Rachni husks. In the game, most enemies have weak points you can strike for an easy kill, and these things are no exception. The twist? Attack that and it unleashes a swarm of mini-rachni that crawl all over your body.
Wondering how you make a krogan husk even more terrifying? Give it a turian head. Brutes are Reaper-engineered hybrids of turians and krogans. Leaving aside the fact that we're talking about a cross between a race of Space Romans and Proud Warrior Race Guys. Leaving aside the fact that their appearance is just hideously monstrous.◊ The most bowel-clenchingly scary part of them is that krogans and turians are incompatible on a protein-level. They can't even eat the same food let alone reproduce. Try to imagine the levels of Body Horror the Reapers had to inflict upon turians and krogans to produce such an abomination. Knowing how the Reapers do business, they were probably alive and screaming when it happened, just like the colonists on the Collector base. And then realize that because they're so incompatible, their own bodily fluids are likely killing them. Even if they survive this battle, they won't live to see another day. THAT is what lesser beings are to the Reapers. That is what you are. You are not a living being, you are a thing. You are something to be used. If you are lucky, if they think you're good enough, you will be dissolved and used to make more of the beings that murdered you. If you are found wanting, they will change you until they can make use of you. They will break all the laws of nature until you no longer exist as you once were, until your every cell is being killed by the act of being alive. And when you are of no use for you, you will die.
Banshees: Ardat-Yakshi asari husks. The "Ruthless enemies" trailer shows them using Charge...before impaling Shepard on their hands. And they're able to use their AY powers to override your nervous system for a One-Hit Kill. And why not? The Reapers could easily do it for fun. They are, put simply, the hardest enemies in the franchise, and they announce their presence on the battlefield with a spine-chilling scream that's explicitly noted to be potent Nightmare Fuel in-universe.
The worst part about the banshees is the mission they're introduced in. You arrive at a desolate asari monastery in the wake of a missing squad of asari commands, only to find...Nothing...No visible enemies, complete darkness for a time, and the wails of the banshees in the background.
They're the Reaper's Ultimate Troopers in Multiplayer, alongside Cerberus' Atlus Mechs and the Geth Primes, and they retain everything that makes them terrifying, right up to their one-hit kill. Many bowels have been voided when players tried to take advantage of the Firebase Reactor stage's incinerator, luring the Banshees inside and hitting the button, only for the banshee to warp right through the door.
During the opening, with the invasion of Earth, Shepard and Anderson are on top of an apartment building watching the reapers destroy the city. As they move they come across a large hole blasted through the roof, two husks crawl out to rush them. Shepard and Anderson shoot them down, and jump into the apartment inside. Shepard opens a jammed door for Anderson, only to look back to a duct on the wall and notice a kid inside. He offers to take the kid to safety, but the kid refuses, knowing he was going to die. What would make a kid lose the hope to live? Then it hits you: those two husks were his PARENTS!
The knowledge that if you do not make all the right choices, ignore all the sidequest and pretty much just blaze through the game without a thought for the possible consequences, the Reapers will defeat you in war and continue the cycle of extinction for possibly another several million years. What makes this even WORSE is that you'll essentially be the one responsible for the Prothean's sacrifice being in vain, likely doom the galaxy to never having another chance like this again AND cause your entire species to be the next Reaper of this generation. The whole scenario is pretty much you completely screwing over the entire galaxy.
Big Ben experiences one at the end of the first trailer. The look on his face is one of sheer terror as the Reaper slowly descends upon his position in the clocktower. This Is Gonna Suck doesn't even begin to describe it.
From The Art Book ofthe Mass Effect Universe, we see concept art of the Illusive Man as a Reaperized monstrosity intended for the final battle. This was eventually cut in favour of a battle with someone players were familiar with but the art work is the stuff of nightmares. If that wasn't bad enough, other concept art suggests TIM goes through some major deterioration in the final game, becoming more husk-like and resorting to a life support machine of some kind just to keep his mind functioning.
The new CG trailer for Mass Effect 3 starts off with a child playing with her Alliance fighter in a sunflower field. The camera plays around between her and some actual fighters flying over a city. All seems peaceful and cheerful when suddenly the fighters are shot down, the music is mute and Reapers descend on the cities with lasers. There is no warning of their coming, they don't announce themselves and expect surrender, they straight up destroy everything the moment they're within range. The child's look of horror upon seeing a Reaper up close doesn't help either.
The extended cut shows even greater chaos, along with some recycled clips from the original Big Ben teaser trailer from a different perspective. The icing on the cake is the horrifying fast forward clip showing the process of huskification on a mutilated corpse while hanging from a spike.
