Nightmare Fuel: Video Games
aren't the only thing scaring the daylights out of people in media. The pits of virtual reality
are stock full of things that will traumatize gamers for years
Notice that some games in the list are not entirely targeted to grown-ups, but the fear factor is bad enough to scare adults.
Spoilers can be quite abundant in this section, so reader beware!
Games with their own sub-pages:
This section is in alphabetical order by game/game series. Before you add examples here, check the index above and make sure the series doesn't already have its own page.
open/close all folders
- The big ass spiders from Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate, particularly the Phase Spiders which teleport randomly and the Sword Spiders which are incredibly fast and can slice and dice your party in a heartbeat. For added horror, Right-click on a sword spider. That sound is not natural.
- The Temple of Ilmater in Lower Dorn's Deep. Hordes of the the most hideous and powerful undead and brainwashed priests inhabit the place, controlled by an idol of Poquelin. Not to mention Poquelin himself, when you meet him. Plus, you've got the music that plays, which complements the evil atmosphere.
- Despite usually being a ridiculous parody of the Survival Horror genre, Illbleed had a couple legitimate freakish moments. For example, the final boss of the first level is the first level's boss grown giant-sized, and he is unkillable. Your only hope is to hop across annoying stones to get to shore and enter a cabin...where you find out he's just a robot being controlled by an operator. The only way to make the guy stop is thwack him in the head, whereupon his head explodes in a shower of sparks and fake (we hope) blood, revealing him to be a robot as well. Asimov never told us about this one!
- inFAMOUS has Sasha and her Mind Rape powers. Not to mention a creepy stalker lust she has for Cole.
- ... and evil Cole is implied to return these feelings!
- In fact, evil Cole is worse than the Reapers. The Reapers at large have some goal in mind, even if it is a twisted form of the classic "take over the world and control your mind" scheme. Cole with lowest karma is nothing more than kill civilians and the cities potential saviors (police and doctors) to gain more power, and gain more power to kill some more. Even the lightning's color scheme is terrifying. Where does Red and Black lightning show up in nature?
- Infinite Space has the Flux, a region of space where everything is constantly shifting, including time-space particles and the like. Your navigational equipment is all useless. The red background of this area bears quite a resemblence to Gigyas, and you can constantly hear a woman screaming. Before you know it, you're traveling between uninhabited clusters of spacerocks with no way to get back. Not to mention the scene where ALL of Yuri's friends freeze and dissolve into powder.
- A good bit into Infinite Undiscovery, players will encounter a phenomenon known as Lunar Rain. This bright, shiny rain will cause wings to grow on your party members as they stand in it, giving them significant stat boosts. Stay in it longer, their wings will grow bigger, and they'll begin to regenerate health. Sounds good, right? Stay in it even longer and they'll begin to take their own actions, ignoring your commands. It's best to run to the nearest town at this point, because shortly, all hell will break loose. The afflicted character suddenly turn pitch black, while their eyes glow red. They'll repeatedly scream out random phrases and screams of agony which range from humorous to downright disturbing. Oh, and they'll attack you and your non-affected party members. If you don't put them out of their misery fast enough, they'll turn invisible.
- Did we mention that the first time it happens, you get stuck in a boss fight against Vermified Edward in which you have a time limit before he completely transforms and the game ends? Now, try to imagine why the game would end after that.
- Irisu Syndrome!. Who knew a Puzzle Game could be so creepy? Take a nice stare at Irisu's face when you die with at least 40,000 points. Watch both endings. Read the text files that you get as you play. And finally, pause the game; you might get lucky and have nothing happen. Might. And then there's Metsu...
- The Indie Game series Iron Gaia is loaded with this, especially in Where Angels Fear to Tread.
- The Stationary Boss battle theme in Iron Tank is much creepier than the normal boss theme, mainly because of its use of the Locrian mode scale.
- Jade Empire starts out (and ends) as a fairly cool, enjoyable martial-arts romp with all the right Bioware features. Then you get to the Pilgrim's Rest Inn. Suddenly the misty, ethereal and mysterious atmosphere of the game turns really, really creepy. Not to mention what happens at the Lotus Assassin Fortress. Or what you can do to Death's Hand...
- Also worth a mention is the source of Dirge's defilement. The natural order has been so corrupted and twisted that something from outside entered. It commands legions of demons and forsaken spirits, and it manifests only as an orb of energy and ethereal copies of the player character. Being from outside creation, the gods have no authority over it, and even after you fight it, it still traps the souls of countless people in an endless cycle of hatred and warfare...
- Old Tien's Landing might qualify. Even if the ghosts (including a gibbering convict named Stabber Yuxi and a pair of Creepy Child orphans) and the rat demons don't creep you out, the backstory (The Emperor ordered the construction of a dam that flooded the town and then left the entire population to fend for themselves, with no advance warning that they were about to be flooded out) is rather unsettling...
- Journey took everyone by surprise with its Nightmare Fuel. That game starts out peacefully, with the players exploring desert ruins, meeting companions and flying with the cute rag creatures, until you land in a dark cavern with the now awakened War Machines, each with a single glowing eye, who will attack you on sight and tear out a chunk of your scarf. You will spend the rest of the level hiding in alcoves and praying they don't see you as they pass.
- The original 1997 release of JumpStart 4th Grade is a good example of Nightmare Fuel because the substitute teacher, a witch, turns children into scary, though goofy-looking, monsters.
- Of all the games to contain Nightmare Fuel, Kingdom of Loathing is possibly the least expected. But the Guy Made of Bees is almost completely out of place. A hideous being that exists as an amalgam of bees, it does nothing but hate all living creatures, and exists only to kill anyone who calls its name. Whenever it shows up, the writing is at a complete loss for jokes. Its story is even worse: an accountant went into beekeeping, and when people started to disappear, local villagers burned down his apiary, only to be attacked by the bees...
WE ARE BEES... WE HATE YOU...
- Go and play Peter Jackson's King Kong for 12 straight hours, and then close your eyes. You will see megapedes and carnivorous spiders in all your thoughts and dreams. Have fun.
- The classic Neo Geo Kaiju-wrestling game, King Of The Monsters, is a silly homage to the giant monsters of yore. The Game Over◊ screen, however, is quite frightening.
