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Paranoia Fuel: Video Games
  • Minecraft has Ghasts, whose cries are always heard at the same volume no matter how far away they are. The player has no idea upon hearing the sound whether the Ghast is in another cavern or right behind them. Pair that with the fact that they can detect and shoot at you from outside your render distance if you're playing with the Short or Tiny render distance and they certainly qualify as this.
    • And let's not forget the Endermen: one of them could be hiding behind the next corner. You won't know until you look...but if you look at it, it will attack you. And they can teleport, so the moment you try to kill one it will be somewhere else, and you don't know where.
    • Not to mention that you always hear monsters before you see them. You know there's something waiting to kill you, but WHERE IS IT? And if you built you house right over a cave, you'll have to listen to the monsters as you go about your daily activities.
      • The one exception to this rule is, of course, the Creeper. By the time you hear the hissing noise signalling that it's about to blow, it's already too late to run.
      • And then sometimes you do see one coming. Standing on a high ledge. Watching you. Somewhere in the world, a Creeper is plotting your death.
    • Traveling in the vicinity of an abandoned mineshaft and you hear spiders? Be afraid; they're probably Cave Spiders, which are like regular spiders, only smaller and poisonous. Spiders of both breeds can detect the player through solid blocks (something only they can do!) and climb walls, and Cave Spiders can fit through a wide variety of tiny passages. If you can hear a spider in an abandoned mineshaft, it's probably a cave spider, it knows where you are, and few things short of a solid wall will stop it from reaching and murdering you.
  • Duplicity, suspicion and untrustworthiness are the tenors of the Deus Ex. Nothing is what it seems, looks are deceptive and allies are unreliable. Your own brother will betray everything you fought for, only for you to find out that everything you fought for was a lie, and that your strings were pulled all along by an ancient perfidious cabal. And these guys mean deadly business. They unleash a concocted plague on the world and watch it die just to gain leverage on politicians and they tap into every phone line and web-traffic stream with a near-omniscient surveillance AI, which, by the way, has some ideas on the optimal global configuration of its own. You switch sides and begin to work towards overthrowing the conspiracy, but before long you can't help wondering if your new employers are another ancient perfidious cabal. They are. Well, maybe marginally less ruthless and more well-intentioned then the first one. Paranoia became such a common precondition to wellbeing that you are actually complimented once for offing a perfectly harmless doorkeeper on suspicion of him being a spy. He actually turns out to be a spy. The sequel raises the level of duplicity even higher but arguably falls into Narm territory.
    • Best/worst part for you as PC? The bad guys created you to begin with and wired you with false memories. That's it. Nothing you remember about your life is true. And they can turn you off if they feel like it. If you escape your killswitch, their AI can see through your eyes and watch you everywhere you go, meaning if you think about it every ally you meet from now is being betrayed to the conspirators and there is nothing you can do about it.
    • Best/worst part for you as the gamer? Those perfidious cabals and global-surveillance systems more or less exist for real.
  • Link's Awakening had the reveal that the world may all be a dream, and not even YOUR dream, at that, complete with what's more or less a Downer Ending. You're not expecting something like that on the GAME BOY, of all consoles.
  • The house in Condemned. It could very well have been your house after all.
    • Also the Murderous Mannequins in the department store level. A disturbing number of lunatics have taken to adhering bits of plastic to their bodies and dressing up as the mannequins in the displays, waiting in very similar poses to the real mannequins to hop off and kill you. They have a slightly different pose from the real ones that can clue you in to their real appearence, but many players never know that it was a fake until they're getting beaten, they go up to every mannequin and whack it with a pipe, or they turn around and find that the mannequin that used to be behind them has disappeared....
  • The Barnacles from Half-Life have made people reflexively look towards the ceiling for years. Which is arguably good, because the commentary for Portal stresses that it is hard for developers to get players to look up.
    • Headcrabs. They can be anywhere.
    Game Dev: Headcrab in every vent? Predictable. Headcrab every fourth or fifth vent? Terrifying.
    • Pretty much everything in the original Half-Life. What's around that corner? Is it a zombie? A turret? Is there a group of soldiers JUST behind that door with guns pointed at you? Is a bullsquid going to spawn behind you when you use that health station? Is that large, empty storeroom, in fact, filled with assassins? The answer to all of these questions and more is YES.
  • Though it's more subtle than most of the entries on this list, Portal. There is the sudden change from FPS to Survival Horror in the final test chamber. And the cameras, constantly watching you. And the fact that GLaDOS and the Weighted Companion Cube both evidently survive. GLaDOS should have included "paranoia" on her list of the most common symptoms to develop in test subjects.
    • Opinion varies on the cameras. Some players just see them as fun things to pop off the wall using the portal gun.
    • Portal 2. You know that really nice robot guy that's been helping you this whole time? The one who doesn't seem too bright, but is willing to help escape? Guess what, something could go horribly wrong with him. He could end up corrupted by the mainframe of the lab and decide to obsessively want to test and/or kill you. But, what are the chances of THAT happening?
      • The whole plot of Portal is terrifying when you think about it: You're the only human left in an abandoned facility, everyone who worked there were killed, almost every machine out there is trying it's best to kill you too, the central AI is insane and the only one you can interact with and befriend is a single sentient robot. A robot that can be corrupted/re-programed.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has relatively few actual monsters. However, the floor constantly creaks and the music has thumps in it, so you'll cringe every time you hear a strange noise and go cowering for the nearest dark corner. There's just enough genuine danger to make everything terrifying.
  • Eternal Darkness gave us the Bonethief, a type of spindly little skeletal fiend that wriggles its way into people's bodies and controls them like a puppet. Maximillian Roivas puts it best:
    "The devils inside the servant's skulls were trying to kill me. They plotted behind doors locked and barred and planned the downfall of the human race! I took care of the ones around me...stopped their plans!...there are others, I'm sure...out there, manipulating us, secreting madness inside our very heads, while our souls are pushed into the corners of our skulls, watching as our hands do tasks that we have no control over! Ohhh horrible ... horrible things! WE MUST PURGE THEM FROM OUR MIDST!!! Kill them all! CUT THEM!!! BURN THEM!!! ... It's the only way ... I know ... I've ... done it ... it ... works."
  • Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers once you find out about the Rada Codes. Then you notice the drummers stationed all over the city. You know, the ones you've probably been ignoring because they just sit there all day and drum. They're not only watching you, they're broadcasting your moves to the creepy voodoo cartel that's already left a number of messy corpses all over the city. Plus the creepy looking guy who just stands outside the shop for two days and stares in the window.
  • The Elderscrolls V Skyrim: One quest in the game tasks you with killing the owner of an orphanage named Grelod the Kind. About a day after her death, you'll receive a message from a courier, consisting only of a black hand print and two words: "We know." Who knows? How do they know? What will they do with what they know? Hope you didn't need any sleep...
  • Persona 3. By our very nature, every single one of us is summoning not one but two Eldritch Abominations to arrive and wipe every single one of us out!
    • Persona 3 also gives us the notion that at midnight, we turn into coffins while the world around fills with monsters, all without our knowledge. It also implies that we could be murdered by physical manifestations of our inner selves and our heads eaten from the inside out during this time! Persona 4 introduces the concept of a total demonic world inside televisions, which can be accessed from even the TV in your own bedroom.
    • Thankfully, that's not probable in Real Life. Now, one of your classmates murdering somebody, like in Persona 4...
    • By the way, steer clear of your TV whenever it's foggy out, be sure to look up in the power lines after it rains, and the friendly neighborhood detective might actually be an Ax-Crazy Serial Killer.
  • Thief: Deadly Shadows: The Cradle still remembers you. You're not out, it's just playing.
  • Omikron: The Nomad Soul. The premise was that you put your soul into this game to help defeat evil scary-ass demons, and until you finished the game, your soul was trapped.
  • Metal Gear has the Patriots: A group of hyper-intelligent AIs are secretly running every aspect of not just America, but the entire world. They're watching, and orchestrating every minute event of the entire world, even perceived human failures and disasters, in the mother of all Gambit Roulettes. And you'd never even know who or what they are, because they're so powerful they censor their name from even casual conversation.
    • From Metal Gear Solid 3, there's The Sorrow, who follows Snake around for a good portion of the game. Until the "boss encounter" with him, the player has no idea who or what he is, or what he wants. He doesn't attempt to harm Snake in the scenes he shows up in, but he's still quite creepy.
      • Also in the third game is The End. The boss fight against him takes place over three very large, heavily forested areas, and The End is excellent at keeping himself hidden, usually in a very well chosen vantage point, meaning that if the player decides to get up, even for a second, when they are in The End's line of sight, they can expect to hear a voice saying "This is the end."
    • The return to Shadow Moses Island is part Nostalgia Level, part this. The entire place has been abandoned for years by this point, with only a few recently-deployed robots standing in your way. You even end up having to sidetrack through the hallway to Otacon's office where Gray Fox slaughtered a bunch of Genome soldiers, which was a pretty scary scene in the first game. The whole thing definitely gives off an air of eeriness, which makes the Gekkos' occasional Jump Scares all the more effective.
  • Resident Evil....You take a drink of water on a nice, sunny day. You feel a slight build up of anger combined with an increase of energy. You feel a gnawing hunger, and look over to your little sister. "Yummy..." This is bad, just drinking any water becomes impossible if you get the implications! Combined with the fact water naturally increases your mitochondrial energy, if you feel any anger after reading this you'll lock yourself in the closet and hope the death that eventually comes is NOT painful.
    • The third game gives us Nemesis. At any moment, without warning, without provocation, he may attack. You can empty your guns into him, and he'll fall down, but he'll come again. You can hit him with a dozen grenades, but he'll get back up sooner rather than later. At any time, anywhere, the sound of a low voice groaning, "S.T.A.R.S...." can come out of the darkness. Even when you aren't fighting him, the Nemesis is watching you. Waiting for the right moment.
    • Unintentional (or was it?) paranoia fuel in the Gamecube remake of the first Resident Evil. You're headed through a hallway; the same hallway you've passed through a few times now. You pass the same dead zombie that's been slumped there since you killed it about an hour ago. Then when you get close it rises up like a puppet on strings and starts running around you at high speed and tearing at your flesh with sharp talons. This is a remake of a game where you still turn like molasses. And while you're swearing and trying to get a bead on this thing, you realize that you have no idea what else the developers put in the game to screw with you.
  • Team Fortress 2 has the Spy. He can turn invisible at will, flawlessly disguise himself as one of your teammates, and kill you instantly from behind. And then do it all again in less than five seconds. They can be anyone, anywhere, at any time. In the past you stay be mostly safe as long as you pumped a few rounds into everyone, friend or foe, but...
    • An update gave the spy a new watch that lets him potentially remain invisible indefinitely (he just needs to stay in place occasionally), and another that allows him to perfectly fake his death. In other words, this man could be in any room he likes, and you can never trust you've killed him.
    • They up the ante again with Your Eternal Reward, a dagger that instantly turns the spy into whoever he just killed, cloaks the corpse, and erases the kill-icon for the unfortunate victim's teammates. The process happens so fast that most might not even realize their teammate just got skewered. Those friends you had coming up the stairs with you, that you just spychecked a minute ago, might not be who you think they are anymore...
    • To top it off, it can be combined with the aforementioned watch that fakes your death. So even if you find out who the offender is, chances are he's still alive and gotten a new face now.
    • And if the Spy chooses to disguise as one of his own teammates, the feign death watch drops a corpse that looks like the class he chose, not a Spy's corpse. In other words, the Spy can mask the fact that his team even has a Spy. So, unless you actually saw that enemy fire his weapon before you killed him, you can't be sure that he wasn't a Spy.
    • Oh it doesn't end there. The thing that makes that combination of items a REAL pain in the back is the Saharan Spy set. If a player who is playing the Spy has all three items from the set including the hat, they gain a bonus. For the Spy, the bonus is that there is a HUGE reduction to the decloak sound that plays whenever they come out of invisibility. The draw back to it is that if you bump into someone cloaked, you're revealed for a bit longer...But that doesn't apply to the 'feign death' watch. Now, the main draw back of the watch that fakes the Spy's death is that it gives off a very loud decloak sound...That is if you don't have the Saharan Spy set activated. Should a player actually have this set, they are given a silent fake death, a knife that kills silently and leaves no trace, AND a revolver that will replenish the watch's cloak meter. If you think you killed him, chances are you didn't. If you just spychecked a teammate who was tailing behind you, do it again five seconds later because that Spy might have taken his body. If you find him and start shooting at him, chances are he'll hit you enough with that revolver that gives him back enough of his cloak meter so that he can feign death, so good job, you just tried to ruin that Spy's killing spree. You activated his silent watch. He has uncloaked and you have no idea where he went, but he knows who you are. He has taken a new body. He is going to find you, and he is going to get revenge on you... Let's just put it this way. If that Spy gets behind your base: You're Screwed.