Batarian Husks are called "Cannibals". Why? They regain health by eating fallen enemies and husks. They also have an arm cannon which is made out of a human husk. Nice.
And the best part? All this chaos and destruction has happened before. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of times before. It was one thing hearing about what happened to the Protheans in ME1, and getting glimpses of the horrors they went through. But seeing history repeat itself in person, in full detail to your own people...
Listening to the Cerberus grunts as you mow your way through them, either as Shepard or the Multiplayer teams. At first they're calm and professional, but they get progressively more panicked as you kill their buddies.
From the demo to the launch trailer, we're assaulted by the souless mechanical screams and groans of the Reapers. Every time they rocket through the air, fear and dread are not far behind.
No matter how scary it gets, you always have the comfort of knowing that there's a screen and a game between you and the Reapers. Now imagine this: You live on the Citadel, and one day you check your omni-tool to see Emily Wong reporting live from Earth, talking about a ship like the one that attacked the Citadel being on Earth. You follow the story as it unfolds with mounting horror as Emily encounters husks and Cannibals, frantically tries to warn people away from certain escape routes, and eventually is directly attacked. You receive the signal loss instantaneously, and with it goes your hope of hearing about the situation - maybe the people in charge will still know about what's going on back home, but you won't. All you can do is imagine and wonder what will happen when the Reapers get to you.
You press the scan button once...and the edge of the system fills with red arrows and the detection bar fills about 4/5th of the way full. It's a very VERY effective way to make you know that you are being hunted. As the game progresses, the galaxy map fills up with new star clusters to explore....and just about every one of them has a Reaper marker on it. Perfectly sums up just how badly things are going for the entire galaxy. And then, as the game gets further along... clusters you CAN'T visit have Reaper markers on them. And just before the final mission... every single cluster that has a mass relay, that you can pass through, that you can visit and can't visit, has a Reaper marker over it. The Reapers HAVE THE GALAXY. Doubles as Fridge Horror when you realize that, just before Priority: Earth, you can't access any other system.
It's discovered in "From Ashes" that the Protheans were a Proud Warrior Race of Space Romans...with some of the most powerful empathic abilities in fiction, and with their Real Life counterparts' tendency to obliterate the culture of the races they conquered, until they called themselves "Prothean" too. Just imagine what it was like facing an invasion fleet of theirs, knowing they can figure out your entire race's history simply by touching a member of it, and that if-when-they win, everything about who you were, as a people, will be torn apart and fed to the ever-expanding empire. And the thing is-it's either them, or their enemies.
Javik's own backstory has its own horrors. He commanded a ship much like the Normandy, until it was captured by the Reapers and its crew indoctrinated and sent after him. Imagine for a moment in ME2 that you and your group weren't conveniently away from the Normandy when the Collectors invaded, and that all hands besides Shepard were taken by the Reapers. Then imagine that you tried to storm the Collector Base on your own, only to be faced with the indoctrinated forms of Garrus, Tali, and the other squadmates (love interests included), and forced to Mercy Kill every single one as they come after you. Thatis what Javik had to deal with. If you have him touch the Echo Shard he carried with him, that is what he is forced to relive as he touches that artifact. And that is why he eventually will decide to kill himself if you let him do that.
How about this? If you fail to rescue Grissom academy, much later, while you're storming Cerberus headquarters you will find this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPJj8efNskM. Yeah, it's not your entire team. But if she's your love interest, you'll have to Mercy Kill the one you love, indoctrinated and not even recognising you.
That recording is just terrifying. To think if that had to happen to everybody who was converted into a Cerberus Phantom. By the way Jack screamed whatever they did to her was not gentle nor was it painless. Likely an accelerated indoctrination process to make her loyal and quick n' dirty surgery with control chips, implants, and whatever other horrors they can cook up.
In universe example: Shepard has nightmares of the little boy s\he saw killed while trying to flee Earth. There are dream sequences where Shepard finds the boy in a forest, before he burns alive to his\her horrified face.