- The online flash game K.O.L.M. starts off as a cutesy, if slightly melancholy platformer where you play a young robot trying to rebuild himself to please his unseen mother. As the game progresses, however, it gradually becomes apparent that something is very, very wrong as your mother's tone and words start becoming more and more harsh, and near the end flat out states that she intends to rule the world. Then you pick up the last plot item, and the lair the game takes place in starts to self destruct. Your mother has been leading you to your death this entire time. She's not even your mother. Your mother is dead. She's a computer program, and you used to be a human. Once you realize this, "Mother" has this to say.
You're right. I hate you. You killed me. You killed me. YOU KILLED ME. YOUKILLEDMEYOUKILLEDMEYOUKILLEDMEYOUKILLEDMEYOUKILLEDMEYOUKILLEDMEYOUKILLEDME
- The old EA game Labyrinth Of Time. A charming Myst-style game; creepy music, a persistent feeling of being watched, and generally disturbing settings through which you can traverse. Oh, and the entrance into a circus-type maze which is, you guessed it, a smiling clown with a nice, deep and evil laugh that loops forever. While the creepy music is playing.
- L.A. Noire is realitively a nightmare-free game for the most part, considering its a crime game. Except, of course...
The homicide investigations where you have to investigate a string of murdered women that were found mutilated and naked.
The arson investigations, where you see the burnt charred remains of various families, and at one point, two burnt children!
The flashback scene of Okinawa where you have to see Cole and the others Mercy Kill the Japanese civillians they had unknowingly lit aflame.
- The giant spiders in Legend of Grimrock don't have an especially creepy design, but they move very quietly, attack very loudly, go straight for your face when attacking from the front, and love to sneak up behind you. Here's hoping you aren't arachnophobic.
- The Lion King: Just listen to the "Continue" music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zkOES_-DRc Now picture yourself in a fiery volcano with lava gushing from various spouts and boulders randomly chasing you... with this music in the background!
- Limbo, an Xbox LIVE Arcade title. Heavy on the Minimalism and Scenery Porn, this game is basically LittleBigPlanet, perhaps injected with a little dose of ICO, and then served up with a heaping dish of Nightmare Fuel. Just a fifteen minute preview revealed bear traps that decapitate your character, and huge spiders that kill you or even wad you up into a ball of web that must wiggle and jump its way away from death.
- The Limbo spider, even to non-arachnophobes. It is made worse by the fact you are defenseless against it; all you can do is run from it and hope you can finally leave it behind. But every time you think you have, that you can safely put it out of mind, the soundtrack fades to a crackle and its long legs appear again at the left side of your screen, methodically working their way towards you. This is a creature who will stop at nothing to exact its revenge upon you- you know it is not driven by natural urges because you witness it flicking natives off its talons, casually demolishing a village in its pursuit of you, and you alone. Finally, finally it inadvertently damages itself so badly it only has one leg left, and is left pathetically twitching in the dirt. The game insists that you approach it. Does it try to plead for mercy? Does it try feebly to get away? No: Its very, very last action, what it uses its final vestige of energy upon, is to try to stab you and take you with it. A true horror of a creature.
- Live A Live in Cube's Scenario had the Behemoth (Even touching it is game over) the lights being turned down and the screeching of the Behemoth doesn't help much. Not to mention the ship will have a hand in trying to kill you, yes the very same ship that you are on has become sentient and is killing off the crew members.
- Akira's scenario. Let's just say it combines the most disturbing plot elements of Ghost in the Shell, AKIRA, and End of Evangelion. It's about as disturbing as 32-bit can get.
- And then there's the hidden Oersted scenario, along with the following final chapter. Never mind the fact that everyone around him either hates him, died protecting him, or betrayed him, but it breaks him and he decides to become a demon king. First order of business was killing the rest of the people of Lucretia offscreen, and turning the once vibrant land into a white, dead, desolate one filled with monsters. Everybody's Dead, Dave.
- LSD: Dream Emulator has the Violence District. A place where crazy people wander the streets, dismembered corpses can be found in garbage cans, and the corpses of women dangle from the street lamps. Some of these corpses will fall off the lights, then proceed to get back up and slowly move towards you. There is also a crazy guy wandering the streets who will shoot you if he sees you. Oh, and the Grey Man, who has been stalking you all over the damn place? He can be found here quite often.
- Manhunt series. Even the somewhat-censored (to avoid an AO rating) second game.
- In the mall, where you get to see TV with your famliy members there is a toilet. A mook jumps out at you from behind a door. When you walk in and see the man sitting on the toilet, he isn't moving, and closer inspection reveals his head had a large hole in it.
- Marble Madness: The Intermediate Race music is rather creepy, to say the least.
- The "Amongst the Dead" level in Medal of Honor: Underground. Narrow and dark corridors? Check. Walls of skulls and bones? Check. Creepy music? Check. The music is reused for the Command Post level in Allied Assault.
- Misao has enough Nightmare Fuel for a drag car race in the deepest depths of hell. One particular example involves finding a sheet of paper on the ground. If you choose to pick it up, you find that it reads "YOU'RE DEAD", written in blood. Putting it down reveals a zombie girl in front of you, who then rushes you down. Boom. Game Over.
- Don't let any of your HERCs die in Mission Force Cyber Storm. You're treated to a specialized CGI animation of your unit's agonized screaming and then decaying until only a charred husk of a skull is left. Fortunately, you can turn both features off in the options.
- Or in the case of one, you get to watch a 30+ second clip of a brain in a jar melting, then spurting blood all over the container to the point where you can't see anything. When it's disturbing for a Sierra game, you're not getting a pleasant night's sleep.
- The same thing happens if you die in Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri. Not a pretty sight.
- Firsthand horror of your bioderms dying and in Cyberstorm, there are robots you can use as pilots eventually to migitate the nightmare fuel, but given that they are nothing more than elaborate brain in a jar still pose problems
- T-Mek, an arena tank combat game, has similar nightmare fuel moments. When you destroy an enemy tank, the minimap is replaced with an in cockpit view of your opponent's pilot getting chunks of flesh blasted off, leaving a charred, meaty skeleton.