    • Yeah, it doesn't help that in the Meet the Spy video the BLU team Spy tells his surviving comrades about a certain skilled RED Spy that managed to get in their base and has causes a lot of havok...
    BLU Spy: "Zis Spy has already breached our defenses... You've seen what he's done to our colleagues! And worst of all, he could be any one of us... He could be in zis very room! He could be you! He could be me! He could even be-*head demolished by BLU Soldier's shotgun*"
    BLU Soldier: What? It was obvious! He's the RED Spy! Watch, he's gonna turn RED any second now! Aaanny second now...See? RED! No, wait, that's blood.
    BLU Heavy: So, we still got problem?
    BLU Soldier: Big problem...Alright, who's ready to go find this Spy?
    RED Spy: *formerly disguised as BLU Scout* Right behind you.
    • In-game, there's absolutely no drawback to spychecking, since there's no teamkilling (unless the server you're playing on is running a mod that enables it). However, Meet the Spy shows us, as seen in the above-quoted dialog, that, In-Universe, mercenaries can kill their own comrades, meaning that, for characters themselves, there's an aditional layer of paranoia, created when you realize you can't even spycheck a suspicious teammate out of fear that you might actually kill a friendly ally by accident.
    • There is one drawback to that combo, and that is that the Spy cannot disguise normally and must make at least one kill before he is able to move freely among your comrades. This in theory should comfort you since you will see the spy coming and can at least prepare for him. However, once you realize that anyone capable of pulling off a kill without being routed out themselves will likely be a very experienced player and if you do put him down for good, there's nothing stopping him from doing it again, and again, and AGAIN. In other words: This set makes the already powerful even more powerful, while ensuring anyone that isn't experienced enough to use it get weeded out very fast. Unless you're playing as a Pyro.
      • The Spy-Cicle, grants the Spy protection from fire for 2 seconds if he gets hit with flames. Enough time for a cloaked Spy to escape, or for a disguised spy to dissuade the Pyro or round a corner and escape. Yes, he leaves obvious ice sculptures of his enemies when he kills, and can't use the aforementioned set combo, but the bottom line is, unless you listen for the sound it makes upon melting, you cannot be sure if you successfully spychecked an ally, or merely set a Spy back for a mere 15 seconds while his knife refreezes.
    • As of Meet the Pyro we can tell that the Pyro is paranoia fuel in canon. Causing panic upon the mere sight of him, causing teammates to abandon each other in fear of him/her, and making its own team nervous.
    Heavy: "I fear no man...but that thing *checks over his shoulder then whispers* scares me..."
    Scout: "No, I ain't...I ain't...I ain't talking about that freak, alright? *struggles to get his microphone off then freezes in horror* He's not here, is she? *panics and stands up, shoving the cameraman out of his way*"
    • In addition to the aforementioned Spy and Pyro, at any point in the game, you could also be surprised by the following: headshot by a camping Sniper, gibbed by a Demoman's sticky-bomb trap, pinned against the wall by an Engineer's sentry, shot full of holes by a Heavy, splattered by a rocket-jumping Soldier, or circle-strafed by a Scout. And any one of the eight could be being pocketed by a Medic, who left to his own devices isn't exactly helpless, either...
  • Left 4 Dead: Witches. You suddenly hear a woman sobbing, and it could be coming from anywhere. Personal experience has taught you that you do not want to run into the source of that sobbing. After exploring around for a while and not finding anything, you think you're safe... only for you to ignorantly shine your flashlight around the very next room, onto a woman with glowing red eyes staring directly at you...
  • Tonberries from the Final Fantasy series have a counter-attack based on how many enemies a character killed, meaning they know how many enemies each character killed. They know what you're doing, even when you can't see them they're watching you.
    • The enigmatic note you get before you fight them in Final Fantasy Tactics A2. "Once more, I pick up my knife. I'm coming for you." Phew.
    • Emerald WEAPON in Final Fantasy VII. Somewhere, in an ocean darker than a black hole, with nobody else around, there's a possibility that a GIANT GREEN DEATH MACHINE could be following your little submarine, or waiting for you to go to a certain area that it may be hovering over, or may be right underneath your sub when you dive underwater, or could be right inside that cave entrance there... if you get close enough, you can barely see its green-ish silhouette swimming around, just DARING you to try and sneak past it without getting caught. The actual fight is nothing compared to the prospect of a WEAPON sneaking around like Solid Snake, waiting for a chance to pop out of nowhere, scare the crap out of you, then murder you until you're dead.
  • The Silent Hill series may have perfected making previously innocuous items and locations absolutely terrifying, the most obvious examples being the ubiquitous fog that shrouds the town and the hospitals that appear in every game, while the most effective singular examples are the screaming mannequin in the third game and that damn doll from the fourth.
    • The soundtrack for the games do this as well, making you think that you're not alone and that there's a monster right behind you waiting to kill you. You sometimes hear sounds that SOUND like they could've been made by a monster, but it's just the soundtrack screwing with you.
    • Pyramid Head and Valtiel. The former is a hulking, utterly invincible monster that stalks James around the town, often appearing with absolutely no warning, no cutscene, and no special music, and all you can do when he shows up is run. Valtiel, who appears in Silent Hill 3, does not directly attack the player at any time, but he obsessively follows Heather, and often appears in places that deliberately convey ideas of sexual voyeurism, and there is nothing you can do to stop him.
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin leaves us with the unsettling idea that any door we pass through could, any instant, lead us to somewhere completely different from where we intended to go. Plus the possibility that at any given moment, you could turn around and OH JESUS SHE'S RIGHT THERE GRABBING ME-
  • Fatal Frame. There are hostile ghost and non-hostile ones, along with ones that will help you. You don't always know this when they appear. Sometimes the ghosts won't give any indication that they're one or the other until you start moving towards them. It doesn't help that the atmosphere of the games contribute to the entire idea that something could jump out and try to kill you at any moment... it's just meant to have to sitting on the edge of your seat ready to jump and hit pause the moment something jumps out of you. There's no shortage of creepy moments in the games that make you THINK something will happen, but not, so then you just wind up feeling that everything is trying to screw with you.
