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Nightmare Fuel / Persona 4

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"Then I will grant you one truth... You will all die here."

Despite being far Lighter and Softer than other Shin Megami Tensei games, Persona 4 still manages to have its own share of Nightmare Fuel.

WARNING: As per Nightmare Fuel guidelines, all spoilers ahead are unmarked!

  • The first example in the game is your first visit to the TV World. Ominous music plays while you find an empty room filled with posters of a woman with her face torn out, splotches of blood which the Persona series seems to love so much, and a classic chair and noose arrangement. While this is nothing compared to the crazier things that will happen later in the game, it still makes a striking change from the everyday rural life, minus a murder, up until now.
    • Even aside from the Room Full of Crazy, the whole sequence wandering around in the TV world for the first time is frighteningly eerie, the closest the Persona series has ever come to being an out-and-out horror game. You, Yosuke and Chie wander for hours through a nonsensical eldritch landscape absolutely choked with Ominous Fog, getting tired and slowly succumbing to despair as you can't find a way out, and all the time you have this creeping feeling that you're not alone in this terrifying place... It doesn't help that the area they first wind up in has a floor that is covered in dozens of chalk outlines seen at murder scenes.
  • The calls you get if you fail to rescue someone will probably haunt your dreams. Special mention goes to the final call wherein failing to confront the serial killer before the deadline results in a call from Naoto, wherein she is murdered by Shadows while on the phone with you.
    • And her scream of horror, many a player has been brought legit fear from hearing it.
  • The Shadow Selves are pretty terrifying.
    • Shadow Yosuke is your first exposure to the reality of what exactly a shadow is: It's a manifestation of all of your worst flaws and suppressed dark thoughts, and if you deny it, it will kill you.
      • As for Shadow Yosuke in general, he doesn't seem that bad compared to some of the later bosses until you realize that his motives for attacking you are eerily similar to Adachi's.
    • Shadow Chie before transforming, has quite the smile.
      • Even after transforming, she still has a smile drawn on her mask in what looks like blood.
    • Shadow Yukiko is a giant bird with Yukiko's human face. And her face looks soulless.
    • Shadow Rise is a giant multicolour girl tangling herself around a dance pole, with a satellite dish for a face. Her attacks involve her screeching "FEAST YOUR EYES!" or moaning, while humping the dance pole between her legs with a very audible squelch. Even her portrait of all things is just a tad too creepy. And don't forget that because of her inherent powers, you can't beat her; scary thought if you don't know that the fight will eventually cut to a scene where Teddie goes apezoid to defeat her.
      • Even Shadow Rise's normal form is just a bit creepy, which is an achievement for a tantalizing girl wearing a bikini. The other Shadow Selves wandered around their dungeon and pitted the heroes against minibosses because they just seemed to think of it as the right thing to do. Shadow Rise, however, is notably more hostile—she deliberately tries to lure you deeper into the striptease, turns out the lights on you, and when you locate her again, pretends to cooperate before splitting the scene and leaving a giant snake in her place. Add her wide eyes and creepy grin to that, and she's just unsettling.
      • Shadow Rise doesn't actually have an "angry" expression; the implication is that she's had so much work done to her face that she can't actually do more than furrow her brow a little bit.
    • Shadow Teddie is a giant perversion of your favorite pun-spewing teddy bear, with eerily glowing eyes and two giant holes in his face, revealing that there's nothing beneath the monster's husk. Also, he talks with this intimidating voice, going on about how futile your quest for the truth is. Shadow Teddie is no mere shadow, either. He is the shadow of a shadow. An eldritch form of something already pretty eldritch. Could Shadow Teddie be even more of an abomination? In fact, its eyes and voice bring about to mind Ameno Sagiri. And finally, Sam Riegel actually manages to make Shadow Teddie even Creepier then Dave Wittenberg did, if that's even possible.
      • Persona 4 Golden actually makes it worse in a way other than the creepier voice acting. All the Shadows fought thus far have kept the same voice effects in their base and rampaging forms. Shadow Teddie's voice on the the other hand drops enough octaves to sound absolutely demonic. It really drives home how wrong he is compared to the others of his kind given that he's a Shadow's Shadow. Additionally, he speaks in a nearly identical voice as Ameno-Sagiri, The Dragon of this game in Persona 4 Golden. This means that you are not only facing Shadow Teddie, you are probably also facing an early manifestation of Ameno-Sagiri.
    • Shadow Naoto. Yeah, its boss form can come off as a bit narmy to some, but just take a second to think about what it was going to do to the real Naoto.