- The Museum of Broken Memories. Not only is it a major Tear Jerker in many places, but many of the rooms can really get under your skin. Like the Dark Room, where you literally can't see anything and have to blindly grope your way around for keys and doors. Or the Door Room where you try, try, try to get out of a room before the door opens - the fact that you don't even know what the protagonist in that story is running away from just makes it even worse. The Fever Room, however, took the cake for me: you're meant to explore a maze of rooms for several keys. All the while, the protagonist babbles something about "water... rising..." and "drowning", and the more flashbacks you trigger for him/her, the more tilted and water-filled the rooms become, as if the entire place really is sinking, to the point where you can't even open some of the doors anymore.
- Despite being an otherwise cutesy and unremarkable platform game, Mr. Nutz has some rather creepy bosses.
- Myth 2: Soulblighter. The undead are bad enough, but how about an undead that shambles up to your troops and explodes, paralyzing your troops or blasting them halfway across the screen. Oh yeah, and they scream while doing it. Well... it sounds like this. There is also the Myrkridia, a race of half-man half-wolf things. They attack with bare claws and the sound effect is them ripping off parts of your soldiers' flesh. Their attack is so fast that it paralyzes a soldier from shock and before he can react, he's hit by another until he dies. Right before they die, they howl and go berserk attacking anything in their path. The first level you see them in, they rip apart a group of troops about the size of yours in 30 seconds, and then nearly a hundred of these things howl in unison. There are also the trow, which are giants of about 14 ft. tall. You can hear them before you see them, but it doesn't help; they walk faster then you can run. They can take out your toughest units in two kicks which break them apart.
- Square Enix's venture, Nanashi no Game, with the exact premise of The Ring—except we have an NES-style RPG instead of videotape. And the game is played in first-person. And it's the first DS game with true 3D sound. (Read: you can hear shit happening behind you.) Oh, and Square recommends playing it with headphones, just to make the 3D sound even more realistic. Yeah, hell no. Not when the game's website is terrifying in and of itself. Not when that NES-style RPG asks you how pathetic you are for even trying to avoid your fate.
- Then we have the sequel, Nanashi no Game Me. This clip is fairly innocuous, the scenery notwithstanding. Except the player fellow doesn't quite make that last jump. SPLAT.
- ideoGame/Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent: The gnomes are creepy as hell, they appear in the screen unexpectedly and steal your puzzles. In the end they kidnap Issac and drag him to parts unknown, and Issac's screams make it all the more creepier.
- Neverwinter Nights. If you're going through the single player campaign, it's late at night, and you're near Charwood, save and quit. Even before you get into the castle, you've got a town where everyone appears to have cotton wool for brains, mildly deranged cultists, and a lunatic has gibbered something scary at you while you stand among the impaled corpses of human beings, then disappeared in a puff of blood-coloured smoke. There's also a bodak waiting for you inside the castle, which is pretty bad news if you don't have good Fort saves.
- The soundset in some parts of Charwood was creepy. Lots of unintelligible screaming and muttering, with the only recognizable phrase being a high "Wake up. Please wake up?"
- The sequel's expansion pack Mask of the Betrayer is basically a massive gallon of Nightmare Fuel from start to finish, because of being Darker and Edgier and the highly disturbing main quest.
- The Nightjar. You are the only remaining passenger onboard the titular dying spacecraft, and the only way to reach safety is through your sense of hearing alone - the game comes equipped with 3D sound and can only be played while wearing headphones - with your only guide being the crew member of another ship. Then it turns out the ship has been invaded by carnivorous aliens, and you were left behind as bait to allow the surviving crew members to escape. Now you spend the rest of the game tiptoeing through the ship's lightless corridors, trying to avoid the sounds of the guests finishing their meal.
"There's something in here. It's eating what I think is the first mate of the Nightjar."
- Oddworld does this quite a lot, but by far the most disturbing moment is the bad ending of Munch's Oddysee. It goes from disturbing to nightmarish.
- There are worse moments in the earlier games. Imagine a muscular spider the size of a dog with a clawed hand for a mouth. Now imagine a six foot high eyeless scorpion. Now imagine weaponless, One-Hit Kill you, running away from entire rooms full of these, in the dark, over bottomless pits. The games make you do this four times in total.
- Heck, the bad endings to Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exoddus. In the former we see Abe get dropped into a meat grinder, complete with little bits of meat/gore flying out, and then in the latter Abe is put in a Tear X-tractor and we get to see him electrocuted to death.
- Stranger’s Wrath makes you go up against creatures known as Gloktigi – a cross between Glukkons and Oktigi, that resemble a cross between an octopus and a spider. Not only do they dish it out like there’s no tomorrow if they manage to catch you, but no matter what happens they'll just keep coming after you, spamming that web-spinning attack, all the while making unique sounds.
- In Organ Trail, checking out tombstones is always a gamble. You may find nothing, you may find supplies, or you may find a low-resolution hand bust out of the ground, complete with Scare Chord. Better hope your aim is steady, 'cause that zombie's gonna come for you!
- The Asylum level of Painkiller. It's like Shalebridge Cradle lite, which is severe Mood Whiplash compared to pretty much all the rest of the game. It does not help that the ghosts there are invulnerable to Daniel's arsenal. Also, the pained grunt and blurred vision that occurs every time Daniel gets hit can be disturbing.
- Made even more disturbing by the outside of the asylum being modeled after the administration building of the Danvers State Hospital, which is infamous as the suspected birthplace of the lobotomy, along with the horrible conditions its mentally deficient residents lived in.
- The expansion pack's first level is the Orphanage. There are only two enemies in this level that aren't evil killer children. Made creepier by the fact that this is one of the few minor stages with a story to it: this game takes place in Purgatory, and Children Are Innocent and must go to Purgatory when they die. This orphanage just happened to get demon possessed. Oh, and it's pitch black without your torch. Scary level props, too, such as a huge teddy bear with entrails coming out of a rip in its belly, and a bloody room full of cages with skeletons in them.
- The Prison level in the original has a corpse on an examining table that disappears if you hit it too much, as well as a... thing writhing in an electric chair that also disappears once you find the switch to cut the current flow.
