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Nightmare Fuel / Batman: Arkham Asylum

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"Prepare to face your fears... All of them!"

WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.

  • As the Dark Knight himself, you must survive a night in the titular asylum (which rivals Rapture in terms of atmosphere), surrounded by a good portion of his Rogues Gallery, to stop a plan sprung by none other than The Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill, no less). The tone is essentially a hard "T" rating. Considering, among other things, you see a man's spine rip out of his back in close-up, it's frankly astounding the game did not wind up with an "M" rating.
  • And then you actually have run-ins with Scarecrow and his fear-inducing toxin. With little more warning than a cough from Batman, you get told off by his zombified parents, relive the night of their murder from the perspective of little Bruce Wayne, and get eerily unusual radio messages. To top it all off, each hallucination culminates in a platforming segment through an area that is part black hole and part Silent Hill, evading the killer gaze of a twenty-story tall Scarecrow. And then, he starts messing with you, the player, directly...
    • And if he sees you, the dread you feel knows no bounds. And the things Scarecrow says to you if you die to him are terrifying.
    Scarecrow: Now madness takes you... forever.
    Scarecrow: And, at the end of fear... OBLIVION!
    Scarecrow: You've failed. Now, suffer.
    • The morgue, where Batman falls prey to Scarecrow's literal Nightmare Fuel for the first time. Since it's the first time, you know something's wrong but you don't know what — just like Batman. The times afterwards as things increasingly freak out, you realize what's going on more quickly — again, just like Batman.
      • The Uncanny Valley renderings of Zombie Thomas and Martha Wayne.
      • In the French language version, the chanting voices are Thomas and Martha themselves (or, at least, sounds exactly like them) ...and now you get Martha screaming something that sounds a lot like "sang" ...French for "blood," naturally. It's disturbing.
      • There's also the chanting when you first "enter" the morgue.
      • Paranoia Fuel sets in real quick if you don't catch the hint to leave the morgue and instead stay, expecting Scarecrow to be somewhere in there. The movement you keep catching, just out of the corner of your eye? Just the hatch to one of the drawers (which are constantly opening and closing)...right?
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    • And the third and final time Batman succumbs to the fear gas, with the faux console freezing. There are several hints for the alert player that this is a Scarecrow moment, but it's still masterfully done.
      • About the only clue to the hallucinations is Batman coughing. For the last one, it follows a female voice asking over the intercom, "Did anyone catch the game last night?" That itself is creepy, but it masks the coughing. Then the game freezes and restarts. Even for those aware of the scene, it can catch you off-guard, first time it's seen until the twisted Bat Signal appears, even past where we see Joker driving the Batmobile, it very much looks like the game had crashed. Bonus points for the line being something that would cause a crash in a faulty game.
    • When Batman is brought into the Asylum on a gurney in the fear gas-induced vision, he screams that he's not insane. Just the thought of the always calm and stoic Batman screaming for mercy is chilling.
      Batman: CUT ME FREE!!
      • There's another layer of Batman's fear referenced in this sequence. There have been hints in other media about Scarecrow knowing or at least correctly suspecting Batman's true identity. It gets referenced in this game when Scarecrow, acting as Batman's therapist, sighs that he has been like this since his parents died. Just think about that for a minute.
      • Listen close to the background chatter during the scene. The "prisoners" that are making a ruckus for the "guards" off-screen? That's Gordon, Sharpe, Cash, and Doctor Young (who was killed earlier in the game). They're being herded outside by Joker's gang, where they'll be shot. And they're begging Batman to save them all the while, as he lies there on the gurney unable to move.
      • And at the end of the sequence, Joker shoots Batman in the face, prompting the game to inform you that you failed the mission, prompting you to "use the middle stick to avoid being shot." Choosing 'Retry' will take you to the next part of the game, but the moment you see that screen is just terrifying. It probably won't be the first time you see the Game Over screen, but in this instance, you're left feeling utterly helpless since you have no idea what you did wrong.
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    • For one of the Riddler Challenges, you find Scarecrow's lair in one of the elevator shafts in Intensive Treatment. It's a Room Full of Crazy with map layouts of the whole island and photos of Batman in the Asylum. He is stalking you the whole time.
      • Arkham Island is a low-level war zone, filled with insane inmates, gun-toting nut-jobs, and several other Bat-rogues, all of whom seem to either fear/respect/get gassed by Scarecrow enough to let him pass by without question. The whole time. It's damn creepy at best, and a serious upgrade for the not-so-good doctor.