  • The Void Quest dungeon. Everything's a game! Hurting people just lowers their HP and entertains you! And, of course, you're playing a game just like the one in his mind a couple generations down the line, and grew up on games exactly like the ones that make up his id. Thanks, Atlus. The dialogue in between floors is also really creepy - one is just a single, long "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA".
    • Then there's the boss itself, Shadow Mitsuo. It transforms into a floating baby that speaks in a very creepy, empty-sounding voice. Then there's the matter of his line before starting the battle proper...
      I am a Shadow. Come... I'll end your emptiness.
      • It's subtle, but look at the quote again. EVERY other shadow in the game says "I am a Shadow, the true self." Shadow Mitsuo is so completely hollow it doesn't care about the one thing which practically forces him to transform and just attacks the party.
    • All Shadows say a variation of the phrase "I am you, and you are me" to their other selves. Shadow Mitsuo, however, is so utterly bereft of anything that he instead says...
      I am nothing... And you... are me...
    • Another start-of-floor quote is a jumbled, slightly incoherent reprise of an earlier quote that causes Rise to suspect that Mitsuo is insane. And then there's the start-of-floor-9 quote that devolves into complete gibberish then ends up as "killkillkillkill", pretty much confirming that he is.
    • Mitsuo himself is also an example. He is so desperate for attention that he is not only claiming to be a murderer, but in order to make it more believable, he kills King Moron and makes it seem like another murder. It's lessened a bit by King Moron's popularity (or lack thereof), but still! Another factor is that unlike the real killer, who simply let the Shadows in the TV world kill Mayumi and Saki for him, Mitsuo killed Morooka with his bare hands; he didn't even have the temptation brought upon by the sudden acquisition of great supernatural power, he just did it. In Real Life, Adachi might still have been a horrible person, but perhaps would have stopped short of becoming a murderer; the same could not be said for Mitsuo.
  • The entirety of the arc involving Nanako getting kidnapped, Namatame being suspected as the killer, the boss fight of the dungeon, and the dungeon itself.
    • First, you're a cop still trying to chase after the criminal who killed your wife, leaving your daughter without a mother. Then you get caught up with a case of mysterious murders, only for your daughter to be the next victim...
    • Then, there's the dungeon, named Heaven. At first, that doesn't sound too bad, as it does the great music, design, and atmosphere. The disturbing part comes in the fact that it partly comes from a guy who has a messiah complex, the fact that even though it looks heavenly, the monstrous Shadows still invade it, and while this is a touch more sad than scary, it also partly comes from a girl who misses her dead mother and wishes to be with her once more.
    • Next, is the boss, Kunino-Sagiri. Let's start with how it first enters the scene: The Shadows present starts merging with Namatame, his body bulging with every Shadow that enters his body as his body turns red as Namatame lets out one of the most blood-curling screams in the game. And onto the boss itself, it appears to look like a cross between a Muppet and a giant, animated fetus. It has gears coming out of its head, and bulging, yellow eyes that lack pupils. It looks like it is dressed up like a peace-loving hippie, complete with heart and peace symbols on its angel-like robe, and even flashes "peace" symbols with its gnarled, rotting fingers. A hideous creature like that with that imagery is remarkably unnerving. When its HP gets low enough, it goes limp and slacks its jaw like some sort of bug-eyed corpse. Its battle theme, while awesome, also sounds droning, grating, hopeless, and rather alien-sounding. And finally, it is found at the very top of Heaven, something Yunalesca would be envious at.
    • And finally, if you do not make the right choices after the dungeon, you could get the Bad Ending. And that is, you get caught up in the heat of the moment and kill Namatame, even though the truth is still out there and Namatame is not the killer. Congratulations, you just killed the wrong guy, your little surrogate sister is now dead for good, and the fog continues to grow thicker as you've stopped reaching out for the truth.
  • In the last month of the game, Inaba becomes shrouded in fog. The player, and the residents of the town, will probably just dismiss it as regular post-rain fog. However, the fog does not cease, and the weather forecast indicates that the remaining days will be foggy. It progressively gets thicker, and the new town "music" isn't really music so much as some very ominous and quiet sounds. Various people start falling ill, students start to talk about some pretty outrageous things like a "healing club" and the idea of being turned into a monster (and talking about it like it's nothing), and class gets progressively more on edge. On top of that, if you fail to finish that month's dungeon in time, it's not just one person getting killed this time, the Shadows from the TV World are heavily implied to have come into the real world, bringing about The End of the World as We Know It.