  • The Spyro the Dragon games have some examples.
    • In Spyro 2, the level Fracture Hills is specifically designed to be extreme paranoia fuel. The whole level is filled with bushes and trees... except that some of the bushes will try to eat you, and some of the trees will attack you with bees. The trees are not so bad, as the presence of a beehive will alert you to the fact that they are enemies, but the bushes are infinitely worse - they look exactly like the harmless bushes, so you won't even notice they are hostile until you're being chewed up by one. By the time you've reached the end of the level you will have probably flamed every harmless tree and bush there is, just to be safe.
      • How about that lightning orb side challenge in Hurricos? You walk around a creepily empty area, restoring these light orbs to their power sockets. Simple enough, except that at random times a rather alarming siren will sound, followed by the sneaky laughter of several purple enemies who steal the light orbs. While they aren't very scary looking and can't even hurt you, the paranoia comes from knowing that just a second ago this place was empty except for you, and now suddenly there are these things running around....
    • In Spyro 5, one level, Crocovile Swamp, has a tunnel you have to walk down. It looks just like any other harmless tunnel until a spider jumps out from a hidden alcove at you. You will likely spend five whole minutes inching your way down the rest of that tunnel, terrified of more spiders (and there ARE more). Quite apart from the shock of a surprise attack like that, the spiders are huge, shake when you get close and are visibly hairy.
      • In fact, that whole level is just rife with this trope; you've got fire-breathing flowers with teeth that will pull a sneak attack on you when you round corners, crocodiles who look similar to other, mostly harmless enemies except that they throw exploding boomerangs, and instant-death quicksand that in the dim lighting doesn't look much different from normal ground. How this got to be the second level in the game is beyond this troper.
  • Not even Pokémon is safe.
    • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Old Chateau, Pre-National Dex. You will not be able to sit near an off TV for days without looking at it out of suspicion. And the Pokemon this is connected to isn't much better, considering it can control other electronics in Platinum (A washer, fan, lawnmower, refrigerator, or microwave oven). If that thing wasn't on your side when it possesses the lawnmower...
    • Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver has a photographer that apparently follows you EVERYWHERE. Your player character is a 10 year old child. And he takes photos of you. Quite creepy...
      • Also the callers from the phone mechanic somehow always know what you've done. And then there's Juggler Irwin, who only says something like "Every time I think back on your adventures, I'm left in awe." and hangs up. Though in Crystal, he only acts like a stalker if you're playing as a girl. Wait, that didn't help...
    • Cipher's activities in Orre cement them as the patron saints of this trope.
      • Phenac City. In Colosseum, Mayor Es Cade is really Cipher's Grand Master Evice, and nobody seems to notice the evil hanging over their heads. In XD, however, everyone in town is a disguised Peon, and the real mayor's incomplete note is the only hint as to the truth behind the entire town.
      • Ceiling Peons. Everywhere. Even on the elevator.
      • Cipher does its damned best to keep its very existence confidential - you only know about it if you're in Orre, and that's because Wes caused a ruckus. Nobody outside the group knows just what they're planning, as whenever someone other than Wes and Michael try, they take action to keep the public from figuring out. Cute red-headed girl sees the black aura around a Makuhita? Sack her and take her back to headquarters! Running low on Pokemon for personnel armament? Steal a cargo ship and throw the crew overboard! Vital data about to be compromised because that brat with stolen technology snuck a disc off your admin? Raid the fucking news station and scrub their mainframe!!
    • So, in Pokemon Black And White, N mentions he ordered the Shadow Triad to keep tabs on you whenever he can't follow you around himself. To make things worse, the Triad are very fussy about taking orders that contradict those of their actual boss, but don't balk at N doing this, so either there's a standing "Obey N unless it directly interferes with me" order, or Ghetsis also wants them to watch you.
  • In Bioshock, it's set up very early that around any corner, behind any door, when you turn around there could be someone there, standing quietly waiting to kill you, and nothing is as it seems. e.g. the splicer woman standing over her baby carriage cooing to her "baby", which is actually a gun and who will try to murder you if you get close enough. The rest of the game should go by in a mix of acute shock, horror and paranoia if they did it right, which they did.
    • Would you kindly do something for me?
    • Upgraded in the sequel, where Lamb will tell her followers Big Sister is Watching.
  • You thought Bioshock was bad? Try System Shock 2. For most of the game, the ship will be dead silent, aside from the hum of an air conditioner and the sound of your own footsteps... unless you are spotted by a security camera, in which case you will hear every monster in the area screaming as it sprints to your position to maul you to death. Did we mention that there are no friendly or even sentient NPCs at all?
    • Made worse by the fact that most enemies will be heard before they are seen... so the smallest, tiniest sound becomes a horrific alarm bell to your ears. Do be silent yourself, though, THE ENEMIES CAN HEAR YOU.
  • Playing Tenchu for more then two hours will leave you in absolute paranoia. Ninjas could come from anywhere this very second. Shadow Asassins made it even worse, allowing the Ninjas to hide in dark corners, pots, under the ground, in a cupboard, in the ceiling, behind doors, under your seat.
    • A similar thing occurs with playing Hitman and being around bald men... is that person really a police officer? Why is there a syringe in his hand...?
  • Tales of the Abyss. The idea that some random ambient particle that only specific people can detect knows exactly who you are, what you're doing, and what you will be doing...
  • In Martian Gothic: Unification, if two of your characters enter the same room, all three of them fuse together into a type of monster that you've been dealing with. Imagine, you could just come across someone, and suddenly be fused into a horrific monster.
  • Dead Space will have you routinely dismembering corpses whenever you enter a room for fear of "infectors". As this game features "strategic dismemberment" as a game-play mechanic this tends to produce a lot of gore.
    • The necromorphs that make up a majority of the enemies you encounter in the game tend to pop out of vents. The game sometimes exploits this by leaving an open AC vent or scripting noises that sound like something is crawling in the vents that eventually amount to nothing.