After the attempted Cerberus coup on the Citadel, Shepard can listen in on a traumatized asari huntress in Huerta Memorial Hospital. She's twitchy and paranoid, asking what color her eyes are and begging to be kept away from humans, refusing to bathe and repeatedly pleading for a gun. By listening to a counselor's attempts to talk her through what happened, you learn why: she was on a colony world, staying overnight in a farming community to wait for a shuttle and the rest of her squad. A hero-worshipping fourteen-year-old farmgirl offered her the use of their shower - and when she came out of the shower, still only wearing a towel, the farm was attacked by an Ardat-Yakshi friend of hers who'd been husked into a Banshee. With farmers dying and no way for her to get to her gun, the huntress grabbed the farmgirl and fled into the countryside, where they stayed on the run for several days until she realized that the shuttle wasn't coming back and they had to go back to the farm to radio for help. When they did, they found many of the farmers still alive - and when Hilary, the farmgirl, freed them, they attacked under the influence of indoctrination. The huntress was forced to kill most of them with her biotics, and fled again, taking cover in a barn, but Hilary's leg was broken and she couldn't stop crying. The huntress killed her to keep the noise from leading the Banshee to the both of them, and held out alone until a rescue shuttle finally arrived. The asari government wants to give her a medal for the intel she was able to provide, but she can only miserably blame herself for the deaths of the farmers.
Eventually, a message pops up in the Spectre terminal regarding an asari huntress's requests to obtain a gun. Authorize it, and she commits suicide, leaving the hospital staff who were trying to help her demoralized.
It actually gets even worse. The farmgirl that she killed, the one called Hilary? It's highly likely that she's Joker's sister.
Glyph reveals that one colony dealt with an impending Reaper invasion by taking a third option rather than surrendering or fighting a futile ground war: they detonate thermonuclear weapons in all their population centers, sparing themselves indoctrination and denying the Reapers a source of cannon fodder.
The sheer lengths Han'Gerrel is willing to go to fuel his vendetta against the geth. It ultimately culminates in him sending his entire race to their doom unless you either side with the quarians or made very specific choices in 2 and the build up to the final choice concerning Rannoch in 3.
The rachni queen using a dozen or so dead krogan to talk through. Seeing their heads bob and move in unison is unnerving.
Worse is if you're dealing with the cloned Breeder, if you killed the original Queen. It just sounds...off. The fact that she doesn't use the Royal "We" like her original counterpart is a definite clue that something is very wrong. And if you elect to leave it behind, it goes ballistic. Having a dozen dead krogan screaming "KILL THEM! KILL THEM ALL!" is mighty unnerving. If Shepard spares the breeder in hopes that she will cooperate with the alliance to fight the Reapers, you will later be informed that as soon as the rachni reached the construction site of the Crucible, they betrayed the humans in revenge for killing their first queen by massacring every scientist they could get their hands on, completely wiping out the entire Alliance Engineering Corps.
Combines with Tear Jerker. Shepard, the galaxy's ultimate hero\badass, slowly breaks until s\he is a broken wo\man, possibly bleeding to death, and left with deciding the fate of the galaxy.
All Endings: If the Crucible wasn't built correctly, i.e. without enough War Assets, it will not work at all (ergo Reapers will eventually win and cycles continue) or will destroy ALL organic and synthetic life in the galaxy. If it does work, no matter what, the Relays are destroyed.
Shepard in Mass Effect 3 and some of the moments here just shows how Renegade Shepard isn't just ruthless to enemies anymore and more than willing to kill comrades if they step out of line. it leaves you knowing the fate of the galaxy lies within a completely ruthless anti-hero.
"Goodbye Thane. You won't be alone long." What's more disturbing, the number who will die against the Reapers or the implication; given everything s\he has gone through, that Shepard is a Death Seeker?
The iOS app brings us this rather chilling message considering the context. The fact that it's on YOUR phone/computer, not Shepard's, makes it so much scarier.
Wrex: I know what you did.
The sheer unadulterated remorselessness of Shepard when you pick the Renegade option. S/he's not trying to justify it. S/he's lying to one of his best friends' face on why s/he screwed the Krogan, betrayed Wrex personally, and shot Mordin in the back to do so.
Illusive Man's transformation at the end of the game is a bit disturbing. For starters, he has gone completely crazy, is under the control of the Reapers and has black veins on his neck....
The Sanctuary! Take a Nazi death camp and mask it as a refugee centers for people to voluntarily sign in to escape horrors of the war, and you have some idea of what the place is like. People by the thousands, if not millions get subjected to deadly experiments and turned into Husks just so that Cerberus can brute force the secrets of the Reaper Indoctrination from them. And what's worse, a great portion of the staff are just as blissfully unaware of the true nature of the place as the refugees, and believe that they'll be allowed into the facility proper once they've fulfilled their quota. Worse, that place was a very extensive base on Horizon, and likely wasn't built in the previous few months. Most likely, it was at least still being built the last time Shepard was sent to Horizon.
It gets even worse. Consider the post-mission summary of the Reaper IFF mission. Cerberus wasn't just planning Sanctuary during the second game. They used Shepard to make it possible.