  • The scene where Joker demonstrates the effects of the Titan formula on two of his mooks, resulting in a seriously grotesque Painful Transformation for both of them, with rapid increase in muscle mass and bones growing from their bodies, as well as glowing green eyes and becoming highly feral.
    • And then later on, when Joker uses the formula on himself and becomes a much bigger Titan mutant than the others, with his ribs sticking out, huge bony spikes protruding from his forearms and down his spine; and huge talons. That's right; he becomes a literal Monster Clown. With a sick mohawk to boot.
  • Killer Croc's lair. You're walking through an abandoned labyrinthine sewer, supported only by panels of rotting wood, walking as slowly as possible so that Croc doesn't get the drop on you, knowing full well that he can surface at any time, with only a short warning. And then, once you have made your way to the most remote corner of the area, Croc gets hungry. Oh, and if you fail, one of Croc's Game Over screens ends with a horrific case of Eat the Camera.
    • Before that, Croc apparently eats Scarecrow. However, one of the after-game cut-scenes shows that Scarecrow survived.
  • Enter the holding cells of the Penitentiary and don't get creeped out by the rabid inmates. They aren't so bad after they're released and scatter, but while they're still imprisoned?
    • After they've been released, a couple of them hide in the ceiling, where Detective Mode can't pick up on them. When you go near them, they drop down, scream, and leap on top of you.
    • The noises the psychopaths make are creepy enough, but once you enter the hallway that has Harvey Dent's cell, you can hear a psychopath screaming, but the place is completely empty. At the end, you see a grate in the ceiling. Pulling it down reveals that the psychopath was right on top of it and it immediately jumps down attacking you.
      • Even worse, is some areas, like the Green Mile or just entering Clayface's area, you can sometimes hear psychopaths screaming despite you having searched the place.
    • Also, the mirror in the Penitentiary's bathroom, if you go back after the psychopaths are freed, has one hiding in the stall right beside it.
  • The Visitor Center. Dear God, the Visitor Center. The fact that it is the only area in the entire game in which you're forced to use first-person view makes it worse, as does the implication at the end of the game that Joker was in there every time you entered it.
    • A little game to play. Go into the Visitor Center, say "hello" to the Joker mannequin, then turn around and head back to the door. Before you leave, look back. Something wrong?
      • This one gets especially creepy when there are multiple mannequins, meaning the mundane explanation given by the ending of the game doesn't apply.
    • Another tidbit: After the second time you enter the Visitor's Center, the only thing Joker does when you approach the mannequin is laugh...and laugh...and laugh...and laugh...
    • Here's an In-Universe example: Enter the Visitor Center after you get into the access for Intensive Treatment. Joker will wax philosophic to Batman about how their rivalry might end. He feels that one will kill the other, but the winner might not know what he'll do afterwards. If he's being honest, Joker is terrified, not about being killed or winning, but of what the winner will do.
  • The part where Zsasz grabs Dr. Young and drags her around a corner with a knife to her throat. She's screaming for help and pleading with him to let her go, Joker's watching from the security cameras cheering him on, Zsasz is on the verge of snapping completely from the pressure and killing her anyway; and you're around the corner with a Batarang aimed. Oh, and if you miss, she's going to die. Good luck!
    • Some people like to wait out and listen to all of the dialogue of a scene before acting; it's a common thing some gamers do. You do that here, Zsasz kills Dr. Young. Oops. Joker even taunts you, saying "Who would've figured the deranged murderer would kill the poor little doctor?" He has a point.
  • The Chronicles of Arkham. The Asylum's founder, now existing as a spirit in the walls of his own institution and ready to lobotomize pre-criminal Harley Quinn, has the killer of his family strapped into an electric chair and slowly fried to death, sets Poison Ivy on fire, and beats schizophrenics to death to "clean the scum of Gotham City." Granted, none of his victims are exactly angels themselves, but...
    • The scariest part about all this is that it's not really the spirit of Amadeus Arkham, but Warden Quincy Sharp believing himself to be the reincarnation of Arkham. All of the references he makes to any Arkham inmates are the super-criminals that Batman has put there, such as Joker, Poison Ivy, and Killer Croc, as well as a sane Harley (before she joined Joker). The final riddle of the game is to figure out who he is. The last Chronicle you scan is written on the floor of the security station where you rescue Sharp, and it's just a circle with "BATMAN" written over and over again. His last message is that he wants you to continue on his work. Creepy. Also, throughout the entire asylum, there are posters which hint at this; seeing them when playing the game a second time is truly eerie.
