Tell Us Dammit: Scariest Gaming Experiences

Being scared is fun. I've always thought so.

Some of my favourite gaming experiences have been terrifying. What's the most scared you've ever been playing a video game?

I have a couple of contenders.

— Mr X blasting through a brick wall in Resident Evil 2. Jesus Christ. It's a wall. It's video game geometry. This shit isn't supposed to happen! — The enemy in Dead Space that was immune to bullets and just chased you down a goddamn hallway. I swear to god, that guy took years off my life. — Alien: Isolation. All of it. — P.T. ALL. OF. IT.

Now you go!


    Seconded for Alien Isolation. Especially the nest, bloody face huggers came out of nowhere.

    OoT. Sun's Song. ReDeads.

    Then Hyrule Town Market after the timeleap. Ugh. UGH.

      Not so much scary, but more creepy - Song of Storms and that guy constantly playing it in the windmill. Fuck that.

      I do like the song, but still...

    I remember Eternal Darkness scaring me at the time, but in general I don't find myself "scared" by video games. With one exception.

    I was 14 when 'Diablo' came out, and I got it fairly early in to its release. I'd just moved to Australia, so it would have been something to do while waiting for the school year to start. I remember with clarity turning a corner to find The Butcher, and like most people I was terrified and ran away. I played for a number of hours, eventually going to sleep.

    It may not have been the same day, might have been later in the week, it's been years so I don't remember the exact timing. All I know is that, at some point, I had a nightmare where Diablo and The Butcher were tearing my heart out and flaying me alive. I woke up screaming in a cold sweat.

    Good times.

      It was that growly voice that used to get me. "Fresh Meat".

        Oh yes. 20 years later and it's still creepy.

          I can remember very carefully exploring the level, hoping to clear most of it before running into the butcher, then opening the wrong door and going NOPE NOPE RUN AWAY.

            He is literally the hardest villain to accidentally run into... he has a room full of people on spikes!

            I clearly remember seeing that room, and just being like 'nope!' and carrying on. Curiosity got the better of me after I cleared the third level (Butcher was always on L2), so I went back. Opened the door. 'AAAAAHHHH, FRESH MEAT!'. I actually screamed like a little girl, as this huge demon ran over and hacked my squishy sorcerer limb from limb.

            This was back before reliable internet connections, doubly so because I was living in Indonesia at the time. So I tried again, he killed me again. Third time I tried running away, he was right behind me, and I happened to close the door and pray... and he didn't follow me through! Cool, he's gone away, right? I open the door... and get promptly hacked to death. That's when I realized about the whole inability to open doors thing, after that he was far less scary... but that initial 30 mins or so of him chasing me through the dungeons and repeated chopping me to bits was pretty brutal.

      +1 for Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.

      I don't get scared at games, or movies as a rule. I know it's not real so it doesn't actually scare me (no, jump scares don't count). Eternal Darkness is the one exception to that rule. That game messes with your head.

        Exactly. I'm too detached to get "properly" scared because I know I'm watching a movie or playing a game or whatnot, but Eternal Darkness just took it that step further. Half the time I didn't know what was part of the game. Lights off, sound up; great way to experience that one.

    In slightly more recent experiences, I'd have to go with ZombiU. For me, that game did tension perfectly. Little-to-no cheap shots in the way of jump scares or whatever, most of the time it was down to my own sense of dread about what may or may not come.​​​​ And most of the time, what I expected to happen never eventuated and the worry was all for nothing. But so many times I'd just have to pause the game, put the controller down and just go do something else for a while. Such a great game.

    I really would like to check out Alien Isolation though, especially for the VR aspect (even if it isn't the best implementation - people still seem to quite enjoy it).

      ZombiU was good, it was especially harrowing in survival mode. It's one of the few games which understands that slow zombies can still be incredibly threatening.

      But for terror I put it just behind another underrated launch title, condemned.

      Maybe it's because it was the first fancy hd horror game I'd played. Maybe it was because I'd just hooked up surround sound. It had the same harsh, visceral combat of ZombiU, but wrapped it around the work of a very weird psychopath.

      Actually, it was probably the mannequins.

    F.E.A.R. There was an unassuming office cubicle and I was puttering around collecting ammo after a gun fight and the scary girl ran out of the cubicle at me on all fours. Was not expecting it and it scared the crap out of me. Had to take a one minute break.

      It hasn't aged well and the sequels were balls but damn was F.E.A.R. spooky.

    The scariest experience is not knowing when a buggy game will crash, especially when you do not have a save anywhere feature. Same goes for a 30 min boss fight and then you know that the game may crash just when you are about to land the final hit ....

    A previous housemate banned me from playing Dead Space at night because my constant involuntary gasping and yelling was keeping him up.

    I remember renting Resident Evil 3 in my early teens and my younger brother being so terrified that we had to return the game early because he couldn't stand having it in the house.

    Personally though, F.E.A.R., P.T., the regeneradores from RE4, some part in Until Dawn got me, as well.

    Condemned 2 - the incident at the lodge. Criminally underrated game, as was the original.

      Thoroughly enjoyed Condemned 2. Dying Light is its spiritual successor and after finishing it last weekend it is comfortably my favourite game I have played on ps4 so far.