Reaper IFF successfully retrieved. Loss of Cerberus team on the Reaper vessel unfortunate but unsurprising. Will use team's health records for comparisons against husks encountered on Reaper for possible insight into indoctrination and husk conversion process.
Despite a direct order from Miranda Lawson, you continued your research into unauthorized neural research. We already have methods that show great potential for mental control over large groups of people.
The very last level of the game, when Shepard goes through the Reaper transport beam to The Citadel. The room Shepard arrives in is filled with piles of bloody human corpses. Not to mention the implication of what may have happened there after the Reapers seized the Citadel and moved it to Earth. And that they did so so quickly, you never even got a message about the attack until everything was done. Made worse by the keeper present, silently sorting through the bodies. As we know from the second game, the keepers have been known to take corpses on the Citadel and process them in the protein vats.
What makes that even worse is that the last time Shepard was at the Citadel, pretty much every character not directly involved in construction of the Crucible, on Shepard's crew, or back on Earth with Anderson was on the Citadel, thinking that it was safe. Commander Bailey, your buddy from C-Sec? The Councilors? Matriarch Atheyta, Liara's father? Conrad Verner and his newly discovered girlfriend Jenna? That cute little girl who was waiting for her parents to arrive? The entire staff at Huerta Memorial hospital (including either Dr. Michel or Dr. Chakwas, depending on who you recruited)? Kolyat Krios? Literally millions of refugees? All gone... dying horribly and turned into fodder for the Reapers by the keepers.
Worse in the Extended Cut, which adds a small scene in which you actually see Shepard being flung into the room, accompanied by an unexplained and very creepy sound, after which Shepard wakes up startled. One fanon theory has it that the sound is Shepard's cybernetics kicking in to jump start his/her heart, implying that Shepard died when s/he got to the beam and was being dumped in that room with the rest of the human corpses.
Apart from all obvious terror that you witness in your missions, watching how the entire universe deteriorate into a Crapsack World due to the war is really chilling. Especially in the refugee camp that was set up at the dock holding area in the Citadel, with the sounds in the background consisting of children crying and the TV reporting news that more worlds are being overrun by the Reapers. The general sense of hopelessness is both a tearjerker and terrifying in that it is so real and so personal.
The final part of London. The Destroyer is dead, Hammer Task Force is massing, getting ready for the final push. And then Harbinger lands beyond the Conduit.
Take a look at Javik. Then take a look at the Collectors. Since Collectors are Prothean, see how different they are. The Reapers removed their mouths and digestive systems, forced the growth of a chitinous tissue, and gave the eyes a strange, soulless glow. Who knows what else has been modified under the skin.
The final scene of ANY of the endings. The Normandy has crash-landed on an unidentified garden world, implied to be on the other side of a mass relay from the Local Cluster. The mass relays have just been destroyed. This means that the crew of the Normandy are trapped. Rations are going to run out eventually. But wait, you say. It's a garden world, so they'll be ok. Right? And then you realise - the Normandy has both levo and dextro crew. The garden world can't be both. So either Tali and Garrus are going to starve to death - or EVERYONE ELSE will.
Jossed, thankfully. Patrick Weekes and others have stated that the Normandy has dextro-amino food stores, so Garrus and Tali will be fine. And with the EC, there are two possibilities that will save them. Either you've obtained middling War Assets, and you can see the crew rebuilding the Normandy to escape...or you have high enough War Assets that the Normandy just takes off and leaves. Still, it was touch and go for a bit there.
You hear that sound? That GNRRRGGHRGHHGGRRRGHGHGHRRRGHRHGRHH the Reapers make? It's specifically tuned to induce a panic response in organics, and it can eventually result in indoctrination. That sound instills fear in YOU, the player. And the horn cannot be forgotten; it's like an ear worm. So, whenever somebody brings up Reapers again, you hear that noise in your head. YOU'RE BEING INDOCTRINATED THROUGH A TV SCREEN.
"It's too late for me. They're still in my head, stealing my thoughts."
If you try to shoot the Catalyst, or tell it to screw itself; its voice will go from disturbing to flat out scary as hell as it lets the cycle continue. And then you get a front-row seat while watching the Reapers kill EVERYONE...and it's all your fault.
Something about the krogan with glowing green eyes in the Synthesis ending is just unsettling.
Shepard-Reaper in the updated Control ending is absolutely terrifying.