  • The lead up to the Downer Ending on 12/3 with the group at their Darkest Hour. Nanako seemingly dies and the Investigation Team is looking for vengeance on Namatame. The real kicker is that it's Naoto, arguably the most level-headed member of the group, who makes the suggestion on the best way to kill Namatame.
  • The Reveal of the killer's identity makes things a LOT more disturbing when you realize that you've had dinner with him, he's been in your house, he's behind all of the madness, facilitating the deaths of several people, including your surrogate little sister, manipulating a guy into doing the dirty work and then watching everything unfold, and you had no idea. Even after Nanako and Dojima are hospitalized, what does he do? Smiles to your face and tell you to go home, while he watches Dojima. He was alone in Dojima's room, and watched him sleep. He could have killed him at any time, but it would've given him away. And to make matters worse, when you actually fight the killer, the familiar Persona critical cut in shows up flashes on the screen with a red background, revealing that this psycho also has a Persona. Finally, it's a little chilling to hear Johnny Yong Bosch audibly go from a bumbling, incompetent detective, to a twisted, terrifying villain, especially to anyone familiar with who he usually voices.
    • Golden manages to make the killer even creepier, by adding him as a Social Link. Provided you get the link high enough by the time the Investigation Team are trying to figure out the killer's identity, you get the option to protect him. Doing so initiates a Time Skip to the Protagonist's final day in Inaba, at which point he privately confronts Adachi and asks if he's the killer. However, he continues to play dumb, right up until you choose to burn the letter that he sent you & was the only thing linking him to the crimes, at which point he makes this face; before not only admitting to his crimes, but pointing out that destroying evidence is a crime. He then tells the Protagonist that whenever he calls, he must pick up and not to try to change his number, because Adachi will track him down. Worse yet, you still get the "Social Link Complete" sequence, in a pretty terrifying Mood Whiplash. In any case, enjoy the Accomplice Ending.
      The Killer: Goodbye, partner.
    • Not to mention his reasons for him becoming a killer. Why'd he do it? He was bored and jealous. Seriously. Adachi was dissatisfied with how his life turned out, annoyed by everyone around him, and so blamed them all for his failures and shortcomings, especially the one that got him sent to Inaba in the first place. MOMENTS AFTER you arrived he saw this gas station attendant who taught him all sorts of wonders of the TV World to relieve his Small Town Boredom, then just like what he did to you, he gave a handshake to him... And all hell runs loose. When word got out that the woman he "had his eyes on first" was sleeping with Namatame, he killed her by accident and then he found out that he can kill people with this power. He then did the same to Saki for the awful crime of talking to the guynote , as well as rejecting his advances, this time being deliberate.note  He maintains that they were both "stupid bitches" who were after Namatame for money, so they deserved to die and he did nothing wrong. In short, it's all one long look into the Insane Troll Logic that some people actually use to justify murder.
      • Even creepier is that his primary motive, outside of boredom, is misogyny - he felt justified in attacking both Mayumi and Saki because he felt that they were "easy" and that they shouldn't have been able to say no to his advances. There are a few hints dotted throughout his social link that he has appalling views about women - the biggest one being the conversation you have with him where he details going after "bombshells", while also wanting a woman who could cook for him (showing that he thinks of women as being useful for their looks and because they could serve him) - but the disturbing thing is that these red flags are so difficult to pick up on. Why? Because of how similar they are to things other characters in the game say, including/especially Yousuke. Adachi's a creep and an attempted rapist, and all the signs of this are easy to ignore because he doesn't sound like he's a danger to women; he sounds like he's just taking part in "guy talk".
  • The Reaper is back! Though this time, he's only a Chest Monster, and the game not only alerts you if you try to open a Reaper chest, it will even confirm if you want to open it or ignore it instead.
    • Golden makes it worse. Originally the Reaper could only show up on New Game Plus. In Golden, he shows up on the first playthrough. He'll be summoned if you open too many chests on a single dungeon floor. And how do you know he's arrived? Deep, animalistic roars and the sound of dragging chains. You're still warned if you find his chest, but getting away from that fucking sound is reason enough to get to the stairs.
      • Even worse is the fact that that sound? That's the same sound that The Reaper makes while hunting for you in Persona 3. People who played that game might go into an instinctual panic just remembering how fast the Reaper could catch up to the player in that game.
  • The manga often forgets to draw faces on the characters in some panels. It's unsettling when you read it for the first time and aren't expecting it.
  • The Midnight Channel theme, catchy as it is, also highlights the horror of being trapped in the TV world. You're completely alone, no one can hear you, you're powerless to escape, and the real enemy comes from deep within your own mind. Without a Persona, you're totally helpless.