    I've had plenty of jump scares over the years but a game that really got me was Vampire the Masquerade - Bloodlines. The seaside mansion. I was almost too freaked to play through the level until I realised there was nothing there to injure me lol.

      Totally agree with you. Loved that game

      There's also the killer surgeon's place, where it get more and more creepy and bloody as you go down each floor...

        The Killer Surgeon! I almost forgot about him. More and more blood the further you go down. It was chilling. And at the bottom was a severed arm you could use as a weapon?

          Yep! Once you killed him, you got to keep the arm he was clubbing you with and use it as a weapon.

      THIS - VTM: Bloodlines was way scarier than I ever expected.

    You know that 'trope' in movies and shows where the POV of the protagonist or victim is used, while they're evading the Big Bad, and the shadow of the latter is shown as RIGHT THERE?

    Think 80s slasher type stuff.

    That happened to me in a game, spontaneously. You could even say it was emerg-wait no I won't say it.

    DayZ (Arma2 mod variety, circa 2013):

    I was in a field and trying to escape an infected, so I went in a house.

    The table I hid under was in a long room and the doorway was off to the left (so it was obscured).

    I saw the zombie's shadow cast into the house onto the wall as it walked through the door.

    I thought, yes okay game I'll never ever see this happen again to me in a video game as long as I live so I'll go along and be terrified.

    And I was.

    The beginning of Alien Isolation. Where you're in the checkpoint/luggage area, the Torrens flies past looking for you and the blast shields cover the windows, cutting you off from the outside world. Hearing thumping and the alien off in the distance doesn't help either, knowing what you're about to head into.

    So much dread.

    The tension and fear of waiting 45 minutes for Medieval Combat to load from cassette to my Atari 800, never knowing if it would crap out at the last minute, and I'd have to try the recording on the other side of the tape.

    I find a lot of games to be tame when it comes to "scariness". Sudden, loud audio makes me jump most of the time (in any situation) but it's more just a physical response than a full emotional one. Any panic also tends to be more about the fear of losing or failing than true terror, although I guess fear of failing can be thought of as being scared? I think the most I've been freaked out playing a game though was when I was playing "The Path". Glitchy, abnormal behaviour in games tends to freak me out so the endings for each character usually made me apprehensive.

    System Shock 2 - When a hybrid sneaks up behind you saying "Your song is not ours!" and you turn to shoot them only to have your gun jam...

    REmake. Alien Isolation. Silent hill 1,2,3,4. P.T Dead Space 1(other dead space games sucked)

    Going into the closest store where I live that sells games (super rural NSW) and seeing Little Big Planet 1 on the shelf for $110
    This was a year ago

    Forest/Shadow Temple Wall/Floor Masters were good for a bit of anxiety back in the day
    RE1 Hunter

    Playing Alien vs Predator on the Jaguar late at night in the pitch black presentation room at the office. No-one in the building, just the hum of the air-conditioning and the 3 metre wide screen projected from the NEC 6PG CRT projector.
    That game was so tense, a mate and I were perched side-by-side on stools creeping around as the marine, heard the hiss of the Alien, and a door opened at the far end of the room. We started running backwards, shooting, him screaming 'Kill it, kill it KIIIILLL IIIIITT!' leaning backwards as it got nearer and nearer, and we both screamed as the stools toppled and we fell to the floor.
    We laughed nervously as our on-screen avatar was disemboweled, and he nervously mumbled "Wanna play Tempest 2000 for a while instead?"

    Last edited 28/01/16 11:43 am

    alien isolation, oculus rift dk2.
    nothing scarier than hearing it come out of the ceiling and come hurling toward you as you try to hide in a locker. i even got that feeling in your legs you get as you start to panic; luckily i got inside but spent five minutes trying to look through those tiny slits, you have no idea how easy using a mouse to look around really is....

    I have to say Outlast and P.T. got me pretty good from this gen of games... I am not sure if part of that was playing this gen with headphones primarily for the first time.

    All of Fatal Frame II or wherever you may live in the world due to some weird naming localization; Project Zero II.

    Funny story now but not as a kid, Doom shareware or specifically the two barons in Phobos Anomaly, scared the absolute crap out of me as a kid, i think i would have been about 7 at the time and playing with headphones on and the loud roar they made the doors opened.

    I can look back now and laugh.

    Only two games have really got to me - Amnesia: The Dark Descent and PT. At least I was able to finish PT... Amnesia's gameplay mechanics countered each other so well - nowhere was safe. Hide in the dark and you'll go insane, explore in the light and you're visible to the monster. I love being creeped out, but I don't particularly enjoy being scared - I absolutely devoured Outlast, F.E.A.R and Dead Space, but Amnesia: DD... screw that game.


    I when I say that, I mean the original Arma 2 Mod and my first life was just after they had removed the makarov from new spawns.

    That first life was one of the most intense and terrifying experiences of my life, the server was in twilight, I had no means of defending myself in a game I knew little to nothing about and when that first zombie came out of the darkness, screaming and flailing then hit me.... well it was very nearly a code brown.

    In almost 20 years of gaming no other game has shook me to the core, made my blood pump and hands shake quite like that, it is a shame that standalone doesn't capture those same emotions.

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