In the Renegade Control ending, there are two lines that are shiver-worthy when coming from the current leader of the Reaper forces:
The background music - which is creepy at best, sinister at the worst - and the tone Shepard-Reaper uses throughout the whole thing DOES NOT HELP. Hearing the above lines coming from a flat monotone is beyond disturbing, especially since it implies Shepard is losing him/herself to the Reapers and will soon be no different than the Catalyst. Thankfully, the Paragon version, while still kinda creepy, doesn't have the same horrifying tone and implications.
Cerberus half-husking their own people, which you see on Mars. The N7: Cerberus Lab mission heavily implies that they're also indoctrinating them - someone named C. Talavi left a journal entry upon recruitment remarking that the Cerberus people seem so intense all the time, they never smile, the suicide-upon-capture orders are kind of extreme, and there's a procedure he's supposed to start tomorrow called "integration", which he sarcastically claims to be looking forward to. The second journal entry is devoid of all that personality. Integration a success. Cerberus is his friend. Suicide on capture orders acknowledged. What makes it worse? Later in the game there's background chatter where a private wants to fight husks and not Cerberus, because her brother joined the latter. Her last name? Talavi.
The face of the Assault Trooper on Mars◊ is pretty creepy: he looks like a husk. Some fanart shows what a Phantom might look like, and it is somehow even scarier.
Grissom Academy has Cerberus forces trying to convince students to surrender. You come across a few of these students out in the open, protecting themselves with dome-shaped barriers or shields, with Cerberus troopers standing just outside them calling them by name and complimenting their skills in threatening tones.
One of the most upsetting parts of that mission is right after speaking to Kahlee. You see two Cerberus troopers dragging a student down the hall screaming with only a glass window between you and them. And you can't help him.
Shepard and their squad also gets to watch Cerberus troopers casually gun down a teenage girl trying to run for her life, and their only reaction is just relief that they haven't killed one of their mission's priority targets. Doubtless many players felt good about sending those particular mooks to hell.
A pretty minor example, but if Kaidan's alive and part of the crew, then after Sanctuary he has a few lines about wanting to go after and kill the Illusive Man. A lot of the crew says similar things, but the cold intensity and sort of joy in his voice is unsettling. Beware the Nice Ones indeed.
"Can you feel it, Shepard? Feel the quickening? Illusive Man better say his prayers tonight, because we're coming for him. Murderous asshole. Oh yeah. Tide is turning. I can feel it."
The Leviathan DLC has you visit a mining facility under attack from Reaper forces. The miners are bizarrely calm, and keep telling Shepard to turn back. You keep finding datapads detailing the weird topics they're studying, none of which seem to have anything to do with mining. There are a few consoles that give Vid Tours, and the last one says the company "focuses on" before glitching out and going to a camera watching Shepard. The whole thing is incredibly creepy. Then you get to the end and discover Leviathan has been controlling the miners for 10 years.
The incredibly unnerving exchange with the two receptionists. You can just feel the tone plummets into something ice-cold when the receptionist says "And now... we're done. Step away. You don't belong here." At which point any sane person realises something is very wrong, as everyone has turned into an Empty Shell and the creepiness factor goes Up to Eleven.
"You shouldn't be here."
The Female Miner who has her back to you when Shepard first enters the facility. While everyone turns to look at you, the way in particular she slowly turns her head around is ridiculously creepy to watch.
The Wham Line at the end of that mission when Shepard realises that the miners have never heard of the Reapers!
Shepard: What year do you think it is?!
The miners are seemingly doing everything except actually mining, namely studying things that they should have no interest in. Among these is an 'experiment' on pain capacity that, by the sound of it, seems to just be torturing some poor bastard until he broke and was no longer 'usable'.
That lab with a still-reacting severed head. James calls it a Husk head, but it looks more like the head of a Cerberus trooper, not having the weird texture or the techno-ballgag. It swivels to face you. And bites. A Nightmare Fetishist Shepard can decide to take it home and just... keep it in his/her cabin. Where it will STARE at your Space Hamster...before screaming at it. Poor Boo.
Remember the Extended Cut of the Synthesis Ending, where the Husk appeared horrified and self-aware of their new state? Now imagine what happened in the Synthesis Ending to the poor bastard who's head that was...
On the other hand, Shepard brings a healthy dose of this to knock the Leviathan down a peg. They are alarmed that Shepard had the tenacity and determination to not only track them down, but went alone to confront them, admitting they have never seen anything like Shepard before. Like Harbinger, their first thought was to keep Shepard for study and turn them into their Dragon, but when Shepard defiantly refused, they immediately abandoned that plan, realising that when something the Reapers are afraid of tells you to let them go, do it!