  • The Infocom Interactive Fiction game A Mind Forever Voyaging invokes this in its prologue: "You have spent twenty years living a normal, unsuspecting life. You are YOU. The suddenly, one day, the universe around you is torn away, and you learn that your whole life has been a charade, a carefully calculated scientific experiment. Perhaps, at this very moment, you are a normal human being, sitting in some comfortable armchair reading this story. But - perhaps you are not."
  • In Eversion, dying in the later stages will sometimes replace the "READY!" prompt with "BEHIND YOU" or "I SEE YOU". Or "GIVE UP". Or "GAME OVER". Or just a plain black screen. The "I SEE YOU" message seems to be foreshadowing for something that happens after the game is cleared with the good ending. On the other hand, the "I SEE YOU", "STOP" messages are particularly disturbing when you are making modifications on the game's files.
  • The Milkman Conspiracy level in Psychonauts is a level based on Paranoia Fuel, a given when the level takes place inside a conspiracy theorist's psyche. It includes shady (albeit hilariously inept) Men in Black figures, a cult of Girl Scouts dedicated to keeping the Milkman hidden, and almost every thing in the level will sprout a camera or a pair of eyes (so much so that using clairvoyance on them actually gives you a view of yourself) when you're not facing them. They are all somehow obsessed with the "true nature" the Milkman, a split personality of the person whose head you're running around in, who runs around filled with Tranquil Fury and throwing around milk-bottle Molotov Cocktails. Some of the lines from Boyd Cooper/The Milkman show exactly how paranoid this level can make you feel.
  • The Suffering. The games involve places filled with evil spawning murderous Malefactors embodying the sins that tainted them — possibly because the evil eventually makes the places sentient and malevolent. Where the Paranoia Fuel comes in is that it's implied that there isn't anywhere people have lived that hasn't built up enough evil for this — it's just waiting for the right catalyst to bring it out.
  • If you leave a game of Bookworm Adventures 2 idle for long enough, Lex will say "How long does it take to go to the bathroom?" Perfectly innocent and amusing...unless you happen to be in the bathroom wearing wireless headphones at the time. Lex is watching.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines features the line, "If you should survive and need information, come back and see me. I'm always here... and everywhere..."
    • Even better: "I'm over here, boss! Wait, maybe I'm over here! Or maybe I'm behind you with a hatchet in my hand! Or did you never stop to think that your fear, if given a voice, would sound... like... THIS."
  • Chapter 2 of Mother 3, Osohe Castle - Anyone who has played Earthbound knows as soon as they see one of the abstract paintings that they -are- going to attack you. The problem is, most of them really are just paintings. "Most", not "all".
    Claus: Everyone's waiting for you, Lucas. Waiting to throw rocks at you, to spit on you, to make your life a living hell. Who's everyone? ...Everyone you love.
    • Then there's the Ultimate Chimera. Thought you left it behind in the Chimera Lab? Wrong. Dead wrong. It escaped, and managed to get from a science lab on the Nowhere Islands to a bathroom in an extremely well-secured building in a city that's floating possibly miles above the ground. Where else could it be hiding...?
  • The Garry's Mod mod The Harmless Companion Cube. Manages Offscreen Teleportation... in a First-Person Shooter via pure physics.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Modern Warfare 2 missions "Shock and Awe" and "No Russian". Consider the fact that neither event is even slightly fantastical nowadays, and actually a very real possibility.
    • Modern Warfare 3 showed that both events were led by one man, rather than just No Russian. This is just as possible as the events themselves. Think: a madman who "trades blood for money" could rise up and turn one of the Earth's superpowers into his own private army, then train all the nukes under his thumb onto one of the other superpowers. Why? Fuck you, that's why.
  • The Cocytans in The Dig are nice enough once you save them, apart from the comment their leader makes about how "if any of your people try to pick a fight with us, we'll mash them like bugs." In context, what he meant to say was "don't worry, we can take care of ourselves" in response to Commander Low cautioning him that not all humans would be as amenable to the idea of alien contact; but the way he said it, it makes one worry about what would happen if the Cocytans ever gave humankind a good reason to "pick a fight" with them...
  • Small one in Mario Party DS. Boo's trophy description's last couple lines: "Do you think he's a nice ghost? Ask him yourself. He's right behind you."
    • For that matter, Boos in general. There could be one behind you right now, sneaking up for the kill. Or there could be one right in front of you, waiting for you to turn around.
  • Forgetting the incredible Video Game Cruelty Potential and the fact that you play as a Nigh Invulnerable cannibal shapeshifter and think about the concept. Alex Mercer is capable of taking anyone's identity, even being capable of mimicking the sound of someone's voice when they're talking with a gas mask on (as Karen Parker found out the hard way), and is known to the city at large as a violent, sociopathic bio-terrorist. Just think about trying to live in the Big Applesauce with that knowledge and getting to sleep at night. Granted, Alex tends not to go after civilians except by accident, but that doesn't bring any comfort to anyone in the military. It's not a surprise the "Patsy" ability works so well.
  • The Sims. On the surface it's a harmless simulation game. But when you start thinking about the premise...what if there is some higher "player" capitolizing on Video Game Cruelty Potential manipulating your every move and controlling your entire life? And there's nothing you can do about it. * Shudder*
  • Kirby's Dark Matter. Already frightening, it just gets scarier if you think about it. After all, someone who is possessed by Dark Matter doesn't have to show any symptoms. Anyone you know could be the puppets of an Eldritch Abomination: your friends, your family, your pets... In fact, can you be sure that YOU aren't possessed! Those thoughts in your head-are they yours, or is someone else thinking them for you?
  • Parasite Eve. Realize, if you will, that there are small intelligent life forms living inside EVERY SINGLE CELL of your body. Now, imagine if one day they decided to revolt...
  • The Fade in Dragon Age is pretty disturbing. The realm of spirits and demons, it is the place where everyone visits when they dream, except for Dwarves. Usually one can sleep peacefully without any worries and if you do get the attention of any demons, you will usually just wake up and only vaguely remember it as a bad dream. However, if you are a Mage you remain self-aware that you are in the Fade, increasing the risk that a Demon will be attracted to you, intending to hitch a ride into the waking world by possessing your body, transforming it into an abomination. As people are very well aware of this, all mages are forced to join a Circle when their ability is discovered, where they are monitored by templars all day round for the rest of their lives, to be slain instantly on any sign of possession. Everyone who refuses to join a circle or tries to escapes is killed as well. The only way to completely avoid this is to be cut off from the Fade entirely by being made Tranquil, a process that is essentially a magical lobotomy that robs you of all magical potential, the ability to dream, and the ability to feel any emotion at all.