- The Path. Nothing Is Scarier taken to an artform. And that's without touching the ending...
- The "Forest Theme" from the soundtrack. If lyrics like, "Are you dreaming? He'll soon be feeding," and the disturbing scraping noise don't send you screaming, wait for the wolf's actual voice. Bonus for how creepy it sounds when you're actually playing the game.
- Path of Exile has a number of levels where this applies. One of them is in Weaver's Chambers, a typical Giant Spider den. With people shaped cocoons lying on the ground every so often. Wait- they're still moving! And moaning! And you can't do anything about it!
- As much as it is a funny, over the top game, Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness has some genuinely scary moments. From Episode One: The Mimes. Let alone their dark god... And the Fruit-fuckers jumping out of things like dead seagull corpses.
- In Episode 2, as soon as you go back into the bunk room at the asylum after inserting the fuse switch, the lights go off...then you hear loud cackling, and the lights go back on to reveal that the asylum inmates have suddenly appeared. Especially effective if you have the volume turned up very loud.
- The "Rabbites" in Episode 3. They're these hideous, rotting, almost zombie-like rabbits covered in blood and having something resembling an intestine wrapped around their necks, and they attack by coughing up blood. Even as a 16-bit sprite, it's still sickening.
- Tycho's death in Episode 3.
- Penumbra: Overture drops you into an abandoned lead mine in Greenland with no weapons, no map, and nowhere to go but further underground. There are sounds coming from the darkness — insectile skittering, low growls, and occasionally, just at the edge of your hearing, human whispers — and your options for light are a glowstick, which never runs out but illuminates only a few feet ahead, or a flashlight that casts further but consumes batteries at an alarming rate. Even the game mechanics work against you: the combat system is so clumsy it's barely better than useless, and while it's not hard to hide from whatever might be stalking you, looking directly at it from under cover sends your character into a very conspicious panic attack. The sequel, Black Plague, solves the problem of awkward combat by removing it entirely, and adds heaping helpings of Body Horror and Enemy Within. Play with the lights on.
- The last level of Perfect Dark. The Skedar were pretty damn freaky looking. They also had a roar that indicated that they noticed you. In the level before the final, you're usually capable of seeing them before they attack. In the final level, though, most of them are invisible. It could be very unnerving to be wandering the temple and suddenly hear a roar without knowing where it came from, and then have a Skedar warrior bearing down on you.
- Phantasmagoria. Adrianne Delaney and her husband Don move into an ancient mansion previously owned by a famous magician, and Don ends up possessed by a demon that drove the previous owner to murder his wives in various grotesque ways. The Game Over scene shows Adrianne getting strapped to a chair and gruesomely cut in half by a bladed pendulum.
- Regina's death is decidedly the most visceral. The godawful acting doesn't detract much from the mental image of having your throat literally filled with rotting meat until you strangle on it.
- Phantasmagoria 2 also deserves a mention. Though the sex and violence is about as much as you'd expect to see on a late night Skinemax horror (and as much bad acting,) it did have some hella creepy moments. Even the good endings were pretty chilling.
- Phantasy Star II has a monster simply named "Rabbit". With such an unassuming name, you wouldn't guess that the enemy is actually a zombified rabbit that's constantly trying to keep its guts from spilling out of their bodies.
- Polybius might not be just an urban legend if this chillingly plausible theory is true, and its true purpose might be very, very sinister.
- There is something very graphical about how the swordfights in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time are choreographed, in slow motion and by generally having the main character jump on enemies and stab them hard on their backs while down, every one of them, to truly dispose of them. Ironically, the Darker and Edgier Warrior Within is less effective on inducing nightmares, because the fights get streamlined, and the prince more of a Bad Ass to expect such feats from him.
- The entire final act of Police Quest: Open Season, especially the Dream Sequence with the creepy music, and the many Nothing Is Scarier moments.
- The entirety of the freeware shmup Psyche Metal: The Bleeding. The main character is a disembodied eyeball that must shoot its way through the Bloody Bowels of Hell. The gore in this game makes Abadox look tame in comparison; for example, the second stage lets you splatter the guts of crucified bodies. One of the bosses is even a giant fetus monster.
- Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge contains a very effective Jump Scare, where an FMV is suddenly interrupted by the titular monster appearing out of nowhere and attacking the player, instantly killing him. Can be watched here (at 8:43).
- Purgatorium. Detailing the gruesome murders of a baby and woman at the hands of the father himself, the man having bricked himself up in the baby's room and committing suicide by setting the house on fire. You soon find out that, the reason you're in this haunted room is because you are the father and reliving the deaths.
- The original Quake had Rotfish, these nasty things rarely appear (once in Episode 2 and 3, a few times in 4 and in the path to the final boss.) They appear as rotting fish, yet still live, and make a horrible rattling noise like a snake.
- Quake IV: Two words: Stroggification sequence. Wanna see?
- What makes the whole scene is that there is a poor sod right in front of you on the conveyor belt. You helplessly lie there and watch him get mutilated, and then you're up.
- Redrum: Dead Diary may to some be just another hidden object game, but the visuals, music, and did we mention the visuals? The sequel, Redrum: Time Lies is twice as horrifying.
- Especially since Dead Diary ended on a hopeful note and then Time Lies had an especially horrifying Downer Ending.
- In Rescue on Fractalus!, an old, pseudo-3D game where you flew around rescuing downed pilots from aliens, sometimes an alien would disguise itself as a human pilot, and jump up on your ship when you landed for a rescue. It would hammer on your windscreen until either it broke through and killed you, or you turned on your shield and fried it — all this accompanied by very scary sound effects. It doesn't sound like much by today's standards, but for its time it was terrifying (see it near the end of this clip).
- Most of the Reservoir Dogs video game is Nightmare Fuel of some kind. If it isn't the cops begging you not to kill them, it's the grim inevitability of 5 out of 6 main characters' deaths, or your ability to cut off hostages' fingers. However, what really qualifies for Nightmare Fuel is Mr Brown's driving level. There's something about playing out what you know to be the last few minutes of life of a man who's just been shot in the head, and add that to the fact that the screen keeps getting splattered with blood, your vision is going, and the wonderful actor playing Brown launching into a 'So, Like a Virgin'-esque speech with a voice that obviously knows what's coming, and you get something that may or not be more disturbing than any of the violence in the movie.