    • This results in the Asylum having some of the most nightmare-inducing scenery ever seen when you realize the Asylum wasn't created to cure, but to punish. In the maximum security section of the Penitentiary, above a bunch of holding cells for the most delusional inmates surrounded by electrified floors, in massive letters on the wall reads the phrase "Mors certa, Hora incerta." It's Latin for "Death certain, hour uncertain."
      • From the same area: "Liberate Me Ex Inferis." Can be translated as "Save me from Hell." If you saw Event Horizon, this might add additional creepiness.
      • Also, Homo Homini Lupus ("Man is a wolf to man"). The maximum security cell block is a treasure trove of ominous Latin.
    • A single line in the Spirit of Arkham's profile: "Profession: Executioner." After listening to all of his audio diaries, you realize that a cold-blooded Knight Templar can be even more terrifying than every single Card-Carrying Villain who appears in this game, combined. Best of all? He gets away with it. He claims that Batman has inspired him. You can't find him anywhere else in the game, implying he left the island to do his work.
      • It gets so much worse in the sequel. He's the Mayor.
      • And if you find his secret office (as seen here), you can see what his real objective is (this foreshadows the second game).
      • Not to mention what happened to the REAL Amadeus Arkham. After his family was murdered by a mental patient named Mad Dog, Amadeus fried him in the electroshock chair, with everyone assuming it was an accident due to Amadeus spending time ostensibly treating the psychopath. Amadeus himself was eventually committed to his own asylum and died there. The game takes a lot of inspiration from Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.
    • In the Arkham Manor, you can see some angel statues framing a door, and they all seem to be looking down from their lofty perch. What is beneath Heaven? HELL.
  • In an In-Universe example, you, the player, are the Nightmare Fuel for Joker's mooks, swinging down from the rafters...cause you're the Goddamn Batman. From the nervous chatter that the enemies give make, even when outnumbering and outgunning Batman by six to one, it's clear who's the prey. If not, keep dwindling their numbers and watch them look over their shoulders in jittering fear...and shooting at any small noise, whether provoked by you or not. Just watch as a group of enemies comes towards you. Don't attack them right away. They'll hesitate, until one of them gathers the courage to attack.
    • Pop over to Detective Mode and watch their moods as you attack them. Prior to Batman's assault, they're calm. Once he starts picking them off one by one, they start becoming nervous, then terrified.
    • Conversely, in the Downloadable Content, Joker is Nightmare Fuel for the Asylum guards, who are arguably in an even worse situation than the mooks with Batman. For all his scariness, Batman doesn't kill while the Joker has no such reservations.
      • "Did anyone hear the one about the escaped mental patient sneaking around and killing the guards one by one? No? Stick around..."
    • When you pick off a mook and then hide, you can hear and, with Detective Mode, see the other mooks notice the body, try to wake him up, and outright panic, as your Detective Mode indicates they have turned from calm to terrified!
  • Most of the audio tapes, particularly the Riddler's (Arkham Asylum took advantage of the Riddler's canonical craziness and made him a legitimately scary villain) and Zsasz's (leading up to Dr. Cassidy home alone, Zsasz on the loose, and somebody at the door...).
    • Thankfully, Cassidy survives and makes a few appearances in the Medical Facility. In the mini-comic that came in the game box, it's revealed that Batman had saved her thanks to an anonymous tip...which is hinted to have come from Joker...
    • Special mention to Scarecrow's first interview tape, which begins perfectly normal and professional...until you hear the guards bursting into the room, Crane calmly states "as usual, it is difficult to work under such conditions," and you realize that this was Crane "interviewing" one of the doctors. And judging from the reactions of the guards and Scarecrow's other audio tapes, "interviewing" in this case involved massive and potentially permanent psychological damage. Crane's calm demeanor throughout the tape really puts the icing on the cake.
  • The Medical Facility is easily the creepiest building on the island. The only one that comes close is the Penitentiary which is filled with screaming psychopaths in cells and still not as creepy as the Medical Facility.
    • In the halls in said Medical Facility you have to go down to save the doctors, there are these weird plastic medical curtains that hang down from the ceiling. Occasionally, you will see them move without there being anyone to move them. Batman hasn't reached those curtains yet, and they still move like someone just walked through them, even when there's no goons in the hallways left to beat up, so who or what is making those curtains move?