    • How about in Ortan Thaig when you begin heading deep in and the spiders who have been ambushing you all this time run away back to their lairs it almost feels as if theres something even scarier up ahead.
  • From the screen shown after you quit out of Wing Commander III: "While you sleep, they'll be waiting."
  • They're watching you.
  • In Metroid Prime 3, on your way to the Seeker Missile, you walk past shielded tubes containing Metroids. Guess what happens when you get the item.
    • But your paranoia fuel isn't enough to prepare yourself for how these Metroids works. You expect to be able to shoot the Ice Missiles at the Metroids since ice has been the easiest way to kill Metroids since the first game so you shoot the missile at the metroid and the Metroid just phases and the Missile just passes through. Cue major Freak Out.
    • The biggest source of Paranoia Fuel has to be the SA-X. You first see it right after you go down the elevator to the Sectors, blasting right through a wall that you just passed. Even worse, you start to realize that this evil clone could turn up anywhere and blast Samus to bits without breaking a sweat.
      • You enter a room. It's quiet. Then, you hear it. TAP TAP TAP. Coupled with that bone-chilling ambiance, it's like a bucket of ice water down your back. And you pray it doesn't turn into DAAA DA-DA-DA DA-DA-DA because then it sees you.
      • Players tend to lose their paranoia after actually dying to the SA-X the first time, as it has a pretty basic intelligence. For the most part, it just tries to catch up to Samus, freeze her, and shoot a missile- not even checking to make sure it is on the same level as the immobile target it is going after, meaning it could very well miss a frozen target. Hilariously, this knock-off Samus can easily be dodged if you know its behavior. Cue Yakety SA-X.
      • Sometimes SA-X is such a Paranoia Fuel that you can't listen to its theme without hearing its footsteps.
  • In Shadow of Destiny, the game starts with you getting murdered out of nowhere, and you don't know why—and you don't get murdered just once like that. By the time you have finished the game and know the reason for your murder ( your time traveling to save your own life will set off a chain of events that the villain needs to be born, depending on your ending), you're already wondering whether death really could be lurking around every corner.
  • The Reapers in Mass Effect. ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL.
    • And by extension, indoctrination. Undeniably a Fate Worse Than Death and once you even realize what's happening to you, it's already too late.
    • It gets worse in Mass Effect 3 where indoctrinated agents may be everywhere. You think you're safe? Maybe in the six months you were away from action one of your friends was captured and indoctrinated, and you have no real way to be sure, until they prove loyalty to you... or to the reapers. There are some examples in-game of characters appearing to be your friends, until they reveal their indoctrination.
      • The Indoctrination Theory, a fan theory that arose following the release of Mass Effect 3, proposed that the original ending to the game, which contained various inconsistencies & plot holes, was actually Shepard undergoing Reaper indcotrination. People have torn the game apart looking for proof this theory is accurate, even finding a subtle audio effect that wouldn't be picked up by speakers, but only occurs in certain places, usually when Reaper technology & agents are around. It's when people found it in places they didn't expect it - Like whenever Major Coates, a minor character from the end of the game, is around - that this trope really kicks in.
    • The Shadow Broker, a covert information broker.
      • In Mass Effect 2, a sidequest provided by former squadmate Liara has Shepard hunting a Shadow Broker spy on Illium, only going off datalogs Hidden in Plain Sight. The spy is actaully Liara's secretary.
      • The "Lair of the Shadow Broker" actually has Shepard & Liara tracking down the Shadow Broker. Completing the DLC has Liara take his role, and upon returning to the Broker's ship, she's collected some data you might be interested in - several personal files regarding Shepard's crew. As in medical records, emails, covert mission logs...
    • Also from Mass Effect 3, is what happens if the player betrays the Krogan if Wrex is still alive. He confronts Shepard about it, but doesn't reveal who told him, meaning it's very possible the Shadow Broker a.k.a Liara was the one who did it.
    • Mass Effect 3's Leviathan DLC adds some more paranoia fuel. All three of the new locations are in star clusters that had been visited in the previous game. One of those locations was even in a system that had been visited in the previous game and had been in its current state for more than ten years. The series takes place over the course of 3-4 at most. It makes the player wonder what else they've flown by over the course of the series, completely oblivious. It's even lampshaded by a squadmate.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's use of You ALL Look Familiar for multiplayer may actually be for this. With all the NPCs looking like the playable characters, how do you know which ones are the other players? Newbies will give themselves away with High Profile actions like running around and going on rooftops, but experts will hide in the crowds, waiting for you to pass by, and then OHSHITWHEREDIDTHISGUYCOMEFRO- poof, Yet Another Stupid Death.
    • When Ezio uses his "Call Assassins" ability, the Assassins will often leap down off roofs or ride in on horseback to kill your target. But if there's a hide spot like a well, haystack, or roof garden nearby, the Assassin will leap out of there with no warning - leaving one with the unsettling suspicion that every hide spot in the game has an Assassin waiting there.
      • This also adds a bit of humor value to whenever you drop into one of the hide spots. Imagine all those Assassins trying to fit inside that hay cart!
      • Somewhat supported by the dev team's explanation that the Assassin apprentices in the game are his bodyguard team when not deployed on missions elsewhere (though the Project Legacy Facebook game has him training Assassin apprentices who just do missions), so except for certain missions and the final Sequence, they are following him the whole time. On the other hand, we never see them enter their hiding spots...
      • Subtly reinforced by how Seekers — the guards who would poke any hay carts or haystacks they came across on their patrol routes — appear more frequently than they ever did in Assassin's Creed II, although the devs explained that as being a historical nod (to the rise of pike-and-shot tactics).
  • Myst. Notice anything different? Gehn screwed up. AGAIN.
  • From Kongai: A stealthed, deadly, unpredictable killing machine, Angelan just might be behind you RIGHT NOW!