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein and its sequel, Wolfenstein, have plenty of horrifying imagery. The second game alone has invisible Nazi assassins that stalk you through the dark and taunt you in the creepiest voices imaginable, deformed mutant monsters from another dimension that look like giant trolls covered in tumours, creeping cyborg beasts that jump up in your face and try to claw your eyes out, and undead, flaming Nazi skeletons that shamble about and toss green fireballs at you.
- In Robot Alchemic Drive, one stage takes place in the midst of a flashback. As you explore the town, sometimes a voice will come out of nowhere, saying in a distorted and low pitch: "THE END IS NEAR." This turns out to be a Foreshadowing of one of your Meganites, Vavel, going on a rampage through the city, driven by the pilot's angst.
- The final mission of The Saboteur. Some backstory: the game is set during WWII in occupied France. You follow your most hated enemy, who ruined your life and killed your friends and comrades, to the top of The Eiffel Tower. Approaching, you hear screams and pleads for help from German soldiers, who are being slaughtered and thrown off the tower by Dierker, who, if it isn't obvious, is a high-ranking German officer himself. Taking the elevator up, a distraught soldier screams "He's killing everyone!" You're met with bodies strewn everywhere, soldiers hung from the stairwell, an officer who shoots a woman and then himself, a soldier playing Russian Roulette with himself with no bullets, while, the entire time, a general plays a tear-jerking rendition of "Feeling Good" on the piano. When you finally get to the top, your foe makes a saddened speech about how he and all of his comrades have failed and there is nothing left for them. If you take too long to kill him, he jumps off the Tower himself. For a game that's mostly been reasonably light-hearted, this is a real punch to the gut. Ladies and gentlemen, war is hell. Even creepier, if you've seen the film Downfall, you know exactly what these people are thinking, and for the most part, the ones who died here were lucky.
- The medium sized spiders in Sacred.
- In Saints Row 2, in a cutscene that is a mix of Nightmare Fuel, Crowning Moment of Awesome, and a light Tear Jerker, Johnny Gat delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Shogo Akuji, for ordering the decapitation of his girlfriend, Aisha. After beating him up, and punching him head first through a fucking cement tombstone, he tosses him into a casket and burys him alive, all to the sound of Akujis cries for mercy. Lesson: Don't mess with Gat.
- Sam and Max: Season 3: The Penal Zone gives the viewer just a taste of what goes on in Max's brain when he teleports through psychic powers.
Burning Skeletal Max: Enjoying the ride, Sam? (demonic laughter)
- During the boss battle in Beyond the Alley of the Dolls, trying to read Sam's future gives a black screen. Then a sudden white flash. Then a red-pink blur on blackness. Then white. Then a flash of long, needlelike teeth along the top and bottom edges of the screen (outside of the boundary of the vision). Then white. All accompanied by silence.
- In the same game, a puzzle involves sending Sam to dark dimensions populated with elder gods and creatures beyond comprehension. He returns incoherent and mad and plagued by horrific visions, but soon recovers, saying it was only because he pushed everything he saw to the darkest suppressed corners of his mind. As he says this, the camera zooms into his eyeball and we see Sam falling into blackness, terrified and alone. This has to be done multiple times, because the puzzle is a trial and error puzzle.
- Scarface: The World is Yours, adhering as it does mostly to real life, is normally not very scary. It takes some guts to not panic after the first time a chainsaw-user soaks up your firepower (unless you've somehow got the SAW already) and closes in to One-Hit Kill Tony. Subsequent encounters usually leave one desperately looking around as that revving noise shows up, hoping to kill him quick, especially when found in the middle of a long mission.
- SCP-087-B brings closed spaces, anxiety, and sheer darkness to the table. You just keep walking down stairs endlessly, with the sounds of heavy breathing keeping you company. That is until the game spawns you a playmate: a completely darkened humanoid with a white mask. This guy will either jump in to scare you, or chase you down the halls. The best part? It completely randomizes when he shows up.
- And to anyone who has played the game, this just adds to it; "Don't look at me". Don't. Listen.
- The Interactive Fiction game Shade starts out innocuously enough: you're in your one-room apartment, getting ready for a trip. After a few routine tasks, however, the true horror begins creeping in. The All Just a Dream implication? Only a cruel Hope Spot. Upon replaying, it becomes even worse: you know what's going to happen, but you can't do anything to stop it.
- Siege of Avalon has multiple occasions where the player is attacked by giant spiders. They don't do much damage, but they look creepy as all get out. Then there are the various caves you have to explore during the game, which are generally filled with stone golems, lizard people (which are cannibals), animated skeletons, or all of the above. The Cave Lurkers are a textbook case, being humans that worshiped an ancient goddess, who protected them, until a sacred object was stolen from her temple. Then the magic that protected them backfired, twisting them all into hideous mockeries of the people they once were, and on top of that made them effectively immortal in their warped bodies, with their minds slowly decaying, never seeing the light of day for hundreds of years. And the lich, which can only be destroyed by one of the people you befriended earlier in the game using a magic that destroys the lich's Soul Jar, but kills him in the process. While you "protect" him from the lich's magical attacks and undead allies. And someone clearly worked very hard on making the underground music as creepy as possible.
- In Sin and Punishment: Star Successor, near the end of Stage 6, the Infant Keeper captures your partner via a crane and starts to lower him or her into the lava. You have to keep it from lowering your partner into the lava, while at the same time raising the platform it's on because the lava is rising. If your partner is lowered too far down, you are treated to a cutscene of your partner being dumped into a fiery death. And the worst part is, you'll most likely have to redo this segment several times!
- If this entry tried to list all of the Nightmare Fuel in Singularity, it would be essentially a long-winded description of the game. The worst, though, is the fact that the game was advertised as an ordinary First-Person Shooter/Puzzle Game. A few minutes after the start of the game, you're happily exploring old Soviet ruins. There are some old audio files around, that'll compel you to turn up the volume. As you walk down a hallway, without warning, a nearby voice screams "MOTHER OF GOD, LET ME OUT!" It goes downhill from there.