    • Go find the head in a jar. It's not even part of a puzzle or anything. It's just...there.
    • One of the Joker's quotes in Medical is especially terrifying, as he drops all pretense of comedy and just goes straight into telling his henchmen they're in for a world of suffering.
      Joker: Are you scared? Lonely? Good. I said protect Medical and you have failed me.
    • The mooks themselves complain about how creepy the Medical Facility is and how hospitals are supposed to be clean. Considering they've only been there about an hour (this is approximately how long it takes at full tilt to get there), they didn't have the time to make it dirty, and Joker is preoccupied elsewhere, so...
    • There are the strap-ridden gurneys EVERYWHERE in the Medical Facility. Croc's got one of his cells there: Busted-out-of and filled with bones and human skulls. It's more than a little troubling when you also see all the experiments all over the place.
  • The perfectly ordinary announcements that come over the PA system before the Joker takes over (especially the ones in the Medical Facility) just make everything else seem that much more hellish. One of the worst occurs in Intensive Treatment, right at the beginning of the game after Joker gets free and releases all the Blackgate inmates. It starts like a normal security level message, and then devolves into insane laughter.
    PA System: ''Security at Level Orange... al... -pha... -pha... ha-... ha-... ha-... ha-...
  • Go back into that sewer/boiler room area in the Greenhouse you have to go through to get to where Poison Ivy is after you find the Titan production facility (but before you enter it to fight the Titan goons). If you climb up to a certain point, which you need to do in order to get to most of the riddles, a dead mutated goon that was part of Joker's Titan experiment drops out of a pipe. Right in front of you. Panic ensued.
    • If you look at the dead goon with Detective Mode, the X-Ray effect will reveal that this failed version of the Titan formula caused his arm to grow huge...but not the bones inside it.
    • Wandering through that particular chamber is creepy enough before you get to that point. You can hear Joker putting together his Titan formula...and he likes to hum while he works. The creepy sound just bounces off the walls in that dark, dilapidated pit...
  • The Game Over sequences. Scarecrow and Joker's creepy faces taunting you? Bane breaking Batman's back? Talk about a reason not to fail. One of Croc's game over sequences actually has him eating the camera.
  • If you try to go through the door to the sewer area before you have to, Killer Croc pops out of nowhere and smashes against the door.
    • His quote really sells it:
      Killer Croc: I will find you, rip your flesh like paper.
  • If you die via Poison Ivy's vines, you go limp and get dragged into the ground. Christ.
  • Remember in the nooks and crannies and hidden areas around Arkham, how some of them would be filled with debris? Sometimes just looked like places where Joker planned his takeover, but once in a while, you'd stumble upon an obvious living area. It can be implied that patients who couldn't quite escape the island, but escaped their cells to live in the forgotten recesses of the compound, eating mushrooms, licking moisture off walls, sleeping in gathered-straw beds. Many living areas also have human bones, and one has a full human skeleton and a single candle. Sad and scary when you consider they preferred that "freedom" to whatever their incarcerated lives were like.
  • There is a rat with a human-sized bite taken out of it in the ventilation ducts right outside Young's office. Think about that for a second.
  • After you complete the game, you're free to wander around Arkham Island to finish all of the collectible stuff you didn't during the initial story missions. Even after Arkham was cleared of all its escapees, the sheer atmosphere is unnerving enough. What makes it all the worse is the pure desolate emptiness of the place as you wander through it.
    • The fact that all the damage that's been done to the place is still there (no one's even tried to remove Young's corpse) and the few remaining guards and doctors, like Aaron Cash, are still standing around as if they're still trapped. Go to the medical ward and Cassidy and company are still hiding out behind stacked hospital beds. Even though they're free, they haven't escaped; they're still afraid of what will happen if they walk out the door.
    • As it turns out, not all the patients disappear once you've finished the game; just the ones you've previously taken out. So you've finished the game, but haven't done much backtracking; you're a little unnerved by the idea of walking around a mostly-empty Arkham Island, but at least you're pretty sure no one's going to jump out and attack you anymore... then you walk through the Abandoned Tunnel looking for collectibles and a lunatic that you missed starts screaming and charging at you.
  • Clayface's cameo is cool, but fairly creepy as well. He's locked up in his cell, and you never see him in his clay form. He's disguised as Cash, Sharp, or Gordon whenever you visit him. He's always changing his disguise, too. If you pan the camera away for just a second, you'll hear him morphing. Look back and, sure enough, he's impersonating someone else. As Cash or Sharp, he will try to trick you into thinking he's the real one and begs you to let him free (you can't, anyway). However, as Gordon, he will just laugh if you talk to him. Just laugh...and laugh.