  • Any Stealth game provokes the feeling that there could be a quiet, well-armed man sneaking around near you right now. No, don't bother looking. He could be on the ceiling. Or maybe he's coming tomorrow. Or maybe he's already been there, and his superiors said not to kill you. And it doesn't matter where you are. Work, home, airport, third world country, castle...
  • Doctor Chaos. You have to open doors and cabinets to find weapons... unless a boss jumps out an kills you because you don't have the weapons to defend yourself.
  • Touhou: Every bit about Yukari Yakumo and her eyes-staring-at-you-from-inside-a-vagina-thing. Her power over borders allows her to snatch anyone from outside world to put into Gensokyo. Since "borders" are everywhere, you can potentially step into Gensokyo just by passing through an otherwise normal door inside your own home. Brrr.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum is an intensely creepy game in itself (because your wandering around a dark, dirty insane asylum), and it doesn't help later in the game which takes place in Arkham's Cell blocks where you Pass through a room filled with screaming loonies in cells.. The Paranoia fuel really starts when ALL of the prisoners are released and you are forced to go back through the dark cell blocks, afraid that one could just leap out on you at any moment...
    • Subversion 1: You have Detective Mode, which reveals hiding loonies from quite a distance, giving you plenty of time to prepare.
      • It doesn't show them if they're in the ceiling somewhere.
    • Subversion 2: You're Batman.
      • One of the areas you have to find to get all of the Riddles that the Riddler leaves around the Island is Scarecrow's hideout. Take a close look at those photos on the walls. Notice anything? Yup, that's right, he's been watching you the entire game, waiting for you to show up just so he can attack you with fear toxin... Other such fun, paranoia-inducing touches include that creepy Joker mannequin in the visitor's center (hint: turn around when you reach the door), the fact that since the Joker controls the whole asylum and is taunting you over the PA system, that means he's also watching you (and he even leaves you 'presents' as a reward for jumping through his hoops), and Killer Croc's two little foreshadowing threats earlier in the game that lead up to you having to go into his lair while he stalks you the whole. Time.
  • In Star Wars Battlefront, battles can go horribly wrong for you, leaving a huge army on the opposing side and only YOU on your side.
    • The real paranoia comes when you're the last guy on your team and you suddenly hear "Darth Vader has entered the battle"
  • Pikmin series:
    • The first game has The Final Trial. There are only small tests around a linear path and no enemies. Even though the level looks quite colorful, you just can't help but to feel wrong each time you land there. The music hides an incredibly eerie undertone in an otherwise happy and cheery music. This, combined with the fact that it seems that only you and your pikmins are in that place, makes for some creepy final level. At the very end of the stage, your fears become justified as it holds the final boss, the Emperor Bulbax, appearing out of the ground.
    • Anyone who's played Pikmin 2 knows that when you're in the caves, ANYTHING can suddenly drop on you at ANYTIME. In fact, when you're above ground in the Perplexing Pool after a certain number of days, a BEADY LONG LEGS can drop down on you out of nowhere.
      • It doesn't help that there are cases where stuff can fall on you when you walk into a spot you've already been in & there even seem to be cases where things only fall if your Pikmin walk under their vicinity while carrying something.
      • Well, the Beady Long Legs only appears right in front of the landing area, so you do know where it is, but since it's huge and dangerous, you have to kill it if you still need one of the above-ground treasures.
      • The Waterwraith. He comes down to kill all your Pikmin if you spend too long on a floor in his dungeon. How long? You don't know. You can spend a while doing your business and dreading the inevitable moment this Implacable Man makes its appearance.
      • Creeping chrysanthemums are monsters that hide underground showing only their flowers. The flowers look like margarets except they have eyes that are hard to notice. If you look up Creeping Chrysanthemum in the piklopedia it sometimes shows one hiding in a flower pot. That flower pot is actually in a level & you have to throw your white pikmin into it so they'll dig up a treasure but there are margarets in it.
  • This is a nice website you got here. Shame if something happened to it. SSSSSSSSSSSSS...
  • I Wanna Be the Guy. Are you sure that that tree isn't going to kill you? How about the lamp in your bedroom? Have you checked those bathroom tiles recently? As far as you know, even this TVTropes page could be a trap...
    • Platform Hell in general will do this to you. After dying to traps about 100 times, even the ground where you start the next level may very well be a pitfall trap. That 1-up in the air? Either it triggers an instant kill trap when collected, or the 1-up itself kills you!
  • Have you ever taken a look at certain cults and religions such as Happyology, or the ones even more creepy? Well, in it's most extreme form, might I present The Cult Of The Damned They want the whole planet to be killed and revived to serve The Lich King. And they Almost succeeded but for a few Genre Savvy reactions from the remaining Alliance Kingdoms. Think about that for a minute. For any single warrior that fought in defence, and for every single individual that went to Northrend on the counter offensive, there is NO guarantee you will be granted a peaceful rest...
  • The obscure shooter Chimera Beast does this with its good ending. It says this, and I quote: "EATERS have destroyed the entire ecosystem of the planet, which is now in ruin. Now the EATERS will roam the universe in search of more victims. Repeating their pattern of destruction on each planet they find. Eventually, they'll undoubtedly reach the Earth. And you'll have to live with the knowledge that what led them there"
  • Just exploring the wastes in Fallout can become this. You never know if that buzzing you hear in New Vegas is just ambient noise, or if it's a group of Cazadores trying to sneak up on you.
  • Then there's chapter 2-4 in Super Paper Mario. Mimi, a shapeshifting villain, will stalk you throughout the basement of the mansion while in her nightmarish "true form." If you spend too much time in one room, you'll hear that chinging sound as the chase music starts up and she comes raining down on you.
    • Then there's Dimentio. Things he says and does throughout the story imply that he can just appear in front of you at any time or place and say weird, rhyming similes. Between chapter 6 and 7, Dimentio shows up at the house you've been spending time at and nukes Mario, Peach, and Bowser to death. The way he did this implies he could have done this at any point if he wanted to. Luckily for you, it's part of a plan that he needs you alive for and doing this actually helps you.
  • Bella! It's mummy. I came to get you!
  • After the first time a Mimic instantly devours you when you try to open it in Dark Souls you will probably attack every chest you see.
  • The later levels of D/Generation have enemies that can disguise as hostages or nearly anything in the environment - furniture, potted plants, and more. If you get too close, they'll shift form and decapitate you for an instant kill. Even better yet, they're immune to your laser gun, and they'll chase you from room to room until one of you dies!