- Soul Series:
- Back in Soul Edge, the final boss fight with Inferno/Soul Edge itself, a ghostly manifestation with a flaming red skull, the world is crumbling apart around your stage, and it doesn't speak, it just howls.
- In a similar vein, Abyss from III. It's Zasalamel, but he's transformed into some terrifying undead thing with no skin. Also, Charade from II, a grisly-looking giant eyeball with a vaguely humanoid skeletal body.
- In Hwang's bad ending in Soul Edge, he takes up Soul Edge and brings it back to Korea, thinking that he can control it's power and use it to save his country from invading Japan. Bad idea. When he gets back home, it possesses him and he starts slaughtering the very people he wanted to protect.
- In Darth Vader's ending in IV, he claims both Soul Edge and Soul Calibur, which utterly fail to corrupt him; he just cackles and triumphantly strolls back through a portal back to his universe. Uh oh.
- Seung Mina. Not the girl herself; she's actually quite lovely. No, what is horrible is one of her signature moves and the way she gleefully says "Bye bye!" as that huge blade slices upwards...
- In V, start a fresh character edit with Yoshimitsu... Gah! Eventually you can use the same "Mummified" underwear for all your other characters.
- Space Funeral is a goofy horror-themed rpg that rushes up and down the Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror like crazy and is lighthearted enough to be funny most of the time; however, reaching the Blood Cavern and hearing Ruth White read ominously the poem Spleen from Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil while all you can see is colored red and black is anguishing, to say the least.
- The Atari 5200 version of Space Invaders is a decent port that makes several changes to the game, much like the 2600 version. Like the 2600 version, the Invaders' march is essentially short bursts of static. Unlike the 2600 version, not only does it get faster, it also gets louder, culminating in a terrifying crescendo of rhythmic white noise.
- In Space Siege, Cyborg enemies call dibs on your body parts.
Male Cyber: "I want his arm!"
Female Cyber: "I get his eyes!"
- Spookats in Spiral Knights are a cross between ghosts and cats. They seem absolutely adorable until they're provoked. Their faces shift from an adorable kitten to either a tortured or rage-filled horror and when they die, their final meow echoes eerily. If you're deep enough into the clockworks, this meow will drastically drop in pitch, just to add to the creepiness.
- The backstory behind the trojans can also classify. Souls of despairing/deceased knights crystallize, then attach themselves to statues and become gigantic beasts filled with rage towards anything they see.
- Starship Titanic. The weird robots, the massive emptiness of the ship, the weird monkey-gas mask suc-u-bus (and how easy it seemed to be to lose essential items in them), the giant mother suc-u-bus that vomits out a corpse, the dead body in the restaurant, being forced to puree the starlings and weirdly enough, drastically altering Marsinta's personality. Always felt like Mind Rape.
- Both parts of Still Life are pretty creepy, the game dealing with serial killers and all. In the first game we get a Jack the Ripoff Mad Artist who guts women as inspiration for his paintings. We get to compare the dream-like visions in the paintings to the actual crime scenes. And then we get another murderer who pays homage to the first one, repeating his murders several decades later. In the second game, the murderer is a control freak obsessed with movies. He kidnaps women and keeps them in a cellar full of traps, forcing them to reenact his 'scenarios' in their futile attempts to get away. We get to experience it first-hand as one of the characters gets kidnapped early in the game.
- After a part of the game, the perspective switches to our other character, an FBI agent who investigates the house. We find a lot of 'souvenirs' from the previous victims but no clue as to where the kidnapped woman is (the previous part ended abruptly, leaving us guessing about her fate). Then we start finding blood stains that match her DNA. More and more of them...
- One of the most chilling moments is a very subtle one. While searching the cellar, we encounter a door that looks like an exit but opens to a brick wall, a nasty surprise for any victim who had managed to get through all the rooms. Upon closer inspection we find small traces of some substance on the bricks. A quick examination with a field lab kit identifies it as nail polish. Think about it for a moment and enjoy the mental picture.
- Subbania starts off looking like a quirky Metroidvania set in World War II about a Nazi submarine captain on a mission from his Illuminati superior to attack the United States. Things seem normal at first, as you shoot torpedoes at fish, whales, and cephalopods, but when that giant octopus you're fighting suddenly turns into a giant deformed skull in the middle of the fight, you know something's wrong. The monsters get weirder, scarier, and uglier, the environments make less sense, the music becomes more unsettling, and the situation in general gets bleaker.
- The Submachine. It plays games with space-time and drills glory holes through the fourth wall.
- Luca Blight from Suikoden II. Just his intro alone is enough to scare someone, and from there, he gets worse as he slaughters anyone he can get his hands on.
- This (link removed; site subsumed by some sketchy referral link to probable malware) game based off Suicide Mouse (covered on Web Animation). If you thought the source material was scary, you've seen nothing yet. Have you ever watched Suicide Mouse and thought "Gee, all this is nice, but I sure wish I could control Mickey and go to hell"? If so, then this is the game for you. It just gets worse and worse.
- Super Bomberman 3: At the end of the credit roll, the player is shown the contained brain of Bagular flying away in space, coupled with nightmarish space SFX comparable to Giygas in EarthBound - and then, from far away flies toward you is a big, disturbing devilish crimson "END", with the dark silhouette of Bagular beneath, foreshadowing the villain's eventual comeback for revenge.
- Some of the final bosses' attacks in the Super Robot Wars games can be pretty disturbing. Namely Kaiser Ephes from Alpha 3 , which involves him Mind Raping someone with apocalyptic visions of the galaxy, especially Earth, being destroyed and the Edel Bernel from Z.
- Everything about Perfectio, despite his Bishōnen body, he is a Nigh Invulnerable Eldritch Abomination that feeds on despair and seeks complete and utter destruction. He only gets worse in 2nd Original Generations when we see him use such stuff as Gray Goo, Mind Rape, and more.
- Also from 2nd Original Generations, the "Evil-class" Choukijin. Mechanical beasts that feed on humans as their power source. Of note is the Tou Tetsu Oh, a baboon-like beast that has a horrific slasher smile at nearly all times. It's final attack also involves it growing it's horns to trap the opposing unit in a gigantic tree, before it looms over the trapped victim and eat's them and their mecha alive.