    • And in one instance that has never since repeated itself, Clayface does speak as Gordon. He tells you that Sharp certainly ran off in a hurry. And isn't that strange, since you told him specifically to stay put, so what could he be up to...? What indeed.
    • Even creepier with Clayface, if you look at him with your Detective Mode, he has no skeleton at all.
  • Speaking of cameo villains, there's also Ra's al Ghul. When you get to the morgue, you can see he's in one of the drawers (you just know it's him by the tag on his foot; you never get to see his face). You investigate him to solve the riddle, unlock his profile, and then leave the morgue. Okay. Later, when you come back...where's the body? Sure, we know the guy can resurrect, but still, damn.
  • Many times you would be in utter silence when the PA system would play its creepy tune before Joker makes an announcement.
    • The regular tune was bad enough, but when the worn-down version plays, it's even more unsettling.
  • The game can make you nervous even before you start playing it. When you first load the CD into the PS3, the game's download screen shows a series of shadowed images of characters, whilst a soundtrack plays. Only catch is that the soundtrack is made up of the echoing sounds of insane laughter.
  • If you have Detective Mode, you can see through doors. At one point, you can see two bodies dangling in the air, kicking, struggling...until finally they go still. Open the door, and two dead guards are hanging from the ceiling execution-style. If you don't have Detective Mode on, you won't realize that you were a mere 30 seconds too late to save them with a well-aimed Batarang.
  • The single patient on the upper floor in the room where Clayface is located. He never gets out. You can't get to him. He's just...there. Panting and slobbering and generally being creepy.
  • Some of the chatter from the Blackgate prisoners can be this, such as the one guy talking about how Joker ordered him to kill his sister, which he did. Another guy mentioned that he was told the same thing, except that he has no sister, so he just got in his car and ran some random woman down in the street, much to Joker's enthusiastic approval.
  • There's a Riddler trophy next to a spray-painted Joker smile. Not necessarily scary in and of itself, until you remember Riddler implying that he knows what Joker had planned...
  • Special mention to Batman's death by Smilex gas. He coughs and chokes for a while, while the escape prompt blinks at you repeatedly. Ignore this, and you're treated to an image of the Dark Knight slowly collapsing, his coughs devolving into him laughing insanely as he dies.
  • The Stinger. A crate of Titan floating in the river is grabbed by either Scarecrow, Croc, or Bane. You've seen what it just did to Joker, now go change.
  • Early in the game, when you break out of the facility, you're in a big courtyard and can meet some guards and talk to them and learn a bit about them along with some medics by an ambulance near the entrance. A trip through the Medical Facility later and they're all dead.
  • Zsasz. The very essence of Riddler's riddles later have you encountering in one of the many hidden hard to reach rooms (until Batman obtains an appropriate upgrade to reach it) in Arkham where it looks like a "normal" tea party taking place with the GCPD SWAT officer and Arkham guards sitting there. Zoom in and their necks are slit and severed.
    • This turns out to be Zsasz's MO. In another room, you see three guards, all dead, posed around as if they were playing poker. Zsasz, apart from tallying his kills, likes to pose his victims in life-like ways after he's killed them. That's incredibly creepy and that's one of the most normal, downplayed things this game has to offer in terms of scariness.
      • Little wonder why he's NEVER appeared in the cartoons.
  • Keep an eye on Batman during the Scarecrow levels. Every so often, there'll be a flash of light, and he'll briefly turn into Scarecrow.
  • While walking through the hallways during the "rescue the doctors" section before entering the morgue. You'll hear pre-recorded announcements about Arkham's many facilities. Which at some point mentions a "kid's facility" for children and teens requiring psychoanalysis. This brings whole new levels of horror. There were kids there? Though most likely they only came for appointments during the day. Like a regular psychiatry.note 
  • Seeing the levels of sanity that Sharp and Young, Hugo Strange, and multiple orderlies who followed Sharp's orders displayed. Arkham probably wasn't that far off prior to Joker's takeover.
  • Maxie Zeus's cell. Batman can find it in Intensive Treatment behind a wall that has to be opened via Explosive Gel or the Ultra Batclaw. Thankfully, there's no dead body or skeleton in the cell, but you have to wonder: How far away was Sharp from literally walling in inmates? Or, even worse, perhaps he has already started walling in inmates.


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