In addition, the Leviathans are now known to exist. So even in an ending where Shepard dies, the galaxy knows Leviathan is out there. They know how it operates. Combined with having faced indoctrination before, you realize that if anything, NOT completing Leviathan is worse because if you win without having done Leviathan, then they can wait in the shadows perfectly like the original Reapers. By finding them, you've revealed them to the galaxy and given warning which minimizes the blindsiding that would occur if Leviathan attempted anything. Some extra Nightmare Retardant for those who need it.
Completing the mission actually gives the players an option to warn the Reapers in the late-game. And the Catalyst doesn't care. At all. This cycle will be their end as well. It makes no difference.
Geth Juggernaut: You and your squadmates are moving towards the intended target, with the intent to destroy it at all costs. You come across the target... and it's a ten-foot-tall, hulking machine with a really big gun. Your first squadmate opens fire... and the machine hits him with a blue bolt of energy. Your companion dissolves screaming' into a pool of... something. The next poor sap attempts to flank the geth, and is promptly incinerated by the small floating turret the geth deployed. Now you and your last buddy are shooting desperately, and the geth doesn't give a damn. It walks slowly over to your friend, and raises its omni-tool. Jets of blue energy lance out, and within seconds, the person who you'd been fighting alongside is nothin more than a puddle of blue lquid. Then you look down at your piddly little SMG, and realize that you are well and truly screwed.
Turian Havoc: Okay, it's just one turian. It may be difficult, but everything dies eventually, right? WRONG. The turian floats into the air with jet boosters, and barrels into your buddy, sending him flying out of sight. He jets off to the next one. And the next. Until finally, all that's left is you and him. But you decide to take a chance. You raise your Mattock rifle, and squeeze the trigger. The turian falls to one knee: you managed to land one on his ankle. Finally, something's going your way! But it's all for naught, as he pulls out a syringe gun, and jabs himself. The he gets back up on his feet. You turn to run, but you just hear his jets fire one final time, and before you can blink, he's on top of you, two omni blades going straight through your heart and brain.
N7 Slayer/Shadow: You're shooting at the target... and then s/he's not there. Where did s/he go? What happened? You hear a shriek from behind you, and you turn around just in time to see your comrade's head fly off. You start shooting , but the enemy disappears again and decapitates another Trooper. And there's nothing you can do but keep shooting, until you feel the cold steel of the enemy's blade against your throat.
N7 Destroyer: You're on route to a target with your squad, when out of nowhere a heat-seeking missile gibs one of your squad-mates. Your squad turns to see where it came from, revealing an Systems Alliance soldier in a T5-V Battlesuit, a miniature rocket launcher on his shoulder cycling to the next shot. You order your squad to open fire, two Concussive shots fire at the soldier. A few seconds before they hit, you hear "DEVASTATOR MODE ENGAGE!!!". They hit, some smoke obscures him. Before the smoke clears they return fire, mowing down the rest of your squad. The smoke clears, and the N7 soldier is glowing, slowly walking towards you, while reloading.
Krogan Battlemaster Vanguard: As soon as you deploy and secure the area, an angry krogan screaming murderous oaths and pumping a shotgun comes into view. You've faced these before, what could they do to a disciplined, experienced squad like yours? Then he melts into blue lightning and flattens your first squadmate, explodes the head of your second with his shotgun, then swings the shotgun with enough force for the omniblade attached to it to bisect your third squadmate, armor and all. Reinforcements show up and pelt him with enough rounds to put down TEN krogan, but he takes most of it with a ridiculously thick biotic barrier and shrugs off the rest on his massive armored form. As he caves in your skull, you realize that he'll never die, and no amount of training, skill and armor can halt the metric ton of enraged berzerker battering his way through Cerberus' best.
Volus Protector Vanguard: Rounding the corner, you see your objective. And it's guarded by a volus? Are they really so desperate? You take aim, trying hard not to laugh, when the little runt disappears. What? Where did he- A weird noise sounds, and the guy covering your flank is sent rocketing into the wall, pasting it with blood. The volus is back, and now you have a clear shot. You aim, and open fire. But he just raises a shield, causing all bullets to richocet wildly. He drops the shield, and before you can pop the heat sink, he creates three tiny orbs in the palm of his hand, and sends them flying at you. You feel pain flood your body, and you drop your SMG as you collapse to the ground. You try to reach for it, but the volus slams a boot on your wrist, breaking the bones within to splinters. Looking up, you see the volus holding one more biotic orb at the ready.