  • The random fridge events can be this for those who are easily freaked out by spoiled food left in the refrigerator for too long. While nowhere near on the scale of the main events of the series, it can make you think twice about busting open the fridge for a quick snack.
  • The occasional small chests in certain dungeons (such as the final dungeon before the normal ending) that make a thwack! sound and damage you rather than giving you an item make for a good Jump Scare and a dose of Paranoia Fuel.
  • The girls' Lethal Cooking is already horrible enough if you don't like these moments, but Golden takes this to a new level.
    • In Valentine's Day, if you decide to go in and meet Marie, she will give you chocolate made from ingredients from the Velvet Room. However, the Chocolate is moving and gives an unpleasant odor. While it looks terrible and smells terrible, the chocolate indeed does taste delicious and you cannot resist eating them all. However, something begins to squirm in your stomach. This basically means that Marie is using your Compendium Personas to make Chocolate, and the chocolate you ate are now becoming into Jack Frosts, Pixies and whatnot running around inside your stomach.
    • Later that day, Nanako gave you a "chocolate" that she made from ingredients that were suggested by the Investigation Team girls; this alone already qualifies as a red alarm to your stomach. Chie suggested that she makes the chocolate with iced coffee and bacon, Rise suggested wheatgrass juice, bell peppers, ponzu sauce, and vinegar, and Yukiko suggested fermented squid and fish sausage. Naoto warned the other girls but it was already too late. The result is a concoction that resembles the Persona Slime, yet surprisingly it has no odor. Nanako then tells you "Big Bro, thank you... I love you!" and you have NO OPTION other than to eat this kitchen disaster. And it was pretty evident that not only it looks like a Mess on a Plate, you INSTANTLY BLACK OUT because of food poisoning.
  • The bad ending theme/Izanami's dungeon theme is unsettling and relaxing at the same time. It is the epitome of Dissonant Serenity and basically tells you that you failed horribly in discovering the truth if it's playing in the bad endings and gives Izanami's dungeon a much more sinister vibe.
  • Izanami, the True Final Boss of the game, is very horrifying. The first phase isn't so bad, until the Orb of Sight that's been happily sitting in your pocket reveals her true form: a giant red skeleton whose screams rival a banshee and makes a disgusting noise every time she even casts a skill. To make matters worse, if you thought Nyx's Night Queen from Persona 3 was bad, this boss takes it up to eleven, using a skill that inflicts your party with a random status ailment (unless you avoid it) and then slaughtering any unfortunate member unlucky enough to be inflicted. The icing on the Lovecraftian Cake is the penultimate attack — A Thousand Curses. First off, it looks like a mass of hands coming out of a blood-red abyss ready to drag its victim down to hell; then your comrades sacrifice themselves one by one until there's no one left to protect you. Uh oh. Worst of all, if you do not know that it is actually scripted, then it is downright panic-inducing to see the long boss battle suddenly take for a worse, just when you think you've won.
    • Her gas station attendant form is also said to be quite unsettling according to younger townsfolk of Inaba. Nanako immediately noticed him as suspicious and other NPCs say that he looks like both a man and a woman, not to say that he only appears on rainy days after the introduction. It's almost like he's not supposed to be there in the first place.
    • Suddenly you realized that Izanami only comes out during rainy days, so it is Izanami finishing off the victims using A Thousand Curses as seen in the anime where Yamano and Saki are seen being killed by it.
  • For those who had to withstand school bullies and molesters, Hanako and Kashiwagi basically can mentally scar you. Unlike their Shujin successor Kamoshida, they never get caught and punished.
  • If you had a terrible holiday, the Amagi Inn can be seen as a horror house of abuse and Attempted Rape.
  • While you, Yosuke, and Kanji are doing a pick-up contest, you can come across a woman who's willing to give you her number. When you phone her later on, it's her boyfriend who answers instead and he basically screams at you for daring to hit on "his" girl and to never call again or that he'll rip off your head and spit down your neck! Everyone is understandably disturbed by this and one can only wonder how things went between the woman and that psycho afterwards...
  • There's a ghost of a woman who appears at the shrine at night. While she's nowhere near as threatening (she only ever asks politely for you to give her fish) or creepy as some of the NPC's describe her as being, it's still quite chilling to hear this ghost woman ask you for fish to feed herself or her starving children (who are almost certainly also dead). Bonus points that she's standing behind a pillar, which, combined with the camera angle, means that you can't actually see her until you're practically standing next to her.