- Super Troll Island's last area is basically comprised of this. If you thought the trolls themselves staring at you was bad enough, wait till you get to the clown area.
- The opening cinematic for Supreme Commander, once you understand a few things. The Infinite War has claimed billions of lives. It's a war, and this is the future. Not that bad, right? The only military personell are so elite, there probabally aren't more than a few thousand at any given moment. The discrepancy? Civilians caught in the crossfire.
- SWAT 4, somewhat surprisingly, has two levels that manage to be insanely creepy despite the fact that you and your three squad mates are all armed to the teeth (but you are not supposedly shooting bad guys except at the easy difficulty). One is where you infiltrate a serial killer's house to rescue a hostage (who builds a dungeon to hold his hostages); the other is set in an apartment building that's been taken over by a doomsday cult. The latter is worse (even your teammates start getting freaked out) but the former hits a lot harder due to being so unexpected- it's the second level.
- During the Let's Play by The Spoony One, he himself was so disgusted by what he found he contemplates just executing the arrestees. In the epilogue of the Doomsday Cult level, it's stated that after Commander Spoony stumbled upon some explosives, the building itself "accidentally" blew up after the officers were evacuated.
- Tales of Graces is certainly one of the more terrifying Tales of... games. And it certainly does explain alot with Lambda rather creepy possession of Richard, turning one of Absel's most peaceful allies into a blood-thirsty maniac. His first "big" scene involves him rising from the dead, his head thumping like crazy before slowly rising up, to rapidly slash at his attacker viciously. What makes it more disturbing is that Richard moves like he is being controlled, not keeping his legs straight, and slumping with a sly devilish look. Not to mention those eyes and evil laugh... Videos are better than words.
- Terranigma for the SNES, especially the Castle in Spain, and its boss, "Bloody Mary". The creepy background music and the subverted nursery rhymes, not to mention that that boss is probably one of the hardest in the game, considering the relative strength the main character has when fighting her. The battle goes on interminably. Thinking about it, the truth about the main character and what happens to him after the game is beat...
- The Journeyman Project lives and dies by unnatural voices and sounds coming throughout the entire game, but one notable instance includes this scene right after time jumping to a science center in Australia, where you are met by one of the robots, who announces how "I'vE Be En exPeCTinG Yo U...", before shooting you with a tranquilizer, starting the scary music, morphing into a human, and then disappearing. Did I mention you continue to hallucinate said sentence while you're looking for a cure to said tranquilizer?
- Thrill Drive's Attract Mode. Hell, the game and the series as a whole is this once you ran over a pedestrian or rammed a passing car, by accident or not.
- Time Fcuk is a bit off-putting. You're hearing radio messages from your past and future selves, and some of them seem to have diverged from you a bit. One's teleported into a wall and is screaming for help. One has found a room with hundreds of dead bodies, all of which look like you. Several seem to have gone mad. What's even more disturbing, though, is approaching the end and hearing the messages from your early self, who's completely unaware of what's going to happen to him. Also the message, delivered out of nowhere, "Don't trust Steven! He's lying to us!" It gets even worse when you find out what Steven actually is. He starts as a tumor with eyes, growing out of your head, then grows ("His feet tickle my brain!") into a sort of living backpack, before splitting off and trying to Kill and Replace you.
- The intro and the ending. The intro fully lets you know what kind of a fucked up reality you have been thrown into. And the ending shows what kind of a fucked up reality you have unleashed upon the world.
- The music that plays is actually alright for the first part... until you realise that that beeping sounds a lot like a heart monitor...
- One wouldn't expect a game like Toy Soldiers to have much in the way of nightmare-inducing anything, until the music shifts from the catchy WWI-styled themes and snare drum music to considerably more dramatic dirges as a tank so large it crushes houses, bridges and turrets under it crawls over the hill. All the weapons you've been using up til then don't even annoy it.
- Tsukihime has the scenes with Chaos in the hotel.
- All of Kohaku's backstory, but especially the diary. "Help me" indeed. (The poem at the end does not help at all).
- There's also the dream where Akiha and Kohaku apparently rape Shiki.
- Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear To The Rescue!: Starting from the fourth level, "Construction Yard" there's a common enemy that looks like a hovering alien. It shoots green laser from its eye and has good aim. Why does it count as nightmare fuel? Because of the way in which it creeps up on you and unexpectedly shoots you. Since enemies constantly respawn in the game and it hovers around randomly, this one is a nuisance it's hard to know what it's going to come back - until you jump out of your skin when a shot of green laser comes out of nowhere.
- Elevator Hop is a dark and unsettling level that requires a lot of patience to traverse, and it certainly gave a lot of players the creeps.
- UFO Aftermath. It opens with an image of people in a cinema, but it's abruptly revealed they're decaying corpses. Then you get to see some of the transgenic horrors in close-up (except the Car Crab, which is kinda cool). Then you get to play base attacks where you open a door and a balloon fish nukes your party, standard missions which feature horrific bloated Deathbellows monsters firing a Bee Bee Gun with much the same result, and (should you be having bad luck with the storyline missions) the sight of a horrific carpet of abominable doom scouring your bases from existence as it coats the planet in gunge. Yeah...
- The Ugly. To talk about the Nightmare Fuel present in this game would be to spoil the game, but there's a serial killer hiding in your house. He's already decapitated your father, leaving his gouged-out eye in the bathroom sink and his head in the toilet, and has locked himself in your parents' bedroom while he rapes your mother's corpse. And the key to the bedroom, which you must find to defeat the killer, is in your father's mouth. Did we mention that there are also far too many ways to alert the killer to your presence, all of which will result in you being killed in a variety of horrible ways? This game is not for the squeamish, or for anybody, really.
- Um Jammer Lammy: If you thought the JPN/EUR cutscene for Stage 6 was unsettling, wait until you see the American version of it. They re-animated the cutscene to be "less scary" and more "kid-friendly", but only made it even creepier. Just that entire scene where Lammy is flung back through time with a VHS rewinding effect, and keeps passing by everyone she met previously, complete with very distorted and creepy-sounding voices. *shiver* Now imagine seeing this as a child who thought that their Playstation was malfunctioning...