  • I'm not the only one who has thought that difficult parts of any game are programmed to predict your movements and outright screw you right?
    • Every game (especially Role Playing Games or any kind of strategy game) will make you feel this way at least once. Then Pokémon Colosseum came along, and it actually is programmed to predict your movements. After you've chosen your strategy, the computer will choose its. Choose to counter special moves, it'll use a physical move.
  • After your first encounter with a dragon in Skyrim, you'll likely flinch every time you see a shadow fall over you. Even if it's just a bird.
    • The worst part is that the ambient "wind blowing past your ears" sound effects are hard to distinguish from the "flap of enormous leathery wings" sound effects. Actually, no, the worst part is that far enough into the game, every time you enter an area there's a chance a dragon might swoop down out of nowhere.
    • The Dawnguard expansion adds random vampire attacks at night inside cities. Those walls no longer protect you....
    • Dawnguard also adds a random encounter in the form of a "Traveler" who is actually a vampire who stalks and kills a random NPC in the area. He doesn't show up as a hostile, either, so you have to keep your eyes open, because you never really know when he'll show up. Paranoia at its finest!
  • League of Legends is an odd case where this trope is actually used as a gameplay mechanic in form of the playable champion Nocturne. Nocturne's ultimate ability (aptly named Paranoia) causes the enemy team to lose sight over the entire map save for their sight radius, making it impossible for them to see where their allies and what they are seeing. In addition, while Paranoia is active, Nocturne can target an enemy and leap towards them, flying over terrain at high speed. Combine this with the fact that he's always played as a roaming ambusher, and you have a champion whose mere presence is a psychological weapon. The team playing against Nocturne is never going to feel safe, as Nocturne can turn the tables of any fight against them, and their own teammates won't even know you're being targeted to begin with!
    • Fiddlesticks is another good one. Fiddle is infamous for his Crowstorm ganks, which consists of a cackling scarecrow popping out of the bushes, surrounded by a ravenous flock of crows when you least expect it. If he hasn't been seen for awhile, it's probably because-CAWCAWCAWCAWCAWCAWCAW
  • Blood is one of your most useful resources in killer7. It heals you, it upgrades you, it lets you perform special attacks and abilities... then Andrei Ulmeyda turns into a Smile. This is a man who has experimented on his blood to create vaccines. As in, his blood is disease filled, but he became immune to these diseases. When he finally loses his resistance to becoming a Smile, it's revealed his blood is so diseased that to anyone who has not drank his blood or the player character(s), it is ACIDIC.
  • If you wander around at night in Drakkhen, the constellations may randomly form into powerful monsters that can kill everyone. You'll never want to travel at night ever again.
  • Hell Night, a Playstation One game released only in Europe and Japan, has this in spades. The game is played in first person, and casts the player in the role of an average Joe salaryman trying to escape from the underground areas of Tokyo as he is stalked by a constantly-mutating humanoid monster for some reason. The high school girl that the main character is partnered with at the beginning of the game can detect the monster's presence somehow and will tell you were he is... usually. Another scary part of the game is that NPCs are not visible outside of individual rooms until you walk right up to them, making for some unpleasant surprises, especially if you haven't come down from the adrenaline rush of encountering and escaping the monster at the time.
  • Red Dead Redemption isn't a horror game by any stretch, but certain areas can feel like this. In particular, Tall Trees seems designed to make the player paranoid. The trees severely limit visibility and mobility, and the area is crawling with cougars and bears, the most dangerous animals in the game. Oftentimes you'll be able to hear them in the distance, but have no idea where they actually are.
    • The DLC Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare cranks this up to eleven. You can't go anywhere outside of a safe town without having to constantly look over your shoulder to make sure a bunch of zombies haven't materialized behind you.
  • X-Com, its sequels, and the 2012 remake X Com Enemy Unknown hinge much of the horror aspect of their gameplay on Paranoia Fuel. Your team of trained operatives are sent to deal with an enemy humanity knows little of, and the uncertainties of landing in a fresh new battleground covered by the Fog of War, with no enemies in sight as your team begins moving into positions, can be very unnerving. Extra paranoia is delivered via the Terror Missions, where the aliens deploy some exceptionally dangerous and terrifying Terror Units that you can't see, sometimes until it's too late and they're in range to shoot you, or worse, run into melee range to stab, crush, or impregnate you. The ominous background music (or lack thereof) does not help.
    • The Enemy Within expansion pack adds the Seeker, a robotic alien drone that can cloak itself, allowing it to stealthily sneak up to exposed and isolated operatives and start strangling them to death. Is your Squadsight Sniper safe right now?
  • The Tiny Tina DLC for Borderlands 2 introduces a new enemy, the mimic. You will never trust another chest again.
  • Platform Hell games are chock full of this, with traps springing from objects that seem perfectly innocent and harmless. NEVER trust anything in a platform hell game, not even the clouds in the background.
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, there are the yellow-eyed, sharped-grinned ghosts in Pumpkin Hill, Aquatic Mine, and Death Chamber. Some of them are invisible and don't reveal themselves until after you get close to them, at which point they'll pop out in your face and grow very large before dissipating. They're scattered randomly throughout these levels, you have absolutely no way to detect them, and they will hide in the walls, inside objects, in the floor, etc.
  • There's a disease in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey called the Delphinus Parasite. It causes those it infects to fly into an uncontrollable anger, attacking anyone in sight. It's impossible to trace physically, because there is no physical vector - the disease is spiritual and transmitted by unknown means. The only cure is a repurposed mind control gun - you basically have to brainwash its victims back to normal. And eventually, that stops working...
    • There is also an example in the game mechanics, that when you encounter a previously unseen enemy, it is displayed as a bunch of scattered data and has to be scanned. Which could either be a pushover or could be a dreaded Herald or Fiend.
  • The whole point of Five Nights at Freddy's is to induce this in you. You're a security guard. You have nothing except a bunch of security cameras, two doors that you have to manually close (and normally leave open to save power), two hallway lights and 3 friendly animatronics on the stage that you have to guard. Uh... make that two on the stage and one in the dining area. Wait, there's only one on stage, one in the dining area and one in the hallway right outside! You check the security cameras... There's only two. Where SCREE
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