bouts of cowardly behavior…but in the end he learned to grow a backbone and refused to allow the legacy of his family define him, even as he channeled that same legacy for more benevolent ends. Huey, on the other hand, is what Hal would have been if he never once accepted the fact that his own actions influenced the decisions of others: he's a pathetic sniveling wimp who is convinced that it was Never My Fault, no matter what he was involved in. If Hal is the played-straight version of the Lovable Coward, Huey is the Deconstruction. Which in turn also paints his own suicide as described in Sons of Liberty in a new, less sympathetic light.
    • Huey's true nature is revealed the first time Snake sees him, seeing how weirdly chirpy he is, greeting Snake as if he were an old friend. All the while the AI Pod (which contains Strangelove's corpse) is in the same room he's in, meaning that he's been working practically next to her corpse the entire time. And he doesn't even show any guilt.
  • At the beginning of Mission 45 you find Quiet being held prisoner by Soviet soldiers at an old fortress. She's been forced to wear a prisoner's uniform, which is causing her to suffocate since she breathes through her skin, and she even looks like she's dying. One of the soldiers grabs Quiet and holds her head underwater until she apparently drowns, and he then removes her pants, implying that he plans on having sex with her corpse. Luckily, by removing her pants he allowed her to breathe again and regain her strength. Quiet then proceeds to brutally kill over a dozen Soviet soldiers single-handedly in retaliation for the way they treated her.
  • The cut mission, as detailed on the Trivia page. Eli would release the English vocal cord parasites over an entire island. Snake would mistake Eli's uniform for the Cipher operatives' uniform in a moment of temporary color blindness, and shoot Eli by accident. The kid in the gas mask would teleport the vocal cord parasites out of Eli's body, which looks very gruesome. Pretty spooky stuff.
  • Some of the audio tapes are like this too. One series of cassette tapes has Skull Face interrogating Code Talker, trying to find out if there is a way to stop the symptoms of the vocal cord parasite infection from manifesting. When Code Talker refuses to speak, Skull Face presents him with a bell, telling that whenever he rings it, it will signal a soldier outside the door to radio the word "Go." to another soldier, who will infect one of Code Talker's tribesmen with the parasites. The horror and anguish in Code Talker's voice every time Skull Face rings the bell is painful to hear. And then, even after Code Talker tells him everything, Skull Face throws the bell down a flight of stairs out of spite. He only reveals later that he was bluffing the entire time, and was just screwing with Code Talker's head just because he could.
    • There's also the tape of the AI Pod's last recording which chronicles Strangelove's last days as she is trapped, suffocates and dies in all its entirety. And while the player doesn't actually see Strangelove's remains, there's Miller's tape detailing the discovery of her corpse inside the pod with graphic detail.
    • Miller contributes with a taped description of his run-in with the Skulls. He and a group of battle-hardened veterans from MSF are suddenly surrounded by a strange mist. A few of his men disappeared into it, and Miller and company only realized they were under attack when their body parts started to rain down on them from the sky. Miller's men were dead in seconds. He presumes he would have been killed as well, but for whatever reason, the Skulls didn't finish him off. He figures that this was an accident on their part.
  • That Venom Snake starts to see hallucinations of Skull Face at the end of Chapter One, glibly tipping his hat to Snake; earlier in the game, Skull Face challenges Venom with the idea that he needs some form of hatred to replace the pain he currently feels - Fridge Brilliance comes into play if the player has completed the subplot with Paz and learns that she was nothing more than a hallucination, after which she never appears again; in beginning to see Skull Face, Venom Snake has replaced his pain over losing Paz with hatred towards the man responsible for her death.
  • During Mission 29 after your chopper gets rusted out of the sky and crash lands in the airport, you can see that the Skulls have sustained some damage from the crash landing. More specifically, entire sections of their bodies look like they have been flayed clean. This is only ramped up by the fact that they are still walking around like the zombies they always looked like. And then the parasites making up their skin and parts of their armor regenerate completely.
  • The way Skull Face gets to Zero, according to the Truth Records. First, he breaks Paz into telling him the location of Zero (a secret room on an apartment complex in Hell's Kitchen, New York City)…only to snidely tell her that he's gonna get Snake too, anyway. But what he does to Zero? He gets into contact with Zero and sends him a flight pin that belonged to The Boss, Zero's old friend. As Zero inspects it, he pricks his finger on the edge…and that was all that Skull Face needed for the parasites to infect the old Major. As you listen to the sounds of…things breaking and clattering in the background (which is implied to be everything in Zero's room as he loses motor control), you feel the same horror that Zero must have: despite hiding so incredibly that almost no one knows you are alive and even fewer know where you are…your greatest nightmare found you anyway. And to add for one last Kick the Dog moment? That pin that Skull Face gave Zero? It wasn't the real thing. It's a fake. Skull Face has the original, and he'll take goooooood care of it.
  • During the scene where Snake reunites with Paz, he has an extended vision that justifies her apparent survival: they found the second bomb, and the explosion was caused by the helicopter being hit with a rocket launcher instead. This scene does, however, emphasise where the second bomb was located...inside her vagina. Despite it being to save her life, there's something incredibly distressing about seeing the medic fold up his fingers and move his arm as if to fist her, and her screams and cries as he works to remove the bomb from inside her; this is made worse when you consider that she'd already been raped multiple times by that point, and that Snake's only response is to nod in agreement that it's a necessary action. Effectively, the vision shows Snake and The Medic saving Paz's life, at the cost of having to penetrate her under duress.
  • Metal Gear Sahelanthropus. Just looking at it is unsettling. For all intents and purposes, it is the "father" of the legendary REX and RAY Metal Gears that came 20+ years later, yet it dwarfs both of them and every single Metal Gear that has come before or after. You face it, having taken on Metal Gears from ZEKE to RAY, confident this will be a pushover due to not being completed. Then it emits a loud piercing shriek, stands fully upright, looking down at you and leaps into the air, landing with enough force to cause small earthquakes. It then unsheathes a nanofiber sword from its right hip and plunges it into the ground, causing explosive formations of metallica archaea to erupt from the ground. Constant artillery bombardments from Mother Base, rocket salvos from Pequod, tank fire and rocket fire aren't enough to completely destroy Sahelanthropus, only temporarily disable it. This terrifying Metal Gear is no pushover.

"Cipher sent us to Hell, but we're going even deeper...take back everything we've lost!"

"Kaz...I'm already a demon."