The Reapers are absolutely terrifying in this game. Every part of the game only further jams in the truth that this war is a completely Hopeless War. Right from out of the gate, they utterly steamroll over the batarians, wiping out a majority of their species in a few weeks. They cut through the majority of the human fleet and conquer the whole Sol system in a matter hours and just a portion of their fleet has the most powerful military in the galaxy, the turians, just barely holding out against them. When they conquer a system, they bring their leaders aboard as for "peace talks", indoctrinate them and turn them against their own people. And the husk versions in this game are nightmarish. Galactic citizens begin using the most desperate tactics imaginable from kamikaze attacks and destroying up their entire planets, hoping to take down as many as possible. The problem is that it's not nearly enough.It's easy to see why all galactic civilization put their faith in a weapon that no one knows the capabilities of.
Our galaxy is one giant sandbox for a single programmed intelligence to experiment with, to find new ways to succeed in its ultimate goal, completely missing the point of its original intended directive by taking its objective too literally and too vaguely. Not only that, but it created artificial methods in which to speed up the process of what it was intended to avert in the first place all so it could arrive to the final stage in its experiment time and time again. This only drives the realization deeper into us that we were never in control of our fate from the word go. It truly makes you wonder how many before us actually realized this before they were harvested.
The Retaliation DLC Trailer has one giant pants-wetting moment, aside from The FUCKING COLLECTORS ARE BACK!, which is this- the team get ready to fight the Collectors- WHEN A REAPER DROPS BEHIND THEM. Not a small one, either- one about the size of... Harbinger?! controlling the Collectors again?!
In Omega, we get the Adjutants, creatures scary enough to make Nyreen Kandros, a seasoned military and mercenary commander, have a Heroic BSoD. Not to mention the mines where you meet them. Nyreen recognizes the noise and remarks that the entire mine must have been locked down to contain it. No mention is made of other Adjutants, meaning Nyreen is convinced that an entire sector of Omega was locked down to just contain one. Unfortunately, it wasn't. It was locked down to contain multiple Adjutants.
Just to clarify how terrifying the Adjutants are, they're a form of Reaper organism that Cerberus have trying to cultivate with mixed successes. The only ones that serve them as intended are encountered during the final confrontation of the DLC with the rest being ferals that attack anything that comes close. They're horrifying meshes of flesh and metal, even moreso than some of their contemporaries, with hideous glowing blue sacks growing on their backs that contain their brains. Yes, "brains" plural. Nothing anyone outside ofgameplay does can stop them as they tear through Cerberus and Omega's citizens alike. And the worst part about their abilities? The part that has Nyreen terrified of even one? They're a living plague that can infect anyone and convert them into more Adjutants. The only reason they don't in the game is because Cerberus has been experimenting on them to gain control over them, temporarily removing their ability to replicate through infection. Though knowing Cerberus, they'd absolutely return that ability once the Adjutants were fully under their control.
We all know a Renegade Shepard can make some questionable decisions under the banner of the ends justify the means, but the interrupt that appears to sacrifice thousands of Omega citizens to save Aria and Nyreen instead of looking for an alternative comes very quickly, and Shepard is extremely nonchalant about the deed, and shows no remorse. Bear in mind this is not like killing the Rachni Queen in order to potentially stop billions from being killed by them if they turned out to be evil, or Arrival where delaying the Reapers could have been very very important. This is for the benefit of a crime boss and a mercenary. And the worst part? If you don't take the Interrupt the first time, it comes up again TWICE. Even the most Paragon Shepard is having to fight very, very hard to avert the urge to slap the button.
Unless you're playing as an Engineer, in which a Paragon interrupt occurs, allowing Shepard to reroute reactor power to shut down the force fields and save the civilians in one-third the time it would normally take.
If you don't interrupt Aria from choking Petrovsky to death, her voice is very calm and cold throughout, and the whole scene can be quite uncomfortable.
The datapads lying around the crashed ship on the Leviathan's world. The crew - the human crew, based on the names - were stranded and eventually turned to cannibalism, their captain accepting his fate as as food as they're eating him.
Worse, based on Leviathan's attitude, this wasn't its doing, it wasn't behind them doing this. They did this on their own.
If it wasn't for Glyph Shepard and crew would likely have perished in the Archives, as it's implied the rest of your team is in the same predicament as Shepard.
As pointed out in-universe, Shepard's Clone and Brooks are essentially the Evil Counterpart of Shepard and Miranda. The worrying part is that if Miranda had gone ahead with implanting a control chip, a Renegade Shepard would be virtually the same.
There is nothing to say that there aren't more Shepard Clones out there.
Whilst running around in the Archives, Shepard can come across the entry for the battle of the Citadel back in the first game. Approach it, and it'll begin playback of a summary the commonly known version of events, that it was Saren & the Geth, until it recognises that Shepard (and the Virmire Survivor if he/she is with you) is a Spectre, at which point it unlocks the classified section of the recording and reveal the the actual events & notes that Sovereign was a Reaper. The Council KNEW the truth about the Reapers, and still did nothing.