- In PaRappa's side-story, Teriyaki Yoko's song is absolutely terrifying. The creepy, ominous background music, and (in the EUR/JPN versions) lyrics such as "You don't wanna see me get hurt,/The angel's been mean to me, that's for sure!" and "If I can have, have another wish,/I want the devil to join my next dish!" This game got a 3+ rating in Europe by the way.
- Uninvited's Ghost Lady. On top of a freaky death description, her horrendous face was drawn so well in the NES graphics (so well to scare the shit outta you) and the music accompanying it is freaky as hell. The game's setting isn't even helping the situation.
- Valis 1: "Cellular Tissue" from the soundtrack. It sounds like it was lifted from a haunted house ride or game.
- This video from Valkyrie Profile. A young girl getting overwhelmed by a demon and forced to watch as she murders someone? Made into a slight Nightmare Retardant with the idiot soldiers who just stand there while their friend is getting killed.
- The Japanese social game Vegemon Farm may be a cute game, but there are instances in which the player dispatch their critters to fight monsters. If (one of) the player's dispatched creatures gets killed, they look like corpses, blighted, and constantly vibrate or just simply look decapitated (Often retaining their facial expression; a lot of them are cutesy). It's unsettling.
- Weird Dreams really lives up to its name. It's got a killer giant wasp, a giant killer lawnmower, a Creepy Child with a knife, a giant jack-in-the-box that tries to crush you between giant piano keys, and doors with teeth that bite you in half when you try to go through them, just to name a few. It doesn't help that the game is Nintendo Hard with sluggish controls and several Guide Dang It And then there's the ending...a first-person view as you're lying on a hospital bed, looking up at a team of surgeons, and one of them turns into the knife-wielding child and the scene cuts abruptly to black over her laughing.
- Wild Arms. One word: Mother. Anyone that possesses people by devouring them more than qualifies.
- The freeware Surreal Horror game Which starts out unnervingly creepy enough, as you are locked in an apparently empty, darkened house and need to find a way to escape. Then you head upstairs to find that not only is the house not empty, but your mysterious housemate is lacking a bit more than just an easy way out...
- Quite a few of the monsters in The Witcher qualify, especially the godawful Arachno-like Kikimores, and not only the big ones and the Queen (which is understood), but even the little ones, springing from underneath the ground and sneaking upon you with that nasty hissing sound in the deserted streets of Vizima by night. They can make you dread the moment you have to come back to the swamps, and their lair is just as bad.
- The Witch's House has myriad nightmarish ways to end your life, including (but most certainly not limited to) getting crushed by closing walls, getting eaten by a giant spider, having your hand severed by a ghost wielding a knife, and being accosted by a possessed painting of the Mona Lisa. Much of the Nightmare Fuel comes in the way these deaths are brought on with little, if any, warning, and being immediately followed by a blood-red Game Over screen.
- The XIII game shows a bunch of mooks building a snowman in one level. If you use the "action" button on its head, a terrifying musical sting occurs as it reveals the corpse of an innocent backpacker with a final look of anguish frozen on his face.
- In the You Don't Know Jack series, the Jack Attack round is usually presented as more ominous and tense than the rest of the game, with eerie visuals and music, as well as downright disturbing sound effects. The 2011 version takes the cake, though. The intro interrupts the cheerful "mid-round" music with lightning strikes as you see the silhouette of the mascot with sharp objects embedded into his cranium, a bloodcurdling scream, and the all the words shaking as though they're having a seizure. The whole time, Cookie (the host) is speaking in a darker tone as he explains the rules, and the music gets more tense as you get the answers right. Though it can be Nightmare Retardent in the case of the sillier Jack Attack rounds (Episode 47 is a good example).
- The fountain in the Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure level Bell Tower of Requim. It has a creepy girl's face, and when you ring the bell, its eyes spin open, its jaw drops, and it emits a horrible screech. Then a blood-like fluid pours out of the eyes and fills the fountain.
- Zombies Ate My Neighbors: Despite being reliant on The Rule of Fun, it has some of the scariest sounds in a 16-bit action game.
- Game Over screens, in general, can be pretty frightening, particularly if you don't see them coming.
- The story behind a mysterious arcade game known as "Polybius". WARNING!!! This video can and WILL cause SEVERE Paranoia Fuel! And just to make matters even scarier and more disturbing, this video is part of a series called "Game Theory"; which is usually a funny and light-hearted series! And those familiar with the series and haven't watched this video yet... Be prepared for a SERIOUS amount of Mood Whiplash compared to his other videos...
- "Highlights" include:
- The "pleasant" opening, in which the situation regarding Polybius is briefly talked about in a very demonic monotone voice...
- The Jump Scare involving a burst of static when Matt, the host/commentator, warns you that the truth is disturbing... And he isn't kidding...
- The Side effects of LSD; which include insomnia, nightmares, memory loss and even suicide!
- The interview with a soldier in WWII that was interrogated with LSD... He breaks down barely a minute in when recalling what happened!
- The fact that at the end; when Matt usually ends with the words: "But that's just a theory... A GAME theory!" But instead, he's about to say "conspiracy theory" but is suddenly cut off by another burst of static!
- But the kicker was this... A former CIA agent named Frank Olson quit the CIA after all the horrible things they did and almost revealed to the entire media, America and then the world about the CIA's experiments... And the worst part? He was found dead one week later! It was originally ruled as a suicide, but a new autopsy 40 years later revealed that he was actually knocked unconscious and thrown/pushed out of a 13 story window!
- Check out textures in the code of most 3d games. They can be super terrifying and off due to the randomness of where body parts are located
- Zombies Run mostly uses horror tropes as the dressing for a fitness app, but under the right circumstances missions can still be pretty terrifying. Of particular note are the three Halloween-themed side missions at the end of Season 2. They even managed to make the jiangshi — which are Nightmare Retardant for many westerners due to their hopping — deeply unsettling.
- The very nature of Open World or Sandbox games can lead to some creepiness as some elements of the world change and others don't, leading to a very Groundhog Day / And I Must Scream feeling.