One of the historical recordings is a bunch of the last game's mechs who have achieves sentience peacefully waiting out of the way while their case goes through the courts. A Council death squad comes in and shoots them all dead in cold blood.
The visit from Thane's ghost if you romanced him. If you take the visitation at face value, it's comforting: it virtually confirms an afterlife exists in the setting. If you don't, on the other hand, it says that Shepard is losing her mind and her heavily implied Death Seeker impulses are manifesting as a hallucination of her dead lover, telling her that he'll await her in the afterlife.
The Particle Rifle. It fucking liquefies the corpses, leaving nothing behind but puddles of... stuff. Imagine being an enemy, watching a friend go down fighting and then the corpse just... dissolves...
The Refusal Ending. Fine, just giving the choices the middle finger? Now consider that the end result is everyone dying. Joker, EDI, Liara, Hackett... and those are those just guaranteed to make it to ME3. Everyone you kept alive, you just threw their lives away to say no to the endings, leaving them and trillions more to horrific deaths at the hands of the Reapers, being turned into various husks, or getting turned into Reaper slushie.
For additional nightmare fuel, imagine Shepard's love interest in that playthrough. Now imagine them huskified. Liara as a Banshee, Garrus as a Marauder, Garrus/Wrex as a Brute, Ashley, Miranda, or Kaidan as husks or even used as the arm cannon for Cannibals... and now consider husks are made. Got the images in mind, seeing what happens to them, considering what it must be like for them? Good, because that's what Refusal means. You're welcome.
An unintentional example: the Recon Hood is buggy in such a way that in cutscenes where it gets taken off, Shepard suddenly loses his/her eyelids and develops this terrifying bug-eyed look.
The idea of "sync-kills" i.e. instant kill animations are pretty unsettling. Most of them involve being crushed or impaled. You're completely helpless once it begins and unless an ally saves you it's either an instant game over or you're out for the rest of the wave. You'll soon find yourself scrambling to stay away from enemies that have them, not that they'll make it easy.
Similarly the grab move by the good guys. From behind cover, someone pops out, takes you over and in under a second, either stabs you in the face, crushes your face with their fist, or mauls your face like an animal wielding omni-blades.
Kalros, the Mother of ALL Thresher Maws. As if a common Thresher Maw isn't scary enough and you need heavy weapons and armored vehicles to kill her, now we meet an ancient Thresher Maw ten times bigger than a normal one (at the minimum) and powerful enough to annihilate a Reaper Destroyer single-handedly. The worst part? Eve says that the krogan believed that Kalros is the Mother of all Thresher Maws and was roaming Tuchanka for many millennia (more than 50 millennia after Javik confirmed that Thesher Maws existed during Prothean times and we considered the "Mother of All Thresher Maws" part as true) and Wrex mentions that he doesn't know any krogan who has tried to kill her and survive. No wonder the krogan, a tough Proud Warrior Race Guy species, consider even the idea of killing Kalros as suicidal.
There's a bit of intel that Shepard and their squad can find on the mission to Eden Prime which is chilling; an email from Cerberus operatives stating that they've been taking young men and women from colonies across the planet (clearly with the intention of turning them into more Reaperfied troops). The email states that naturally there was resistance from the locals initially, but it died down when Cerberus assured them their loved ones were just being sent to do hard labour on the other side of the planet, and offered greater rations to those who complied by way of a reward. The email notes that they have to maintain that lie as long as possible, because if the colonists learned they were never going to see their sons and daughters again, there is no way Cerberus forces could hold back the inevitable reaction. What's worse is, even if Liara passes this information to the resistance on Eden Prime, using it to help drive out the Cerberus occupation, there are bound to be numerous families on Eden Prime who have to live with the knowledge their children have become mutated monsters and slave soldiers to a supremacist terrorist organisation actively sabotaging the fight to save the galaxy, and perhaps wonder would they still have their kids if they'd done more to resist the occupation of Eden Prime.
It's discussed that the yahg may very well become the leaders of the next cycle since the Reapers are leaving them alone. The same yahg that are stronger than krogan, smart enough to give the salarians and asari combined a run for their money, and operate under a pack mentality that causes them to see equality as offensive. If they don't get over their inability to comprehend anything but a master-servant dynamic they'll very likely forge an empire that would make the Protheans' look downright cuddly by comparison. And the salarians were going to uplift them, running the risk of accelerating this process.